Castle Builder Tips:

Building your Brand with Instagram

by Amélie Walker-Yung

Instagram Screenshot
@instagram‘s Instagram

These days, a website is not enough. It is vital to enhance your online presence by using social media. I’m always on the lookout for tips to help clients with their social accounts. Recently, Instagram has been on my mind.

My ears perked up when I heard Sarah Phillips of @Food was running a Good Fest workshop focusing on Instagram last weekend. Phillips is a photographer* who has been on Instagram since early 2011, when it was a newborn app. She is unquestionably an expert on the most image-centric social medium.

Know Your Brand

This is the main thing Phillips stressed. You must determine your brand and mission and stick to it. Create a clear message. If you have multiple brands, keep them separate.

You should also know your community. Take some time to look at your followers’ Instagram feeds. Keep your target audience in mind as you compose Instagram posts. The same image can have very different reactions on different accounts.

Photo Tips

A good photo is key, which you’d think would be obvious. I’m baffled when restaurants, for example, post unappetizing food photos. (Really, I have seen it.) Phillips mentioned what also seems a no-brainer—make sure your images are in focus! Unless that is your style, of course…

  • Establish your own unique style.
  • Don’t use too many—or irrelevant—props.
  • If you are not a professional photographer, stick with natural light.

Ideas to try:

  • Keep the subject off center.
  • Create patterns.
  • Use a consistent background (part of your “style”).


How do you know what works? Phillips says you should just look at your likes and comments, that it’s not scientific. Experiment, and you will see what works (ie. gets more likes) and what does not.

I’ve found some tools out there, but many of the free ones are limited. Crowdfire is an app good for finding non-followers, fans, and unfollowers. It’s free with paid plans for more features. SimplyMeasured provides a free report covering the past 3 months that gives your most engaging posts, filter, locations and time to post. They do require name, email, phone number, and a follow on Twitter to “buy” the data. I have not tried Social Insight yet, but the Huffington Post calls it the most promising Instagram tool of 2016. There is a free trial but no free account level.

I agree with Phillips, especially as you get started, monitor activity yourself. You will begin to know the what, when, and how often that makes sense for your brand.


Find Castle Builder Design on Instagram @castlebuilderdesign. My personal account is @cupcakeamelie, and I’m also part of the newly created @drinksunited. Follow CBD clients @nadajones, @archaeologymagazine, and @30aweddingco.

*Sarah Phillips was recently one of 10 photography winners of National Geographic’s Make Art, Not Food Waste Challenge. Learn more about the movement to increase the consumption of “ugly” fruits & vegetables by following her work @UglyProduceIsBeautiful.

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By Amélie Walker-Yung

Amélie, the founder of Castle Builder Design, has been constructing a wide variety of websites for two decades. She manages all projects and specializes in crafting visually compelling yet clear-eyed designs, all the while taming open source software. She sees a successful website as a puzzle solved through the seamless integration of its two vital elements: beauty and function. Amélie was the membership coordinator Webgrrls NYC for several years and enjoys baking.


  1. Not just that website is not enough, I often see some brands operate only on social media, no website at all.

  2. True, Damir! I find that interesting. There is a risk there, though, as we do not have control over the social media platforms as we do with our own websites.

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