I really, really love Instagram (you can find me @heyhildie). I used to fight it because I hated the idea that all my pictures have to be square. Now I accept square-ness (and I know how to get past that if I need to). Instagram is kind of like Facebook but without all the ads and weird stuff. And, of course, you always have to use a picture (or video!). That’s the whole point.
If you’re on Instagram or are thinking about it, let me give you a few hints. These might sound a little bratty, but I’m just trying to help you out. If you want people to like your stuff (and obviously you do or you wouldn’t be putting your pictures up for public approval on Instagram), you need to follow a few guidelines:
1. Don’t be a Private User. There is nothing more annoying than having someone comment on one of your photos, only to click over to their info and this is what you see:
There is pretty much no info on your Instagram account unless you put it there. Meaning that there is no way people can figure out your name and address and kidnap your kids unless you put it on Instagram on purpose. Facebook is way more scary in that respect.
2. Keep the pics of your kids to a minimum (I’d say 50% or less). Yes, I know you have the cutest toddler ever and your teenage daughter is simply gorgeous, but unless your mom is your only follower the rest of us don’t want to see endless photos of your kids. It’s boring. Sorry. It also makes you look lame and one-dimensional. Certainly there is more to your life than your children (please say yes). I know that Christmas and Halloween are kid-heavy holidays and we’re all guilty of putting up lots of pics on Instagram during that time of year. Just try to expand your horizons a little and find interesting/pretty/funny things that don’t revolve around your offspring.
3. Limit pictures of your animals. Pets are even more boring than kids. At least kids have different facial expressions. Unless your pet is doing something really hilarious, or it’s a particularly gorgeous shot, don’t post it. A cat lying on a bed is not interesting unless you’re a ten-year-old girl. If that’s who follows you on Instagram, then knock yourself out. I have one friend whom I had to unfollow because all she ever posted were pictures of her Afghan Hound sleeping. It just looked like a brownish mop laying on the floor. You can only give a person so many sympathy “likes” before you just unfollow them.
4. Do not even think of posting a shot looking down at your shoes! We’ve all taken one, which is what makes it so boring and overdone. I don’t care how great of a filter you use. If you want to show that you are about to go running, wrack your brain for some other way to illustrate this.
5. Don’t go overboard with hashtags. This is a tricky area. I like a hashtag if it’s funny or clever. Or if I actually want to be able to search for the topic of the picture. Please don’t go crazy with the “funny” hashtags. It can get really, really annoying. Like an eight-year-old who won’t quit with the knock-knock jokes.
Yes, you can put whatever you want on Intagram. But if you want people to like your pictures and follow you, you need to keep things interesting.