how to brand your instagram account with highlights covers
If you’re not using Instagram Highlights yet, you need to be – and not just because it increases the lifespan of your stories.
Ever since Instagram launched this new feature, I've watched bloggers, podcasters, and all sorts of online business owners experimenting with different ways to make them work for their brands. From a design and marketing standpoint, one of the best ways to take advantage of the feature is by editing the covers for each of your Highlights.
If you’re not sure where to start, you're in the right place – in this blog post, I'm breaking down the different ways you can creatively brand your Instagram Highlights.
So... Why use Highlights covers?
Unless you specifically create and apply covers for your Highlights, Instagram will automatically select a random screen capture from one of your stories, which almost always ends up being a blurry, confusing blob. Even with a clear title, these automatic covers are just not pretty, and considering how easy it is to change them, I’m kinda shocked that the majority of the people I follow haven’t taken the opportunity to fancy up their profiles in this way.
Editing the covers for each of your Highlights presents an opportunity to give your Instagram account a branded look and feel… So why not spend a few minutes and run with it?
I've made the process EXTRA easy for you by creating seven sets of Instagram Highlights covers (that's 175 in total!) that you can swipe for free:
Brand your covers with icons
If you already use icons on your website or in your brand collateral, you may as well save some time, keep it consistent, and take this approach. Keep in mind, you need to use icons that are really clear and super obvious with regards to what kind of content they’re highlighting. Even if you’ve written the name of the category below the icon, if people are confused about what it represents, they may just skip it.
For example, if you're representing a podcast, you would be better off using an icon of a microphone than a set of headphones.
Pssst... I incorporated some of the most commonly-used categories (Blog, Podcast, Ideas, etc) in the FREE Highlights covers that I'm offering in this post!
Brand your covers with key words
While covers with words in them are the obvious choice, this option won’t work unless you keep your keywords short and to the point. Since Highlight covers are so small, when you shrink the text down to a teeny tiny thumbnail, your seven-word sentence is going to look like a bunch of gibberish.
If you do choose to take this route, you could get creative with the words you use to title your highlights. For example, if your Highlights cover says the word "beauty," you could title it with an emoji of lipstick instead of just re-writing the word "beauty" again.
Tip: If you already have categories of content listed on your website or blog, that’s a good place to get inspiration, and source content for the stories inside of the Highlights.
Repurpose your thumbnails
You may already be in the habit of creating thumbnails for freebies on your website. If you are, you could take those thumbnails and use them to promote free content in your Highlights. Just share an Instagram story with the thumbnail in the graphic or screenshot, then zoom into it when you're adjusting the cover of your Highlight.
Tip: Made this extra clear and effective by adding a blurb in your description promoting your freebies and directing your audience toward your Highlights (like I do!).
A few tips + tricks
Here are a few things you may want to keep in mind before you create your covers:
Keep it simple. Instagram Highlight covers are, of course, really small, so if you choose or create a cover image with a lot of detail, it’s all going to get lost once it’s applied to that little space on your profile. Choose or create icons that have very little detail, and go for sans-serif fonts that are clean, simple, and highly legible.
Consider contrast. You need to choose colours and weights that contrast so the content on your cover will really stand out from the background – especially once it’s applied to your Highlight and super minimized. Stick to high-contrast colour pairings, and when it comes to type, only use medium or bold weights.
What are your top five categories? As you can see, only the first five Highlights are immediately visible on your profile – you have to scroll to see the rest. While it’s fine to have more than five categories, consider which ones are going to take up that prime real estate, and act accordingly. Keep in mind that Instagram will put your latest Highlight categories at the front of the line, and (as of the time that I’m writing this post) there is no way to rearrange the Highlights on your profile.
How to add Highlights covers to your profile
If you've gotten this far in the post and you're wondering how in the heck to add covers to your Highlights, here are some step-by-step instructions:
1. Save them to your phone
Once you've got your Highlights covers created (or downloaded for free from my freebie library), you need to transfer them to your phone. I personally use Dropbox so I can save social media graphics to my phone via the Dropbox app, but you can also use Google Drive, or just e-mail them to yourself.
2. Share them on your Instagram Stories
Before you can “highlight” an image, you need to share it via your Story.
To get started, go to your newsfeed and click the camera icon in the top left corner. Swipe up to access your Camera Roll, and select one of the Highlights that you saved to your phone. Click the “Send To >” button in the bottom right, then press the blue “Send” button next to the Your Story option.
Repeat the process for each of the images.
3. Add each graphic to a new or existing Highlight
Play your Instagram Story and click the “Highlight” icon in the bottom right while you’re viewing the image you want to use as a Highlight cover – the icon looks like a little heart with a circle around it. A slider will pop up that says “Add to Highlights.” Select an existing Highlight from the menu, or create a new Highlight by tapping the “New” button.
If you’re creating a new Highlight, you’ll be prompted to name it. Keep in mind that names will get cut off after ~10 characters, so keep it short! Then press “Add.”
4. Position the cover
Go to your Profile page. If your Highlight is new and the cover image is the first to be added, you might already see the icon very clearly displayed on your profile.
If not, or if you want to reposition the icon, tap the Highlight to start playing it’s contents and then tap “More” in the bottom right. Select “Edit Highlight.” Now tap “Edit Cover”.
From here, you can select the image from the contents of your Highlight using the menu at the bottom, and then zoom in/out and reposition the image however you like inside the circle. When you’re happy with how your cover looks, tap “Done,” then tap “Done” a second time to confirm the changes you’ve made.
5. Repeat this process for each of your Highlights... and you're done!