Everyone who is active on social media can appreciate Instagram’s ability to serve as an effective marketing platform for brands. Brands selling highly ‘grammable products like AirBnB (think: picturesque getaways) or Adobe (stunning graphic design) have content that lends itself perfectly to the platform. But what if your brand doesn’t fit neatly into the cookie-cutter mold for social media success? First step: don’t bend your brand identity in the pursuit of double-taps, no matter how tempting a viral feed may sound. Read on for tips and tricks to make Instagram work for your brand, and not the other way around.

Build Your Brand Identity

When mapping out your Instagram strategy, be sure to stay true to your brand above all else. If you’re not selling pretty cupcakes or clothing (which practically creates content for you), try using Instagram as a platform to tell the story behind your brand identity. Design a campaign of posts that show the history, the faces, and the milestones that made your brand what it is today. Think creatively about what images can tell your story in a compelling way. Not only does this approach give you content options, but it lets your audience get to know—and trust—your brand on a deeper level. Check out Charity Water’s Instagram to see how it built a narrative (and beautiful feed) around something as simple as water.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

No matter what your brand represents, establishing consistency on your Instagram feed is a must. Decide on a few carefully selected photo filters, colors, and compositions that followers will instantly recognize as your brand. Choose aligned sizes and orientations so each post builds upon a well-curated feed. Will your posts be minimalist or bold? Monochromatic or pastel? Make your decisions and stick to them. Even if your brand isn’t built for the Gram, building a consistent style helps you turn content choices into branding power. Another important strategy to consider? Post your content regularly (once or twice a day is a good rule of thumb), and don’t overshare. Flooding your followers with content is an easy way to earn an unfollow.

Feed Perfection

Now that you have your story, content, and aesthetic, think big picture: your feed. Your individual post choices are important, but so is how your posts fit together. Whenever posting something new, think strategically about what it will appear next to. Make sure the posts balance each other out without overwhelming or distracting. Try a minimal post next to a highly detailed post, or a close-up next to a long shot. Once you’ve created an edited look, consider trends like the grid. To create a grid, post a series of photos that together create one larger picture. Or try the checkboard, where you alternate post styles. You may lose out on individual post engagement in the short-run, but the effect will help elevate your feed in the long-run.

Create an Engaged Community

The last step to leveraging Instagram to fit your brand is by simply using it as it’s intended: as a direct line of communication between your brand and your audience. Take the time to engage with people in your comments and direct messages. Follow your current fans back and like their posts and do the same with users who may connect with your brand. Instagram is constantly introducing new tools to help foster connection, so be sure to keep up with updates. Use Instagram stories to take your followers behind the scenes or into a day in the life of your company. Take it a step further by asking questions and using surveys to hear exactly what your followers think. Platforms like Instagram make it easy for people to get to know your brand. Now it’s up to you to make it happen.

Ellen Huber