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Authenticity Wins on Instagram

by Kim Garmon Hummel, on Mar 5, 2020 12:00:00 AM

Instagram is an amazing way to increase your reach to new audiences and garner more traffic for your company. It’s one of the easiest ways to spread your brand’s message through hashtags and quick snapshots of your products, services, customers, company culture, and everything in between!

One of the best ways to seamlessly integrate your brand and messaging into your social media feeds is to treat your Instagram page like your website’s homepage. When someone views your Instagram (or any social media) account they should be able to discern who you are, what you do, and how you do it through your bio and the images within your feed. Using your Instagram account to boost traffic to your website or products is more powerful than you might have guessed. In fact:

60 Percent Discover New Products Instagram Stat 200 M+ visit a Business Profile Daily Instagram Stat

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The goal of your website is to convert visitors into customers, likewise, the goal of your Instagram feed is to convert visitors into followers. Maintaining your brand integrity is imperative when it comes to mapping out your social posts for the upcoming month.

Your bio, highlights, grid layout, and editing style tell your visitors who you are and can help them determine in a few seconds if they want to follow your account. Increasing your follower count allows you to promote your products or services natively in your follower’s feed.

In today’s digital day and age, it is hard for anyone to hide mistakes or shortcomings. We are connected to the internet, news, world by our fingertips and people are quick to point out and abandon influencers and brands they feel are dishonest. Being real and owning mistakes isn’t just necessary but craved by followers.

Authenticity is on the Rise

The days of picture-perfect Instagram posts are far from over. Now people are starting to engage with authentic posts that reveal the real world behind the immaculate Instagram shots that initially compelled them to double-click. When videos surfaced of Instagram influencers behind-the-scenes of their photoshoots, followers began to realize that an effortlessly perfect photo realistically took an hour to shoot, three hours to edit, and a full team of photographers and designers.

We all want our lives to seem perfect from the outside, but life is messy. Seeing real-life problems and struggles reflected in those we follow online gives us a deeper connection to that person. Research has shown that Millennials are more likely to buy a product from someone they regard as a friend, even if that friend is someone they have never met and only follow online.

Showing the mess lets your followers in and allows them to have a human connection with you and your brand. With the rise in real posts comes a rise in caption lengths; many of these read like memoirs, depicting real-life struggles.

One of my favorite influencers is a cute Australian girl named Kayla Itsines. She is a workout guru and healthy-living enthusiast. Kayla sells a workout program that helps women (and men) of all sizes, weights, and abilities get Bikini Body ready. It’s easy for Kayla to post about her everyday meals and workout routines as picture-perfect and use her physique as a selling point for her workout guides. But those aren’t her most engaging posts.

Instead, Kayla posts before and after photos of other women around the world who have found success in her program. She uses the posts to showcase how her guide can change the viewer’s body in three months, but more importantly, to boost the women and empower others to make a change.


She recently became a mother and is not shy about the struggle she has faced in getting back to her pre-baby physique and physical ability.

Showing the real side of your company is not always easy. When you find yourself in a tough situation, the last thing you're thinking about is whipping out your camera and film. But you can show that gritty realness in ways that make your company transparent - i.e. authentic. Promoting the causes your brand is passionate about, a tear-covered face over the retirement of a beloved coworker, or how your service has impacted real-life people are all imperfect ways that show how your company lives and breathes just like its followers.

The ‘No-Edit’ Edit

Going along with increasing your authenticity is a new photo editing style - well, lack thereof editing style.

Many feeds are stepping away from the filtered and overly edited post style for a more natural look that showcases the image’s natural beauty. This ‘no-edit’ editing style became prominent with the introduction of the app VSCO (pronounced Vis-Co).

Slight enhancements to temperature, vibrance, and brightness are markers of the VSCO style. All in all, the VSCO style aims to blend preppy, high-fashion with laidback, beachy vibes making for an almost effortless look.

Substituting highly processed images for low-effort, minimalistic snapshots enhance the authentic feel of Instagram feeds. Artifact Uprising does an amazing job posting images that look as if they came straight from their camera’s memory card.

Articles Uprising Instagram Feed

None of their photos look like they were highly processed to create the perfect image. For a company that helps people turn digital images into permanent prints, books, or calendars, their Instagram feed allows their followers to imagine their favorite moments turned into lasting, tangible copies without any necessary processing.

