Maintaining Your Personal Brand From Photo to Photo

Cyndi Ramirez is my go-to New York girl who I can rely on to put soul into her work that goes beyond just producing a beautiful photo. From fashion to food, hospitality to beauty, Cyndi is truly a jack of all trades and she’s become so successful because of her effort to keep things consistently cool. With her signature orange sunnies, a bold red lip and cocktail in hand, it’s hard not to want to be Cyndi’s bff.
— Editor’s Side Note

Maintaining Your Personal Brand From Photo to Photo




In 2010, before VSCO, Snapseed or Afterlight existed and Instagram posts were subjected to the apps’ infamously frowned upon filters (shout-out to Valencia), a friend told me that I should start thinking about my “Instagram personal brand.” I had no idea how that would work; do I post when I’m doing something special? Do I post my sometimes unattractive plate of food just because I like to eat? I started to ask myself what gets me excited -- how would my feed reflect who I am as an individual? Then I realized something: your Instagram account is a visual reflection and summary of what your personal brand could be. Your experiences and inspirations are the content, Instagram is your publisher, and you are the editor-in-chief. 



Instagram is your publisher, and you are the editor-in-chief. 

Instagram has over 400 million active monthly users -- far beyond Twitter. Forbes has said it’s one of the world’s most powerful selling tools. The impact they’ve created in their 4 years of inception is unparalleled to others, and it’s easy to understand why they’re so successful. Mainly, they were amongst the first to cater to the visually driven social media enthusiast. Additionally, the “feed” element has allowed people that normally wouldn’t think about their personal brand to actually start thinking about it, be-cause they are forced to see their posts as a whole versus individually. More importantly, it has been a driving force behind the growth of social influencers. The app has shift-ed perceptions of how people should manage their social presence -- visual storytelling and curating experiences is now the main content direction behind running a quality Instagram account.

If your goal is to start shaping your personal brand, Instagram is the perfect place to start. It is the ultimate platform that allows you to become a part of your desired community, put your identity forward, and have conversations and connections with other like-minded users. Here are some quick strategies for maintaining your personal brand from photo to photo: 


—Finding an aesthetic

Start with your industry or the creative field you’re trying to break into. Are you an aspiring visual artist? Are you looking to start a food blog? From there, create a visual identity for yourself. Start cap-turing photos that fit that industry and give it your own special twist -- maybe it’s sassy captions, maybe it’s the same three style of photos in a row, maybe your feed is all white. Whatever you end up choosing, keep it consistent. People you don’t know decide whether to follow you based on your overall feed, not just the last photo you posted. Consistency is king; posting off-brand photos will result in unfollows and a confused audience. 


—Creating something that’s uniquely yours

If you’re not good with your iPhone camera, there are other ways to attain followers. Get creative: create a weekly series, share something quirky and bring your personality into your feed. My good friend, Gavin Moseley of  Den Hospitality, is certainly not trying to break the mold when it comes to Instagram but I love what he’s been up to lately. Gavin was inspired by my site’s online series called ‘Wednesdays With’ and now every Wednesday he features a good friend and writes a special story about them. Not specifically revolutionary, but it’s sweet, and it 100% fits his personal brand -- Gavin is a hospitality vet and one of the friendliest chaps you’ll ever meet. 


—Growing your following

So you’ve got a nice little feed going, huh? Awesome. So how do you go from having 2k to growing past 10k? Growing your Instagram following isn’t as easy as some Instagrammers make it look. The best way to grow a large following as someone who isn’t internet famous is to have a standout feed and to interact with other on-brand accounts. If this is your goal, you may have to try a few growth tactics. One of the best articles for this can be found here


—Taking your personal brand offline 

This is my favorite part about having created a community through Taste The Style and my personal account. I love events; it’s my escape from being a slave to technology -- although, don’t get it twisted, it all goes back to social. If you’re looking to really tap into your desired community, think about hosting an event or an “InstaMeet” where you interact with users you meet on Instagram in real life (#IRL!) Organize fun gatherings and invite the people you respect most within that network. You’ll be surprised at how many people will be thrilled to join you -- after all, you’ve now created a feed that aligns with their interests. 


No matter what Instagram strategy you ultimately implore, just make sure to keep it authentic. It’s just as important to be who you are in real life as in the digital world.