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David Duncan Livingston



The social media platform Instagram is a perfect way for design professionals to share via photos and some words the specific vantage point they see the world from. Building a shared visual language is often the first step in working with a new client, what better way to start than via a medium that is all visual?


Users of Instagram skew younger and lean more to the creative and intellectual fields, these folks are often at the crossroads of early adopters, creatives, techies and media professionals. This is a perfect audience for influencers but the platform is also a way to keep in touch with a very devoted group of past and ongoing clients.


For design professionals wanting to reach out with an Instagram stream here are some thoughts to consider: First have your bases covered, if someone is liking what they find on your Instagram feed they will also want to see your website and other social platforms: Linkedin, then maybe Twitter, Facebook, Houzz, Pinterest, et. al.


Your website needs to be your base camp online, it is where you can be most professional, with the most targeted message and in control of the user experience. Then think of your online footprint for all the other social and media platforms choices your firm has, each will need care and feeding so best to decide early which one/s you can do well, can support well, maintain well over the long term, and keep fresh with engagement. My recomendation for most small firms is that after your firm’s main website you select one main social/sharable platform to use and support.


PR firms can help develop a social media plan but to be most effective any social platform will need engagement by the principals. As a photographer for interior designers, architects and furniture manufactures every day I am making photos, discussing how they will be used and seeking a strategy that is best for each firm. For Instagram I recommend that a daily theme is maintained for the uploads to help build an audience and give an editorial feeling to the stream of photos. Instagram shows square photos so crop and prepare the most impactful square photos. Do not try to sell, but educate and inspire, excite and be playful with your stream.


Some more quick marketing ideas for Instagram: Make tighter photo crops for more impact, use Instagram photography filters to liven up your snapshots, be cute, be abstract, be consistent, have a photo schedule with certain theme days, add text to the photos, be playful, be square, be irrelevant or relevant, do not have fillers, no ‘B” roll, integrate your Instagram with your other online presences, plan ahead, “bank” photos for future use, think like an editor, crop like an art director, be emotive.


I have cropped all the photos here to inspire great Instagram photos. Most of your Instagram photos will not be professional so you may need to study to get better results from your phones snapshots. Editing will always be key, be rigorous and share beauty.

Here are some informative links about photography and Instagram I have found:

Some excerpts from smallbiztrends.com and a very clear article for Instagram marketing:


Write great photo descriptions. Instagram allows you to include a description of the photos you post. Write something engaging that both describes the image and reflects your brand’s message.

Use hashtags. There are two ways to use Instagram hashtags that will increase your brand engagement and visibility. You can create a tag (#Starbucks for Starbucks, #F21xMe for Forever 21, etc.) to collect all Instagrams related to your brand. You can also contribute to trending and/or industry-specific hashtags so that users who follow those tags will see your photos.
Post at Peak Times as you post on Instagram, pay attention to the times during the day when your images receive the most likes and comments. Use the trends you’ve identified to be sure you’re posting at peak times when you’ll be most likely to reach members of your audience.

Keep an Eye on Your “Feed Speed” Don’t inundate your users with images. See how frequently other brands in your industry are posting and mimic their feed speed, paying attention to the impact on your account’s metrics as you vary this rate.

Respond to All Comments you Receive. Recognize users that take the time to comment on your images by responding to their messages. Clicking on users’ names first will add them to your response, tagging them and making it more likely that they’ll see you’ve taken the time to comment back.

Think About Story Arcs. The pictures you share on Instagram don’t need to be one-off photos that aren’t associated with each other. Think in terms of story arcs and share series of pictures that show actions being taken, items that are associated with one another or progressions through time.

Add Text to Your Pictures. Memes tend to get a lot of traction on Instagram, so take advantage of this type of viral-style image by creating your own graphic and text combinations. Use the Meme Generator website to research current meme trends, as well as make your own to share.

Tell Your Brand Story Without Selling Brand marketing on Instagram can be tricky, as younger demographic users tend to be sensitive to over-promotion. Avoid irritating these users by identifying ways to share key components of your brand’s image without resorting to outright sales tactics.

Give a “Behind the Scenes” Look. The Ellen Show is one of the most popular accounts on Instagram, but the images her team shares aren’t the kinds of polished production photos you’d expect. Instead, her candid “behind the scenes” shots help to personalize her brand and connect on a more personal basis with followers.