Jessy Weiss

Instagram remains one of the fastest growing social media platforms with over 700 million active users. With its ever-changing features, it’s difficult to remain up-to-date on how to effectively use Instagram to complement your business’s overall marketing strategy.

At its core, Instagram is a visual platform. It offers your business an opportunity to present itself in a purely visual manner. Yes, the platform offers captions, hashtags (more on how to use those later), and tags but they are in place to support the photographic message.
When using Instagram, use the following:

A consistent, brand voice is essential for using Instagram. Your audience, especially on Instagram, seeks an understanding of your business’s “personality.” Develop content reflective of your business, but also specific to the platform. Your followers on Instagram will likely vary from those on LinkedIn. With that said, don’t shy away from distributing the same content across several platforms, but give each one its own voice.
Hashtags serve as a great way to reach more people with your content. Instagram users frequently search trending hashtags to discover new content so sprinkle a few hashtags in your posts. While sometimes overused, we recommend, based on our own success rates, between four and seven hashtags. Ultimately, let the content of the post dictate the type and number of hashtags.
Your Photo Feed
Good quality photos make all the difference on Instagram. It’s the platform for beautiful photos, and users know it. That said, while most businesses may not have a professional photographer at their disposal 24/7, it’s still possible to create a compelling Instagram feed. Take photos that represent the brand best and keep it consistent. Make sure all of your photos, professional or amateur, have a cohesive look by using a uniform filter on all of your photos. There is nothing more beautiful than a consistent feed! Case and point: @laurenconrad.
Also, check out Eric Bach’s blog, The Language of Light: How Light Alters Perception, for some tips on how to improve those Instagram photos!

Use stories to share in-the-moment and behind-the-scenes content. This strategy provides another opportunity for your followers to get to know your company’s personality and day-to-day. Get creative with your stories – post a series of videos to create a short storyline or a fun boomerang.
The discover tab gives users, and your potential followers, access to a pool of relevant content based on their existing followers and other Instagram activity. On the flip side, the discover tab provides a resource for your business. Scroll through this panel to see what competitors do on Instagram, and how your followers engage with other accounts to tweak your approach. The discover tab also allows you to find and engage with people who don’t follow your brand. By searching hashtags relevant to your business, you can find users and engage with them.
Carousel Photos
As one of Instagram’s newer features, the carousel photo feature allows users to post multiple images in one post. Strategically order your photos; display your strongest, most compelling photo first, followed by supporting images. Or, use the left/right swipes to create a larger, continuous image, like @subway.

Jump-start your business’ Instagram presence by following some of these tips and tricks. Stay tuned to the A. Bright Idea blog for more advice on how to keep your social media presence on brand, relevant and an integral part of your overall communications strategy.

Eric Bach

Light speaks to us. Using a language of its own, it elicits emotions, creates atmospheres and affects the way we perceive the world. Having an understanding of how light mingles with form can significantly aid storytelling in most types of art. Artists like French Impressionist painter Claude Monet and legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams understood the importance of light and used it to great effect.

Below, I describe three key components of lighting that photographers, cinematographers and artists utilize to help tell their stories and elicit emotion — much like Monet and Adams did. 

  1. Colors of Light

In addition to illuminating a space, light transforms the way we perceive the colors around us. Natural light, influenced by the weather, season and position of the sun (and moon), affect the intensity and hues of the subject. Artificial light also alters how we discern color. For instance, a standard incandescent bulb will make everything in its vicinity look “warm,” similar to a sunrise or sunset, while modern LED bulbs can emit a much cooler light, close to that of an afternoon outdoors.

Now, how do these differences help tell a story and manipulate our emotions? Many times, artists mimic nature to elicit emotion. For example, to create tension or emphasize the vibrancy of a scenario, artists tend to use warm lighting. Warm colors are typically associated with hot summer days, or fire, so subconsciously we often correlate this light with intense or lively situations. To evoke a sense of angst or depression, or to simply represent a cold atmosphere, artists intuitively use a cool color temperature.

lighting colors
Image 1: Cool light | Image 2: Warm light | Image 3: Colored light

 Quick Tip: Many photographers and cinematographers prefer to shoot during the “Golden Hour,” a short time after sunrise or before sunset. The light is warm, soft and often has a magical quality.


  1. Positioning of Light

Moving a light source just a few feet in any direction can dramatically alter an image. For example, positioning a light from above, pointing down at the subject versus from below, pointing up at the subject will take a standard sitcom scene and turn it into the makings of a thriller film. The positioning of the light determines the shadow placement, which is the element that adds or reduces the drama in an image. Having an understanding of how the positioning of light casts shadows and interacts with form allows artists to control highlight and shadow placement, often setting the tone for the image.

Lighting positioning
Image 1: Light positioned above, pointing down | Image 2: Light positioned below, pointing up

 Quick Tip: Soft light from above, pointed down is most often used for portraits, as it is the most flattering to facial features.


  1. Intensity of Light

Light exaggerates or softens the angles of a subject according to its intensity. Direct light often creates dark, crisp shadows, which artists can use to add power, mystery and drama to an image. To create a softer vibe, the light must often be diffused. Photographers can diffuse light by bouncing it off of a surface at the subject, or shining through a white, sheer fabric before the light hits the subject. In the natural world, clouds and a rising or setting sun create diffusion.

Lighting intensity
Three different light intensity levels

Quick Tip: Lighting one side of the face considerably more than the other side will add drama to most portraits.

No matter which art form you choose to express your creativity, you probably use light in some way — perhaps without even really thinking about it. The next time you pick up your camera or start drawing, consider how you can use light to create the perfect atmosphere to help tell your story. Or, leave it to us — obviously we love our light at A. Bright Idea!