I love Instagram, and there are a few unwritten rules I find to be a guide for this visual social media site. I will admit to violating all of these while I was still trying to figure out the site, but now I feel I have a good grasp of its place in the social media atmosphere.
Instagram is simple – you get an image square and some text. You can like or comment and you can’t post links. I think that simplicity and the limitations force it to be a little more social, a lot more creative, and less advertise-y than the other social media sites.
Here’s how I think brands / blogs / people that like to post things on the internet can excel at Instagram using these two basic rules:
1. Use your phone.
The only way I can find to post on Instagram is via a phone, so I think all creation should take place on a phone. There are so many apps for creativing clever images – I prefer only photography but sometimes photos with words can be ok – but I think the creative challenge is to only use your phone. No fancy cameras. (It sure would be nice to have a way to post from my computer for my work accounts, but so far, have not found a way to make this happen.)
Bottom line: it seems unauthentic and uncreative when processed, professional photos pop up in my Instagram feed. I think brands need to follow this trend. There are a million photo sharing sites, use Flickr for your other photography and Facebook for ads.
Focus on learning the basic elements of photography: composition and lighting. There is no white balance, f stop, shutter speed… You only have to focus on lighting, choosing a focal point, composition, and snapping. Seems simple taking the technical elements out of the process… But I think it’s actually made me focus on what’s important and using my iPhone has made me a much better photographer.
Filters are fun. Explore editing apps. My personal favorite app is PicTapGo which has amazing editing tools and lets you post to Instagram from the app. My photos look damn good thanks to this app.
2. Promote without advertising.
Don’t make your post an ad. Make it a pretty picture with a call to action in the caption. Don’t give me a digital ad in my Instagram feed. Refer to #1. Follow Chobani. That’s Instagram gold standard, in my opinion.