I deleted Facebook years ago and only have one Tweet under my belt. My social media weapon of choice? Instagram. To satiate the ever present need for double-taps, let’s talk about a few strategies to get your Insta-Game on point.
1. Content Is King
I feel like people forget this is a visual portfolio. This is not the venue to write an essay. The goal is to post a pretty picture. Start with a thoughtful composition. Learn the rule of thirds.
Consider the lighting. Natural is best, naturally. Be on the lookout for soft lighting that brings out a good contrast between highlights and shadows and shows lots of detail. If taking a photo of someone, have them face the source of light and be wary of shadows on face. Your pictures #indaclub do not the best Instagram make.
Try different angles. New locations. Use an upgraded camera app. Or shoot with a DSLR and transfer to your phone. Keep your commentary to a minimum.
Most importantly, make it interesting! Give me something I haven’t seen before! What’s in your purse? What is your dog’s best trick?
2. Time It Right
There is a time & a place for everything. If your goal is to reach a certain audience, post with them in mind. Ask yourself: When do I scroll through my feed the most?
For me, it’s while I’m having coffee the morning. I’m feeling motivated and happy. If you’re posting something business related, inspirational or aspirational, consider early to mid-morning, when your employed friends are getting up and at ‘em.
Your socially or alcoholically inclined friends will appreciate a little treat while you’re getting ready for a night on the town, telling them where the party is or what restaurant you’re exploring. Instagram gets it’s name from the idea that you post a photo of what you’re doing instantly, remember? I’ll be more likely to like your mojito photo I’m in the mood for a cocktail.
Saturday afternoon & Sunday mornings are a good time for engagement, across the board.
Helpful safety hint: If you geo-tag your house (stupidly) don’t post a bunch of vacation photos while you’re hiking Macchu Picchu unless you left Kevin McCallister at your house. You’re a wet burgalar’s wet dream. #Latergrams are always appropriate.
3. Hashtag Responsibly
^ Don’t do this. No one likes it. A hashtag is used to thread together photos that have a similar theme. Your inside jokes will not link to anything and defeat the purpose of what the hashtag is for. Limit yourself to two relevant hashtags per photo. Your hashtag fluster cluck impresses no one and stresses out everyone.
4. Respect The Feed
If you must take a selfie, make it something we haven’t seen before. Challenge yourself! Can you take a selfie with a shark? Do you have any recent x-rays? Don’t be afraid of a little danger. Stop taking selfie photos in your car. No more than one eyebrow photo allowed per account.
It’s clear from your 82 posts of the gym that you enjoy Crossfit. I’m truly happy for you. But you name your dog Paleo, I will hate you.
Can you show me anything more? Like the books you’re reading, the view from your hike, a piece of street art, your friends, a cool new restaurant, a bomb cocktail, anything? You do all these things and have a unique insight to share… and yet all I see are photos of you chalked up, squatted down or sweaty and dead. Who are you? Instagram is your opportunity to cultivate snapshots of your life, so show us more than one aspect of your world. Remember, variety is the spice of life.
This is not the venue to be a porn star. There are plenty of other websites I could point you to, just shoot me an email and I would be happy to send some referrals your way. Put down the Jack Daniels bottle and step off the bar. Your mother didn’t send you to college to become Ke$ha. If your photo is questionable, text it to your hoes in different area codes, but keep it off my feed.
If you wouldn’t double tap what you’re posting, do not post it. Your burnt toast on a paper plate should be seen by no one.
5. Give me Filters, or Give me Death
Not to say that we have to put on an air of perfection, but I would suggest making your photos attractive, if you can. Use different apps for new effects, like my favorite bokeh lighting filters, fromPicFx.
Proceed with caution: you can over do it on filters. If you are unrecognizable by the time you’re posting, please try again. And remember: 9 times out of 10, Facetune is going to make you look crazy.
To make this an authentic user experience, comment on other Instagrammers’ photos you appreciate. Reach outside your inner circle & say hello to someone you love and or admire, you might just get a response. If you post something inspired by another person, comment to them or tag them. Be thoughtful and be smart; tagging @channingtatum in every duck-faced selfie you take is not the right approach.
If you’re going to repost something, tag the original artist in the photo. If you’re lucky, like I was this week, that person with will like your photo and link their 43k followers over to your page. This stroke of (strategic, intentional and pre-meditated) luck netted me new followers and my highest liked photo to date.
7. Keep It Positive
If you don’t like what you see, refrain from adding negative commentary and just unfollow or ignore. Posts that make fun of or put others down are not chic. “Throwing shade” is not appropriate in social media or real life. I am instantly embarrassed that I used the phrase “throwing shade.”
Be an example of class. If you have nothing nice to say, be the money emoji with his hands over his mouth and say nothing at all.
8. Chill Out, Broski
The number of likes or followers you have on Instagram does not define you. If you get unfollowed, that does not mean you are unworthy. Who are you doing this for? Hopefully you’re posting for you. Because you enjoy it and because you want to capture some cool memories for yourself.
If you EVER stress over Instagram, you need to detox. Delete the app from your phone and remember that your mother will still love you, your friends will still laugh at your jokes and life will continue EVEN IF you don’t see every. single. one. of Kim Kardashian’s posts.