Monday, April 7, 2014

So You Want to Start an Instagram

I get a fair amount of questions from people (mainly my mom) about how Instagram works. I'm always happy to help explain because I myself had NO clue what the purpose of IG (what the cool kids call it) was a year ago. I knew 99% of my college friends had one, but their photos would still pop up on my Facebook so I was like, "what's the point of having yet another account?" Oh how naive I was. Finally, my friends convinced me to get one. But I was still super nervous. I didn't know what people posted on there, how hash-tagging worked, what all the abbreviations meant, etc. For the first few months, I didn't really do much with it. I only followed a few people and only a few people followed me. I think I posted like 3 photos. Maaaybe. When I started my blog last fall, however, I quickly discovered that Instagram and blogging go hand-in-hand. For this post, I will be outlining the very basics of Instagram and how to use it correctly. Next week, I'll talk more about how to use Instagram to promote your own blog or business.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not an IG expert. Feel free to disregard what I say if you don't like it or if it doesn't work for you. I won't be offended. And chances are, I'll never even know.

And don't worry, I'll hold your hand all the way through this process.


The IG logo. 

Ok first thing's first. Download the app to your smartphone. Next, create a username. I'll be honest, if your name is Jane Smith and you make your IG name something like crazymonkeytreefrogs88 I'll probably never remember who you are and get confused and maybe unfollow you. If you can, pick something that at least has something to do with your name i.e. missjane83 or janesmith (if that's free). But if crazymonkeytreefrogs88 just completely embodies you as a person, go for it. You can also get super clever/punny. I'll give you bonus points for that. Name you want already taken? Try adding dashes or other characters to make it unique like miss_jane_smith or some kind of adjective or action such as cookingjane (if you like to post pics of food you make, for example).

Now you need to decide if you want to make your account private or public. If your main purpose for being on IG is to see your friends' photos and have only people you know see yours, then go with private. It's safer that way. If you choose to go public, be careful about how much info you reveal about yourself through your photos and captions. If you do go public, you might consider omitting your last name from your username.

Now you get to follow people! You can start by clicking on the little blue spiky circle thing next to your username and find friends through your Facebook. You can also search your fave celebs and cute cats. I recommend @taylorswift, @baconcup, and @ifitwags. You can also just google good IG accounts to follow for various categories such as food, fashion (myself), animals, design, photography, etc.

Ok so hashtags. I didn't really understand what purpose they served until a friend told me that you can click on the hashtag under a photo and then it will take you to a page that shows EVERY photo with that hashtag. So in the event that you want to see LITERALLY every #selfie that has ever been posted, you can.

IG also has theme days! Surprise. Here's the breakdown.

Sunday: #selfiesunday (take a selfie of yourself and post it, if you feel like it).
Monday: #mcm (stands for "man candy Monday", post a pic of your favorite man).
Tuesday: #transformationtuesday (post an old photo of you and a new photo to show how you've changed).
Wednesday: #wcw (stands for "woman crush Wednesday", post a photo of your female "crush")
Thursday: #tbt (stands for "throwback Thursday", post an old photo either from childhood or even yesterday if you feel like it)
Friday: ummm #flashbackfriday? Pretty much the same thing as #throwbackthursday. Not as popular as the other days. I sometimes do #fancyfriday. You can be creative and just come up with your own too. Whatever you feel. Alliterations work best.

So those are the basics! Now you can upload and edit your own photos of anything you please and "like" other people's photos too. You'll have fun, I promise.

Coming up in the next installments of this series, we'll talk about how to use IG to promote your blog or business as well as pros & cons to this addicting photo app.

Have a happy Monday, my loves!

Excited That: Spring has finally arrived!
Might Be: Living in Bloomington for part of the summer running a quaint hotel?
Making: Quinoa bowls tonight for dinner.
In Dire Need Of: The "Frozen" soundtrack.
Days Until Christmas: 261

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