You Don't Have to be Picture-Perfect to Succeed on Instagram Authenticity means more to your fans than manufactured glamour.

By Lesya Liu

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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While Instagram is all the hype these days, a lot of small business owners are confused, or even lost, about the types of content they can publish. Thus, they miss out on a huge opportunity to find new followers and engage their existing customers.

Contrary to a widespread belief, entrepreneurship and small business ownership is not so glamorous. Yes, we choose which 18 hours a day to work, but the allure ends there. Plus, inadequate budgets really limit the glamorous content production. An exhausted and overworked entrepreneur might not recognize the Instagram-worthy moments in her day.

So, what do you do and what do you post?

Related: Developing a Hardcore Social Media Content Strategy In 5 Steps

Instagram is all about storytelling.

Think of Instagram as a visual board of your business. When people fvisit your account the first time they (ideally) see a waterfall of images all telling the same story. Showcase your products, people and processes. Supply those images with a short explanation. Sometimes less is more.

What do you want people to know about your company? Is it your unique processes or social stance? Are you all about handmade or organic? You can show different angles of your business that will still make up for a cohesive narrative.

Related: The 5 Elements of Storytelling Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

You don't have to have a perfect business to be on Instagram.

Instagram is notorious for perfectly-laid flatlays, orchestrated "natural light" and makeup tutorials that in fast-forward mode take more time than my actual makeup. However, this doesn't mean you have to be a photography pro to pull Instagram presence off.

All you need is a decent camera; and our smartphones boast more than decent-quality capabilities. Take five minutes out of your day to find something interesting. It can be a wide shot of your production or a macro shot of your product's detail.

At first, you might need to challenge yourself and really take your time. However, as you go along, Instagram posting becomes a habit and you no longer need to be on a lookout for beautiful situations; you will effortlessly see them. So, the more you experiment and publish, the better you will become at seeing things and at photographing them from the best angle possible.

Related: 5 Ways to Become a Master Storyteller

Embrace authenticity.

However, sometimes the very imperfection of the photos is what tells the story best.

Take it from an Instagram fitness star who shared two similar photos taken from a different angle. What a difference that can make for a photo! But what's more important is that in the stream of "perfectly-orchestrated" photos of fit women, she chose to share a not-so-flattering angle. What did it do to her engagement? That "truthful" photo got more 5x the average number of likes and 10x the amount of likes "the perfect photo" received, precisely because of the statement it made.

The lesson? Don't be afraid to show the flawed side of things. People relate to sincerity on a much deeper level. Candid moments make us human; and people want to do business with people. It also breeds trust in your messages. Now, I am not saying lower your standards and harass your audience with a stream of low-quality images. All I am saying that it doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful because it is much more interesting to get a glimpse of behind the scenes of a real company. Your audience could find a real benefit in your posts; it could be a curious observation, a thoughtful insight, or a hint at an effective business process.

It is easy to find a stock image and slap your logo on it, but it doesn't tell your story and it doesn't add anything exciting to it. It also doesn't add any value to your followers.

We are all on this entrepreneurial journey, but at different stages. If you are willing to show everything it takes to be a successful business owner, you will gain yourself a much different type of audience – the one that wants to stick for the journey ahead.

Lesya Liu

Social Media Strategist at The Social Media Current

Lesya Liu helps entrepreneurs create a meaningful and profitable Instagram presence that feels right for their creative businesses. Born and raised in Ukraine, she is a social media strategist and a photographer. Her passion lies in combining art and marketing to create compelling storytelling, both visually and textually. Most days she roams the Interwebs, looking for fresh, inspirational ideas or testing things out on her own social channels.

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