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The Dos and Don’ts of Instagram
New to Instagram? Maybe you’ve been lurking in the social shadows for a while just waiting to make your mark? Whatever your Instagram history, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on your etiquette and keep your account to a finely tuned stream of stunning snaps.
We’ll let you in on a secret – if you’re posting to Instagram a lot and you’re posting the wrong thing, your friends are probably moaning about it behind your back. Stick to the following principles, then, and keep your followers firmly on side.
1) DO match your Instagram handle to Twitter
If you’re just signing up for an Instagram account then you’re going to need a handle so you can be tagged and mentioned in photos. Our advice? Keep it the same as your Twitter handle wherever possible – that way your friends and followers won’t need to remember two usernames every time they want to mention you.
2) DON’T post too many selfies
Everyone loves a selfie, don’t they? Well yes, but only up to a point. If you’re posting picture after jaunty-angled picture of your face and uploading them all to Instagram then it won’t take long for people to get tired of it – and you don’t want people to get tired of your face, do you? As a rule, selfies are best taken when there’s a reason for them. Showing off a new hairstyle or an exotic location is encouraged, but we can do without the day-by-day documentation of your struggle to achieve the perfect pout.
3) DO think of the perfect caption
You may point out that Instagram is the social network for images, not words, but context is everything. A witty caption can bring a stale photograph to life, and if you can pair your image with a joke or memorable aside it will help assert your personality. The temptation might be to simply point, shoot and upload – but think about the caption and you’ll reap the rewards.
4) DON’T be a copycat
This should go without saying, but photographs are personal so don’t go around stealing those which aren’t yours. If you’ve taken a screenshot of somebody else’s photo or swiped it off of Facebook and applied a new filter, the person who took the original is likely to be angry – and rightfully so.
5) DO keep in-jokes to Instagram Direct
Sometimes you’ll take a photo of something with just a couple of your friends in mind, but before you post it to Instagram for everyone to see think about if you can use Instagram direct instead. If it’s an in-joke that is likely to be missed by the majority of your followers it’s probably worth keeping it between yourselves.
6) DON’T be a drunk-grammer
Oh dear, you’ve had a few too many drinks on a Saturday night and gotten a bit snap-happy taking group selfies? It happens. If one or two of these make it to Instagram people won’t mind – in fact, they’ll probably find it funny. More than 5? Less funny. More than 10? Nope, can’t see the funny side now.
7) DO avoid cliché
What do we mean by cliché? Well let’s begin with cats, dogs, babies, breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. All of these things are perfectly fine in moderation, but, just like selfies, post too many of either and it’ll begin to grate. Your followers know that your kitten/firstborn/burrito is very precious, but when they open up Instagram they might want to see some other things too.
8) DO use relevant hashtags
One Instagram feature which could be improved is the discover function. The best way of extending your reach beyond those that already follow you, then, is to make use of relevant hashtags. Relevant, though, is the key word here – and if your posts are all accompanied by a paragraph worth of hopeful hashtags then your images become less nice to look at.
9) DON’T beg for followers
Equally, taking to other social networks to repeatedly plug your Instagram account is best avoided. You’ll gain followers easily if you stick to posting interesting, well-captioned images.
10) DO share the love
What goes around comes around, as they say. Even if you’ve followed the other nine rules and your Instagram stream is in tip-top shape, don’t expect to be raking in likes and comments if you don’t dish out a few of your own. Interact with other people’s photos and watch your own popularity boom.