Although I’ve had an Instagram account for several years, it wasn’t until October 2014 when I decided to really commit myself to this social media platform. Before then, I was honestly mostly confused by it and decided to just ignore it. I changed my mind when I realized not only how much fun it can be, but how important it is when sharing the travel experience with others. With that in mind, I devoted myself and all of my free time to learning the ins and outs of Instagram and how to become a better Instagrammer myself. While I’m no expert – I hate that term in the social media world – I have learned a lot and so I thought I’d share both some objective as well as subjective observations with you all today so that you too can improve your own Instagram experience and have more fun in the process. These are just my own thoughts, you may agree with them or not but what is most important is that you enjoy your Instagram experience. Sure, social media is about getting information and sharing in a digital community but it’s also about having a good time. If you’re not having fun, then you really are doing something wrong.
Tell Us Where You Are
I follow mostly travel accounts on Instagram, or people who also have a passion for all things travel related. I enjoy seeing their photos from every corner of the world and it’s a great way to discover and learn about new places. That’s the key really, education; but if you don’t tell us anything, then we can never take anything away from the photo. I’m not asking for a short blog post, but a line or so explaining where in the world you are and maybe what we’re looking at wouldn’t just be nice, it’d be really helpful. I’m amazed how many times I see people post a beautiful photo without tagging the location or providing anything more than a few hashtags. I don’t want to divine the destination based on hashtags, just tell us where you are. If you want to provide even more context and perhaps a short narrative about the experiences, that’s great too but I see that more as a bonus than something to be expected.
Don’t Post 20 Pictures At Once
Unless you create beautiful mosaic photos on Instagram like my friend Lola Akinmade Åkerström does, then please don’t post 20 photos in a row. Many people I follow for some reason feel the need to flood their Instagram feed with image after image, usually of the same place and usually only a second or so apart. A well done Instagram gallery is just that, a gallery. You must curate it as you would a physical art gallery and take great care to make sure you’re posting amazing photos. Showing me 15 pictures of the plane you’re about to board does nothing except annoy me. Ultimately, I followed you for a reason – I like your content. But don’t ruin the follower experience by overloading them with images. Following many people on Instagram, it just gets to be too much if you’re essentially trying to yell over everyone else.
If you’re on Instagram, then chances are you at least have 1 or 2 creative bones in your body otherwise you wouldn’t bother. While it’s fine to emulate great work done by others, it’s also important to be creative yourself. I love the digital space because anything is possible; we truly are limited only by our own imaginations. So whether you post mostly travel or fashion photos on Instagram, think about your photography in more creative ways and dare to take risks. There is only one account that should be posting pictures of someone leading someone else by the hand. There are only a few who can get away with sharing plane wings on a daily basis and no one ever needs to see your feet ever again. And unless you’re a legitimate supermodel, it’s time to stop all the half-naked selfies and instead focus on the world around you. No one likes an egomaniac. Instead, look around you, look up and behind and capture imagery that tells a story but which also surprises us a little bit.
This can be said for any social media platform and it always amazes me to see even large, corporate accounts doing this so very badly. Social media is about community, that’s it. It’s about meeting new people, developing friendships, interacting, sharing and learning. In order to be a good member of that community, you have to be an active participant in it. That means not treating Instagram or any other platform as if it’s your center stage and you’re holding the megaphone. There are corporate accounts I love and respect but they don’t follow anyone – not a soul. That must be an incredibly lonely feed and it tells me that they don’t care about what anyone else has to say or share; they’re only concerned about self-promotion. That’s not good, but it extends down to the average user as well. It’s not good enough to share some photos and follow some people, you must engage. Like other people’s photos, leave comments, talk to them. This is a community and you should treat it as such.
I’ve mentioned it several times in this post, but it’s important. Instagram is not a zero sum game, it’s not about winners or losers. It’s about sharing your world and getting a sneak peek into the worlds and lives and many other people around the planet. Don’t worry about the number of followers you have or how many likes your photos get. What’s important is that you enjoy the experience and if you do, then that will shine through in your photos and stories and the rest will follow over time.
What are some of your best practices for Instagram?