Instagram Essentials: Build Your Brand, Grow Your Community | Scott Bakken | Skillshare

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Instagram Essentials: Build Your Brand, Grow Your Community

teacher avatar Scott Bakken, Photographer & Socality Founder

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Finding Your Aesthetic & a Cohesive Theme


    • 3.

      How to Build Your Social Influence


    • 4.

      Community Engagement & Telling Your Story


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Product Placement & Authentic Captures


    • 7.

      Wrapping Up


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About This Class

Join Photographer and @Socality founder Scott Bakken for a fun, beautiful 40-minute class on finding your voice and building your online community through Instagram!

Inspired by the Socality community of photographers and adventurers that Scott created, you'll learn how to use your social media presence to build your own community. Scott shares insightful tips on identifying and photographing your surroundings and editing for a unifying aesthetic. You'll learn how to connect with people from around the world on social media, and make your voice heard through your online presence.

You'll be on your way to building your own online presence by the end of this class. You'll capture 3 photos of the place that tells your story– all with a unifying aesthetic that will begin to define your voice.

Photos courtesy of @scottcbakken

Meet Your Teacher

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Scott Bakken

Photographer & Socality Founder


Scott Bakken is a photographer, adventurer, traveler and founder of Socality. He lives in Calgary, Canada.

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1. Introduction: My name is Scott Backen. I live in Calgary, Canada. I started a thing called Socality. The story behind that is, I lived in Calgary before my wife and I. We moved to Sydney, Australia in 2005. It was awesome. We loved it. It was warm. It was beautiful. We had a great community there. We found ourselves moving back to Calgary six years later and coming from beautiful warm and stunning beaches and a wonderful community coming back to Calgary where as you can see today we're here in the mountains and it's beautiful. It's awesome, I love it. I didn't love it. When we first moved back, it was cold and there wasn't a lot of people I could find like myself and I found the culture very different. Really overwhelmed by the majesty, but also overwhelmed by the isolation and I felt myself just capturing photos and images of these spaces. Before you know it I started to connect with people around the world who were posting similar images to my style. If I feel this way and there's other people that feel this way, I wonder if we could do something different with social media. There's kind of two approaches to social media. It's, "Here I am", and that's where people post about their work. But there's also the other parts of, "There you are", where you can discover somebody else and find somebody and that's the approach I wanted to take. It wasn't "Here I am", it was "There you are", I want to find people. I wanted to meet people and learn. I always say it's not about the mountain, but it's about who that mountain connects me to. Everything we do speak in and when you create something, when you post something, when you share it out there you're really putting something out there that's drawing other people into your world who like the tracks, like you find in your community you find your tribe. I'm really proud to be talking to you today because the course that we're going to be having today is about you finding your voice online and building your own personal online platform. So, the project that we're going to be giving you is taking three photos in your surroundings in a similar aesthetic and then you're going to post them one after another, night after night for three nights in a row. So, that top line of your Instagram gallery is all going to compliment each other. One thing that I think is really powerful, about finding your online voice is really finding your style, finding your theme. For me it's landscapes. I post mountains because I live in the mountains and so the concept of Socality was birthed in me in a space just like this, out here alone thinking, how can I find people like me and how can I unify us together for good. 2. Finding Your Aesthetic & a Cohesive Theme: I'm going to give you four tips right now that I apply that people ask me all the time. I'll just meet with people and say, "give me four tips." I'm speaking specifically here in Instagram. Number one, keep it consistent. That there's a real consistency behind what you're doing. I can walk into a space and know instantly that there's something there for me or not in relation to what I love. So, I think it's really important that you know who you are and how you're going to present your voice to people. Number two, know your aesthetic. Not saying that you can't do all, but it's really about how your aesthetic and how you present that and you really finding that consistency in that cohesiveness within your aesthetic. You can look at my feet and you probably won't find any indoor shot. Not that I probably shouldn't push myself but it's just my aesthetic, it's what I love. I love sharing the vastness and the beauty of the outdoors and people within that landscape. So, for me that's my aesthetic and that's what I love posting, that's what I love sharing. Number three, find your tribe. I think that's really important when it comes to