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Instagram is all about image. Whether you’re an individual flaunting your own style or a business displaying what makes you unique, Instagram is the perfect platform to showcase what makes you ‘you’. With minimal word count and maximal pixels, the focus is on the photos, illustrations, products and designs you post. Anything goes, within reason of course; random pictures of your business, selfies, holiday snaps, illustrations, house renovations, typography or your dog eating its kibble (cute dogs are an Instagram win). We believe the best accounts have a theme that runs through them. The theme can be as loose or tight as you wish. The theme of your Instagram posts could be your cute dog, your business products or of the work your business does. A theme also doesn’t have to be solely image based. Ready made or customised Instagram filters or a specific crop and display style can work equally well. The use of themes across Instagram has been on the up for the last few years and is a great way to extend your own personal or business branding. As an example at Start Digital we use it to showcase other types of design work that don’t always fit in with our client work. It helps us show off another side of the business and has the advantage of keeping our staff happy by providing another creative outlet. Winner!

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A bit about Instagram

Instagram was designed in 2010 to be a social media platform for sharing photographs. It’s main user feature was the ready made filters which, in the heady days of 2010, were retro, unique and incredibly cool. After it’s rapid growth Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 for a snip at $1 billion. Pocket money 🙂 Instagram’s demographics are predominantly young with 59% aged 29 and under and 38% female compared to 26% men. When it launched users could only post photos. The platform has expanded and now includes the ability to use video, tell stories and direct message other users. The ‘Stories’ feature has become so popular amongst users that it’s feature set has expanded to ‘Highlight Stories’ – a subtle but significant move that directly takes on Snapchat.

What is an Instagram theme?

A theme is a great way to showcase your brand and give consistency to your profile. A theme can be a part of your brand personality. It’s all about being deliberate with your posts. Where my 13 year old daughter posts random images and selfies (awesome for 13 year olds), businesses should use a considered approach to posts that connect with the broader brand. Consider what themes appeal to you and what best reflects the personality of your business? What are your brand colours and could this be reflected somehow? Consider using borders, filters and other effects to create a style that works for you. The below three accounts are examples of how to create stand out themes.

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Crop and border

Cropping an image can sometimes mean losing parts of the image, however, done well it’s a powerful way of displaying content. For Instagram a simple square or cropped rectangle can work well. To be even more distinctive try adding a black or white border. Using a consistent coloured border gives you a little more creative freedom with the content as the theme is applied to the border rather than the image itself. The simplicity and ease of this makes it a very popular go to theme.

Filters

With around 23 active filters and a wide range of settings, adding a consistent filter to your image is a quick and powerful way to create a good looking Instagram theme. With filters that range from the super 70’s retro through to saturation drenched light flares and simple black and white, there is something for every business. Once you’ve found your filter try to stick to it wherever possible. This gives all your images a similar look and feel.

Colour

Adding a specific colour to your theme can work well. Selling a product? Use a white background to make your products ‘pop’. Maybe you want your brand colour to be the theme? Use only images that align with your branding. This is even easier to achieve if you own Photoshop and understand how to add a duotone colour effects. Another interesting option could be a dash of colour splash, which allows users to focus on specific colours in an image whilst the rest of the image is black and white. Check out the Color Splash app.

Collage

Did you say collage? Yep. Good because in March 2015 Instagram released an app called Layout that creates the perfect erm, layout. Mix and match a collection of images to help showcase a specific subject, product or service in one single post. A simple but effective way to theme up your Instagram page.

Video Effects

Whilst we’re on the subject of Instagram apps there are two video based apps that you and your business should explore. Hyperlapse, released in 2014 is a super simple app that allows you to control the speed of the video – a cheap but very effective timelapse app. And Boomerang, which creates an animated gif-like short looping video. Both apps have proved to be popular and an interesting way to create unique content.

Quotes

Using inspirational quotes can be hugely engaging. The premise is that Instagram is a place people go to find inspiration. They are often a welcome break in a feed and when combined with a good visual or typography can have a big impact. Our advise would be to steer clear of the stock standard quotes. We all know to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ by now. Find or create quotes that stand out from the crowd. Maybe even inject a little bit of humour. We dare you.

Concept

A concept theme is centred around an idea. It is similar to an object theme in that it is centred around a particular item. An example is the ‘follow me’ campaign.

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Objects

There are a few different ‘object’ themes. Minimalist simply means having a minimal number of objects in your pictures and can be very effective. A mono-theme is one item taken in lots of different ways. Flat lay themes are a great way of displaying multiple items with images taken overhead.

Having a strong, well considered Instagram theme can be a powerful social media tool. As with any form of content marketing and social media marketing, themes take a little more effort and planning but if your demographic spends time on Instagram it’s worth the time and investment to get them engaged. Consistency is key so when you decide on your theme, keep with it.

If you need guidance of finding the best way to visually present you or your business don’t hesitate to talk to the team at Start Digital today. Our tried and tested methods can not only expand your online reach and digital profile but can also create new and exciting business channels. Let us show you how.