You have been on Facebook for years, gave Twitter a try a time or two and maybe you’re old enough to have been friends with Tom on Myspace. It’s safe to say you’ve been around the old social media block a time or two. And maybe you’ve had enough with all these new platforms that have sprouted out of digital primordial soup the past few years. Bah humbug to Instagram, Snapchat and whatever else these kids are using nowadays. Let’s drop the “get off my lawn” act and keeps things real, at least on the Instagram front. It’s cool, easy to use and if you really want to be seen on social media it’s the place to be.
So where do you start? What do you do on Instagram? What is a story? Okay let’s take a breath and tackle Instagram simply.
1. Download the app
This isn’t very difficult now is it? Go to your app store, type in Instagram and voila, you’re on your way to becoming the next Instagram influencer extraordinaire. Well at least you’re on the way to signing up for an account.
2. Choose a username that makes sense
You have creative freedom but don’t go too overboard. Remember you want to share this account with people who know you. So, avoid something that might make your acquaintances uncomfortable. That being said, have fun.
It’s simple for business. Choose an account name that either exactly matches your business identity aka your business’s name, or if that username is taken, something very close.
3. Fill out your profile and upload a profile picture
If this is a personal account, describe who you are. Give a little insight into what your account’s theme may be. For instance, if you are a fitness buff, mention that in your profile and then post pictures of you nailing your latest deadlift goal. Profiles for business accounts need to be concise and clear. Who you are, what you do and what you offer. Profile pictures need to be 400 x 400 and should represent you or what your business is. Don’t be vague. Tip: If it’s a personal account use an actual picture of you. Not your cat, dog or chinchilla.
4. Come up with a theme
A business theme is simple. Say for instance you sell cars. You probably should have images of cars and people performing actions with cars, like selling them, detailing them, buying them, repairing them… you get the point. An individual account is different. Be yourself. If you hate cats but you think cats are popular on Instagram so you’re going to post copious amounts of feline-themed pics to get likes, don’t. Be true to yourself and take pictures that properly express who you are. Instagram is selfie heavy so don’t be shy. Snap a picture of yourself enjoying a latte or hitting the slopes in Aspen or fixing that vintage Ford. Show the world what you’re all about.
Note: From this point forward business and personal are pretty much the same to use. Just remember, if you have a business account still be personal yet professional and post with your followers in mind.
Hashtags are simply a way to group like topics. If you are posting about food, you would use hashtags like #food and #cooking to identify the topic of your post. If you’re hanging out at the mall you would hashtag your post #mall, #shopping, #spendingmoneylikecrazy (a little creative freedom) and even the actual name of the mall. You can use more than one hashtag and unlike Twitter it’s a good idea to include at least a few. Just make sure you are using hashtags that are related to your post. It’s also helpful to use hashtags that people are interested in. You want your posts to be seen by as many people as possible.
You just had the best frap ever at Starbucks, so you grab your phone and take the perfect picture of that caffeinated delight. Additionally, your friend Jane can be seen pointing at the cup giving a hearty thumbs up. By using the @ symbol, you can include Starbucks and Jane in your post. A possible post for this scenario: I am not sure who my awesome barista @starbucks was, but her frap game is on point. And @janeisawesome1985 agrees.
Both Jane and Starbucks will be notified that you included them in this post. It was the perfect picture after all.
Instagram stories allow you to share videos or pictures that disappear after 24 hours. If you’re in the app, you’ll see a little circle with your fetching profile pic with the words “Your Story” beneath. To the right of your story area, you will see the stories of everyone you follow – when they post a story. If you haven’t viewed their story, a red circle will appear around their profile picture. Once you click and view that red circle will disappear. And after 24 hours the entire story will go poof.
To post a story, click the phone icon in the upper left of your app. You can take pictures or video to use in your story. Videos are restricted to 15 seconds in length, but you can take multiple videos and string them together. Options like stickers, emojis and writing are available to jazz up your story. (We’ll dive into these features in a future post).
8. Find other members that share your likes and engage
This is key to having a successful experience on Instagram. Only follow people that post things you want to see. If they in turn like your posts, they might follow you back –there are no guarantees on social media. Click the heart icon beneath posts you enjoy and if you really like it, make a comment. Start a conversation and have a good time. Always remember, no matter the platform, social media is about making connections.
You’re convinced, aren’t you? Instagram is downright cool and easy. Why are you still reading this post? Get out there and start sharing your life’s adventure on Instagram.