Their feed targets an audience that uses more professional, DSLR cameras without distancing themselves from people who want to memorialize some of their phone’s camera roll. Their feed tells their followers: “Your images are stunning just as they are, don’t let bad printing distract from their beauty.”

Doodles and Lines

A minimalistic trend that can add some spunk to your posts or feed is inserting small doodles in your background or accenting your main subject with an outline. The one and only Kim Kardashian West is one of the first influencers to take this idea to the trending page.

This trend is whimsical and requires little editing other than placing your doodle where you want it in the frame. There are even apps that will help you get the look Kim Kardashian West obtained without having extensive knowledge of Photoshop.

Later Media did an excellent job incorporating these doodles and lines when it came to promoting their conference, LaterCon. Each image they posted regarding the conference had a doodle (or four) in the background that connected to the posts next to, above, below, and diagonally. 

Adding doodles and lines is an easy way to add flair to an otherwise simple post. You can enhance your photos with doodles to help show off your brand's personality. You can even add animated doodles or lines to videos to help draw attention to things happening in the background.

Captions that Say it All

Since 2016, caption lengths have doubled in length

Instagram is quickly becoming a place not only for eye-catching photos, but also for thought-provoking commentary. A picture might say one million words, but the caption below it can enhance the meaning of those words.

Another Instagram influencer that I follow is Julia Ledbetter. Julia uses her account to promote body positivity, exercise motivation and tips, and mindset changes regarding one’s body image. Each of her posts is accompanied by lengthy captions including motivational quotes and her own personal struggles with body positivity. 

View this post on Instagram

​​[SERIOUS QUESTION] ​👉🏻​ What’s the first thing you notice when you look in the mirror? ​👀​⁣⁣⁣
​​I’m guessing you point out every single flaw, am I right? ⁣⁣⁣
​​“Why do I look so fat?”⁣⁣⁣
“I wish my my legs were thinner.”⁣⁣⁣
​​“Ugh, the bags under my eyes are horrible.”⁣⁣⁣
​​Do you’re thoughts sound similar? ⁣⁣⁣
​​Alright, now go look in the mirror again. But this time I want you to smile. ​😃​⁣⁣⁣
​👉🏼Take a good look at your smile…⁣ it has brightened up so many people’s lives with that simple gesture...⁣⁣
👉🏼Look at that stomach: think of the days when it’s been full and the fact that you have the privilege to even eat ⁣at all! ⁣⁣
👉🏼Look at your legs: they have held you up when you thought you weren’t strong enough to stand ⁣⁣
👉🏼Look at your eyes: they have seen so many beautiful people and places... what a blessing🙏🏼⁣⁣
Your body has been there for you since day 01 and it FREAKING loves you sister! ⁣
​​Also, wanna know what other people see when they look at you?!?⁣

​​The people who truly love you don’t care about any of your “flaws”. ⁣⁣
They don’t care about the weight you gained (or even the weight you lost). ⁣⁣
They care about the smile on your face, the energy you radiate and the way you make them FEEL. ⁣⁣⁣
​​​👉🏼You are MORE than your body. ​​ ⁣⁣
👉🏼You are MORE than the “flaws” you see. ​ ⁣⁣
👉🏼You are MORE than the weight you think you need to lose. ​⁣⁣
​​It’s time for you to start focusing on everything you are rather than everything you think you are not, Capeesh? TAG someone who needs to read this too!👊🏼🤟🏼❤️ #embraceyourreal

A post shared by JULIE LEDBETTER (@juliealedbetter) on


It may seem solely trendy to write such long captions for a simple photo, but it highlights the overall trend towards authenticity.

The longer the caption, the longer followers spend viewing your post in order to read the whole post. In the long-term, this will benefit your account as longer view times play into their algorithm. When people feel that they have received something authentic and real, the more likely they are to engage with more than just a ‘like’; the conversation has been started by your caption.

The perfect pair for true authenticity is real-world, ‘no-edit’ photos with longer captions that engage and relate. When your followers feel like they truly know the person behind the account then they feel a deep connection and desire to learn more. Think of Instagram as your favorite novel turned picture book without missing any detail from the story. When you really know the characters and see their flaws or shortcomings, you begin to truly care about them.

As Instagram continues to become a place for more authentic accounts, posts, captions, and comments, it is now more important than ever to solidify your brand voice and tone and let it reflect through your social media accounts. Let your followers connect on a deeper level with your company and you will see an increase in followers, conversions, and long-term customers.