Keeping to a specific color theme is crucial to maintaining a consistent brand, but even the truest of pros find this concept difficult to execute. “As an artist, aesthetic is crucial for me,” says New York-based celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec, whose 22,000-plus followers are hooked on the global beauty traveler’s engaging mix of exotic destination, celebrity and editorial nail posts. “I’m all about the usage of color. I arrange posts for the colors to work diagonally in the grid.” This strategy can be challenging, says Kandalec, when a shoot comes out with photos that don’t fit into her current color scheme. When that happens, Kandelec simply saves the photo to post a week or two later when it blends into her feed better.
Santa Monica, California-based nail artist Katie Masters, who has more than 44,000 followers on Instagram, also groups similarly colored or themed photos together to create an aesthetically pleasing feed. “It’s important [to have a cohesive look] when someone sees your feed for the first time, because they usually decide whether or not to follow you within seconds,” says Masters. The nail artist steers clear of filters and over-editing to prevent presenting a false impression. Instead, she posts nail photos with consistent backgrounds, lighting and hand poses. “With nail photos, we’re lucky to have a built-in color scheme, because we can post different designs with the same background or accent colors, and—boom!—we have color schemes,” she says.
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Future Feed Planning
Organization is key to building a cohesive feed for both your brand and audience. Masters uses the free app UNUM and Kandalec uses Planoly to visually organize, plan and schedule their grids. These apps allow users to see how a post will look within a feed before actually posting.
“I’m pretty strict about my posting method: travel, nails, travel—that unto itself has created a cohesive feed,” says Kandalec. “I also take lots of different shots when I travel, because I know it’ll give me more options later when I want to post it next to a nail set.” Kandalec creatively combines her two passions, nails and travel, by taking photos of her own nails in the places she visits.
At first glance, individual posts may appear tiny on an Instagram profile page, sometimes making it difficult to see nail artwork. To gain foot traffic on her page, celebrity nail artist Jenny Bui uses the PhotoTiling app to create individual images of one main photo (also known as a “roadblock”). The app automatically organizes the tiles on an Instagram page to appear as one image, like a puzzle. “I do this to bring more attention to my photo and artwork,” says Bui, whose 640,000-plus followers are hooked on the crystal-covered nail sets she creates for hip-hop artist Cardi B. “The tiles allow you to see artwork up close and add a nice look to your page.”Post Performance
“Incorporating my travel posts with nail art was the hardest for me because, visually, they’re so different—and they perform differently, too,” says Kandalec. “Nails shot in natural light do really well, colorful travel posts get the most likes, and simple nail looks are the most saved.” She suggests asking clients to take photos of their nails in natural light the following day for you to post. Show them a few examples so they know what to do. “Ask them to take a photo [of their nails] holding a cute coffee mug, against their jeans or in front of a cool wall,” says Kandalec. If you decide to post multiple images showing the before-and-after looks, never post the before nail photo as the main image in the carousel, she warns; post the final look first. Another tip: Only show your very best work; your feed is like your portfolio.
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Masters created her own recipe for success for her Instagram page. “Rushed posts with generic captions like ‘beautiful’ or ‘obsessed’ make the artist seem like just another Instagram robot, when really we all just want to see the person behind the art,” she says. “Take your time with captions and put thought into them. Brighten your photos to ensure they’re nice and clear.” Masters sees the most engagement on posts where she incorporates all of these elements.
Of course, adding a celebrity element will always get you more likes. Bui agrees, saying that her posts of Cardi B’s nails get the most interaction. “My audience also likes videos more than still images,” says Bui. “Videos show the true shine of the Swarovski crystals I use. Adding a popular song over the video also yields more views.”
Ultimately, top performance comes down to knowing your audience and the kinds of posts that speak to them best. Use this information to help determine how to organize your page in a way that showcases your brand and talent in order to gain more exposure and, hopefully, build your clientele.
–by Angelina Lewis
This story first appeared in the March issue of Nailpro magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.