social media. There's millions, and millions, and millions of users and you're not going to connect with everybody. Not everyone's going to love you, and you're not going to love everyone and that's okay. I think it's important to find your tribe and by that I mean find the people that you love to follow and inspire you, like attracts like. Not only do you really enjoy their work, it inspires you, you learn from them, you grow from them and then you can probably end up meeting them in person and even grow even more. I think it's important, it is social media and the whole goal there is to be social. So you could find your tribe and that's really helpful in developing your own platform because you're going to engage with people who are like you, and most likely will inspire you. Number four, connect with others. Engagement is key. I can't stress that enough how important it is to engage with others. It's kind of like when you're hanging out with somebody, you go, you hang out and have a conversation. I think that's like posting. When you post on social media, you're really putting something out there to have a conversation, to really engage and to really connect and say, "hello" and it's like having dinner with somebody. Even if it's just a simple smiley face, just something that acknowledges that you see them and you appreciate that they value your work. There's two reasons people post. They post for their friends. So for the people around them that they already know and that's kind of when you see more like they're posting and there's nothing wrong with this, but you know what I'm having for lunch, your pizza, your friends, and just the things that the people in your world understand. Then there's the posting for people that yet don't know you, or for the general mass. So I would say I post more for that, I post from people that know me but also for people that don't know me. That you post a picture of a beautiful landscape that can connect with everybody, that can really inspire a lot of people as whereas maybe things that relate more to a personal world, don't relate to everybody, and so that could also affect why people are not necessarily engaging with you, is they don't know that part of your world, they don't identify with it. So, maybe more neutral based things, or more general things that are inviting to a greater population is probably going to be more enticing for people. So posting with purpose to start a conversation and for the greater mass is probably more helpful. So to increase your following, or to attract new people, or to bring new people onto your platform. I think we've really got to create for yet the unknown relationships that are not yet in existence. 3. How to Build Your Social Influence: People ask me all the time, "How did you build your own personal Instagram?" I've got my own personal Instagram @scotts [inaudible] and then I've got @scottality. Two platforms. Two totally different platforms built two totally different ways, but the strategies are still there. Being cohesive, being consistent, posting what you love, reaching an audience, posting for people you don't know, inviting people in. I think those are all great keys. I think when you're stepping back and learning how am I even going to start here? How am I going to build my platform? First of all, I think it's important not to get carried away with numbers. Don't look at somebody else and go, Oh, I need to be like that. You just need to be you. You need to enjoy what you need to do. There's a lot of pressure and I think that that pressure can overwhelm people. I think it's important to not compare. They say comparison is the thief of joy. The most important thing is you got to do what you love. You got a really really love it. If you're doing it for growth, if you're doing it just to get numbers, I would say it's probably not a good starting point. I think the starting point is got to be I love this, I enjoy it and I want to meet people, I want to build community, I want to find new people and I want to create, I want to express myself. Like I said before, there's no limitation to social media. There's not a right or wrong way. It's just being who you are. So, ultimately doing what you love. So, if for you it's landscape, post landscape. If for you you want to switch it up and you want to really push yourself, push yourself. But as long as you do what you love, I think people will follow you on your journey because as long as it's authentic to yourself, people will accept that and follow you. Number one, start with what you have. It can be very overwhelming. People can feel like I don't have the best laptop or I don't have the best camera, I've only got an iPhone or my iPhone is older or I don't have the right editing gear. Honestly, I'm going to be honest with you, I started with my iPhone and I edited on my iPhone and I actually still edit a lot on my iPhone and I will show you a little bit more about that later. But I think number one is start with what you have. What are the resources around you? Don't get overwhelmed with what you don't know. Don't get overwhelmed with what you don't have. People can be extremely resourceful and extremely creative. I think as long as you start with what you have, you can learn from there. So that's number one, start with what you have. Number two, use what's in front of you. I think that's extremely important. You can walk into a space and go, what's here and how can you shift it or move it around? I like to put people in my shots. So often, when I'm hanging with my friends and we go take photos, I like to show the scale of the majesty