Winnie Marion is entering college this fall. This summer we asked her to energize our social media, with special emphasis on Instagram. Here’s what she did.
When I was tasked with the “revival” of Techonomy’s Instagram page, @techonomy was, to be blunt, a little malnourished. The company posted at most once a month, aside from during its biannual conferences. The most redeemable thing about the page was the consistency of the filter used on pictures, meaning the hue and often a vignette in the corners of the frame. 
I felt a deep motivation to up our game. Instagram is an underutilised platform in business, and yet it is a way to reach a whole new side of our audience. People tend to see it as something not important enough to spend time on, since it is very different from other social media sites more familiar to most businesspeople, like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Instagram is adapted to give us, as users, a direct and more personal connection to others on the platform. I wanted to help people feel more a part of the Techonomy community. We want to keep people close to the development of Techonomy. Instagram is an important tool for this purpose.
To effectively use Instagram it is important to adapt to the style and capabilities it possesses as a platform. It exists in realm outside that of the other main platforms, and puts all its users, whatever their position or status, on the same level. Individual users appear and act very similarly to companies. Personal users take advantage of business features and are worried about their follower count to the exact same extent that businesses do.
Instagram success is not as straightforward as you might expect. It isn’t reliant on doing one specific thing or another well. Oftentimes, the accounts you see with great followings got them because they spent a lot of money on followers, comments, or promoted posts. Yet if you can get past those things, you find that if those things are done well, they provide accounts a closer and more familiar relationship to onlookers. Big businesses can feel personal on the platform. One difference, though, in contrast to how companies and public figures use Twitter, is that businesses won’t have any success attempting to “bash their haters” in one way or another. Instagram is middle ground. Users want it to remain that way.
Techonomy is a relatively small and personal company, which addresesses large issues and that makes Instagram a good fit for our operation. In order to reach our community in the best way, I wanted to appeal to people on a level where we could maintain our brand and ideology while creating personal relationships with our followers. I think it’s really important for us to keep personal contact, and to open more avenues of communication as we grow our company. To do this, our account needed, and still needs, attention and thoughtfulness, which is only possible if you are spending a lot of time on the platform.
Before my arrival, no one had set up the business features; we rarely posted, and there was a clear disparity between Techonomy’s brand and how we presented ourselves online. So this is where I started.
Instagram has giant amounts of data about the results of every post. One of the main things I do daily is update a spreadsheet with all the info I receive from Instagram’s business analytics, as well as what I recieve from Hootsuite, a separate social media analytics service. They look at how many people responded to which things on each post. There is information on whether or not an individual post led any users to follow the account, and how they might have found the post in the first place, whether through a hashtag, a location setting, or on their own feed. On Instagram it is important to understand why you are getting likes or followers.
In addition, people on Instagram are often hesitant about following too many accounts because of the gigantic number of spam accounts out there. Validating your specific profile should diminish user fears, so giving it a business appearance helps make it feel more legitimate. I also think it is important to officially become a business account so that you can put more information about the company in the profile bio. For example, in the Techonomy bio, I added the company address, a ‘media company’ label, and contact information. All of this was meant to give those looking at our profile more comfort, knowing it is an official account.
The difficulty in this, however, is that you must add those professional aspects to a page without abandoning the more personal aspects of Instagram. You also have to give thought to the feeling of  your specific brand. Some of these things are difficult to maintain and keep in balance, even for someone like myself, who is part of a very Insta-literate generation. But getting this process right will be what makes the brand work on Instagram. The heart of a company is what will eventually draw in a more solid and continuously growing community.
In keeping up the appearance of the Techonomy brand, it helped me to create similar looks and themes on all the Techonomy posts. I also added some default style, which is a tactic used by many users to retain recognizable signs of their business. The things that are displayed as a recurring signature for Techonomy are what I hope will make our audience enjoy getting updates on what we do. I try to incorporate the Techonomy logo or colors into most posts, but beyond that, I post a lot of photos cut into thirds, sixths, or ninths so that they show up cropped in your feed, but all the pieces line up once you look at our profile. Right now, I have begun putting white borders around our photos, which seems like something very small, but adds a strong  coherency to all the photos. However, I continue to learn about the best way to do this with every post I upload. I am constantly changing things as I seek to reach and retain our audience.
Overall, I am continuing to adapt the Techonomy Insta as more exciting things happen leading up to our important Half Moon Bay conference in November (#techonomy2018). In all I do, I want to acknowledge our audience as a real part of our community.
So without further ado: Follow us on Instagram @techonomy. Leave comments on our posts and message me any time, to let me know if you’ve been to our conference, what you like to see now, and what you’d like to see more of in the future. I’m going to keep helping out with the account after I go back to school this fall. Tag us in your posts and give us feedback. #techonomy
Here are some other Instagram accounts whose approaches I admire:
It has a great page with regular, relevant posts that all adhere to the same color scheme. Each picture is simple, aesthetically pleasing on its own, and even more so altogether on their page. This is a straightforward example of a beautiful aesthetic for a business account. (@Stitchfix is another great example.)
Aimee Song is a lifestyle vlogger/blogger who was listed in Forbes 30 Under 30 for fashion in both 2016 and 2017. She has 4.9m followers on Instagram, where she posts photos as she lives in luxury around the world. Her account is a good example of what many younger individual users wished their page looked like. (@beyonce‘s account is similar visually, but promotes her music more and posts less frequently, which Beyonce can do without risking losing followers.)
NYT posts the most beautiful photography, with individual stories or profiles in the caption of every picture. Out of all the posts anyone has ever sent to me, I would say that at least a good 70 percent have come from this page, mostly coming from the adults I know.
(Also @nymag, when they aren’t posting food, and @bloomberg are great media accounts.)
We hope to have Winnie onstage with us this November 11-13 at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay near San Francisco, to help our Techonomy 2018 conference understand the rapidly changing mindset and tech attitudes of what she calls the “Insta-generation.”