I have a complete obsession with Instagram. I’ve had an Instagram account for a while (before my blogging days) but admit that I never really ‘got it’ or understood the real benefit of Instagram for bloggers. The only accounts I followed were those of my friends and they were much more active on Facebook – so Instagram didn’t seem to serve much purpose for me.
But when I decided to ‘get serious’ about Instagram at the beginning of this year something just clicked. Suddenly, I wasn’t looking for real-time updates of what people were up to, I was looking at beautiful photography, captured moments in time and creative photo streams. I was hooked and couldn’t get enough of it!
Now I spend far more time on Instagram than any of the other social media platforms. Which is ironic really as I get pretty much near zero traffic from Instagram to my blog. But I love Instagram and have realised that it’s not really about sending traffic to my blog – it’s a separate platform in its own right. Which brings me on to…
Instagram – 5 lessons I’ve learned so far
1. It’s an extension of your overall brand
I tend to use Twitter and Facebook to promote back to my blog content, but I see Instagram as a visual representation of my ‘blog brand’. I’m currently trying to improve my photography and I like to post only my best photography on my blog – so I try to replicate this across my Instagram account by only posting a selection of my favourite photos. I avoid bad lighting and and blurry images, just as I would do on my blog.
If photography is not such a key part of your blog and you’re more about the laughs and giggles of family life – warts and all – then a photo stream of funny moments caught in haste on your phone will probably be more fitting. Personally I tend to follow a varied range of accounts and like all manner of posts – from beautifully staged SLR shots, to funny quotes that have me chortling into my morning cuppa. Whatever you choose to post, stay true to yourself and it will come naturally.
2. It helps to be consistent (but don’t stress about a theme too soon)
When I first started to ‘get serious’ on Instagram, I got hugely hung up on following a theme. I follow heaps of swoon-worthy accounts that have a consistant theme – all of the images look similar, they have a distinct colour palette and their photo stream just seems to flow. I loved the staged interior shots and more feminine colours and tried to replicate these types of accounts at first, but completely failed!
After throwing the idea of a theme out of the window, I saw that one was actually starting to emerge within my photo stream. In reality my life is quite outdoorsy and I tend to surround myself with more natural, earthy colours within our home. I realised that most of the ‘pretty’ in my life comes from nature – the green outdoors, our dog walks, our sailing weekends, my daughter, our family time – so I decided to feature more of this within my stream and leave the staged creative photos to those who are far better at it. I also let myself be guided by the seasons – I’m loving the current summer feel within my photos with pops of yellow and sunny skies. I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but I like to think my photos are improving all of the time, and I’m happy with that.
If you do want to create a theme for your images you could try using a photo editing app such as VSCO, Afterlight or Snapseed, which can help to give a consistant look to your images. I prefer the filters in VSCO than the ones on the Instagram app as I feel they are more subtle and natural looking. However, some of my favourite Instagramers use the Instagram filters beautifully, such as Mummy of Boy Girl Twins. Others swear by the added features available in Lightroom which enables you to create a truly distinctive feel to your photos. You Baby Me Mummy’s Instagram account is a great example of this.
4. Don’t forget it’s social media
When browsing through multiple images and very few words, it can be easy to forget that Instagram is a social media platform. Therefore, like any of your other social media platforms, it helps to engage and interact with other users – especially if you want to increase your own likes and followers . I try and like as many great photos as I can on a daily basis and when I have time I comment on other people’s photos. Which brings me on to…
5. Hashtags do work!
I know that a lot of users have a dislike of using multiple hashtags and some of the articles I’ve read have even gone so far as to say that they stink of desperation. But I have to say that I completely disagree. Hashtags simply increase the exposure of your images to multiple audiences. By including a relevant hashtag you are basically making your image available to other people who are seeking out your kind of images. I’ve also found some great communities through using hashtags specific to my interests and have discovered some brilliant accounts which I now follow. So it’s been a win-win for me.
You can follow me on Instagram here.