How to Plan an Instagram Feed
With the launch of our Creative Library, and the fact that I had to sit down and write a 30 page strategy guide on social media for it, you can say I’ve been thinking a lot about how one can get the most out of Instagram. It is something that (over the years) has started to come fairly easy; planning and creating a grid that makes sense. But I’ve heard from many of you that it doesn’t always flow as easily. So today I wanted to share my process and how you can get the most out of your planning sessions for social media.
Start with Creating your content pillars
These are the main categories of your brand, verticals that your audience enjoys + engages with. I’d shoot for 3-5 pillars in the beginning, but if you’re more on the lifestyle side of things, you could create as many as 10. So, for example, some of my main pillars that I use to brainstorm content are:
I talk about these pretty consistently either in my day to day business or as part of my blog. I know that my audience is interested in seeing this content.
Once you have your pillars determined, make a list under each one outlining the types of posts you might share. Go through each, writing down all of your ideas, good or bad. You can edit later. To give you an idea, some ideas I might put under wedding stationery would be:
a peek at a new suite we just had printed for a client
envelopes I am addressing
progress photos of some illustrations for an envelope liner
process photos of assembly
how we package our orders
mock ups of a new design
stamps we sourced for a client
a new wax seal we designed
testing different ribbon options on a suite
This list can go on FOREVER. If you do this for all of your pillars, you will EASILY be able to post daily once your imagery is created.
At this point in my planning I love going on Pinterest or instagram and get inspired by what i’ve saved recently. Colors I want to incorporate into these images. Flowers I’m inspired to style with. New materials I might be able to incorporate as props or actual pieces in my suite. You can write down these details next to your ideas and decide how you want to incorporate them once you start filling in your editorial calendar.
I cannot stress the importance of HOW to get inspired on Pinterest or Instagram. I’m not taking a photo and trying to copy it, I’m simply find aspects of images that I love and seeing how I can incorporate that in my own style… but I think that is a topic for an entirely separate post;) Just don’t copy. It’s obvious. And while there are tons of users on Instagram, the community is small in each niche and people see what others are doing… moving on!
but first, let’s talk about the 80/20 rule
Before we dive further into planning, have you heard about the 80/20 rule? It basically states, if you want to keep your audience engaged, 80% of your content should be information, educational or entertaining, and 20% should be promotional. Easy peasy… don’t spam people with your product or service. Keep this in mind when you are deciding on what to post throughout your week.
Still STRUGGLING on content ideas? try starting a series
This is another great way to (force yourself to) create consistent content. Even if it’s not a huge thing that you push everyday, people will start to recognize your posting habits and come back to see what you have for them each week.
For example, do you want to incorporate cocktails into your feed more? Why not share one each Friday. People are gearing up for the weekend and probably looking for something fun to try at their dinner party or happy hour. Once you get going people will remember you have something fun to share with them each Friday (or whatever day you decide to share). AND, you have 4 spots each month with content already filled in! We do this on our instagram stories. Each Wednesday I post 2 free iPhone wallpapers. People seem to love them and now we’ve even built a library to house old ones, driving followers to subscribe to our newsletter to gain access. Win win.
Lastly, plan your content ahead of time
Now that you’ve done all of your brainstorming (and maybe even created some of you imagery and graphics!), it’s time to plan. I like to start by rotating through my pillars. It’s nice to break up similar posts. For example, if you’re a style blogger, you are likely posting lots of photos of your outfits. You can try to rotate through other pillars incorporating home shots, your closet, your workspace, detail shots of your accessories, etc. This can really round out your brand and allow people to see more into your life/biz rather than it ALL being about the clothes.
For me, my ideal schedule is alternating a stationery post (my main form of business) with a lifestyle inspired image (wine, flowers, our office, etc.). And while I might be sharing stationery, I keep many of my captions lighthearted and inspirational rather than sales-ey. You can share your work without asking people to click or buy every time. So you can follow the 80/20 rule in your captions, while still showing items or services that you offer.
If my content is shot, I upload it to Planoly so I can visually see how the images are working together. Sometimes, if I have an idea but no imagery, I add a placeholder (an option available in Planoly) to make a spot for that piece of content. This is a great way to plan weeks ahead and keep yourself on schedule. (side note: if you sign up for The Creative Library, we send you a code to try Planoly out free for your first month!)
I promise you that planning your feed will change a lot of things in your business
Your content will get BETTER because you will actually be giving yourself time to work on it
You can post at ideal times and start testing/tracking that info to make it work for you
Your feed will be cohesive and thoughtful
You won’t panic at 9pm when you realize that you didn’t post today
You can think about your captions providing more value to your audience
Still not sure how to fill up your calendar with social media posts? Stop by and check out The Creative Library. As a member you’ll receive stock photos, social media graphic templates, a strategy guide that goes even more in depth (with worksheets) on what I explained above… and more. You can try it for free so there’s nothing to lose!