If you’re reading this post you’re either a follower of my blog or you’re interested in (or like me ‘addicted to) Instagram.
What is Instagram?
Where have you been? Ok, just in case you’re not familiar with it… Instagram is a mobile phone based photo sharing, social network. It has over 80 million registered users worldwide. What makes it unique, is that the photos are confined to a ‘square’ shape, and you can add a selection of filters to give your photo an ‘edge’ (or apply no filter to share it in it’s original form).
Initially it was developed for Apple products (iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad) – however it is now available on Android too.
I’m not going to go into technical details regarding the functions of the app. It’s fairly intuitive, and most smartphone users should be able to use it with ease.
What I will try and offer some guidance on, is growing your popularity and how to get the most from the app.
When I first started using Instagram in April, I just anticipated that I would use it to share photos with my friends and family. It didn’t take me long to realise, that the wider world were also interested in the photos I was taking, and likewise I was interested in the photos that they were taking. This is where the ‘social network’ element comes into play.
So how do you go about getting other people to see your photos (or how do you go about seeing other people’s photos?)
If you use Twitter, then you may already be familiar with ‘hashtagging’, as it’s widely used on there. Hashtags are used as a way to ‘group’ information, in the case of Instagram – grouping photos. The word or phrase is preceeded by the symbol # (a hashtag)!
You can either add the hashtags in the caption when you upload the photo, or in a comment after you’ve uploaded the photo. I prefer to add them in a comment after – and I use the caption box to add a description of the photo.
On instagram you are only allowed 30 hashtags per photos, so choose them wisely!
Using hashtags successfully:
If I use this photo I recently took as an example (which is on my Instagram account):
Firstly, the location.
People like to know where a photo was taken (particularly if it’s a landscape or similar). This photo was taken in Westward Ho! Devon. The only symbol you can use within a hashtag is an underscore _ so, it won’t hashtag an exclamation mark. Hashtags also don’t recognise spaces… only the text immediately following the hashtag, so if you wanted to ‘tag’ it with Westward Ho! it would have to become #westwardho and don’t forget #devon (or even #northdevon). Further to that you could include #england #uk #britain
Next, what’s in your photo? So in this example you have #family #beach #sea #sunset #surfboard #silhouette. You could then go into further detail including #man #dad #woman #mum etc – This is where you have to decide which tags you feel are relevant (bearing in mind you only have 30 you can use).
‘The Technical’ bits
Another area to consider when hashtagging is the technical side of the photograph. What equipment did you use to take the photo? e.g. #iphone #android #htc
Also if it’s a close up shot you could use #macro or for a black and white photograph you could use #monochrome or #blackandwhite
POPULAR HASHTAGS v’s UNIQUE HASHTAGS
It does take a while to get the hang of picking the best and most relevant hashtags. The more popular the hashtag, the more likely your photo is going to get buried within a sea of photos. As an example, at the time of writing the hashtag #sunset has been tagged on 6431241 photos! In comparison #devon only has 32082 photos, #northdevon has just 1300 photos and #westwardho has just 409. The photos tagged with #sunset will have a high turnover, meaning new photos will be added to that every minute (every second even) which is why your photo will get lost, however for the #northdevon tag, there may only be a few photos added each day or for #westwardho – only a few added each week.
There is a flipside to this though. The less common the hashtag, the less popular it is (which means not as many people are going to view/search/browse it).
TOP TIP – USEFUL WEBSITE: http://www.tagstagram.com/ – have taken out some of the effort involved with hashtagging, by creating tags for you to copy and paste. Do bear in mind that these tags are widely used and very popular. Try to use ‘some’ of their tags, plus a few of your own more specific/unique tags.
OK, so you’ve added hashtags to your photos and the likes have probably started to arrive. How do you then use hashtags, to go and like other peoples photos?
There are a couple ways to browse instagram using hashtags. The first way, is to click on one of the hashtags you’ve added to your own photo. You will then be taken to a gallery of all the photos that contain that hashtag (most recently tagged will be showing first). Likewise, you can also click on the hashtags other people have added to their photos.
The other way is to use the search facility on the Instagram app. You will need to navigate to the search section:
Once there, click on the ‘magnifying glass’ symbol and there will be two tabs on the top ‘users’ or ‘tags’. You want the ‘tags’ tab and then just search in the word or phrase you wish to explore.
** FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM**: @kistokim
If you don’t have Instagram you can view my gallery online at: http://statigr.am/kistokim