When you think about it, it’s pretty crazy that a little account on Instagram can change your life. When we started our Instagram account, @sidewalkerdaily, we really had NO idea where it was going to all lead. If you would have told us that fast forward a few years we would be planning press trips around the world and teaching influencers how to build sustainable businesses and perform Instagram audits, we probably wouldn’t believe you. But here we are so it seems Instagram really does make dreams come true!
Whether you’re an influencer, blogger or content creator who uses Instagram for their business, it’s easy to get comfortable. What you’re doing is working so why bother fixing it, right?
Unfortunately that’s not the right attitude. Since things in the influencer industry are constantly evolving, it’s important to keep your Instagram fresh and up to date, especially because it’s not just your followers who are scoping you out…it’s potential brand partners and clients too!
So what do brands look for on your Instagram account when evaluating you for a partnership? More than you think. It’s extremely important to do an Instagram audit, examine your account and look at it from the brand’s perspective so you’ll put your best foot forward when pitching to brands.
What is an Instagram Audit?
You may be asking yourself what is an Instagram audit anyways? We like to think of it as the clean-up phase. It’s going through your Instagram account and “cleaning up shop” to assure everything aligns with your brand vibe and goals. For example, if you recently defined your niche you would need to do an Instagram audit to ensure everything makes sense with your new direction.
An Instagram audit means you’re basically going over every aspect of your Instagram account and making sure it’s the best it can be, cohesive and makes sense to someone viewing your profile.
So if you’re looking to learn how to audit your own Instagram account, look no further – we’re covering our social media audit Instagram edition so you can start cleaning up shop…today!
How to Run Your Own Instagram Audit – What Brands Look For.
Since we know a thing or two about what brands look for when evaluating brand partnerships, we’re going over how to perform an Instagram audit with the brand’s perspective in mind.
1. They Look At Your Account Photo
We know your account photo is a GOOD photo in your opinion (because why would you put it there if it wasn’t) but the real question is…is it the RIGHT photo? Every single part of your Instagram account needs to be calculated because that tiny little circle actually matters.
At the end of the day it’s part of your branding strategy, which clients care about because they’re from the school of thought that if you don’t respect your brand, how can you respect theirs?
So make sure your bio photo is professional but also communicates your brand vibe and is also easily identifiable. You just get that itty bitty circle to show who you are so make it count!
And if you have an identifiable logo, that’s fine too but just make sure everything across all of your social accounts speak to each other and make sense together…brand wise. It not only makes your brand look cohesive across the board but also makes it way easier for your followers to identify your content across platforms.
2. They Look At Your Account Bio
You only have 150 characters to get your point across to someone dropping by your profile so you better make them count! Is your account bio descriptive and communicate your travel niche or does it talk about puppies and caramel macchiatos? Brands want to know what you’re all about and that you take your business seriously.
3. They Look At Your Profile Link
Does your profile link have your website or blog or is it a random link not associated with you or your brand? If you’re a seasoned blogger, this may seem like a strange point to make because who would ever do that? We hate to break it to you but…A LOT of people!
If you’re linking to a brand or affiliate link, that’s cool but put a description in your bio so people know. If you’re randomly linking to an external page without any explanation it makes you look disorganized and all over the place.
And trust us, no one wants to work with a hot mess.
4. They Look At Who Is Liking And Commenting
Are the same 30 people commenting on every image? Is a quick overview of your post likes ghost accounts? Brands look at these things because 2,500 likes from real accounts is much different than 2,500 likes from fake accounts. So you’ll need to audit instagram accounts that like and comment on your page to see if they look spammy.
And if you think you’re gaming the system with comment pods, most brands know all about them and can tell in an instant what you’re up to. There is also new tools popping up that show brands engagement fraud – which can spot if it appears there’s automation and/or bots on your account.
5. They Look At Your Follower List
Brands also look at who is following you so you’ll need to audit your Instagram followers too. They’ll do an Instagram fake followers check to see if there are a lot of ghost accounts or if your followers look fake (yes, we can tell). They’ll also be checking to see if they know anyone or have any followers in common with you.
