Instagram is a great service for artists, designers, and others with a creative eye. Not only is it free, but it requires minimal gadgetry (you don’t need a fancy camera or expensive editing equipment – just a smartphone!) and it’s a social network that directly rewards your creative efforts with engagement. If you don’t have a presence on Instagram yet, you’re missing out on a fun social network that can sharpen your artistic skills. If you do have an account, read on for some ideas on how to build yourself a steady following!
Be Proud, Be Public
If you want to build a following, it is important to make sure you’re sharing your photos publicly! You’re barking up the wrong tree if you want to keep your photos private. Obviously this means that anything you post will be, duh, public – so don’t post anything illegal or that could make a future employer wary of hiring you.
To make sure your photos are public, go into Instagram settings and make sure the “Photos Are Private” slider is set to OFF.
Connect, Connect, Connect
While you’re in settings, take a detour into “Share Settings” and connect away! There is no point for you to log into Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr just to post a single photo. Instagram allows you to connect with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare, so be sure to take full advantage of this feature. Each time you upload a photo, you’ll be given the option to select what social network you wish to share it with.
Be Selective: Don’t Share Crap
As an artistic social network, Instagram’s members collectively value artistic merit. However if your photos are complete and utter crap, no one’s going to want to follow you or engage with your uploads. Though the square format can present some challenges to people trained in traditional photography, it’s actually a pretty easy format to pick up as a beginner. Practice makes perfect.
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If you need a little photography 101, Inspiration Feed has some great guides. Whether you’re just starting out and need some beginner photography tips, or if your challenges lie with photographing food or taking pictures in the snow, there are guides. Use them.
And remember, you can take photos with the app without sharing them – just go back to the camera after adding your effects. Wait until you have something awesome before flooding your feed.
Consistency is Key
Speaking of flooding your feed – don’t do it. Just a few photos a day, tops. Since Instagram is still a relatively small network compared to the big players like Facebook and Twitter, chances are that some of the people who might follow you actually follow a relatively small number of people. That means if you’re spamming their feed, that’s all they might see for hours, or even days. Don’t do that – it’s annoying.
The best thing you could do is share one or two photos a day, be sure to space them out as well. Either save them to share at a later time, or just refrain from Instagramming until enough time has passed. Try not to miss too many days in between though – constantly posting is key.
#Hashtag #Like #Crazy
Hashtags are how users find new photos around a topic, and they help connect related images. There are also hashtags for each filter. If you’re taking a photograph of your morning coffee (overdone, but okay if you have a particularly attractive looking beverage!), hashtag it #coffee. If you’re a code monkey writing up some new estimate software, you can try to take an artsy photo of that, hashtag it #software. If you’re taking a picture of the Eiffel Tower, hashtag it #eiffeltower. You get the idea.
Try to be trendy and hop onto popular hashtags. Jump on the bandwagon with daily and weekly tags like #photooftheday and #throwbackthursday. Check the trending tags in your Explore tab.
Map Those Photos
As long as you’re not feeling antsy about oversharing your movements, allowing Instagram to access your location will give you the ability to add photos to your Photo Map. You can select the exact restaurant, bar, or other place where you’re snapping shots via Foursquare. Doing so will bring your shot up with others’ in nearby locations, which could lead to new followers and possibly even new stalkers friends!
Engagement is Great
One of the tried and true methods of gaining followers on social sites is following someone and waiting for them to follow you back. This tactic works on Instagram, too. However, I’d advise against following every random person you stumble across; if you do, you’re going to have to put up with all that crap in your feed.
Instead, stick to following people you know and people whose photographs interest you. You can find people you know by going into settings and choosing “Find & Invite Friends.” To find interesting people use the Explore tab. This will show some of the most popular photos at the moment.
Obviously, people who don’t know you might not follow you right away, but they may be more inclined if you engage with them. Don’t just follow them; comment on their photographs. Don’t flood their feed with comments (which is both annoying and potentially creepy), but space them out as you see new images that you like in your feed.
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There’s probably something you can do differently to build up your Instagram following – why not try one of the ideas above? Or, if you’re a guru at this, why don’t you share your secrets in the comments below? Please don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS-feed or follow Inspirationfeed on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook! If you enjoyed the following article we humbly ask you to help us spread the word!