Instagram as a Yoga Marketing Platform
Growing a following on social media can be tedious. It takes time and strategy to develop a brand that's worth following and then way more time and consistency to expand it over time. Whether you're a yogi wanting to connect to the yoga community, a yoga teacher wanting to promote your events, or a yoga brand looking to expand your reach, Instagram is an extremely important tool to use to achieve your marketing goals. The yoga community on Instagram is growing exponentially, and the possibilities are limitless.
I've met many friends in real life that I initially met on Instagram (some of my closest friends actually!). I've traveled with them, laughed with them, created with them, and confided in them. Social media may seem silly to many, but it's ability to connect vast amounts of people from across the world within similar communities is unparalleled. Leveraging social media gives many brands that extra edge over their competition, regardless of the industry. When thinking about the yoga community, what is it that makes some yoga profiles better than others?
Stunning photography is a huge factor. Let me preface this all by saying that I'm still learning myself! I'm definitely not a professional photographer or marketer, but I've learned some tips along the way that have improved the quality of my content dramatically, and I want to share them with you. If you put a small extra amount of attention and intention into your yoga photography, you will find that you get more engagement, more likes, and more relevant followers than you did before. Of course, there are many other ways to get more of those things, but we'll focus on 6 of my favorite ways to take better yoga photos for your Instagram account.
Grow Your Following
I started to use my Instagram account as a platform to promote my yoga career in May 2014, while I was living in Costa Rica. I had no idea what I was doing, so I started participating in yoga challenges. If there wasn't anyone around to take my photos, I would prop my iPhone up on a tree, a shoe, or whatever I could find to get the shot. I used the self-timer function and would run into the pose or I would take a video and snap a screenshot of the pose. When I look back at some of those photos, I shake my head, wondering why I thought they were okay to post on social media (I've deleted most of those pictures).
I had 400 followers back then. I decided to host a yoga challenge of my own and since then, things have been snowballing. Getting to the first 1000 followers took forever. 5000 moved at a snail's pace. Now, I've locked in a solid strategy and I have been focused and consistent in regards to my yoga photography. My level of engagement has increased more rapidly since then. As of today (January 2016), I'm at 8100 and I estimate getting to 10,000 followers by March or so. I didn't buy a single follower and the majority of my followers are relevant to my brand (yoga, travel, veganism), so this helps me promote my blog and events. Stepping up my photography game has been a contributing factor to my growing Instragram following.
6 Instagram Tips for Better Yoga Pictures
If I'm not working with a photographer, I have to find a way to take great photos on my own. The photos I've used for this blog post are all photos I've taken by myself, of myself. Sure, they may not be the BEST pictures, but my point is that you can easily take better pictures with a few simple hacks.
Our brains and our eyes love symmetry. We're drawn to it and physical beauty is often defined by symmetry. Photos that have elements of symmetry perform better than those that don't. Symmetry can be achieved many ways in yoga photography. Think about the space you're in (the lines in windows, furniture, or walls), your body and the pose (how your arms are positioned, for example), and the photo itself. Many photos I see are crooked and it's SOOOOOOOOOO easy to adjust that on Instagram in the editor. It's literally called "adjust" and you use the grid to even it out. I use the horizon line or pieces of furniture to gauge it. Please don't post crooked ass photos. I did it plenty of times until I was like "WTF, no." and now my pictures look way better from that simple fix.
2. Invest in a Tripod
I bought an iPhone tripod on eBay for $10. For real. Here's a picture of all that came with it. It comes with a carrying bag and two holders to fit your smartphone. You snap your phone in and then you screw it onto the mini tripod (which you can make longer than what is shown in the photo) or you can hook it into to the selfie stick. It also comes with a bluetooth remote so you can snap your photos while in the pose!!! Genius! No more having to run into the pose or post grainy screenshots on the video.
3. Know Your Audience/Know Your Voice
Know the brand or the style that you want to emulate. Successful accounts have their "thing" that is consistent throughout their page. For me, taking photos on beautiful beaches around the world is my thing. It doesn't mean that all my photos are on beaches, but when I can, I take them there! I love everything about the ocean and I've built my life around being near the water, so it's representative of who I am. It's different for everyone. Some yogis love great architecture or cool doors, some like windows, and some like parks. It doesn't really matter what your thing is, but find it, be consistent to who you are, and depict that in your photos so that your true authentic Self shines through.
4. Clear Your Background
Use a clean, clear background for your photos. It's not always possible, but avoid having random people in the photo (unless you're in the middle of Times Square or something). Unless having pets or babies in your photos is part of your brand, avoid random cameos of animals or children (of course, please include both when they're doing something super cute like imitating your yoga pose). Again, if this is part of your brand, that's different, and there are always exceptions. A general rule: try to choose walls or backdrops that don't distract attention away from you - the yogi and the focus of the photo. Avoid outlets, light switches, random household objects.. you get the idea.
5. Use Bright Lighting and Clear Photos
Nothing's worse on Instagram than a dark photo or one that is grainy or blurry. When I want to post a photo, I look at it for 1 second and then I put the phone down. If the focus that I want to achieve doesn't stand out, then I realize that it's probably not a good picture to post. I, and many other people, keep the brightness level of our cell phones way down because the screen is really bright. If your photo is really dark, rest assured I'm scrolling past your picture fast. I'm not going to squint to try to make out what's going on in your photo. Brighten it up, people.
6. Be Graceful
The yoga challenge epidemic has been amazing at introducing people to yoga, but the downfall is that many people are trying poses that they just aren't ready for. Honor your body and your soul and put your ego away. It isn't flattering when you post a photo where you're grimacing or in pain. If you're attempting a pose that you're not ready for, pick up your smartphone and Google "[yoga pose name] modifications prep poses" and find some variations for the pose. Find one where you can take a picture in which you are breathing and smiling, not frustrated and anxious. A big pose that you're struggling or suffering to get into doesn't make you look cool, I promise you! Yoga is about being where you are, honoring your progress, and finding gratitude for things in the moment. Your practice will benefit much more in the long run if you incorporate prep poses and work there. An added bonus is that your yoga pictures will look way better.