Whether you are a frequent traveller, a weekend warrior or just commuting, Instagram can be a fantastic travel companion, first of all because it is always present (on your phone, in your pocket) but also because it reflects your journey in a documentary as well as artistic way, somewhat like a modern-day journal. If done right, it will not only be immense fun for you but also for your followers to experience the endless possibilities that travelling entails. So, without further ado, here are my tips to help you step up your Instagram game on the road:
1. “The best camera is the one you always have with you”
Don’t focus too much on whether you should get a new camera, or a new tripod or even a new phone. You have everything you ever needed and wanted already in your pocket (granted that you have a smartphone in that pocket).
Your phone is always with you and since it is THE gadget that you spend most time with, you most certainly and intuitively express your vision and feelings best with your phone.
You know how the phone works, you can google the latest supporting apps for instagram, you can experiment with various techniques and stylistic choices that represent you best.
As social media is currently experiencing a shift from long-term feeds to short-termed Stories, using your phone spontaniously is becoming increasingly important and accepted.
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A very important aspect of your phone is also its low-key unobtrusive presence. Since everybody has a phone and since everybody looks at it constantly, you will not stick out like a sore thumb using yours. If your device becomes second nature, if it becomes non-existent so-to-speak, the only thing that matters is your creativity.
This is all to say that the message (whether it is funny, thoughtful, provoking, serious etc.) that you want to get across, is more important than the gear you have. You can build your whole brand with your phone right here right now, no excuses! Keep a charging bank close to you if battery levels become low and off you go.
For Instagram business account managers, the situation can be a bit different. Managing multiple accounts often requires extensive scheduling routines, which can be a hustle when you need to manage them from your phone. Whether you’re working for yourself or as an account manager, there are many great scheduling programs today like for example later.com that allow you not only to schedule your feed, but also your Stories.
2. Storytelling is key
Following the last thought, the most important thing when posting content is that you ask yourself this very simple question: Would I be interested in this myself?
In other words, whether you’re a business or a personal blogger your content should mostly if not always have a message that inspires or intrigues first and foremost yourself. It should realign with your feelings, with your artistic and/or professional vision, with your humour, with your hopes and dreams, with your thoughts and fears. The easiest and at the same time hardest way to create good content is content that tells a story. People are interested in stories. They will want to know about the story, its “characters” or its background, they even want to know what comes next. Next time when you intend to post the 1000st boomerang story of your food and your friend or co-worker (who usually sits opposite of you also with their phone in hand), ask yourself consciously the question: Would I want to see that from other people? How could I make this more interesting? Let’s be completely creative about this. For example add a background story of the restaurant you are dining at. Maybe add a line about your friend’s choice and why s/he is there with you! Maybe take a picture of the waiter and ask her / him how long they have been waiting in this particular restaurant and what their favourite dish is. Hell, ask him if you could see the chef and the behind-the-scenes of the restaurant. Engage with your environment offline in order to create engagement online.
Don’t just do things that have been done a thousand of times already.
3. Buy what you are “selling”
In other words, always stay a student even if you have mastered your own voice. You will want to know what fellow instagrammers are doing, how they are doing it, what techniques and new apps they are using. The social media landscape is nearly changing on a daily base and staying up-to-date translates to staying relevant (just look at Will Smith, Dwayne “Rock” Johnson, Madonna or Beyoncé who may not be your cup of tea but who have managed to stay relevant for a long time). Look at as many pictures and videos as possible in your domain and you will become better at what you are doing. It is as simple as that: You will have SEEN similar styles and ideas over and over again and you will have internalized them and made them your own.
If this sounds like school, well that is because it is school, just in the form of self-taught fun. Devour every piece of information you can get on the internet about your favourite hero(ine), about her/his different techniques, artistic choices and think about it deeply and actively. Additionally, look for inspiration elsewhere, or really anywhere. Appreciate the craft of people that put their everything into their creations, whether it is online or offline.
