Five Instagram Tips Part 1

Instagram came and conquered 2011. If you haven’t heard of it by now, it’s basicly a mix between Twitter and Hipstamatic. Snap a photo, add a filter (optional), add some text (optional) and upload it to the feed.

While the app only works on the iPhone (and iPad & iPod touch) it went from 1 million to 15 million users in 2011. Can’t thank the homie Steve Clare enough for the skype call in February of last year and telling me I needed to join in. My first insta photo was a photo of that skype call….

A lot of people in the skateboard industry (riders, employees, shops) joined the madness in 2011 and surely but slowly brands are seeing the value too. Along with Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is the social media platform where your brand needs to be present.

Here are some tips and tricks for using Instagram, both on a personal and on a brand level.

1. Sync your username to Twitter (and all other social media)
I’m all about syncing all your usernames, but since a lot of people feed their Instagram into Twitter it’s very important for you, and your brand, to make sure both usernames are the same. This also allows people to respond to an instagram post on your twitter. Even though I’m all about the iPhone there is a huge amount of people on Twitter that use a different mobile device. And ‘currently’ Twitter has 100 million active users, Instagram has 15 million (Jan 1, 2012).

2. Use your hashtags wisely
The world famous pound (#) key is slowly loosing it’s meaning to the hashtag. When you post a photo about skateboarding, just write (hashtag) “#skateboarding” instead. Once you post the insta photo you can click on the hashtag and see all the photos that people have posted with the same hashtag. It’s a great way to find people with similar interests. And others can find you too.
I’m all about using the hashtag, and the “at symbol” (@) in the actual caption, so it reads like a normal sentence. E.g. “Loving my new @zeroskateboards deck, #skateboarding rules!”
And please don’t use more than 3 hashtags that make sense in the caption. Using 10 lame hashtags to gain more followers is making you look very desperate! (#iphoneography, #instagram, #popularpage, #follow, #followback, #swag, etc)

3. Don’t clog the feed
One of the main themes for social media in 2012 is LESS IS MORE, and Instagram is no exception to that trend. I recently tried to post no more than 3-4 photos a day. Your life, or brand, is no doubt way cooler than mine, and I’m not being sarcastic here. Even though I keep unfollowing (and follow) people that clog my feed (“cloggers”), less is more. Good content will attract people, but too much of anything…. You know the rest.

4. Size your photo right
When taking a photo on your iPhone hold the phone up straight, no landscape photos for instagram please. (It’s pretty much the same for every blog out there.) The black bar on the top and bottom doesn’t help the look of the photo. One out of 5, or maybe even 10, can be a product shot (plug), but just have your designer size it up right. I normally size the product images to 900×900, then email the photo to myself, save it on my iPhone, and then upload it to Instagram. A minimal effort that makes it look that much better. And I’m an amateur!

5. Promote your Instagram
After I got on Instagram in February 2011, and saw that most of the Altamont teamriders where on it too, it was time to start an Altamont Instagram and start promoting it. While most not so social media people in the office asked me if “Instagram was gonna be the new Facebook”, I went ahead and worked with Altamont designer Tristan Ellis on a flyer. Right before I was gonna post it on various Altamont social platforms Patrick O’Dell walked into the office. I asked him if he wanted to start an Instagram account, so we could include him on the flyer, and he did….
I remember running into Figgy a few days later and he was all hyped that he gained a couple hundred followers in a few days. Yup, it’s really that easy.

* I ran the Altamont Instagram from April 2011 til early December 2011
** DGK took it to another level with their Instagram ad in the Transworld Skateboarding (Dec 2011)

Questions or comments? Drop a comment below!

8 thoughts on “Five Instagram Tips Part 1

  1. Fred I have a question…do people own hashtags? I used a hashtag for a photo and this person sent me a message back telling me to remove the hashtag. They said it is for their “featured” photos. And mine photo was not one of those. They have now commented twice on this photo, to remove hashtag and plus they add like four praying emoticon hands to it.
    Thank you for your time,
    Pam

    • Hi Pam, thanks for taking the time to drop me a comment. I never heard of people claiming a hashtag. I’m curious to see what hashtag it was. A hashtag helps you spread the message, why would people tell you not to use it. It could get all your friends interested in their feature photos too! Very strange, never heard of this.
      But don’t worry, people can’t trademark a hashtag. They’re crazy! Hope this helps!

  2. Hi Fred. I have a feed that pulls instagram content with #hashtag. Can a feed also pull content that contains the @whatever tag as well. I can find no documentation on this. Nor can I get my feed to do so. Any help? Cheers

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