Tip #4: Instagram Etiquitte

On Instagram, there are three main ways to interact with someone. You can like their pictures, comment on pictures, or follow them. This post can serve as your guide on how to handle all of these interactions.

This is, by far, the most common form of interaction on Instagram. To like photos, go to a users page, select a photo, and double tap or hit the like button below the picture to like it.

Commonly, likes are returned from the average user. Users with thousands of followers are less likely to return likes.

If someone likes some of your pictures, I would recommend going to their page and liking the same number of pictures as they liked for you. If you absolutely hate their pictures, you don’t have to like any. Remember, they chose to like your pictures and you probably won’t ever hear from them again.

Comments are the in-between when it comes to Instagram interactions.

If someone comments on your picture, you should reply to them (this might mean thanking them for a compliment or answering a question). To do this on your own picture, type @[their username] so that they receive a notification that you replied to their comment.

If you go and comment on someone’s photo, do not use @[their username]. They will get the notification because it is on their photo. Also, tagging someone on their own photo is seen as something only done by new users and will make you look unexperienced.

You can also return comments as you would return likes.

Follows are rare because people are always considering their “ratio”. This ratio is the number of followings compared to their number of followers.

First of all, you should always follow back people that you know personally, like friends, coworkers, or family.

If someone follows you and you like their pictures, follow them back. Do not feel obligated to follow them. Remember, they chose to follow you and, if you don’t know them personally, you have no need to follow them.

If you choose to follow someone you don’t know personally, do not expect to be followed back. If they follow you back it is a bonus, but don’t expect them too.

Good luck and remember to have fun with Instagram!


Tip #3: Develop a Style

The tip for today is to develop a style or a genre for your Instagram pictures. I consider there to be two parts to this: the first being what the photos are of and the second being the tone of the photos.

I’ll begin with what your photos are of. In the previous post, I talked about the two different types of accounts. Deciding on which type of account you will have is the first stage to deciding the style of your posts. I will not talk too much about styles relating to the Friends and Family account because I avoid those types of pictures on my account and therefore don’t have too much to say about them. This leaves us with the Amateur Photographer account. Here are some things to consider while deciding on a style:

  1. Your geographical location. Do you live in the city, the woods, the country, by the beach, etc.? All of these offer different opportunities for a genre, but you must choose the one that is most appropriate to you. An important part of having a style is maintaining that style in your pictures. Because of this, it does not make sense to choose a genre that you can’t take pictures of on a regular basis. For example, beach themes can be very successful, but can you post beach pictures daily if you only visit once a year and live in the city? Probably not. Choose a theme that you can take pictures of on a consistent basis.
  2. Choose how specific your genre will be. The best example of this is a “nature” account. This account leaves a huge number of options open for photographs. Will you limit your “nature” account to just birds? Just flowers? This is something to think about. I would recommend leaving an account pretty open. If you focus in on something specific, for example, street signs, there are only so many pictures of street signs you can take before they all start looking the same.
  3. Choose a theme you like. Choosing something just because it is popular and there are a lot of options for that theme doesn’t mean you have to go with it! Choose a theme that you like because in the end, that is where you will find the best pictures.

The second part of your style is which edit you do in the Instagram app. Notice that the app offers about 20 different filters. The key to having a signature style is to choose one of these filters and using it for all of your pictures. If you feel like this is spoiling your “stylizing” of your pictures, then you need to rethink how you are taking the pictures. The filters should be a compliment to the picture. It should not make or break the picture. It is okay to play around with the filters. For your first twenty or so pictures, try a wide range of filters. Try multiple out on one image (but DO NOT post them all!) until you find one you like. By the time you get to about thirty photos, you should have a filter that you use on every image.

Please comment with questions or comments!

Tip #2: Know Your Audience

A very important part of Instagram is catching your viewers attention. Realize that you are working with an (approximately) 2.5″ by 2.5″ box on an iPhone screen. The users are probably flipping through your picture and hundreds of other photos each time they use the app. So what does this mean for you?

  1. Take advantage of the space you are given. You have on small box on a screen. Because of this, you have to choose one or two objects to focus on. You need to capture the viewers attention with the objects in this box. Having a very complex picture with many elements can make for an excellent picture, but on Instagram, keeping it simple will benefit you hugely. A striking, sharp picture will catch a viewers interest much better than a complex picture. Many of the successful Instagram photographers take a minimalistic approach to their photos (see simplebits, flashlight, dew).
  2. Choose who your audience will be. Will you have a “Friends and Family” account or an “Amateur Photographer” account? (Please note, I consider nearly every Instagram user an “amateur” including myself. No matter how artsy our pictures get, we are still using a cell phone camera! But let me get back on topic.) There are huge differences between these two types of accounts. A “Friends and Family” account (which I will call an FF this point) is usually a private account, will have fewer followers (think of it as a more personal Facebook), and will rarely receive likes from random people. There is nothing wrong with this type of account – tons of people have them- but don’t expect to receive a huge following with this type of account. On the other hand, an “Amateur Photographer” account (AP from here on out) has more “artsy” photos, will receive more random likes, and is more likely to gain a large following. This account will require more maintenance. Anyway, the point of this is to watch what kind of pictures you post. A FF account can have anything you like. An AP account should not have personal pictures, but should have artsy, planned out photos. Throughout this blog, I will be focusing on tips for AP accounts more than FF accounts.

Just remember –  you have a few seconds to draw someone in. Make sure it is worth their time! You want to really catch their attention.

In future posts, I will talk about developing a style, Instagram etiquette, and account maintenance.

Please ask any questions or leave any comments! Be sure to check back soon!

Tip #1: Take lots of Pictures!

No professional photographer takes one picture of the subject and considers it done. Take a hint from them. One your iPhone, you can take as many pictures as you want. If some don’t work out – and trust me, not all of them will – you can just delete them. If you have something interesting that you want to photograph, I would recommend taking five to ten pictures of the object from slightly different angles and with slightly different focuses.

The key to this is choosing which ones to post. If you go out and take 100 pictures, you should not post them all on Instagram! Look through the pictures and choose your favorite five or ten pictures. Still, do not post these all at once! One of the keys to Instagram is taking all of your pictures and narrowing them down to the best few pictures. This takes some skill and I will go into it more in a later post.

So go out and take lots of pictures! And remember please comment or ask any questions that you might have!

What is this?

Welcom to How To: Instagram!

This blog will be focused on all the tips you need for Instagram success! There will be information on photography apps, how to frame pictures, how to gain recognition, and much more.

Also, check out the companion blog, Instagram Features.This blog will show you great photograpers on Instagram – both new and old, popular and unknown.