To Grid or Not to Grid? Our Experience from creating an Instagram Grid.
The quintessential, “perfect” Instagram grid. When you hear this phrase, what comes to mind? Excitement? Frustration? A desire to try it for yourself? A few weeks ago, we decided to create an intricate but easily flowing grid for our Instagram. We did an experiment for 30 days, and wanted to share our results with you below to help you think about what’s truly important for your own business. We would love to hear what you think about it from our experience, so after reading, please share your thoughts with us on in the comments below!
In thinking about creating a grid that looked like this, it began because I wanted to adapt our Instagram in the overall look while having it planned out so that I could focus more on the back-end of running our business since our announcement just five weeks ago. However, I definitely didn’t anticipate how much of a headache it would actually cause if I wanted to change just one photo instead of sticking to the planned posts. The simple drag and drop or randomly post option that I love by using Planoly was gone with this look – all images needed to be designed ahead of time in a separate program, then planned to a T, then brought into Planoly, and it definitely took more time than I had anticipated (doesn’t it always seem to happen that way?).
I wanted to put a fun and different look into our social media and switch things up a bit – I like thinking outside of the box and knew that if I could only wrap my head around the idea in my head of it all in the digital layout, the look created would be really unique and different from what I had seen while giving myself permission to literally think “outside the squares”. The inspiration for this kind of an instagram grid actually came to me from a collection of personal photos on our kitchen counter, that had been casually laid out in a way that mirrors how our feed looked. Some were square, some portrait, some landscape, and when they laid together just so, I thought the look would be really cool for our Instagram and go along with our brand, since the majority of the photos we share are from the conference we’ve had. So, I set to work, wrapping my head around it all before the look was achieved. I made a goal to try it for 30 days, so that it not only gave me the time to get used to it and change the look of our feed, but also develop an opinion and measure our metrics from it.
It started out great! I planned out our posts and selected photos for the next four weeks, scheduling everything out in Planoly (which I use for both Society for Creative Founders and Grace and Serendipity – I highly suggest it as a planning tool if you are searching for one to plan out your own Instagram!). Most days had 1 or 2 posts scheduled, some days had three. Within that time, we had 2 of our fall webinars planned, 5 blog posts, and the celebration of sharing the dates for our 2018 conference, so we needed to make sure to stay on top of things social media wise as well.
However, being a business owner, sometimes things change and you need to be able to adapt and pivot with the images you share, which is incredibly challenging in a grid set up like this.
What I found was that if I missed a notification for a scheduled post and had another photo scheduled to be posted a few hours later, I then had to go back and rework the schedule (or switch out images, aka change all of the remaining images in a gridset) for those ahead. Which would set other things back, and when dates were included to share about blog posts or launches, it caused a bit of added stress along the way.
When tracking the metrics, we found that the images that had the smallest images cropped in actually had a much smaller reach than those that filled up almost the entire screen (as in, it was almost ¼ of our usual amount of reach from a post). I can see how it would affect the experience of using Instagram viewing images individually instead of on our profile, but part of me also wonders if the scanning capabilities of images when Instagram deems if they think your users will like your content before putting it out there came into play for this as well. And, if some photos were doing well and ranking higher in our engagement levels, sometimes I wanted them to be able to leave those as our most recent image to continue to increase in engagement – but by posting another photo, the engagement of the one that had been doing well would quickly drop. Again, I am assuming due to the algorithm included and to see that they are weighing the possibilities of the new image just shared would gain more engagement moreso than the one that was already doing well. The algorithm is a bit of a mystery to all of us, but these two things we did find to be true.
I also found that when things happened in the world, I wanted to be able to post and share my thoughts, but didn’t want to need to recreate the images in grid format to make them fit. Nor did I feel in this situation that it was right to do, as sometimes things simply need to be said without thinking about how it will affect your curated feed.
The positive from this?
As odd as it sounds, I was less concerned about the overall color scheme of the actual images used, because everything flowed well from image to image due to the additional spacing between each image from the marble background used for each. Dark and light photos paired well, we could go from one color palette in one image completely to another without them disrupting each other, and I also found myself wanting to post another and another to see how it would look on our feed. It definitely made it fun, I loved the spin on it, and the wide variety I was able to post in a short amount of time, and found that once they were scheduled, I looked forward to posting them more. However, overall, I found that it increased the time I spent creating content for Instagram working on items for our feed instead of working on more important things for our social media, like engaging with others and learning more about what the amazing creatives are up to, both those involved in our community and with new businesses and fellow creatives whom I wanted to learn more about.
So, when it comes to an instagram grid of this fashion, do I like the overall idea? Yes. I personally absolutely love the way that it looks and from the followers we surveyed, they loved it too. It certainly made me think about our feed in an entirely different way. But for us, in the long run, I would rather have us to be able to make changes and adapt quickly and spend our time interacting with others instead of planning so much. Locking ourselves into a grid made that incredibly complicated and more time consuming, so moving forward we are choosing to spend our social media time differently.
I do believe that planning out posts for your business is essential and helps you to focus on spending your time in the best way possible for your business moreso than creating the “perfect looking feed” in this format. In the end, I think that yes, it is important for you to curate images into an instagram grid that reflect your brand and highlight different things happening within your business, but that you also give yourself the option to pivot as needed or give yourself grace if you miss a scheduled post. So for us, we loved the experiment that was creating this Instagram grid, but we are happily returning to the land of the squares this week, and don’t plan to curate a grid of this style again.
To peek at the weeks we incorporated this into our Instagram grid, you can take a look here.
Now that I’ve shared my opinion on this, I’d love to hear from you as well!
What do you think about grids or the seemingly perfectly curated feeds or images that are within Instagram? Do you think you would want to try something like this for your business? Or are you happy within the land of the squares as well? Let us know your opinions in the comments below. And, we’ll see you over on Instagram!