#1 Instagram Aesthetic Trend for School Marketers: Treat Your Grid Like Your Homepage

This is the first in a series on Instagram aesthetic trends for school marketers in 2020.

Instagram might be the most important social media platform for schools today. The number of families using smartphones and tablets is growing every day. It’s likely that most of your prospective parents are using their phones to follow your school.

Since Instagram is designed to be used on a mobile device it has the power to bring you closer to enrolled and prospective families. Engagement is much higher on Instagram than any other platform, surpassing Facebook by 10 times, Pinterest by 54 times, and Twitter by 84 times. (Brandwatch). And, since 47 percent of Instagram’s users are between the ages of 30 and 49, you have the opportunity to target your content to your ideal audience.

The Instagram world moves fast, and when it comes to creative trends, things can change almost overnight. In order to be effective with your Instagram campaigns, you need to have your finger on the pulse of aesthetics and plan your Instagram content strategy in advance. Here are reasons and ways to treat your grid like your homepage

Instagram Aesthetic Trend #1: Treat Your Grid Like Your Homepage

These days, people turn to Instagram instead of Google to search for businesses and brands. For this reason, your Instagram profile is quickly becoming your new homepage. Just like you spend time and effort on your website’s homepage, it’s important to treat your Instagram profile the same way. Your Instagram feed grid will be the deciding factor in the user’s impulse to follow your school’s channel; if your feed looks inconsistent and chaotic, chances are parents won’t want to become a follower.

Your Instagram Bio is the Best Place to Make a Good Impression

Your Instagram bio is the first thing people will see when landing on your profile, it’s important to get it right. Make it easy for people to immediately understand:

  • A basic understanding of what your school offers
  • How your school will make their children’s lives better
  • Why your school is credible
  • How they can learn more about your school

Your Instagram Aesthetic Expresses Your School’s Brand

Your Instagram aesthetic needs to reflect your brand. It’s not just about having a great-looking feed, but your grid helps your branding. Can people recognize your school just by looking at your grid? When you’re mapping out and planning your Instagram profile, it’s important everything you post helps to tell the story of your brand.

The Foundation of Your Instagram Presence

The underlying foundation of your Instagram presence defines and supports your Instagram channel. It starts with design but also includes the tone of your school’s brand.

Your School’s Branding

Before you get started planning your school’s Instagram feed, take some time to revisit the elements of your school’s branding. Consider your school’s:

  • Colors and fonts
  • Brand essence and voice
  • What makes your school stand out?
  • What attracts families to your school?
  • What impression do you want to communicate?
  • What messages do you want to use?
  • Think like a big brand, but tailor it to your school

Your School’s Instagram Grid

How do you create a great Instagram feed? One way is to plan out your  Instagram grid layout. A grid layout helps you strategize about the overall look of your feed, based on each section of the grid. You can create a consistent layout by carefully laying out each square. The way in which you publish your content will produce your overall grid layout.

Grid Layouts

Here are twelve types of grid layouts to consider using for your Instagram feed.

  1. Squares

A square layout is the most basic, and most-often used grid layout. Post a photo, one square at a time, without thinking about the overall layout, but choosing your feed’s core colors and filters wisely. Popular Instagram feeds have one or two prominent colors, while others stick to a consistent filter. This helps your entire feed achieve a consistent look and feel across every photo you publish. Edutopia’s Instagram channel is an example of this. They are using an orange, blue, and purple palette as primary colors.

  1. Checkerboard

A checkerboard grid alternates between two colors or post types.

Most Instagrammers use it by posting a photo, then a quote, followed by a photo and another quote. This is ideal if you want to focus on sending inspiring messages to your audience through text and visuals.

If you decide this layout is right for your school, use a consistent font and background for your quotes. You can use whatever color you choose as long as you use it consistently. This helps you showcase your messages in a neat and pristine way, helping your feed achieve a coherent look and feel.

Here’s an example from @cerebralmist.

Here’s an example of a checkerboard layout built out of dark and light images and some quotes. @clairejenee.

  1. Row by row

A row by row layout is one of the most interesting layouts and is quite suited for schools. The idea is that each row tells a story. As followers scroll down the feed, their eyes move from left to right. So it feels as if you’re browsing through a magazine or visual publication.

The trick to pulling this layout off is to share a story in a set of three posts. The photos per row must be related to each other in terms of color, photo content, or visual aesthetic. You don’t need to feature the same object per photo, but ideally, each row should have the same visual aesthetic.

School content is conducive to the row by row layout theme. Each row could be a featured story about an event, classroom project, or other focused concept.

An example of the row by row layout can be seen on the Personal Journal app Instagram page. Personal journal app is rigorous about using this layout theme. One row contains different objects with the same visual theme, followed by another row of quotes.

Although this Instagram layout looks great, it does require advance planning because you have to publish three photos at the same time so the order per row isn’t ruined. However, the end results are worth it.

