How to Build Your Personal Brand on Instagram
Sure - Target has clear branding. And Anthropologie, Starbucks, Zara, etc. But those are brands. HUGE businesses with specific missions. So ... how do you brand a person? It's actually simpler, (and more similar to the process big brands go through) than you think. We're breaking down why personal branding matters and how to do it.
Why Does Personal Branding Matter on Instagram?
Branding is all about recognition. To build a strong following, people should be able to glance at your content and know it came from you before they even see your username or profile picture - in the same way you can tell an ad is from your favorite store just by the aesthetic and the fonts. You want to gain that same kind of brand recognition with your Instagram.
When you have strong branding that your followers recognize and trust to be consistent, you'll stand out from the millions of wanna-be influencers that are posting on - the - fly content without a plan. Personal branding helps you discover the unique perspective you have to share on Instagram, and that unique perspective is what will earn you followers.
4 Steps for Building Your Personal Brand on Instagram
1. Get Straight on Your Mission
Ask yourself "Why do I want to post on Instagram?" Are you trying to grow community? Do you want to share your love of fashion? This answer must be extremely specific. Your answer can't be "I just want to share my every day life online!". That simply isn't enough. Keep sifting through your intentions until you can sum up your mission in one sentence. Instead of "I just want to share my every day life online!" your mission could be:
"I want to inspire women who work from home to create a life that fulfills them through comfortable fashion, easy to cook nutritious meals, and intentional morning routines."
Your mission should include your target audience (the more niche the better), why you're posting, and why people should follow you. For the mission statement above that breaks down into:
why you're posting = I want to inspire
who your target audience is = women who work from home
why they should follow you = to learn about comfortable fashion, easy to cook nutritious meals, and intentional morning routines
Take your time on this step. Deciding your mission is the base for your entire personal brand. If you rush through nailing down your mission, you'll be sure to have to start the entire process over when your Instagram doesn't see growth because followers are confused by the vague content you're offering them.
2. Pick Your Content Pillars
The only way you'll be able to post consistently and remain on brand is by narrowing down the topics you plan to post about into 3-5 content pillars. Remember, if you're trying to brand yourself online you're no longer just posting content on the fly with your friends and family as your audience. You have to start niching down your content and talking directly to your target audience. This will feel like a strange transition, but if you're dedicated to growing, it has to be done.
Let's stick with the mission example we've been rolling with. If your mission is "I want to inspire women who work from home to create a life that fulfills them through comfortable fashion, easy to cook nutritious meals, and intentional morning routines," your content pillars would break down into:
1. comfortable fashion
2. easy to cook nutritious meals
3. intentional morning routines
Your pillars don't all have to be pulled directly from your mission statement, but they shouldn't feel like they're coming out of left field. For example, we could easily add
4. work from home burnout solutions
5. mental health
to the pillars above. They fit in the niche and support the mission statement.
But here's the kicker - when you decide on your pillars, you can't deviate from them. You should only be posting about these 5 topics. Your audience should know exactly what kind of content to expect from you. If you followed our example account because you wanted to learn about setting an intentional morning routine, and then the account started posting about golf, you'd probably click unfollow, right? Sticking to your content pillars helps you trust with your audience, makes planning content in advance easier, and builds credibility in your niche.
3. Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio
Your Instagram bio is your first impression to anyone who stumbles across your profile. You want to make sure you make a great first impression by optimizing your bio. A messy bio can turn people off before they even start scrolling through your grid.
If you're trying to grow on Instagram, we highly suggest leaving behind your username from when you first got an Instagram. @cathy24happy will not help you get discovered on Instagram. Try something like @cathysmith, @cathysmithofficial, or @cathy_smith. Make sure it is easy to spell and easily identifiable.
The name field should contain your name and a keyword that closely associates to your brand/niche. If you're a florist, your username could look like: Janet Welsh | Florist. If you have the space, try to add in a location identifier as well: Janet Welsh | Florist | NYC.
Put a succinct version of your mission statement in your bio. For the mission statement example we used earlier, your bio could say:
WFH inspo for women | comfortable fashion | easy, nutritious cooking | intentional morning routines
Finish off your bio with a CTA calling people to click the link in your bio.
If you have a website, make sure you list it as your link, and honestly, if you're trying to grow online, you need to have a website. We aren't fans of LinkTree or link in bio tools because they steal SEO traffic from your website. Instead, create a new page on your website that functions as your own personal LinkTree. Check out Media A La Carte's example below.
Include Your Email & Phone Number
Switch your account to a Business or Creator profile to enable the clickable call and email buttons. This way you can get contact information on your page without taking up any of your limited character count in your bio.
Curate Your Highlights
If your bio is your first impression, your highlights are your second impression. Make sure that your highlights support your brand's mission statement and line up with your content pillars. If done well, your highlights can get someone to tap that follow button before they even look at any of your posts.
4. Pick a Strong Aesthetic and Stick With It
While having a dreamy, perfectly curated Instagram grid is no longer as important as it once was, it is still very important to remain visually consistent on your grid. This doesn't have to be a stressful thing. Here are the basics of creating your IG aesthetic:
1. Pick a color palette. Make sure your color palette plays well with your current wardrobe, as most of the photos you'll be posting will be of yourself. If you wear a lot of green, make sure there are greens in your palette. When you have your colors nailed down, make sure any graphics you create use these colors, and try to incorporate them in your posts whenever possible.
2. Choose a filter or preset and stick👏 with 👏 it👏. We find Instagram's classic filters a little lacking. Try out other apps like VSCO or Lightroom to get a consistent edit on your photos before posting to your feed.
3. Make sure that your branding extends to your Instagram stories and your highlights. Pick one of Instagram's fonts for your stories and stick with it. Bring in your color palette to your stories and to your highlight covers.
With these basics of personal branding, it's time to start fine tuning your mission statement, choosing your content pillars, and then getting to work on overhauling your Instagram. Your growth game will change big time when you get your branding in order.
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