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What is your initial reaction when you hear the word “Instagram”? Revulsion? Joy? Annoyance? Excitement?
All of the above?
For many people I know, the Instagram experience is a mixed bag. It’s great to have an easy to use social platform where photos are ostensibly the stars of the show. This used to be Flickr’s claim to fame but those days are long over.
Instagram, however, never really became a stand-in for what Flickr once was. In fact, some have come to perceive Instagram as being more about being social (read: popular) than it is about photography.
When you factor in an inexplicable algorithm that forces users to experience their feed according to how Instagram sees fit (read again: popular photos first) and a number of other absurdities, it’s easy to understand why people are annoyed by Instagram.
Then there’s the side of Instagram where you can actually make friends — even real-world friends — and discover really good photos. You know, stuff people like.
Yes, Instagram, like anything else, has its pros and cons. It is possible, however, to make using Instagram a better experience for yourself and for others.
Take these 6 steps to a better Instagram experience.
1. Be Nice
If this sounds overly simplistic, it’s not. Think of all the smug/hateful/obnoxious comments you see floating around and do the exact opposite of that.
That doesn’t mean you have to gush over a photo you don’t actually like, but no one gains anything by leaving negative comments. Sometimes the nicest comment is no comment at all.
Seriously, though, how hard is it just be nice to people?
2. Be Tough
Ok, sometimes it’s hard to just be nice to people. Especially when they’re being racist/sexist/homophobic or any other form of terrible. Or when they’re promoting themselves in your comments — not interested in your discount wig store.
It’s social media, so getting into a cyber spat with these sorts of characters is a waste of time. If you don’t like the language of someone who visits your Instagram you don’t have to tolerate it, just block and/or report them and call it a day.
3. Be Fair
Everyone likes getting Likes, that’s kind of the point of Instagram. To no one’s surprise, there are Instagram users who receive hundreds and hundreds of Likes and frequently fail to reciprocate.
While I’m not all that attentive to my Like count, I do get that it’s annoying to show appreciation for others’ photos and get nothing in return.
So be generous with your Likes.
4. Be Consistent
Related to the issue of Instagram Likes, another way to get them consistently is to post consistently. Attention spans are short in social media — go for too long without posting and people will forget about you.
Of course, if you’re using your Instagram account as a portfolio, you should be posting your best work regularly anyway, with no regard for Likes.
5. Be Realistic
If you’re reading this, you’re probably not an influencer or one of the uber-popular accounts that have successfully monetized their presence, nor should you expect to be.
I regularly encounter accounts with incredible photos and a relative dearth of followers. The idea that the cream rises to the top is a lovely sentiment, but it’s often untrue in the realm of social media.
Be realistic about what your presence on Instagram means. Don’t overestimate it — you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. Even if you think you deserve more followers, don’t make it an issue. Appreciate the people that appreciate your work.
6. Keep It All In Perspective/Final Thoughts
Remember, it’s just social media. It’s a choice. You don’t have to be on Instagram just because you’re a photographer. And if you are on Instagram, don’t take it too seriously.
Keep the 6 points above in mind and they may very well help you become a more contented Instagrammer.