Since brands are investing more and more into influencer marketing it also means they are wising up and wanting ROI (Return On Investment) on their spend. So they don’t want to invest in influencers with followers that aren’t real or even in their target demo – it just doesn’t make sense for them financially. Back in the day they thought every follower was created equally and they now get that it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Would you want to pay for something that wasn’t real or worth it? We didn’t think so…
6. They Look At The Quality Of Your Content
When you’re being considered for a brand partnership, brands want to make sure you’re going to create content for them that is on brand and reusable in their marketing initiatives as well.
It’s helpful to not only think of your Instagram as your personal space on the interwebs but also as a portfolio and representation of you as a content creator too. So go through all of the images you have posted and delete anything that’s off brand for you.
Of course it’s unrealistic to think that you can align your vibe with every brand you pitch to but it’s important to have cohesive images so brands understand what you’re all about…and what you can do for them.
7. They Look At How You Showcase Destinations Or Products
This is one of the things that many bloggers and influencers fail to understand – if a brand is paying you to promote their destination or product, they want to make sure it will be worth it.
Let’s take travel influencers for example – Yes, you look cute in your vacation selfie, but at the end of the day, if a hotel or destination is sending you on a press trip (aka paying you and/or footing the bill) they want to see pictures of their hotel or destination…shocking right?
Yes, they would love for you to be IN the photo, but maybe just not the FOCUS of the photo. They are paying for your influence but they are also invested in receiving content they can reuse on their social accounts, website and other marketing initiatives. That’s what makes using their marketing budget on influencer initiatives all worth it!
8. They Look At Your Picture Layout
You may say Insta layout, we call it the “Insta Puzzle” but believe it or not, brands care about how you arrange your photos and what comes before and after what. Why? Because that quick overview of your account is a snapshot of your brand aesthetic which reflects you in more ways than one.
9. They Look At How You Edit Photos
Do you have a specific editing style you’re proud of? If you do, that’s great! But what’s not great is if you don’t have a cohesive editing style because then your account just looks messy and all over the place.
It’s important to ensure the quality of all your photos match because that’s just another way to show a brand that you take your job seriously and you’re a professional. Brands want to work with people that are safe bets so consistency is key.
Feel free to delete any posts that don’t match and if they’re pics you love, you can always repost them in the uniform editing style as a throwback!
10. They Look At Your Instagram Handle
Ok this is a tough one, but someone is going to have to break it to you. You may work with smaller brands where the decision maker is actually who you’re communicating with. In other situations, your brand contact actually has to go to bat for you with the team.
If your name is overly juvenile or kitschy, it can be embarrassing for brand reps to fight the good fight. At the end of the day your Instagram handle is actually your brand name so it matters.
If you were around for the AIM or Myspace days…you know what we mean. :) Fun fact, Nina’s AIM name used to be “sofakingcute” LOL.
11. They Look At Your Stories And Highlights So Don’t Skip Them In Your Instagram Audit
Since you’re being considered for a press trip or brand partnership, you’re most likely going to have to create content. That means your Stories and highlights are just as important as your permanent posts because they are examples of the type of content you create for yourself as well as other brands.
Clients also like to scope out what you have on Stories because it’s usually the less edited version of your life. So for example, if you have a Story highlight of you skinny dipping in Mykonos, that may have resonated with your followers but a hotel brand that focuses on a family niche may end up passing on your partnership request for the sole reason that your content and brand just does not align with their target market.
Of course, we would never encourage you to be inauthentic to your followers but just getting the point across that brand professionals are also viewing your content so be mindful of what you post. And if skinny dipping in Mykonos is your thing and your followers love you for your wild side then don’t get us wrong, you’ll find brand partners to work with…it just might not be the ones you hoped.
