EXPRESS YOURSELF

Experimenting with creative tools

feat. @karenxcheng

Chances are, you're not going to nail your signature style out of the gate. It takes a lot of trial and error. The good news? You have a ton of tools at your disposal to flex your creative muscles. So start experimenting and have fun with it.

SHOW ME EVERYTHING

Think of Instagram as your gym for creativity.

Use captions to go deeper and get your audience involved.

Get more attention by trying new features as they roll out.

When experimenting, success is learning something new.

Hi, I'm Karen X. Cheng, and I'm a filmmaker. My videos have gotten millions of views on Instagram, but it took a lot of creative experimentation to get there. So, today I'm gonna talk about the creative tools I use to stand out.

Working out your creative muscles

Two years ago, I was actually getting less and less work as a filmmaker, and I didn't really have an Instagram presence. And I remember just feeling really unsure about the decision to start taking Instagram seriously, because I felt like I was too late to the party. And I wish I could just tell myself then that it's not too late. Because as long as you are willing to try new things, new formats, new ideas, then you can stand out. So I started approaching Instagram like going to the gym, but for creativity. We all know we can get bigger muscles by training in the gym, and honestly, creativity is the same way. You can train it the same. My goal that I set for myself was, let me just try one new thing every time I post.

Playing with different formats

I'm always trying to think of how I can use different formats, like this video I made for Lego. So, I made a few different versions of this for different formats. I have a perfectly looping version, which I posted as a Reel. And then I shared some behind the scenes on my feed. And then with my stories, I actually made this interactive version where you can tap in different places to put it together. When I experiment, I know that not every experiment is gonna be successful, and that's okay. Because using Instagram like this, it's really gamified creativity for me and personally, as long as I'm learning something, I'm gonna count it as a success.

Experimenting on Reels

I love experimenting with all these different tools. I'm really focused right now on experimenting with Reels. And here are a few things that I keep in mind. The way that Reels works, your content can be discovered way more easily by people who don't follow you. Music is a huge part of Reels culture. So here's my trick. I find a song with a drop. If you know what I mean by drop, it's like when the song builds to a moment. So like… (singing) So on that moment, you wanna time the reveal, or the most interesting part of the video to that moment in the song. And on Reels, they actually have these really helpful song markers, which are these dots that show you where the climax of the song is, where the drop is. So that makes it so much easier to time your videos to the song. I also try to hop on new features in Reels as soon as they come out. So when Reels remixes came out, I jumped on it immediately. And that video is now my top performing reel, it's got 10 million views on my page. So I'd recommend following creators, it's an account that announces all the new features and staying on top of that. And then as soon as the new feature comes out, jump on it.

Key takeaways

If there's anything that you take away from this video, it's that:

1/ You are not too late to the party on Instagram. As long as you are trying new things and exercising your creative muscles, you can build an audience here. Instagram is like your gym for creativity

2/ Experiment with new features. New features are opportunities to experiment. And this is something that's true not just for Reels, but across Instagram. If you can hop on new features, as soon as they come out, that will really help you stand out and get extra attention.

3/ My last piece of advice, try not to measure your success on whether you go viral, success is when you learn something new. So make it your goal to learn one new thing or just try one new thing every time you post.

And if you do that over and over again, that's how you grow.