Sometimes, I miss the Instagram days of yore, when a sunset pic would get a ton of engagement and vibey photos of lattes could launch one into Instagram stardom. Those really were the good ol' days.
As a photographer, you might guess that I am a fan of Instagram grids that look a little more polished than the average. And you'd be right--mostly. But let's be real, not every photo needs to be snapped with a professional DSLR camera. *insert shock and awe*
The way the feed looks is less important now than the content of the individual posts. Sure, it's nice if they all add up to a wonderfully aesthetic feed, but we don't want to allow the drive for that to take away from creating great content.
In this post, I'm walking you through how to balance aesthetics with authenticity in your Instagram strategy.
The Problem(s) With a Perfectly Curated Grid
While a perfectly curated Instagram grid can be visually appealing, it's not without its drawbacks. Here are some common problems associated with maintaining a meticulously curated grid:
Lack of Flexibility
A perfectly curated Instagram grid can hinder our ability to participate in ever-evolving trends and spontaneous content opportunities. When we pigeonhole ourselves this way, we can miss out on potential collaborations with accounts that may not share the same aesthetic as us.
Time-Consuming and Resource-Intensive
The maintenance of hyper-curated grids can also be unsustainable. It demands significant time and resources, which we, as small business owners, don't have a lot of. From planning and content creation to the creative limitations set on us by the aforementioned lack of flexibility, aesthetic grids can lead to burnout really quickly.
Lack of Personality
Finally, the pursuit of a flawless aesthetic can lead to inauthentic content and a lack of personality. This may distance you from your audience, fostering a perception of over-staged perfection that is unrelatable. If TikTok has taught us anything, relatable, authentic content is what works, and overpolishing is, as the kids say these days, cheugy. No cap. (I think I used those terms right. It's giving “how do you do, fellow kids?”)
So, how can we create a cohesive and visually appealing grid while still maintaining authenticity and personality?
Mix Curated, Professionally Captured Content with Rough, Behind-the-Scenes Content:
Intersperse high-quality, professionally captured visuals with authentic, unfiltered snapshots that showcase the personality and humanity behind your brand. This combination adds depth to your grid and fosters a more genuine connection with your audience.
Define a Flexible Theme:
Establish a broad theme or color palette that provides a cohesive visual identity for your grid. This theme should allow for flexibility and interpretation, enabling you to incorporate diverse content while maintaining an overall aesthetic. Flexibility is key to adapting to different seasons, trends, and spontaneous opportunities.
Create Consistent Brand Elements:
Establish consistent brand elements, such as specific fonts, filters, or visual motifs, that tie your content together. These elements create a recognizable and cohesive look without sacrificing authenticity. This approach ensures that, while each post may have its unique flair, a unifying thread runs through your grid, reinforcing your brand identity.
Instagram Grids to Admire
I'm going to toot my own horn here as I manage their social media. We've created a really cohesive grid that gives us a lot of flexibility to share iPhone photos & videos alongside professionally captured photos. We've balanced the visual topics really nicely, and the preset I use to edit their photos is warm yet true to life.
Another toot my own horn moment, as they are also a social media management client. Foxen's overall theme is irreverence, humor, and relatability. So, like Buttonwood, we balance the professionally captured visuals with iPhone visuals. We also capture raw and real behind-the-scenes moments WITH a professional camera, which helps bridge the gap between curated and candid moments really nicely.
My friend Deanna is the pinnacle of sharing high-quality smartphone visuals that look extremely cohesive on her feed. This proves that if you learn how to use your phone's camera well, you'll go far.
The thing that all of these accounts have in common is that they all have great content in addition to great looking grids. Long story short: don't sacrifice quality content just for the vibes.