19 January 2020
Have you ever followed someone on Instagram, that you connect with, and felt like you know them and who they are as a person?
Even though you may not know everything about them, you get a sense of their personality. You gradually get to know people who are strangers, a little bit more every time you visit their profile, read a bit of their thinking and get a small snippet in their lives. You get to know their ethos and beliefs – bit by bit. Photo by photo. Caption by caption.
You feel that “connection” with them that makes you look forward to what they post next. Instagram Visuals can communicate a lot in an instant to create that feeling of connection with our audience.
When you post photos without thought, or the intention is the highlight of the day, yes you may be able to communicate some things but this is different from creating a deep resonance with your audience. Where they get to know you as a person and a business owner they can trust or not.
So how do Instagram visuals help us create deep connection with our audience? Let’s unpack the psychology behind it all.
I’1. Understanding two human needs that your visuals fulfill and that keep people coming back for more.
Have you seen how kids learn numbers?
They learn to count the dots in little squares and before you know it, they recognise the numbers instantly without counting each dot one by one. They recognise the pattern and know what number they represent.
Similarly, when someone visits your Instagram profile, they are looking for patterns.
Not consciously, but certainly, they are asking themselves, ‘what can I find here that’s relevant for me?’. They are looking for patterns in your photo to make sense of who you are as a person.
The human brain learns through repetition. We learn to recognise patterns from very early days. That’s how something gets entrenched in our minds.
So we want to create almost a pattern in the minds of our audience.
In my feed, I want to communicate a few things about me, that is an integral part of my personality. Travel and nature, Tea time which is my favourite and sacred time, my family, talking about creativity, mindset in business, aesthetics, rustic and soulful stationery.
Pattern is usually created by being consistent. When we see the same thing, we learn to predict it.
Haven’t you noticed the same thing in personal relationships too? We love predictability.
What are we going to get? We like to know that in advance. It helps us to be certain and human beings love certainty. We form an opinion of someone when we notice a consistency in their pattern.
Even in real life, we make judgements based on our past experiences what that person is likely to say or do or behave. It helps us to settle on things and makes us feel in control.
How do you create that pattern without being repetitive and boring?
Contrary to what I just said, we also love surprise and novelty. We don’t like to see the same thing over and over again, and our audience does the same.
They love to anticipate and see new visuals from us. Imagine if we posted the same photos over and over again. Won’t our viewers get bored and tune out?
(I acknowledge some accounts on Instagram who post very very similar photos over and over again. However, I find that stifling to my creativity and expression.)
How do we create this synergy between the two opposing elements on our Instagram feed?
Visually, you do that by using some elements that are part of you and personality.
For example, in my feed, you will notice a lot of cups, ceramics, and dainty little things that surround me in everyday life. However, I keep it all consistent by keeping the look, colour and mood the same in my photos.
When you post new photos, with a similar element and with similar mood, but in new ways – that creates novelty in your visuals.
This is helpful because it means you do not have to come up with super new visual ideas from scratch all the time. And the comfort of knowing that you are showing yourself in a consistent way to your audience.
Your visuals can be similar, just not the same.
Another important factor in creating a connection in your viewers is to take into account the feelings you are trying to create. Let’s see why that’s important and how we can do that?
2. Creating an Overall Mood in your Instagram Feed
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
(Bless Maya! Love her so much.)
This is true in our context as well. Business is full of boring facts and figures.
People may not remember what you tell them about yourself. They may only take the time to read captions once you have got their attention with your visuals.
But, you can give them the gift of feeling a variety of emotions (hopefully all positive), and to associate those emotions with your brand.
I think of the mood as your home. How does your home feel? I am not a fan of ultra modern, glamorous decor in my home. I find comfort in having meaningful things that tell a story about me, I love art, common people and culture.
In my brand, I want to create an artistic, adventurous, calm, soulful feel.
Why this is important? By putting out visuals that are true to who I am, I tell my story in little squares, and I am working towards attracting people who resonate with similar feelings and ethos.
