Over the weekend I got the chance to hang out with Mr Porter’s social content guru Lauren Luxenberg, who was visiting New York from London, and as you might imagine, when you get a blogger and a content creator in the same room, the conversation quickly turned to Instagram. Now, I’m not sure if you follow Mr Porter’s Instagram account, but it is BEAUTIFUL. Seeing as Lauren is responsible for a lot of the imagery that makes it so wildly popular, I figured she’d be the perfect person to share her top Instagram tips and tricks she’s learned along the way. Bear in mind that these are coming from a girl who’s so obsessive about aesthetics that she color coordinates the apps on her iPhone. So without further ado…
Let’s not beat around the bush: What are your tips on creating the perfect Instagram image?
It’s important that images are shot in natural light, that they are high contrast, and that the focal point is clear. If it’s a product or a person, it needs to be recognizable instantly, because you only have someone’s attention for two or three seconds tops. I also think that if you’re a company or brand as opposed to an individual, you should avoid posting people’s faces, because those faces are probably not relevant to your audience. If they’re following you because you’re a clothing brand or a travel brand, they don’t want to see faces that don’t mean anything to them — it’s more important to post photos that suggest that the viewer could be there themselves. It’s more inspiring.
One of my favorite Instagram accounts, @justinliv, features more point of view shots than photos of his face, so it makes me feel like I’m there in the moment with him.
Exactly. You need to be able to look at an image and picture yourself in that situation on that beach, reading that book, drinking that cocktail, eating that avocado on toast.
Which photos perform best on Instagram?
It really depends on why people are following you. If you’re an illustrator, post illustrations. If you’re a personal style blogger, people want to see photos of you and your cool style. But the more broad and relatable the topic, the better. Food is great. People need to eat, but people also really love food. Travel is great, too, because it’s so inspiring. Anything graphic works really well, too. The image doesn’t necessarily need to make sense, you could do a hand with a watch reaching out for an apple, but if it looks good it works well.
What do you see people and brands doing wrong with their Instagram feeds?
A lot of people treat Instagram like it’s Twitter; as a here and now platform. They don’t optimize it for what it is — an aspirational platform that’s very visual, creative and curated. People go onto Instagram to be inspired, so when you’re posting you shouldn’t just throw random images up there, you should consider how it looks on the feed as a whole. Your feed should always be visually merchandized for whatever your brand is. It needs to describe exactly what people are getting themselves into by following you — it should send a clear visual message.
Which is not to say that it has to be curated as meticulously as one of those beautiful travel accounts. Some of the most popular Instagram accounts are just endless selfies of a girl’s face.
It should look consistent so when you post something, it shouldn’t stand alone, you should consider how it looks in the entire feed. Essentially what happens when someone wants to follow you is that they go onto your feed, they do two scrolls, they see what you’re about, they decide if they want to follow you or not. If you’re not considering what your feed is about in those two scrolls, then you’re probably not going to get the follow.
What do you think of the Instagram algorithm?
I don’t think that Instagrammers should be afraid of it, because ultimately if you’re optimizing your content for Instagram then you’ll do better. It’s about posting better images and paying more attention to what content is resonating with your audience, because that content will win. All of the content is still there, it’s just being displayed in a different order. The app grew so quickly that there’s so much content on the platform that what people actually go on Instagram for doesn’t surface. So basically, the way the algorithm will work is that the content that people dwell on and engage with will rise to the top.
Do you notice trends on Instagram?
People’s tastes develop, and if you present the same content over and over and every other Instagrammer posts the same type of stuff, then naturally people will get bored with it and they’ll want something new. In terms of trends I think that flat-lays will likely fade away, and because there is just so much content out there now, people need to find better ways to surprise their audiences by sharing unique places or a unique perspective. So anybody who’s posting something needs to have a unique perspective, and a flat-lay is no longer that.
Finally, do you think that Instagram is contributing to the downfall of modern society?
I think that if you use Instagram in the right way then it shouldn’t be this pretentious ‘look at me’ medium, it should inspire people to go somewhere or to do something or to take a photo in a certain way. It should be more of a motivational platform than a FOMO platform. Instagram needs to be approachable not elitist.
All photos courtesy of Lauren Luxenberg.
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