and the beauty of the landscape and use a person just to enhance it. Often, putting a person in a shot can just enhance and show the scale of the place and I like that. For some people, they love to shoot lifestyle and they like to get coffee cups and their notebooks and what's around them. Take what's around you and really set it up and set the stage for what you want. Can I just say that there's nothing wrong with staging a shot, because it's still authentic, it's still you, you just used your creativity to present it how you want it to look and I think that's fine, I think that's a whole in how you're portraying it. But use what's in front of you. Number three, really important. Ask questions. I don't know everything, I'm still learning, there's a lot I don't know. I think if you can put yourself around people and always be asking questions. I don't think being on social media is about being the best, I think it's just about being you and if you can ask questions and really learn. Google's great, YouTube's great, your friends are great. Or if there's someone that inspires you on social media, DM them. Ask them a question and learn. Always be learning and never think that you know it all. Number four, surround yourself with people that inspire you. I think that if you feel like you're the best in the group, that you probably need better friends because you need to be putting yourself around people all the time that are challenging you in areas and making you stronger and I think that's a good place to be. So, always be surrounding yourself with people who are better than you, who know more than you and learn from them and I think that that's a great way to build your platform 4. Community Engagement & Telling Your Story: Obviously building an online platform is all about you finding an audience, and we don't want to get caught up in size again, about how big your audience is. As long as those people who are following you and enjoying your journey, and you're connecting with them, and engaging with them, I think that's great. But there's a couple of ways that you can find an audience. I think that one, finding people like yourself, and following, and engaging with them. Finding out who they follow and who they enjoy. Hashtags are great. They get a lot of flack, but actually they're very helpful. I always say hashtags are like putting your hand up in a room. It helps you find people like yourself. So, if there's an interest there, say it's mountains, or hashtag socality, you can find people that are using that hashtag can help you identify other people in those interests. But I think ultimately, it's about community engagement. If you can also take that online transaction, and turn it into a real life encounter, that's where this goal is really far, goes way beyond you sitting on your couch, or laying on your bed posting in a photo. But it's more about discovering others, and then if you can turn that into where you actually meet, hang out, and start to do activities even outside, and start to meet people in that way, I find that's a great way to connect with others. But also even build an audience, because you start to expand the knowledge of who you are with other people. But it's about getting out there, meeting people, and putting yourself out there, and building a community, and really just all about establishing your social platform and turning into a real life transaction. 5. Strategy: People always laugh when I start talking about posting times. A lot of us talk about it but you know there's better times to posts than others. There's obviously times when more people are engaged on their phone and they're connecting with you and you just don't want to throw things out there. You know you work hard at your craft. You work harder. You just don't want to throw it out there and hope that someone's going to see it. And so finding out where your audience is and their time zone is really important and also posting at times when they're paying attention. There's great apps like icon Square which is just a web based platform that you can go put your analytics in, your username and your details and it's going to spit out your analytics. It's going to talk about your followers, where they are from, times that you can post and help you really be more strategic when you're posting. And so just little things like that I find are helpful and can really help you navigate when's the best time to be sharing your creative art. 6. Product Placement & Authentic Captures: Now, that you've taken your photo, I want to talk about editing and this is really something I love. I love editing. When I take a photo and I edit it, it stays pretty true to its natural state, I just bring out some of the colors, some of the highlights and really find that those hues and those colors that I love, that I feel represent me. When it comes to editing, there's no right or wrong way to do it, it's all just a matter of exploring and finding out what you love, and what you enjoy with your eye and then presenting that. Some people love really bright colors over saturated, some people like minimal pulled back, it's really just up to you, there's really no right or wrong way. When it comes to editing, there's great resources out there like Lightroom it's really popular, people use that on their laptops. When I'm editing for a client, I definitely use that and go on that on my computer. But you know what, for Instagram and for social media, I feel like there's a lot of great Apps out there that you can do right on your phone and to be honest with you, a lot of my photos that I post on my Instagram