When (not) to launch a separate Instagram account

The social media sites that we use to connect with friends and family are also powerful content distribution, brand and audience building platforms. You may want to explore both by sharing photos and videos from your daily life, but also by sharing content related to your business or a specialty such as food, fashion, travel or photography.
It can be tricky to navigate the waters of whether to have more than one account, and what goes where.

The successful model that I’ve seen in action is to start with your personal social network and build to the point where you have enough specialized followers/fans of your specialized content to launch a specialized account. It’s a bit like working at an established hair salon until you have enough clients to open your own shop.

Dusty rose toner by Lola @lolarocknrola #SalonEntrenous

A post shared by Salon Entrenous (@salonentrenous) on

Above: My wonderful hairdresser @lolarocknrola and her home salon @salonentrenous. In this case, the salon and stylist accounts both help each other out and have different audiences, personalities and strengths.

Start with a public personal identity account that posts well-rounded, high quality content from multiple-dimensions. This gives you get the benefit of finding your footing and your content rhythm with a warm, friendly audience (your friends, family, classmates, colleagues).

Don’t post too often. Max once per day – even as little as once per week is fine. Only post your best and most milestone content, with a fairly even split between your every day life and your business/foodie/travel/fashion/specialty photos.

Shift all your extra content into your Instagram story. Keep it polished, and keep it high quality – but your Story is where you can post more often and be slightly less selective. Remember, at this point, you still have not launched a second work or professional instagram account – you’re just rocking your personal identity account to its fullest.

If and when your specialty/professional content reaches a point where it could jump off into a specialized stream with enough fans to support it, off you go with a new account. You’ll know when you reach this point and it’s really OK if you don’t get there. It’s going to depend on what stories you tell and how you well you tell them via Instagram.

Buzzfeed does a great job of introducing content themes through existing channels. Think about something like Tasty, and then Proper Tasty (British) and then Tasty Japan, Tasty Junior and so on. They introduced the themes on already existing channels and the ones that thrived eventually launched their own accounts months/years later – with audiences that were already fans from seeing them on the parent account.

A post shared by Tasty (@buzzfeedtasty) on

A post shared by Proper Tasty (@proper_tasty) on

I find Dallas Curow (@dallascurow) and Tom Cochrane (@tomcochrane) both do a great job of being professional story tellers via their main personal accounts. Tom ultimately launched @oldcrowmagazine to focus on a particular story theme, but still maintains his Tom account, and continues to share those stories on his Tom account too. Branching into multiple accounts can be very very challenging. There’s something about remembering to tell every story from the voice of multiple personas. One account always seems to win out and take priority – and it’s almost always the personal one, which will always be your best heard and supported one thanks to your real life social connections.

The slob ice off Rocky Harbour is gorgeous.

A post shared by Tom Cochrane (@tomcochrane) on

If I leave you with just a few key ideas, it’s to start with just one account –

  • make it public, and make it based on your personal identity rather than a business or special project or theme.
  • use hashtags and geo-locations to build an audience around your specialties,
  • don’t forget to integrate some of your daily life as well.
  • focus on quality, focus on engagement and commenting with folks.
  • shop your content out to established specialty Instagram accounts and see how it performs on someone else’s stage.

Above all else, hang on to those real relationships of friends, family, neighbours and colleagues – they will be with you through all your adventures and will always be the most likely to give you that double tap <3

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