Instagram has come a long way since its launch in 2010. At one stage it was the providence of teenage bloggers and amateur photographers, now the site is home to more than 800 million users from all different walks of life. For this reason, it is a bountiful resource for marketing teams to push digital and brand awareness campaigns. Social media in general has unlimited potential for marketing and Instagram’s focus on the aesthetic makes it ideal for product and brand placement.

However, just like any orchestrated PR or marketing campaign, operating on Instagram needs to be thought out and professionally designed. Your feed is a reflection of your brand and as such your company will be judged on how it looks. Newcomers from our industry tend to know this and try and address it by hurriedly imitating others success; adopting hashtags, copying trends and using filters in order to seem genuine. This is by no means wrong, these are all vital to success, but it’s pre-emptive. To nail your Instagram you need to learn to act like a photographer.

Have the Right Hardware

Firstly, the iPhone has been a revolutionary piece of kit: it has radically altered how we interact both on a personal and a professional level. The popularisation of apps, accessibility to social media, it’s all because of the iPhone… but it is terrible when it comes to photography. Terrible is probably too harsh a word but it is not interchangeable with a DSLR. The photos that you get on smartphones generally are good but not great. The inferior pixel density, light sensitivity and processing capacity mean that the image your left with looks a little shallow, particularly when blown up to computer size.

If you are trying to get that perfect shot of a product, or brand what you need most of all is options. Each situation has different contextual factors that will alter the shot and you will have specific expectations, so make sure you know how to shoot with a variety of different lenses as well. If you’re in a crowded room, what sort of shot do you want: prime or wide-angle? This sort of consideration will help you build a tasteful and consistent visual style for your brand.

I presume you are dismayed by the prospect of needing a top range camera to achieve quality results but it won’t necessarily cost you all that much. DSLR’s are not nearly as expensive as they used to be; you can pick them up for fairly cheap as it’s the lens that costs the money. When it comes to lenses, the best course of action is to just rent them on Fat Lama. A peer-to-peer rental platform, Fat Lama has become a prime destination for specialist camera and film equipment and has listed every lens that you might need.

Don’t Over-Expose Yourself

It’s the same logic as taking the actual photo; if you over-expose, you spoil it for yourself. Flooding your feed with bland photos of your breakfast and #throwbackthursdays might seem like a good idea at the time but it will inevitably dilute your followers interest in your content.   After a while users will simply stop looking. So, be conservative with your posting and make sure the content is varied and interesting.

It’s also worth remembering why you are there in the first place. If you’re trying to boost brand awareness then make sure that is what your posts are doing. If it isn’t brand relevant, then scrap the post. Don’t be afraid to be ruthless with potential posts, like you would be with any other ad campaign. Try also to think up a consistent ‘brand-specific’ hashtag that you can thread through all of your posts. This will help create a web of content.

Get Good Editing Software

Whilst filters may seem like part of the Instagram furniture, they also often ruin photos.  Augmented reality facades are also particularly woeful – so think carefully about how you’re branding yourself with them. Whilst you should absolutely edit your photos, like any graphic release, you want it to look sleek and attractive. The best advice is to follow the pros and download Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, if you don’t have it already. This was you have access to proper image-manipulation tools that will let you play about with elements and graphics, without it looking tacky. If you get it right then you can produce posts that are alluring as well brand orientated.

Generally, a degree of professionalism will go a long way on Instagram. It’s easy to see social media as a done deal: you post, people see, they follow the link. However, you need to have content production down to a fine art for Instagram to be a useful tool. Once you’ve made a success of this, the rest will follow.