are edited right on my phone, and so there's great Apps like Snapseed, VSCO, Photoshop Express, and also Lightroom for your phone and if you have Lightroom, I would highly recommend getting it on your phone. So, one thing I'm going to do I thought would be really helpful, is just showing you a picture I took from this morning and edit it right on my phone, so you can see kind of a simple process that I use to edit my photos. I'm going to open Lightroom App right there, there's a photo I took this morning I actually pulled this off my DSLR. If you've got the WiFi function on your DSLR, I find that's very helpful. So, really there's no right or wrong way to do this, but I always maybe throw a white balance on it, just do that, maybe I move over here and I grab some check off the shadows, pull them up, pull them down. The more you edit, you'll find out what you like and what your eye enjoys. So basically just playing around some shadows, whites, blacks, pulling that up so one thing I'm noticing and really pay attention to everything is there is a bit of blue there. I like that because there's some color there because the rest of it is quite muted. So it's going through that and then I go into some presets. There's some great options here in Lightroom I always go with this detail. I like throw it in some detail and so I click that and I feel like that just kind of brings out some cool effects in it that I really enjoy and really that's all I do in Lightroom. Then I would just go from here. I like this. I'm going to save it to my camera roll, right there. So, that's kind of one step when I'm not that editing. I like to maybe go into Snapseed then I throw that same photo in here. Open it up. One thing I like about Snapseed is this brush function. I use this a lot. So there's a bit of blue there and I like that but what I could do is if you wanted to get rid of it you literally choose the brush you just take your finger and you can go over and you can just calm some things down like that so the brush maybe you want to bring it down here, the exposure bring it up a bit. If you don't like it you just go out say I don't like that. But here at Snapseed you choose tune image and I find that putting it through another app just kind of bring out some brightness there, some ambiance, saturation. So, I'm not doing a lot here just really literally I've hardly altered the photo a lot and then honestly I might throw it into VSCO. Bring it in. Just like that. This goes great it's got a lot of presets. There's so many presets here. Don't get overwhelmed. I don't use 98% of them. I tend to stick to the same presets. I really like the J's so I tend to go to J6 first see what I think about it maybe go down a bit and there I like this. I like this edit. I'm pretty happy with it but as you see I didn't really do that much to save it. We're good to go and so save it to camera roll and there you go the photo is on there and you can see basically if you go here, basically there is the original. There. There. I kind of like it it's not too different. It's brought out some tones. I still kept a bit of the blue. I like it. So, those are some of the apps I use and that was a super simple photo. Here's a photo that I took in New Brunswick Canada. As you can see as it is, it's quite blue here, it's quite dark here so I'm just going to edit it and do some things here. Start with a bit of a white balance. Bringing out straight away you could see it changed the tone right there. Really brought out the light now that pops and then we're just going to play around. There's really no right or wrong way to edit. It's just more what your eye likes and eye enjoys and I find with editing, it's just learning, it's just playing around and having a bit of a go and figuring out what you like and then look at the photograph I really like that, here's some highlights. As you can see that bright blue that was there is kind of knocked out a bit. Some shadows. It's quite dark here so let's break up some shadows. So, you can start to see it's bringing up the detail of the structure of the rocks. You can start to see a little bit more not so dark and I really love how this is bringing out that light there. Sometimes when I'm editing my eyes just focus on one spot and I forget to look at the picture as a whole. So, make sure that you're always looking at the picture as a whole so you're not you're not forgetting about the other details. Bring out some whites up here, some blacks. So, I'm really happy with the way this looks in this app. We will edit the photo in some other apps. But right now I'm pretty happy with this. I go into my presets and there's a whole bunch of things you can do here. I really always go to detail and then click that and that's going to bring out just makes it pop and just I feel like there's some of the little details has really shown. So, I'm happy with that in Lightroom. I'm going to save that here. I'm going to save that to my phone. Now, I'm not done editing. I'm actually going to use the other apps so I'm going to go now into Snapseed. I'm going to show you one thing I love here. So I go into brush and I choose exposure here and I'm just going to take my finger and I'm just going to brush and you could start to see that it's just getting rid of some of that blue. Not that I don't love the blue but I find that from my photos, I just really love white skies and highlighting more the like the landscape of the mountains or the structures that I'm taking. I probably wouldn't do this but you could use even some brush here. This shows you see how that's bringing out that foreground that was