For those of you who don’t use the internet (I assume that can’t be many of my readers), you may not have heard of Instagram. It’s a social media photo sharing app for iPhones (and now android devices!) that lets you post pictures and like or comment on other people’s pictures with filters that make you look like a better photographer than you really are. Here are some things I’ve learned so far —
It’s not tumblr
If your photo stream is all photos from other people or sources or just “reblogs” of photos you like, it won’t be that interesting to others. It does, however, work great for sharing original (i.e. your) content.
The beauty of IG (which is what people in “the know” call it) is that you can share unpolished or behind-the-scenes access to what you’re doing, especially if you’re a company or larger brand. Use your corporate website to show professionally edited photos of your products or yourself. Use Instagram to show that you’re a real human being.
This goes for any social media site/service. If you’re using it to talk at your customers, you’re not going to get much out of it. So answer questions on your photos, like and comment on other people’s photos and follow people you find interesting back.
I know you’re excited about whatever you’re taking photos of, but you don’t need to post 30 photos of pretty much the same thing all in row, within a couple of minutes. Take the photos then post your favourite shot. That’ll also net more likes per photo (if that’s your aim, you narcissist!).
Properly using tags is a great way to both have people find your photos and to find similar photos. But use tags correctly — as in — don’t use #yourbrand on every photo you post. Use appropriate tags on appropriate photos. What’s appropriate? Do a search before you post a photo to see if others are using a tag you want to use. If they are, use it! People will find that photo that much easier if it’s attached to a popular tag. If not, maybe don’t bother, or do, and start a new tag trend. The second way to use tags is to search for tags that relate to your own (or company’s) interests. Like photos in that tag search and find other users to follow from that tag search.
Use other services
It’s hard to type long comments on your phone, so if you’re on your computer, use services like copygr.am or statigr.am to like, comment, reply and search on Instagram — right from your computer.
Don’t be 100% the same, 100% of the time
It gets boring quickly if you only post shots of a single thing or idea. Take my photo stream — it’s most photos of creature-free food I make, but I also post a lot of silly photos of myself, nature shots from where I live and travel photos. They definitely don’t get as many likes as the food photos, but they keep things less monotonous for both myself (so I stay interested in using Instagram) and my followers.
You can’t win at instagram
As with any social media service, there’s really no right way to use it. Use it however you want or however you find value from it. These are just a few tips i’ve learned along the way.