You will discover sooner or later that all passions, although different in their expression, have one common root in their nature: quality.
Quality is what will set you apart in the ocean of endless streams of posts. Quality can be achieved by research and knowledge through time and effort. In shorter terms, quality appears when you start caring.
Fortunately, your research can now be done mostly online, even on your phone while you are travelling. Youtube, Wikipedia, and of course Google are your daily friends: Start with your favourite instagrammers and look what else they have done and who they are collaborating with. See if they have matching youtube channels. Go see what they have posted years ago to learn about how they have started. And of course engage with them, be social on social media. That is what it is for.
In order to boost your picture’s quality, there are plenty of apps at your disposal. Two of my favorites are Adobe Lightroom CC and Snapseed.
And, of course there’s the super popular VSCO that’s being used by tons of influencers worldwide.
Also try apps like Unfold that add some more creative effects to otherwise boring posts.
For fonts and typography, apps like Adobe Spark Post are interesting choices that allow you to create your own visuals over your videos or photos. The more customized your style is, the more recognizable will it be to your audience.
Don’t want to download an app? Try for example this free tool offered by the social media management app buffer: pablo.buffer.com
As for videos, again there are many choices, but I have been playing around with Quik by GoPro as well as Adobe Spark Video. Again, creating and maintaining your own style is key in order to stand out from the crowd.
4. Do not overthink nor overdo!
Especially on personal accounts, once you care, chances are that you start caring too much. However, keep in mind that most of our creative intuition comes spontaneously. Most of yourself shines through direct impulses and this is what other followers want to see. This is what separates social media from traditional media: the unfiltered personal aspect that establishes the connection with your follower base. Spontaneous posts are very hard if not impossible to replicate, but your audience will recognise this and cherish you for your realness.
Spontaneity does not mean that you should post anything and everything either. From all the experiences you get on the road, choose carefully which ones you post and be conscious about the value it brings to your viewers. As for stories, you do not want to spam other people with your empty stories so that you lose their attention after the first two or three. Try to think of a small storyline, think of combinations and transitions, ask the question: “Would I want to watch that?”. Do not fear to put yourself or someone else in front of the camera explaining the environment or the situation. No matter what you “sell”, your stories should always be engaging and interesting to watch. As for posts in your IG grid, remind yourself that most people see first your photo or video and only later your whole grid. A certain continuous style or vibe throughout your feed separates you from others who just carelessly post things simply for the sake of posting something.
“No post” is usually better than “bad post”.
5. First giveth then taketh
All brands that are winning in the long run are brands that have established themselves as “lifelong” partners. Here, the question “why” you support a brand or follow somebody on social media is more important than the “what”, the product or the service that the brand / person puts out. There is a personal connection that links us to the biggest brands or stars, through emotions such as trust, happiness, identification, “rooting for the underdog”, etc. And although most brands have well-thought out business and ad strategies, they never leave the spontaneous core untouched: the personal connection with their customer base. In contrast to short-term oriented people that only take, long-term oriented people give first and ask for something later (especially in terms of content marketing).
This is what social media prophets like Gary Vaynerchuk have defined in boxing terms as: “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”. First you offer value (so-called jabs) in your posts that your followers appreciate and can use in their everyday life struggles. Then you establish a trusted rapport with your base in the long run, because your audience will know and appreciate you for your quality content and they will count on you to produce more. When the time comes, you may ask “a favour” from them: Buy my service, buy my book, go see my exhibition etc.
An interesting example is provided by Simon Sinek who illustrates the importance of the “Why” in his book *Start With Why”.
Explained in this popular TED Talk:
No matter how or where you’re travelling, the same key ingredients are important to create a great Instagram experience. Whether you’re a business or a travel blogger, the right amount of persistence and innovative content are your tools to success.
This article was wirtten by our close collaborator:
Moritz ‘Kuba’ Klein.