You can think of each Instagram feed as being its own “magazine” that is delivered one page at a time.
I recently gave a workshop on Instagram best practices for marketing design services. I was struck by how diverse the individual feeds are and how vast Instagram is with over 600 million accounts. Most people are consumers of these feeds, following many others and posting little of their own content. Others, known as influencers, post daily and gather a large group of followers.
The millions of feeds can be broken down into some major segments, as listed here:
- Personal: friends sharing with each other
- Escapist: travel, food, and recreation
- Aspirational: fashion, beauty, lifestyle, home, and sport
- Inspirational: religion and lifestyle
- Commercial: products, portfolio, brand, and look
My interest in Instagram primarily focuses on the aspirational and commercial segments. With so many options available, what are the best practices for interior and architectural firms? A review of scores of design-related feeds revealed some commonalities shared by those that I found to be the most appealing.
The best feeds were very focused, posting two to three main types of photos and subject matter, and doing so in a coherent manner. When looking at these feeds, they had a curated and consistent point of view; well composed, quality photography appeared in these. When scrolling through these feeds each paid attention to the overall feel and cadence; many selected a similar tonality and hue and sought thoughtful color relationships overall.
Most of these feeds did not use stylized filters for the photos. As a photographer of interiors and architecture, I noted a professional level of attention given to lighting and composition of the photos.
So why should a design firm use Instagram? At a very basic level, it is another very popular place on the web to show your portfolio. Firms can use it to add dimensionality to a practice, to show the inspiration that informs the practice, or to just simply show wonderful work. Most importantly, Instagram is a place to engage and grow a group of followers.
The analytics of a firm’s feed will tell about the number of people looking at the posts, their age, demographics, and locale. The level of engagement, which will vary post to post, is shown by the comments and “likes” provided by the followers. When studying the analytic numbers for these “engagements” one can be amazed. For instance, my Instagram feed @daviddlivingston, gets 500% more people looking at my photography each month than the whole of my website.
The workshop touched upon many tools, tricks, and takeaways. Links to apps and free resources were shared. We discussed hashtags, the evolution of Instagram as a platform, the scheduling process, content folders, and how an Instagram feed can be incorporated into a firm’s digital footprint. For me, a firm builds on a base of a website which is then supported by other shareable media platforms such as Houzz, Pinterest, Facebook, and Linkedin.
My feed shows a new photo every day, shot for leading San Francisco and Bay Area design firms. On my commissioned photo shoots, creating publish-perfect photos, I wear multiple hats: art director, photographer, and stylist. I have been the exclusive photographer of seven coffee table books of home design. I photographed interiors in forty states. In my workshops and speaking engagements, I address current marketing and photography issues for interior and architectural design firms and product manufacturers.
Your digital footprint is like an octopus with a firm’s website at the center and social and sharable platforms reaching out from this center. However, in real life, we do not know if someone will reach you via the center or from one of the peripheral tentacles. The best practices for marketing services is to have tentacles on many platforms that are connected to your center.