dark and is bringing out a bit more. So, if you want you don't have to. But you could. Now you can see more of the rocks and everything on the beach. So, some people might like that. I'm happy with that. In Snapseed, you can come this is a great tool brighten some things up or make it a little bit darker, ambiance as always good to see how that changes it right there and starts to bring in some. I kind of like that there. But see it's all a matter of exploring find a way your eye likes. A bit darker there. So, I would say I'm happy with that. I would save that here to my phone and then the last thing I would do is I would throw it into VSCO. So, taking a photo and kind of putting it through three different processes. One of my favorite preset is C8. If I were to click that, see how it really brought back out some blues and some orangey tones, I like that. But for this photo I think I might go to J. So, between C's and J's I go back and forth. So I really like that. So, I've clicked on that. I'm going to bring it down just a bit. I'm really happy with this edit. I'm going to just save this now to my phone and there we go. So, as you can see I've just edited my photo. There's the original and there there's the edited photo so obviously you can see the strong difference. Obviously there was a lot of blue there. This was dark. This was dark and you know it just didn't bring it out but editing it brought it to life. So, it's the same photo but you can see the power of these editing apps just really bring to life those tones and those colors and the storytelling that you want. That's the great thing about editing. It really is the story you want to tell and so exploring and going through what you like but I really like that. I'm happy with that. I just want to analyze the photos so we can see why I like what I like. I like the more muted sky. I like how the attention is on the rock and especially in this corner here that light. I talked to you earlier about I like adding people into my photos. My friend Tanner, I asked him to go stand there and run and why I like that is it's kind of taken a couple of things that I really like about the photo. It enhances the landscape. It highlights the light but it also shows a scale of it of the person compared to the landscape. But I also like the fact that someone's living and breathing within this photo. To me it's a little bit more interesting than if he was not in it. Now, I do post photos where people don't aren't in it because I just find that beautiful landscape. But I also like the fact and to be honest I think it brings a bit of a cool factor that I feel represents me and my style. So there, I'm happy with this photo. I like it. The only thing that I would notice is there is a bit of treeline there. So, one app I use is called Retouch and this app is great if you want to remove just some visual noise and I did talk about this earlier beware of visual noise. So, what I would do is I just come. Find that little treeline there, brush it, remove it, it's gone. So, now when I go to post the photo there you don't even see that I've removed that and the app that I just used for that is Retouch and I find that that works great that if there's visual noise and you're taking a photo and you see that in your photo, don't worry about it. You know you can remove it later and there you go. I'm pretty happy with that photo I'd post that and so you might see that coming up on my Instagram. 7. Wrapping Up: Ultimately the thing about social media is there's not really a right, or wrong way to do it. It's really about who you are and bringing that to the platform. There is this kind of thing where people can stand back, and judge, what's authentic and what's not. I think that's really nobody's place. I think that what's authentic is, only you can judge that, and I think the cool thing about social media is, it's a representation of who we are as people. We're always growing, we're always evolving, we're always learning and that means we're trying new things, we're experimenting, we're figuring out who we are, always. I don't think anybody really fully knows who they are at any given point in time. I think we're learning. The cool thing about social media is, I think there should be that freedom, to learn, and to find your own voice. I think it's a space where you can allow people to create. Ultimately, it's about experimenting, it's about trying things, it's about maybe you should landscape, and you go hard and maybe you want to switch it up, and try certain staff or maybe you want to try more lifestyle, never limit yourself, and never put yourself in a box and don't ever be afraid that people could judge you. Because I think, it's all about you and your personal journey, and I think we should celebrate that. I think that's true authenticity, is you learning and us giving the freedom, to each other to be ourselves. I think we can also get wrapped up in the idea of true influence. What is true influence? Is it measured in followers? Is it measured in likes? Is it measured in how many people are visiting our pages? Or are all of that, and I think that true influence is, everybody speaking to somebody, everyone's got a sphere, on social media or in real life. I think true influences the ability to inspire or impact, in a positive way, somebody else's life. Get them to think differently or do something differently. If you can inspire, change, or create change, to me that's influence. It has nothing to do with size. It has nothing to do with how many likes you get. It has everything to do with can you inspire somebody else to make a change?