Having a theme for your Instagram account is something that comes naturally for some people. Whether it’s the subjects they choose to photograph (travel, streets or flatlays) or just a consistent editing style that makes their account stand out. For me, it’s quite an intentional process as my feed is generally a visual story of my life in another country.
I spend most of my time making Europe’s famous brands look good on Instagram – so I don’t have much time to focus on my own feed. That’s why I use an Instagram feed planner. I now find it easier and less stressful to curate my feed because I can plan content up to 2 months in advance. I know, that may sound a bit obsessive and takes away from the “instant” part of Instagram. But this process is very helpful for me when I’m spending 10 hour days in the office, or in transit somewhere where it’s not always easy to plan and upload. It also eliminates the lazy Sunday morning post when you can’t be arsed about what to post next and anything will do.
So why is having a concept or theme important? Well, besides, taking great photographs, having something to focus on creates a consistent look for your profile and also makes it appear more professional. And, consistency leads to credibility. Your theme should be strongly representative of yourself. What is it about you that you want other people to know? It’s pointless trying to copy someone else’s style, because then you’ll always end up looking like a ‘me too’ which doesn’t really make you very recognizable or memorable. Also, brands are more likely to work with you if you have a strong brand presence, and that goes way beyond the number of followers and likes you’re raking in.
For example, look at..
I was a fan of Nataly and Murad’s #followmeto concept way before it exploded into this big cultural theme in travel. They were the first Instagram couple I discovered; I loved their style and if you scroll down far enough on their feeds you’ll see why they caught my eye.
I love everything about Kesarlily’s feed – the colours, the subjects, the way she styles her shots.. it’s so visually seductive. Her feed is a collection of beautiful soft pastels in the form of out-of-this-world sweets and desserts (mostly). She’s very intentional when she posts and she breaks the stereotype that suits can’t be creative.
I am a huge fan of the Australian instagrammer scene right now. These guys are just killing it on every level and I find myself scrolling through their feeds for hours at a time because of the beautiful art they create. May sets up elaborate food scenes and the most colourful crafted flatlays. Her work is instantly recognizable.
But getting to that level of credibility can take a while, and can take hours away from your day. Using a feed planner can help with creating that consistency. But you need to do some soul searching before that to establish what kinda theme represents you, or the work that you create. This post is not about hacking the system and making it big, it’s about making it beautiful, putting in the effort, honing your craft and enjoying the process. If that leads to you making it big.. then that’s a bonus.
So here’s what you came here for, my top three Instagram feed planners:
I’ve been testing Plann for the last year and a bit and been pleasantly surprised by its features and updates. You can:
- Art direct your feed by dragging and dropping creative. I always wanted Instagram to have this feature, because sometimes I feel like that picture would just look better further down next to something else. Plann’s drag and drop feature enabels you to do that. You can curate up to 15 images at a time to design a picture perfect gallery.
- Compose and draft captions and schedule your posts in advance. Because of Instagram’s API, it won’t publish the post for you automatically, but it will send a reminder to your phone that will open up your draft and all you have to do is hit send to make your content live.
- Saves your hashtag sets by best performing (and constantly optimizes it for you). You can also create niche hashtags and save them as additional sets.
- Tracks your content performance and creates a colour palette for you to follow based on your last 10 images – I thought this was tres cool!
Preview is my favourite visual planner right now. I follow them on Instagram and I read the blog everyday for inspiration and behind the feed interviews with popular instagrammers. I love the content they create and what they stand for. A little bit about the features:
- You can design your feed with unlimited grids (no limit on the amount of creative you can add, though you have to upload batches of 15 creatives at a time)
- Art direct your gallery by dragging and dropping creative until you’re happy with the way it looks
- Once you’re happy with the way it looks you can draft captions and schedule your content
- Like Plann, you can also save your hashtags in sets, but Preview goes one step further in suggesting popular hashtags for you to use based on the content you’re uploading. I’ve personally seen an increase in engagement since using their hashtag suggestion tool.
- You can monitor your performance plus the performance of your favourite instagrammer, or people who inspire you. Or someone you hate. Whichever way you swing.
- One of my favourite features of Preview is Themes (filter packs) that alters the colours of your photos so they all match; creating a colour palette for you. A colour palette is a set of 4 – 5 tones that will always be present in your photographs. Colour palettes automatically give your feed consistency and enhance the appearance of your profile on first glance. I struggle with this one, as my colour palette always changes based on the last place I visited, but Preview has helped me keep it all together and stay focused recently. I’m now much more conscious about the colours in my feed and I feel it helps me to create my best work. Work that I’m truly excited about, and excited to share.
You can edit your photos in both Plann and Preview but the functionality is not as powerful as Instagram’s native editing suite, so if you are editing on mobile, I’d rather do any last minute touch ups in Instagram just before uploading. Both Plann and Preview pulls in your most recent creative too, so you don’t have to plan blindly.
I use Tailwind when I’m on desktop and I need a bigger workspace to work with. I’ll upload my processed creative in bulk and drag and drop them to appropriate slots in the calendar. You can set your timeslots manually according to how often you post, or you could generate a template of best times to post based on your posting behavior versus engagement on your specific feed. You can also add multiple accounts to Tailwind, which makes brand management easy.
While the basic plan doesn’t give you much other than post scheduling, it does offer lifetime access for free and you can integrate your Pinterest account to plan your boards and board covers as well.
Happy creating. What does your creative process look like?