Everybody seems to be on Instagram these days, but if you have been wondering what it's all about but are not sure where to start, this guide will help you set up an account and get it up and running.
1. Download the app.
This is a readily available free app so just download it from the Itunes App Store or Google Play.
2. Choose a unique user name.
The name you choose can actually be changed later if you like but it is getting harder to get the name you'd prefer as Instagram becomes more popular. Get creative with underscores and full stops if you need to and try and choose something relevant to you or your business. If you intend to build followers, often your user name will be the reason someone will actually click on your profile, so make sure it suits!
3. Connect with your friends.
Now that Instagram is owned by Facebook, it is easy to connect with your Facebook friends who are already using Instagram. You can also search your phone contacts for other people you know but can skip this step when setting up if you like as you can come back to it at any time.
4. Follow people that you like.
Instagram is not like Facebook where you are 'Friends' with people. If you 'Follow' someone you will see their photos as they upload them, and they will only see yours if they follow you, or go directly to your profile.
If you would prefer to share your images only with people you have approved, it is possible to have your profile set to 'private'. If you have a private account (or want to follow someone who does) the follower must send a request and will only be able to see images in that account once that request has been approved.
5. Like photos that you like!
It sounds obvious, but interaction is the key to Instagram and people love to have their work admired. A double tap on the image will bring up the 'heart' which is Instagram's version of Facebook's 'like'. You can also tap the small heart under the bottom left of the photo to give some love!
6. Comment on photos.
Once again, interaction is the key to getting the most out of Instagram, and it is possible to leave a comment on someone's photo by tapping the little speech bubble next to the 'heart'. If you comment on a photo, the owner of the image will be notified, but if you are replying to someone's comment on your own image, make sure you also use their username with an @ in front (eg: @lilahsnow) and only then will they be notified of your comment.
7. Use hashtags when posting photos.
Unless you are a big user of Twitter, you most likely think that hashtags are a little bit silly. It took me ages to use hashtags properly on Instagram because I felt I was being a bit pretentious for some reason! But if there was ever a time to use them, this is it. Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags per image and these can be in the photo description or you can add it in the comments of your own photo. Start with the obvious ones if you like, and Instagram will often suggest other popular related tags that may suit. Get in the habit of clicking on hashtags that you are using and pick out your favourite images. Hashtags are a great way to discover accounts with a similar subject matter to you. Exploring how these accounts tag their photos may also lead you further towards a version of Instagram that suits your interests and style.
8. Upload photos.
Instagram was originally 'instant' and was designed to upload images from your mobile device on the go. Even now, you can only upload a photo from your phone or tablet, but if you email yourself a photo from your camera and save it to your phone, or if your DLSR has wifi, you can upload any image. It is best to edit the photo using apps such as Snapseed or Lightroom for iPhone before uploading to Instagram. You can edit by adding filters on Instagram, but I feel like I see them used less and less these days...although maybe that's just my feed.
9. Sharing photos (The Regram)
It's ok to regram (repost someone else's shot), but make sure you make it clear that this is not your photo and always give credit by tagging them with @username so they know that it has been shared. Try to make the majority of your feed your own photos unless your goal is to only share images.
In time you find yourself gravitating towards groups of users who use specific hashtags and the result is a personalised feed of inspiring images.
What's not to love?
Leave your Instagram name in the comments section below and I will be sure to check you out, or click the button below and check out my feed. This month you can win one of my leather camera bags with the hash tag #lifewellcaptured. More details here.
Emma Anderson. Creating, learning, growing and taking photos of it all!
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