by: Carol Bryant
Have you tried Instagram yet? With the plethora of social networking sites and services available, who has time for yet one more app/platform/program? This is one you might want to give a second look.
If you love taking photos, aren't always up for having to be witty or clever to summarize your thoughts in 140 characters (as much as we love Twitter, it can be, well, pressure filled BOL)...well Instagram just might be the instant answer to your prayers, or something close to it.
Instagram is an online photo sharing service that allows you to upload photos, apply effects or filters, then share them to a variety of other places. It's easy, it's fun, and I've been playing around with it for a few months now. I am gaining new followers and fans to my magazine dog blog thanks to Instagram. Are your ears perked now? Here's a cheat sheet and jump start if you'd like to immerse paws first into Instagram:
* Uploading a photo is easy. You can take the photo with Instagram or upload one to Instagram using another app if you want to apply special effects. (note: I like PicFx)
* Determine if your phone is Instagram (IG) compatible. I have an iPhone 5, so it worked for me.
* If you've ever posted a photo on Facebook, you have a pretty good understanding of how Instagram works. Pictures that make you want to stop in your tracks get the most comments and attention. People with a lot of followers pretty much get a lot of likes.
* Once you've uploaded a photo in IG, you want to hashtag it appropriately. Hashtags on IG are similar to but work a bit differently than hashtags on Twitter. Any word that is preceded by a hashtag will be searchable in IG. So I uploaded this photo and hashtagged it as you see:
So three cute dogs and here are some hashtags you could use with this:
These #cockerspaniels are a trio of trouble and #cutenessoverload. #dogstagram #dogsofinstagram #doglover #dogsrock #homesweethome #cockerspaniel #blogpaws #cockersofinstagram
Okay so what the heck does all of that mean and why so many hashtags? When each of those hashtags are clicked, it will take the user to a screen full of pictures with that same hashtag.
So, for example, if the user clicked on the #cockersofinstagram hashtag, he or she would find plenty of Cocker Spaniel pictures. There, I can follow other users, since I know we have things in common: Well, cockers at least! Then those followers can reciprocate and follow me back. Much like Twitter, you gain followers. You will see some photos with a boatload of hashtags and more power to you. In fact, experiment and hashtag away. It's sort of the world's universal shared photo album on Instagram.
You can even get an app that generates hashtags. I have one I purchased for $1.99 called Tagstagram, but I've rarely used it. Still, if you are into hashtags and finding similar folks with similar interests, go for it or experiment on your own.
(on a side note, I love Instagram for a mental break. I love to scroll through photos and find it easier to use and less involved than Pinterest, but that's just me).
* If you are at a conference, such as BlogPaws, you would follow that event's hashtag. So during our conference, you could hashtag #BlogPaws but that's also a great way to find any photos that have anything to do with #BlogPaws year-round. Want us to see your cat, your blog, something related to pets? Great, go upload a photo and hashtag #BlogPaws. While there, follow us @BlogPaws (just like Twitter). We'll follow you back.
* You have an account, you took photos, you hashtagged, now what? Start exploring. You can search by users or hashtags. Wondering if anyone is interested in giant rabbits? Okay, search for hashtag #giantrabbit and there are 1,746. You aren't alone.
* You can use hashtags in the comments of your posts. You cannot edit a photo once you post it but youi can add hashtags in the comments. You can also reply to folks who comment on your photo by using a @ symbol, like on Twitter, to call them out.
So here's a photo someone took of me with friends and our furry family members at the recent BlogPaws Conference in May in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Check out how I tagged it *very basic* but also how I @ called out folks.
* Most folks will choose to LIKE your photo, much like Facebook. So I return in kind, generally follow folks back (who appear legit) and start perusing their photos and LIKE them back. It's a fun, reciprocating relationship that involves photos, fun, learning, and networking.
* You'll want to fill out a profile and I include my blog URL in it for easy click-through, which has started to produce results. Here's my profile:
* There are a variety of fun and engaging hashtags folks use. Much like #FF (Follow Friday) on Twitter, here are a few to get you started on Instagram:
#100likes, #200likes or #300likes. Add these tags to your pictures when they reach 100, 200, 300 or more likes. This will make it easier for users to find pictures that have reached these numbers.
#flashbackfriday: Use this tag on Friday’s when you want to post pictures of your past, of your family, or when you where young.
If you want some more basics or need some intermediate to advanced ways to use Instagram, I've found Instagramers.com to be a good resource, chockful of tutorials, too.
See you on IG! Oh, and I'm @FidoseofReality. And don't 4-get: @BlogPaws.
Are you on Instagram? Share your IG name below and we'll follow you back @BlogPaws.