I first started using Instagram about six-seven years ago (!) and I’ve been highly active for around four years. In the past two years it has become a part of my business, a source of income and a huge part of my life. I've even met some of my best friends on the app. It was a great way to meet like-minded people when I first moved to Paris and it has continued to connect me with fellow creatives, photographers and bloggers. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way, which I thought I’d share with you all to help make the way you use Instagram a little more smoother, creative, inspiring and most importantly healthy!
1. Create Likeable Content
I know this is an obvious one, but it is key to creating a beautiful likeable account. A phrase you might have heard is: "Content is King" - it really is, in all aspects of life and business. Unless you're a celebrity, people are more likely to follow you because you have created a beautifully-curated and thoughtful feed. So upgrade your photography skills, chase the light, learn how to edit and find an aesthetic that you can adhere to, so followers old and new can recognise one of your photos when they come through the feed.
2. Don’t Compare
Another phrase I'm sure you’ve all heard is: “comparison is the thief of joy”? Well it is, so do your best not to compare yourself to others. Of course we are naturally competitive as humans and with competition comes comparison, but those that can compare less will go further in life and in their careers. I know it can be hard not to sometimes, I am of course guilty of it, but believe me it doesn’t help drive you forward and reach your goals if you spend your time comparing yourself to others - the way they look, the followers they have and the way they run their lives. And you never really know what is going on behind the scenes. Even with the introduction of Stories 1.5 years ago, what people portray online is still an edited version of their life. Therefore keep your eyes on the prize. Concentrate on your own creativity and content creation - this will not only assist your creativity, but it will give an edge over everyone else.
3. Seek Inspiration away from a Screen
Step away from your phone! I repeat, step away from your phone (or laptop). If you’re only looking to Instagram for inspiration you’ll end up replicating content that you see coming through your feed – that’s why there are so many identi-accounts out there… Instead read magazines and peruse their editorials (Porter, Vogue, The Gentlewoman and Holiday are a few of my favourites), get outside – go for a walk (this does wonders for clearing your head) or do some exercise. Nothing like endorphines to get that blood pumping to your brain. Go to exhibitions and museums, read books, watch films, listen to podcasts – How I built this and Girl Boss Radio are a couple of favourites. (I’m currently creating a more comprehensive podcast list.)
4. Keep Learning
Don’t know how to do something? Need more photography or editing skills? Take an online course – Skillshare and Creative Live are great for photography courses. If you don’t want to pay, Youtube has millions of free tutorials.
5. Engage with the Community
I know Instagram has morphed from a focus on community and creativity to an advertising channel for brands. BUT, community is still so important and key to the app's existence. It’s still there and it’s not going away any time soon, thank goodness. So, there’s no point in putting your posts out there without engaging and chatting with others. I’ve always figured if someone can take the time to leave a nice comment, then I can take the time to reply. So leave comments, engage, chat - say if you like something and the more you chatter, this also helps raise your engagement levels and go someway to beating the algorithm. Don't just post a photo and leave the app, you need to hang around for a while, answer comments and create a rapport with your community and the people you follow.
6. Utilise Editing Tools and Applications
I tend to edit most of my Instagram posts on Lightroom now, as I shoot most my photos with my Canon 6D – mainly so I can I have the high res images, should I need them for ruerodier.com. But I used to use VSCO, Afterlight, Snapseed and Facetune (I still use the 'details' tool to bring out aspects of a photo). Presets are also a brilliant tool to keep your aesthetics consistent. I recommend VSCO Presets or if you a whizz at editing, create your own. I've finally found my favourite settings with a lot of trial and error which I've created into my own preset on Lightroom.
7. Post Content when your Community is Online
Also an obvious point, but it's imperative to maximise your engagement potential. There is no point posting an image when half your audience is asleep. This might be the case if you have a lot of followers on a different timezone. I use Instagram Insights, to see when the best time for me is to post. If you don't have a business account or access to Insights, you can also use an app called, WhenToPost and you can also schedule posts with Planoly.
8. Be Consistent
Post everyday, twice a day if you can. And publish to Stories as often as you can. The way that Instagram and its algorithm now works, is it is more likely to push to the forefront accounts that are very active.
9. Find your raison d'etre (reason for being)
Know what you are trying to achieve with Instagram. Do you want to promote your business, become a blogger, are you a photographer? Or are you there, just to observe - this will help you know how hard to work with and utilise the app. If you do want to promote your business, you will need a strategy. Read as much as you can about how Instagram functions.
10. Be Unique
And finally, be you. Oscar Wilde put it very succinctly when he said: "Be yourself, everyone else is taken." What makes you tick? What kind of content do you want to create? Don't be a copycat - find an aesthetic and photograph topics that suit you and your interests. Is it fashion, travel or interiors, for example? It's taken me a long time to find my groove so to speak with my aesthetics, but I've always known the kind of content I want to post as they are in line with my interests and experience.
I hope you’ve found this helpful! What tricks and tools do you use for Instagram?