  1. Vertical lines

The vertical lines feed is a popular Instagram layout. The trick to pulling this layout design off is to post quotes with a consistent background in the middle of your feed to create the appearance of a vertical line.

You can also try to post an image, as long as each one has the same visual aesthetic or theme. For example, you could post an image with a white background in every post in the middle. An example of this grid style is My Simple Gram.  Since viewers’ eyes are drawn down the middle, it entices them to scroll down along the feed.

  1. Diagonal feed

The diagonal feed Instagram grid layout features images with a similar visual aesthetic or objects in diagonal lines. For example, The Preview App posts ideas, tips, quotes, etc. on a beige background in a diagonal pattern.

The trick is to post the same type of photo, color, or filters in a diagonal pattern. It may seem like a challenge to plan this layout type out, but it’s very easy to do once you understand the visual aesthetic for each shape.

  1. Rainbow feed

If you don’t want to stick to a limited color palette, you might want to consider a rainbow feed. Basically, the core colors in the feed change row by row as you scroll down. Sarah Peretz offers a wonderful example of a rainbow Instagram layout.

This layout grid type takes requires a lot more planning and effort compared to the other types of grids, but it can be very effective. You need to change the filters, colors, and edits after every 3, 6, or 9 photos. You also have to plan how the color will transition through each row in the grid.

One way people do this is to use a theme divider each time you transition to a new color. If you use a divider row you would upload 3 color posts and then 3 neutral images as your dividers.

A common use of the rainbow feed layout is to use the color wheel to help transition from one color to the next.

More information on how to make a Rainbow Instagram feed layout.

  1. Puzzle layout

The puzzle Instagram layout is one of the most stunning and strikingly beautiful types of Instagram grid layouts, but also it's also the hardest layout to execute and maintain. Basically, it features a single image that’s split into multiple ones. After they’re split, each individual part is posted on Instagram to recreate it’s larger image.

The downside of this layout is that ideally, each single image should be able to stand on its own after you split it. Otherwise, people who view the single post in their newsfeed won’t understand what the image is about.

You can purchase Instagram puzzle layouts for a reasonable price from Etsy or Creative Market. All you need to do is edit the color scheme, graphics, images, and quote text in Canva or Photoshop.

If you decide you like the look of a puzzle layout but are concerned about keeping up with it, you can always go back to a regular feed once you’ve finished posting all of the images in the puzzle graphic, usually nine or twelve posts. Once all the pieces are posted on your Instagram account, you’ll end up with a remarkable feed.

Want to try a free puzzle Instagram layout? Easil offers five free templates.

  1. Mixed feed

You don't have to stick to the same Instagram grid layout forever. Instead, you can use a variety of grid layouts in your feed. You can start with one type and switch it up. I do recommend you stick to your school branding, but you can play around with different layouts.

  1. Borders

Another design tool that can make your grid layout stand out is to add consistent borders to your images. You can try adding a white, black, or gray border. Example: Beautiful and Yummy.

Or, you can make your images look rectangle by adding a border frame that adds a large white space at the top and bottom of your image. The added white space that creates the rectangular photo look makes the details and colors of your pictures more vivid. Yuka Studio is an example of an Instagram account that uses rectangular borders.

You can mix up square and rectangle borders as long as you make all the borders the same color. This works best with white borders.

  1. Color blocks

Using blocks of color is a very popular Instagram theme idea right now! The idea is to create a gallery of images in bright, vivid colors, giving off a young and playful vibe. To get this theme right, try to find images (or create a background) with a strong color that fills the square from edge to edge.  Aurelie Cerise uses this technique effectively.

  1. Minimalist

This layout concept leaves your gallery looking neat and organized. If you want a minimalist looking feed, try using a metallic-looking filter that desaturates images and gives them a cooler feel. Minimal People is an example to give the feel of this type of layout.

  1. Black and white

Forever cool, black and white images are classic and classy. It’s perfect for pictures and blacks and whites can really show the rawness of your subject.

You don’t have to go with extreme black and whites either. Filters can give you different variations to give you look you like. Example: 555 Design

Thinking about your Instagram feed layout like it’s your homepage takes planning but is well worth the effort. Choose your layout theme and start designing! By the way, use the Archive feature to hide it from your profile and make it so others can’t see it. To archive a post, go to your Profile. Tap the post you’d like to archive and then the 3 dots in the top right. Select Archive.

What Instagram layout theme did I miss that you think should have been included? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…

About the author 

Brendan Schneider

Hey, I’m Brendan, and this is my blog. After 28 years working in private, independent schools in mostly admissions, enrollment, marketing, communications, and fundraising roles, I decided to make SchneiderB Media my full-time job, where I help schools get more inquiries through my Fractional Digital Marketer program. I also started the MarCom Society, a membership created expressly to help, support, and train marketing and communications professionals at schools.

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