Authenticity Over Everything


Mara Strobel-Lanka

Photo by  @jennracioppi

Photo by @jennracioppi


Anyone with an Instagram account and a habit of getting lost on the “explore” page has probably noticed that while content everywhere has gotten prettier, more professional, and more curated, it’s also started to all look the same.

The boutiques and bloggers that we’ve followed since their first mirror selfies, now have professional photographers armed with Pinterest pose boards and picturesque presets. Since influencers like @songofstyle and @evachen212 first proved the app as a marketing tool, retail shops everywhere have armed their Instas with savvy content creators, talented photographers, and trusty scheduling apps. We’ve watched brands in all industries heighten their Instagram game with new, aesthetic grids. But lately it seems we’ve watched them level out. The photos are beautiful, yet often unrecognizable. The makeup, styling, and poses are stunning, yet repetitive.

Everything looks pretty and everything looks the same.

Plateaus happen to everyone, in every industry. They’re a natural part of growth, but they don’t have to last forever. (And for lots of freelancing content creators, they can’t last forever.)

That’s where everyone’s favorite buzzword, “authenticity”, comes in. Marketing pros and media kits everywhere are flagged with the magic word, because it genuinely works magic. It’s the secret ingredient making your content not only recognizable, but unique. And the best part? Everyone and every brand has it. You just have to figure out how to show it. That’s where we come in.

Here are 7 tips and tricks to bringing your Instagram-game out of the plateau.

1. Tell your story.

We’re talking Instagram stories, aka the easiest most accessible way to show your audience who you are. Snap your morning coffee and also the stain it left on your favorite shirt. Show the world what you’re reading and share what’s inspiring you today.

2. LOL

Everybody loves to laugh. If a photo or caption makes you laugh, it will probably make your followers laugh too. So mix a shoot blooper, goofy pose, or corny joke in where you can.

3. For the love of Merriam Webster, pls stop posing candids.

4. The IRL rule.

Everyone gets a lot braver on the internet. While Instagram can be a grateful safe space to show yourself in a bolder light, it shouldn’t be a highlight reel of a second personality. So don’t caption, comment, or post anything you (or your brand) wouldn’t actually be caught doing or saying IRL.

5. Make it personal.

For Instagram personalities, this means telling your story or sharing a glimpse into your everyday life. For brands, this means team pics, origin stories, and “thank yous”. You don’t have to post a tell-all expose to show who you are, you just have to be a little honest.

6. Engage.

Your Instagram shouldn’t be a fish tank for the world to sit and stare at your life. Invite people in to comment, share their own story, or ask/answer questions about your area of expertise.

7. Trust your gut.

The only person who knows you, or your brand, best, is you. If a photo doesn’t feel right or a caption feels forced, trust your gut, wait a few hours, and start anew. Instagram will still be there when you’re ready for it.