12. They Look At Your Hashtags
Do you have a designated hashtag that you use for your posts or encourage your fans to hashtag too? If so, brands will definitely check out your hashtag to see how many posts it has, the quality of the content etc.
On a side note, while you’re doing an Instagram audit you should definitely audit the hashtags you use on your posts to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Yes, you only have a limited amount of hashtags so you have to make every single one count. Hashtags are not only a great way to make your content searchable but also a way to potentially get more followers in an organic way that are excited about the type of content you post and create.
13. They Look At Your Captions
Do you write captions that are short and sweet or are you the spill the beans type of poster? Either or, brands like to see what your brand tone is and evaluate whether it will resonate with their target audience. At the end of the day, the whole point of brands working with influencers is to get exposure to their audience which should align with the brand’s target market.
Captions are also a quick display of your work product – do you have typos, missing words, profanity etc. They’ll quickly be able to tell your writing style and vibe in a glance.
14. They Look At Your Posting Frequency
Brands are also aware that there is an Instagram algorithm (because they have an Instagram account too) so they will be checking how often you post, if it affects your likes and comments and monitor how often you post about other destinations or brands.
For example if you’re a travel influencer, do you post tons of the same destination in a row or do you like to mix and match to keep it fresh for your audience. At the end of the day, they want to understand what you would be willing to do for them.
15. They Look At Engagement On Different Types of Posts
We all know that some content does better on Instagram than others so brands often like to see what makes your followers and audience tick. Do you get 3X the amount of likes for selfies than your travel photos, or vice versa. Understanding the type of content your followers respond to is helpful for brands to evaluate whether working with you is a good idea for their overall goals.
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16. They Look To See If You Have A Business Account Or A Personal Account
Wait why would a brand care about that? It’s simple – if they are going to partner with you they are going to want to make sure they will receive as much data and analytics about the partnership as possible to include in their reporting. Unless you’re partnering with small mom and pop brands, most of the brand reps you’ll work with have a boss or team they have to report to and prove the partnership was worth it.
17. They Look To See If You Properly Disclose Brand Partnerships
They’ll look at your past sponsored posts and partnerships to see if you disclosed them properly. How would they be able to tell if you didn’t? Honestly, sponsored posts are super obvious so if you didn’t hashtag #ad in the right spot or use the Instagram paid partnership feature it could be a red flag.
The brands that do care about these things want to make sure that the influencers, bloggers and content creators they work with follow all the rules and regulations required of them as to not put the brand in jeopardy or expose them to liability. Makes sense, right?
At the end of the day your followers and fans are your number one client so you should always keep that in mind when doing your Instagram audit. But since brand partnerships are one of the main ways to earn money on Instagram you need to make sure your Instagram account is the best it can be – after all it is one of the main representations of your brand and business.
Being able to look at your Instagram account from a brand’s perspective is helpful to understand what they are evaluating when checking out your profile in the vetting and decision making process. And even if you’re a seasoned influencer who thinks your Instagram account is on point, we do think it’s worth taking a once over pass to see if everything is optimized to its fullest potential using our IG audit Instagram tips!
We hope you enjoyed all these Instagram audit free tips to help you jump start on the process. We also offer comprehensive Instagram audits and can work with you one on one to make sure your Instagram account is polished and ready when you start pitching to brands!
Did you find this info about Instagram audits helpful? We’d love to know! Feel free to share in the comments section down below!
All information provided on this Website has been prepared for general educational and informational purposes only. The information on this Website does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, legal or financial advice and is general in nature.
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Nina ZadehDirector of Partnerships, MBA
Clairesse BrogoittiDirector of Business Affairs, JD
We’re industry experts devoted to helping travel bloggers get more partnerships, understand their value, and turn their travel influence into a legit business.
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Sidewalker Daily is a team of marketing and business professionals dedicated to providing resources to travel bloggers and influencers who want to turn their social influence into a profitable and legitimate business. They also manage one of the original travel/style communities on Instagram of now over 60,000 travelers from around the globe – @sidewalkerdaily.