For the ‘Gram, For the Grid: Using Your Instagram Grid to Create a Better Feed
This post was originally published on October 20th 2017, and was last updated on December 14th 2017.
How to Make Your Instagram Feed Look Good
You only have to walk down the street in 2017 to stumble across a slogan-tshirt-clad millennial posing against a pink brick wall, claiming they’re ‘doing it for the gram’.
While you may shake your head and wonder if they’ve really nothing better to do than hunt down Insta-worthy walls and sip turmeric lattés that continue to rob them of the right to homeownership, they actually might be onto something.
When Instagram first broke the internet in 2010, it was all about filters.
In the days before the iPhone had a front-facing camera and the word ‘selfie’ wasn’t yet commonplace in our vocabulary, Instagram was sort of described as a visual Facebook.
Instead of a melodramatic status, one would post a sulky photo drenched in the ‘Toaster’ filter with a morose caption to perfectly reflect their misunderstood life.
Jokes about the tail-end of ‘generation emo’ aside, basically, brands weren’t yet using Instagram to promote themselves.
Influencers stuck to their blogs and YouTube channels for the most part, and well, Instagram just sort of hung around. Its main attraction being the ability of a filter to undo the visual effects of last night’s alcohol binge.
Then, almost out of nowhere, the brands, the bloggers and the influencers descended. Instagram had hit the big time.
It marked the end of grainy, self-timed outfit photos taken in your bath tub, and it gave the visual aesthetic side of marketing and branding a new lease of life.
YouTube star Lily Pebbles looks back at some of her old photo-taking efforts in this video.
Let’s just say strategic visual communications wasn’t high on the agenda of the pre-Instagram generation.
Now, a pretty feed is often all it takes to convince scrollers to hit the follow button.
Those first 9 images that appear when you land on a profile are incredibly important.
You know what they say about a first impression.
When these dream feeds were more of a rarity, many thought it was simply the items they own that made the feed so desirable The Kardashians, for example.
They’re rich, they’re beautiful – of course whatever they take a photo of is going to look better than your glad-wrapped office lunch. Filter or not.
But as it turns out, there’s actually a science behind these drool-worthy feeds of blush pink, rose gold and monochromatic detail.
There are a number of ways you can make your Instagram feed sing a more beautiful aesthetic song, and we’ve created a 3 step guide to get you started.
Hold your horses…
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Step 1: Choose your themes
Whether you’re a brand, a small business, a freelancer, a blogger – anything – you need a theme or themes for your grid.
Don’t just go posting the same thing day in day out. Your following will tire.
That said, having a few themes that you regularly revisit gives your feed an identity, and your followers get to know what to expect from you.
That might be quotes, outfits, coffees, food, props – anything that fits with the message you’re trying to convey.
Step 2: Think colors
There are basic ways to use color in your feed, and more complex ones.
As a starting point, think about your brand colors (if you have them).
How can you incorporate this into your feed?
Perhaps you include your yellow logo in the bottom corner of each image, or maybe all your backgrounds will be yellow.
Filters can help with making your photos more continuous, too.
If you use filters, always use the same filter where possible. While Hefe might work wonders on your pigmentation, if you’ve used Valencia for 8 months, keep using it.
If it means sacrificing a post, that’s often better for your grid than posting an image that doesn’t fit with your aesthetic.
More advanced ways to use colour in your feed is to consider each photo’s colouring before it’s even shot.
If your theme is based around pink, often images of the ocean will only mess that up.
It sounds silly, but looking at a setting before you shoot it – or at a stock image before you select it – can allow you to appreciate whether it’s going to fit with your grid.
Think about your audience in your colour choices, too.
There’s some psychology to the art of Instagram grids, and influencer Hannah Gale knows noticed one particular pattern to her follower behaviour.
She discovered that when she based her grid around pink, her following grew almost inexplicably. As soon as she halted the pink, her follower count did the same. Test what works for you.
Step 3: Get patterning.
Plan your Instagram Feed
The beauty of Instagram scheduling tools (helloooo, hi, over here!) like Schedugram, is that we now have much greater control over what gets posted and when. For example, Schedugram has Planner – a tool that helps you plan out your grid in advance and schedule your posts knowing what they’ll look like in the grid. You can drag and drop images to make sure they fit their best!
Scheduling means you can choose exactly when – and in what order – your posts go out.
Enter: grid patterns.
Imagine it’s your first day at a new job.
It’s a big deal for you – you’re totally stoked.
Your new boss gives you a stack of post-it notes in a selection of colours and says ‘lay these out in a square of 9. You have an hour’.
Sure, you’d think ‘this woman is crazy’, but never one to disappoint, you arrange the post-it notes as slowly as possible to fill the hour.
Think about it for a second. Would you just go arranging them willy-nilly? No. You want to make this the prettiest square of post-it notes anyone has ever seen. So what do you do? You look for patterns.
Maybe you alternate the colours in a brick formation. Perhaps you grade the colours like a spectrum, perhaps you create patterns along lines or diagonals.
See where I’m going with this?
What inspiration can I find to make my Instagram feed look good?
Think of your grid like that stack of post-it notes.
How can you arrange your photos to be the most visually appealing?
Aussie mattress manufacturer @Koala nails the diagonal pattern by using its pale blue backdrop behind cute text snippets to fall nicely into a diagonal line on the page – while still keeping to their blue and white theme prominent in the surrounding images.
Zoe Foster-Blake’s brainchild, @gotoskincare absolutely kills it with their on-brand, glowing peach feed, and @gc.paris is known for its clever use of color, gridding patterns and compartmentalized themes.
Influencers showcasing outfits and the latest beauty PR samples to hit their PO box are the queens of the curated photo-taking, with @ellenextdoor, @alexlight_ldn, and @sarahs_day each offering up a serve of thoughtful imagery that effortlessly flows from post to post.
If your mind is boggling and you’re drowning in a pit of ‘oh my gosh I’ve been doing it all wrong’ – stop. Often, the ‘no theme theme’ is a winner.
@samanthamariaofficial hits the nail on the head with the ‘no-theme theme’.
Looking at her grid, there’s certainly an element of continuity and thoughtfulness to her posts, but if she’s seen a tasty pastry that you NEED to know about, she won’t keep it from you for the sake of the grid!
To get the best from your playful Insta feed efforts, track your engagement and follower count with each change of theme.
Treat each theme change as a new campaign and monitor its performance to see what fares best.
Get to know what your audience loves, hates, and is neutral towards. Often there’s no rhyme or reason behind what’s successful – but if it connects, it converts.
Don’t forget Schedugram’s Planner that does exactly this – helps you plan out your Instagram grid and schedule posts accordingly.
About the author
Emma Edwards is a copywriter and social media strategist living in Melbourne. A lover of crime thrillers, running and The Bachelor, Emma is always on the look out for content inspiration to inform her creative work.