The Post About How To Be Better at Instagram

It was recently reported that Instagram is doubling its base number of users every year. Currently, there are more than 200 million monthly active users. That's a lot of pictures of clouds.

Since there are new folks jumping on board every day, I thought I'd share some insight on how to be a better Instagrammer.

I don't necessarily consider myself an Instagram expert, but I have been an active user since March, 2011, and I have never used the Kelvin filter. Those are decent credentials.

Let's start with a list of things people don't particularly fancy on Instagram. This is based on HARD CORE scientific data collection on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter:

Not Pictures:
  • Laura Tucker Gallitz: Anything that's not a picture - like cute/inspirational/funny sayings. Have they not heard of Pinterest?
  • Laura McClellan: Memes or something that is not your original content.
  • Sonja Lange: My kids said "shout outs."
  • Matt Cuthbert: Screen captures - esp. of whatever music someone's listening to.
  • Jen Clapp: Typed quotes (aka not pictures.)
  • Mariah: Screen shots of your Facebook status/note app.
  • Jason Gausta: Videos.
Body Parts:
  • Stephanie Parker: Feet.
  • Jodie Dardeau: People with better bodies than me. No fair.
  • Eleanor Mathis: Beach + knees pics. BORED.
  • Michelle Holland: Breast feeding mothers or any pic where their breast or nipple is showing.
  • Kelly Olsakovsky: It's worth a second mention. Feet.
  • Laura Wilder: Injury pictures make me gag!
  • Brandi: Wounds.
  • Katy McCay: Injuries, low cut tops,
Creepy Animals
  • Katie Earley: Bugs. Dead animals.
  • Shawn Stinson: Pics of the snake/deer/squirrel/rabbit/turkey you killed today.
  • Joy Sowell: Pictures of snakes!
  • Lance Moore: Selfies.
  • Julie King: Selfies!
  • Kari Lipp: Drunk selfies.
  • Ed Cyzewski: I'm not sure whether I dislike selfies or foodstagram's more. Although foodstagrams look REALLY silly when people are actually taking them.
  • Shawn Stinson: Selfies with worship song lyrics or bible verses as the caption.
  • Vickie Aldridge: Selfies are a biggie. Unless they are artsy or creative, Otherwise I don't like the same face different day and location.
  • Dawn Reiss: The "artistic" selfies, one after another.
  • Tiffany Olsen: Selfies with duck face. Selfies from above. Selfies from below. Selfies in the car. Selfies with serious face. Selfies with a...
Bad Captions
  • Kayla Perry: •• G I R L S typing like // T H I S •• in their captions. And having Bible verses as the caption of their selfies. No ma'am. Please stop.
  • Kristin Graham: Ones that need an explanation, but are posted without a caption.
  • Angela: Photos with a trillion hashtags.
  • Maranda Cranford: #hashtagsthatarefullsentences. 
  • Molly Gentry: Photos that have to have multiple sentences to explain why it's worthy to post. 
Poor Pictures
  • Leigh Kramer: Unpretty things, like piles of laundry, scary insects, wounds, or screaming children. Not even a filter can fix that.
  • Chris Callahan: Blurry/grainy/out of focus/dark/etc and not in an artistic way. Lazy gram is not appreciated.
  • Katy McCay: Blurry, out of focus or just bad pics (it's ok to take 100 and use 1, why don't people know that?)
  • Burrill Strong: Badly overexposed sunset/sunrise shots. If you have to tell me it was beautiful, your photo wasn’t good enough to post. Any photo that obviously had an Instagram filter applied. 
  • Meredith Davis: Murky, gooey, super close up food shots using a flash...
  • Amy Payne: Generic, unremarkable sky shots.
Miscellaneous Grumpiness
  • Ryan Leigh Runyon: When someone's personal IG suddenly becomes a hard-sell business IG.
  • Sarah Miller: Essential oils. "Hand lettering." Outfit of the day. Workout outfits. Screen shots of the music you're listening to. Coffee. When it's your friend's birthday so you post a collage of photos that is really a collage of your self and your friend just happens to be in the photos too.
  • Jared Hollier: I don't like when people post half a dozen pics in a row.
  • KJaco: Photos of black coffee (just because it's brewed in a different way doesn't mean it's cool), multiple photos in a row from the same event/same people, photos or screenshots of inspirational quotes.
  • Rachel Callahan: Writing and only writing of any variety. Wounds, toes, bleeding animals (usually dead), nearly empty plates, extremely grainy anything, cleavage, mom jeans.
But let's be honest. This is America. You can do what you want. If you want to post a slightly blurry selfie of you with a bloody knee and no shoes holding a dead squirrel with a Bible verse above your head, then YOU DO IT.

But know this: folks probably won't click like. They will probably unfollow you. And you'll miss out on the "social" part of this social network.

So how do you increase the interacting? I took my five most liked pictures of all time and came to some conclusions.

First, it's a decent picture. Centered, good light, and it captures a moment most folks can relate to. Then I added a caption to juxtapose the fancy scene: Directing a wedding. Had to tell a groomsman: "If you smoke that joint in this processional, I will cut you. And by 'cut you,' I mean I will find a dull knife and stick it in your neck." YOU GUYS?!? 

Instagram is a great way to be a storyteller - not just in images. Plus, I asked my followers to share their thoughts. 

Photos of food are a deal breaker for many so I rarely post them. The key is to get an interesting shot that's well composed and sitting in fantastic light. Most restaurants are simply too dark, which is why most Instagram food fails happen. Eat outside or by a window during the day. Also, consider the menu item: does it sound like something people would love at just the thought of it? Like sweet tea fried chicken with white barbecue sauce with a side of fried pickles. Pick this combo up at Saw's Juke Joint in Birmingham.

Follow Helene Dujardin and let her inspire better food photos. If you are super serious about it, buy her book Plate to Pixel.

Remember what I said about storytelling? Instagram is a great way to invite people into your life. I want my feed to be a reflection of every part of who I am. Although this picture wasn't quite the quality I would have liked, the caption explains why it works: In January 2013, I named a green Lifesaver after a coworker and prayed for her every time I saw it in my purse. Today she got baptized and I ate the best piece of candy ever.

Be vulnerable. Don't just share the surface or the pretty parts of life. Be 3D, even in the 2D.

Outside is a common Instagram theme and I LOVE IT. I like flowers and sunsets and oceans and buildings and rain and clouds. But it's crucial we make these captures stand out. My best two tips are these:

  • Consider angles. Don't be afraid to shoot from above, below, or from any sharp angle. I was hugging this tree to get this shot which looked ridiculous. I've laid prostrate in my driveway to get a good shot of a sneaker. Looking silly is not a good reason to miss a great photograph.
  • Think like a square. Make every part of the IG square interesting. The sky in the above picture is as important as the tree. I filled the square rather than have any wasted space. I also cropped out anything that took away like power lines.

This photo combined cake pops and the Olympics. It was GUARANTEED to be a success. My tip is to always ask yourself before posting:

  • Will anyone but me care about this?
  • Am I okay with anyone on the internet seeing this?
  • Have I posted any other types of photos but this one in the last few days? 
  • Would this picture be better discussed in therapy?
  • Is this a picture of feet or blood? 

Your answers will determine if I follow you.

What are your tips and tricks and complaints about Instagram?

Let's be friends on Instagram. Follow me @jamiesrabbits.

Note: Don't forget to join my new secret club and enter to win Amazon gift cards. Ends tomorrow!

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