There’s no denying Instagram’s value as a marketing tool. Focusing strictly on images, it’s arguably the most impactful social media app; and when used innovatively, like through our live interactive Instagram feed that can be featured on screens throughout corporate events, Instagram is easily a top contender for one of the most effective marketing platforms available.

With its uniquely visual focus, and little scope for user interaction beyond comments, likes and tagging, Instagram is closer to traditional print advertising than any other social network. Unlike Facebook timelines or Twitter walls that can become cluttered with posts, shares, re-tweets and quotes from other users, Instagram profiles tell a bolder, clearer story through each user’s tapestry of uninterrupted photos—instantly creating a distinct image and impression of what a given user is all about.

Developing your brand image
The beach bunny Instagrammer will naturally post photos of beaches, bikinis and sandy toes; the city slicker’s Instagram profile will be filled with shots of sleek skyscrapers and nights out clubbing. Has Instagram therefore led us to subconsciously develop a brand identity for ourselves? Do we find that we tend not to post photos that don’t link directly to the personal brand we’ve created?

It’s an intriguing phenomenon, and one that will undoubtedly vary for every person; yet it is undeniable that distinct themes emerge when looking through a user’s Instagram wall. The ‘sexy, glamour girl’ will have a profile filled with ‘selfies’ before nights on the town, while the yoga instructor’s profile will mainly feature images of nature, yoga poses and herbal tea (regardless of any wild party nights he or she may have recently had).

Greater self-awareness and prudence
The next question is whether or not this inadvertent movement towards self-branding and self-marketing is a bad thing. Not necessarily. Depending on your industry, using Instagram to create an image for yourself—whether consciously or not—could certainly work in your favour. With so much of our lives now projected to the entire world via the Internet, perhaps it’s time for us to all start thinking about our self-branding; maybe it would get university students to think twice before posting photos of themselves drunk or dancing on tables, for example.

If used wisely, all social media can present an opportunity for promoting oneself, both at a personal and professional level. Above all, the important message is not to allow any of your online profiles to make you vulnerable to negative backlash. So whether you’re using Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, or any of the other sites and apps out there, share snippets of your life carefully and with caution — you never know who might be viewing your posts and forming an opinion of your own personal brand.