How to Win at Instagram

Patrick Janelle is a self-proclaimed Man About Town, and with over 340,000 followers on Instagram he’s also the man to ask for tips on how he successfully parlayed his lifestyle into brand opportunities.

In Tuesday’s session “Custom Content: How Publishers and Instagrammers are Leading Campaigns for Brands” we heard from Melanie Altarescu, Head of Strategic Initiatives, WIRED and Patrick Janelle, Executive Director, Spring Street Social Society. Patrick outlined some of his best Instagram advice.

1. THINK OF INSTAGRAM AS A VISUAL DIARY

What’s your story? What’s the world that you’re sharing with followers? Janelle treats his feed as a journal, posting 2-3 times per day, always chronologically. He adds context to his photos – and further insight into his world – through always including captions, saying “Instagram is a personal platform, and it’s important to connect your photos to your story.”

2. DETERMINE 3 KEY ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFESTYLE TO FOCUS ON

For Janelle, it’s food, fashion and travel. He’s had success portraying those aspects for brands in those specific industries, as well as on broader campaigns for companies such as Capital One and Amex.

3. CREATE A CANVAS FOR OTHERS’ DREAMS

Janelle noted that one of the key reasons people follow him is to see the streets and cafes and restaurants around New York. He creates scenes that people can project themselves into, allowing his followers to imagine that it’s them taking New York by storm.

4. iPhone IMAGES NEED EDITING TOO

While Janelle uses his iPhone to take all his Instagram images, he doesn’t skip on the editing process. Images are run through at least one, and typically several, editing apps before being posted. Janelle’s top three recommendations are Snapseed for the selective adjust feature, VSCO Cam for its filters, and Afterlight for adjusting midtones and highlights.

Altarescu noted that, from the brand perspective, one of the key aspects of working with Instagrammers is receiving images they can use on other platforms. The brands leading the field, such as Park Hyatt and Victorinox, are tapping influencers and taking the content they create and crafting it into campaigns for their website, social media channels and even print initiatives.

Jenni Dawes is the Principal Consultant at COLLABORATEUR, a collective of creative and digital strategists based in New York City.