So if someone is ultra glam, and hate rustic, eclectic vibes, they will be repelled by my aesthetics and that’s a good thing.
It helps me to create an extension of my visual brand.
The term brand is thrown around so much, that we have become blasé about it. No one stops to think about what brand actually means.
Brand in simple terms helps a customer decide one product over the other. And they do it based on how they feel about that brand.
Did you notice I said what they ‘feel’ not what they ‘know’ about it?
We are irrational human beings and we decide based on our feelings and then justify in our minds. Yes, that’s true. So, we may be little 5-year-olds in adult bodies. Well, almost.
Your visuals play an important role in creating an emotional connection with your brand.
They create a mood in your Instagram feed that people get attracted to. It depends on what’s your personality and what your audience is looking for.
Are you happy bright, chirpy or more thoughtful, considerate and artistic? By creating that intentionally, we ensure our audience and us, we are all having a shared experience.
But, how do you know what mood you should go for?
This usually stems from your brand and your personality. You can ask questions such as:
- What kind of brand do you want your business to be in the world?
- What’s true about you as a person?
- What kind of things do you like in real life?
- And, how can you translate that in your Instagram feed?
I always recommend my clients to stay true to who they are, otherwise it won’t be sustainable and it is likely that we will get exhausted pretending to be someone else and keeping that authentic vibe.
3. Creating a Story
Some of us use social media to find our own truths and also to express our own truth.
It’s up to us to create a narrative in our viewers’ minds.
Pictures transcend the words and can be a powerful means to create an experience for others.
Little moments from my day, my messy desk, my cup of tea, my favourite earrings, me reading my book and having a quiet moment – are all little stories about my life that I aim to depict in my photographs.
Why are these important?
Well, have you ever seen feeds or photos that are just full of quotes and promotions about their stuff?
This is not a judgement against them, but in my opinion, they create a superficial connection with your viewers. They don’t communicate your personality in a rich, meaningful way.
Our viewers need more to understand us and when we share what we “see” out in the world, we are able to communicate that at a much richer and much deeper level.
So, how can you find stories in your life?
Firstly, know that you don’t have to share everything online to be authentic.
You can pick a few topics you are comfortable with and then explore them in depth and in a variety of ways.
- Your rituals.
- Trip to the market.
- Things that move you.
- People in your life.
- Quiet moments.
- Favourite things.
What are some of the things, people that create emotions in your life? They don’t have to be big or grandeur but even simple moment in your motherhood. Moments where you realise something. A beautiful sunrise moment. When you spotted something or someone that caught your attention. Ebbs and flows in your day. The purpose is to give a real picture of who you are to your audience.
How can you capture those in photographs?
Those can be powerful tools to communicate you as a person and viewers can get a “picture” (quite literally!) of who you are as a person. And that’s an important job of a platform like Instagram.
To tell your story in a meaningful and a strategic way, that lets your personality shine and also works for your business goals.
“The Dusty Tracks”
Sign up to receive my bi-monthly digital column in your inbox. For the disobedient and quietly fierce trailblazers.
Join”The Dusty Tracks”
A bi-monthly digital column in your inbox.
They think you are crazy. Crazy enough to start this journey on the dusty tracks of freedom. To throw yourself into creating something from nothing. Some call it business. You call it Freedom. They say “This is a ridiculous plan. It will be exhausting.” You say “Some of us find normal …quite exhausting.”
You started the trek the dead centre of a seed of a crazy idea and now you know it will lead to the glorious ending of freedom and fulfilment. The winding road will be full of awkward, stumbling, messy points along the way. And very few people will be able to appreciate the beauty of trekking through this utterly barren land. That’s ok. As long as some people do.
I am one of those crazy adventurers too. Because I see your fire, and the daredevil inside you. I see that person who refuses to shrink and valiantly pursues the calling of her heart. I do too.
So join me, and others who scream that failure is normal, pursuit of purpose is liberating and dusty tracks are exciting.
I think we’d have a great time sharing our journeys, exchanging maps, sipping some tea around the fierce campfire along The Dusty Tracks.