I love Instagram (connect with me as Travelogged), the mobile photo-sharing platform. I don’t use it as frequently as Twitter or Facebook, but I still have fun posting photos that would otherwise languish on my phone. My Instagram photos tend to be quirkier, more artistic, more food-oriented, more personal and more slice of life than the photos I post on Twitter and Facebook — or sometimes none of the above. On more than one occasion, Instagram filters have resuscitated a photo to such an extent that I’ve then gone and posted it on the other platforms. And sometimes even on this blog.
Sometimes I think that I get more out of Instagram than I put in because I enjoy seeing other people’s photos so much. I can take a quick tour around the world in about 30 seconds. Just like me, the users I follow (a mix of IRL friends, travel bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, hotels and tourism organizations) tend to post more creative photos on Instagram. It’s a great way to do visual research, whether it’s for an actual trip or just fuel for my daydreams. And there’s a lot of interaction on Instagram — photos get reactions.
If you’re looking to get more out of Instagram, here are my top five tips:
1. Go easy on the filters. I love it when the filters help you restore the colors that the iPhone photography took away. The filters can also do amazing things in removing shadows. It’s one thing to enhance your photo, but it’s quite another to dramatically alter the colors. I say this especially as a travel blogger — was that water really turquoise? Also, food usually looks less appetizing with filters, so use them sparingly.
2. Don’t overdo the #hashtags. Instagram is a very limited platform in the sense that the only way that you can see the photos of users’ you don’t follow is by searching for the hashtag. It’s tempting to put in as many hashtags as possible in hope that your photo will be seen by more people. But you may annoy your followers if your photo captions are one #hashtag #after #another. So use the hashtags sparingly in the caption, and then add in more as a comment. Just like on Twitter, it’s important to do your homework and see which hashtags are popular. A quick search on Instagram will let you know how many photos use that exact hashtag — try a few variations to determine which ones are best. There’s also an app called Instatag that can help you figure out relevant hashtags.
3. Interact with Other Users: There’s so much to see and learn on Instagram. Often people won’t put too much in the caption (brevity is always encouraged on social media), so I’ll ask them where exactly that is. If it looks like they used a cool app to get some sort of photo-editing effect, I might inquire about that. Or maybe I’ll just let them know how much I like the photo — I know I always appreciate a compliment.
4. And when you reply to comments on your photos… Make sure to use an @mention. If not, the person won’t know that you responded to them on your photo. If it’s on their photo, then they will receive a notification so you don’t have to worry about that.
5. Don’t post too many photos a day. Often I don’t post enough photos, but at least I’m not guilty of posting too many. If I have several photos from one event or meal, then I will make a collage with PicStitch so I can combine them into one photo.
Here are my top five moments in Instagram in a video by Statigram, a website that tracks Instagram metrics.
These are the photos that I’ve posted in 2013 that have gotten the most “likes.” The first one is the view of Central Park from the community room in my building in Manhattan during peak foliage. I love this view, and I try not to take it for granted! The second one is the Palais de l’Isle in Annecy, France, which is one of the most beautiful sights as I’ve ever seen. The third one is the fabulous pool at Terre Blanche in Provence. Funny enough, the last two sunsets were taken last week in Siesta Key, Florida, where I was staying with my parents for Christmas and spending as much time as possible at the beach. This Gulfcoast beach sure has some amazing sunsets! I have to say, my Instagram followers (and users who discovered these photos through the hashtags) chose pretty well. These probably are my five best photos for the year. If you’re curious, you can see all of my Instagram photos here.