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What’s an Instagram Theme, and Should You Have One?

colorful spread of photos from the Pantone Instagram account

Every month, a billion people use Instagram. If you’re one of that billion, why not get more out of your time on the app? An Instagram theme will make your posts pay off with new, loyal followers and a more impressive feed.

Instagram themes sync your posts under a cohesive visual concept, giving you an attractive, curated account. While not everyone needs an Instagram theme, they’re a great way to make your Insta more visually appealing and fun. And for anyone hoping to use the platform for personal branding or sales, they’re virtually essential.

Is an Instagram theme right for you? And if so, how can you decide on (and stick to) a great theme? Here’s everything you need to know to create a stand-out Instagram theme that grows your following naturally.

Why Use an Instagram Theme?

With an Instagram theme, all of your posts are united with visual consistency. Your theme can be based on color: for example, you might post only black-and-white images or only pastels. It can involve the subject: you might post all beach-related photos or all portraits. It can involve a bigger picture: using individual images to create a larger visual mosaic made of smaller image “tiles.” Or it can be anything else you dream up.

For brands, an Instagram theme serves as a sort of shorthand for your “brand story,” or the unique details about your business that customers love. If you aspire to sell to the trendy minimalist, for example, you can reflect that with a theme that involves simple images against clean white backgrounds.

But Instagram themes are also great for individuals. They can give people a clear idea of who you are simply by glancing over your Instagram. And they can make posting more fun, by giving you the payoff of a prettier account.

Social media is all about representing yourself online, and an Instagram theme can help your posts feel more authentic and purposeful. A great theme also tends to attract new followers and compel more people to interact with your enviable account.

How to Create an Instagram Theme

Does this posting tactic sound right for you? Then you’ll need to choose the best theme to work with.

Before you decide on your theme, we recommend reading our guide to creating a personal brand. Knowing your personal brand can give you valuable ideas to start with.

But with that in mind, here are the steps that will lead you to a winning Insta theme.

Tackle Content First

First, you have to tackle the challenge of deciding what kind of content to post.

If you’re posting to sell products, this is relatively easy. You’ll want posts that show your products off well. As an individual, the decision is more complicated. It helps to decide your purpose for your Instagram first. Do you want to show off your amazing overall lifestyle? Feature food pictures to support your cooking blog? Post daily “outfit of the day” images?

a spread of photos featuring cabins in the woods and their cozy interiors

Start by thinking about your goals and audience, and the right kind of content to post will logically follow. You don’t always have to post the same subject, but you certainly can if you want your theme to revolve around something specific, like food or travel. You can also look at which of your past posts have gotten the most likes and comments, and aim to post similar content as your theme.

Include Your Bio

Instagram themes mainly have to do with the images you post. However, don’t forget to update your bio and display picture so they reflect your theme, too.

These static elements can give context to your theme, so people can see who you are and what you do right away. For example, if you’re a nature photographer, your Instagram theme might revolve around beautiful examples of your work, all cropped and filtered in a similar way. But your bio will tell people that you’re a photographer, so they know why you post nature shots. It’ll also tell them how to contact you—which is critical for any business or entrepreneur.

Your bio’s tone can also reflect your theme. If you post serious shots and captions, your bio should be serious too. But if your Instagram content is fun and lighthearted, a funny bio peppered with emojis might work better.

Finally, your display pic can show them the person behind the feed. (Unless you’re posting as a brand, in which case you should use your logo.) The display pic should also match the color scheme of your Insta theme, for a cohesive look that shows your attention to detail.

Pick a Color Story

Your Instagram theme should involve a color scheme. But that doesn’t mean you have to stick to just one color—although you certainly can.

Colorful teal and pink photos from the Pantone Instagram account

Having all black-and-white images or all images that feature a shade of pink can look beautiful. But you can also use a color concept, rather than a specific single shade. For example, your theme can involve vivid primary colors, neutral shades, or muted, washed-out tones. Your posts could be all be bright and light, or all dark and moody. No matter what it is, be sure to pick something and stick with it.

It’s also helpful to post pictures in groups that share similar colors. For example, you could post a series of photos that include red, then transition into photos that include yellow. This helps your Instagram look organized without restricting you to a single color.

Choose Your Filters

Filtering all of your photos in a similar way will help them look like they go together, even if they involve multiple colors. For example, a warm, muted filter will give your Instagram a vintage feel, while clean, cool filters can lend a modern vibe. You can use a set of filters instead of just a single one, but they should all share a similar aesthetic.

If you’re serious about photography, you may also want to take all of your pictures in similar light. But for amateur photographers, filters can help lend that same effect.

Offer Visual Balance

Our eyes are naturally drawn to symmetry. And Instagram accounts, with photos positioned in rows of three, offer a perfect opportunity to make things symmetrical.

There are many ways to give your theme symmetry. You could post an inspirational quote as the middle image in every row, flanked by photographs of people or places. You could make sure the photos in each row share similar colors. Or you could split your photos into “tiles,” so each post becomes a piece of a larger mosaic. No matter how you do it, make sure to consider symmetry as you post.

Crop with Care

cleverly cropped images with alternating white frame sizes

Cropping your photos in a similar way will also help you lend visual balance to your feed. An account filled with close-ups looks different from an account filled with distant images surrounded by blank space. You can also add borders to help your photos look similar.

Prep Your Account

If you’ve been on Instagram for a while, you probably have lots of old images that don’t fit with your new theme. Once you start posting themed images, you can decide whether to delete the old pictures, or just post so consistently that they get pushed to the bottom where few followers ever scroll.

Since Instagram doesn’t let you mass-delete old posts, clearing out the old stuff can pose a challenge. However, you can try a third-party app for mass deletion if you decide that’s the best move. We’d recommend waiting to clear out your old posts until you’re ready to fill up your account with new ones, though. Otherwise, people searching for you in the meantime will find an empty, boring account, which will drive potential followers away.

Using an Instagram theme can help you get more followers, which is a great bonus if you’re an entrepreneur or business owner. But it can also turn your personal Instagram into a source of creative expression, making every post more fun and rewarding. You certainly don’t need to use a theme if you prefer posting at random. But if you want your Instagram to impress your followers and showcase your personality, this is a great way to do it.

Is posting selfies part of your Instagram strategy? We can help with that, too—check out our guide to taking better selfies next.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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