Coney Island InstagramWith 50,000 people signing up for Instagram every day it is a wonder why there aren’t more pages detailing how to use it to gather followers and increase social media exposure. For those of you that don’t know what Instagram is, while it does have over 25 million users, don’t feel alone. Unless you own an iPhone it’s not even available to you, yet. Instagram is a free app on the iPhone that allows its users to either use existing or to take new photos, and then fit them into a square frame, manipulate the photo with different filters, and subtle blurring effects. Once you have completed your photo, Instagram will then upload it to your feed. Where your friends can see it, like it and comment on it; you also have the option to share the photo onto your Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and other social networking sites. As a side note, in my opinion, considering it is only on the iPhone it is stunning to see that it has 25 million users, countless celebrities, and even President Barack Obama uses Instagram (quite effectively at that with 226,988).

7 Tips to draw Instagram followers:

  1. Post photos regularly
  2. Complete your profile explaining a little about yourself
  3. Pictures don’t necessarily need to be good, if they tell an interesting story
    • Caption your photos to help explain the story
    • Don’t always just take pictures of yourself, show us the world around you
  4. Tag your photos with #hashtags that are both relevant and popular
  5. As you receive likes tag your photos at mile markers, #10likes, #20likes, #30likes, and so on..
    • Don’t bother tagging every like that comes in though, #10likes, #11likes, #13likes and so.. Its tedious for you and annoying for people trying to read your comments
  6. Share your photos on your existing networks
  7. Don’t just push your content, like and comment on other peoples pictures whether they’re friends or strangers. Explore the hashtags to find new ideas and people to follow, commenting and liking will draw people to look at your profile and pictures.

Now those may seem pretty basic, but often people don’t use hashtags, or provide feedback to other people. Always remember, as Jim Tobin said, Social networking is a cocktail party everyone is invited. Strike up some small talk and give a compliment where it’s due.

Using Hashtags with Instagram and knowing which are the popular tags:

There are sources out there discussing hashtags for Instagram I thought it would be great to highlight a couple of sources I have found useful, and additionally a tip power users are taking advantage of.

Well as I mentioned before, the WEBstagram Hot list of the Top 100 tags is a great resource of the most popular tags, also really a great way to explore any tags you’d like on a computer. The tags I typically use for my better photos that I want to increase the exposure of are:

#instagood #instagram #all_shots #instadaily #ig #igdaily #instamood  #picoftheday #instagramhub #instagroove #instabest #iphone #d3100 #nikon

These tags combined have well over 50 million pictures associated with them, I highly recommend that you go on to WEBstagram and take note of the tags with the most pictures as these are the tags that are followed the most as well.

When using Instagram if you know that you’re going to share the photo on Facebook, flickr, or other sites that are not hashtag friendly keep it in mind this is superfluous and a waste of caption space. A hashtag on either site will just show up in the caption of the picture, and look awkward to the people that see it. If you use flickr, and want to tag your photos you may be better off uploading the picture from your camera roll, and using flickr’s app to correctly tag the photo.

“But if I’m suppose to tag my photos and you’re saying that I shouldn’t do it in the caption field how can I then tag my Instagram photos?”

You have unlocked an Instagram Hidden Trick!

Good Question! As it turns out you can add the hashtags to your instagram pictures after posting by commenting them, and still have the same benefits of tagging your photos.

For example below you will see a picture I took and added to instagram over a week ago while visiting Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (if you’ve never been, go), and while writing this article I added hashtags to the photo by commenting on it. Within 10 minutes I had 5 complete strangers that I have never interacted with before on instagram ‘like’ my photo. I only used the following hashtags:

#d3100 #magicgardens #spinwheel #philly #instagram

Another hidden trick for tagging Instagram:

For typing the tags in, do what I do, and what I’m sure other users are doing. Create a note with the most popular tags that you typically want to use, and copy and paste them into the comment, then add any additional hashtags that are relevant to the photo but also popular. An example of a hashtag that is in my notepad #picoftheday, but tags that I might additionally to a black and white photo with an inkwell filter might be, #bw and #inkwell. Get it?

And one last thing, if I took the photo with only my iPhone, I will tag the photo, #iphone #iphoneonly #iphone4 and so on. However if I used my Nikon D3100 I will tag the photo’s using #d3100 #nikon. And if you’re wondering about getting pictures from my Nikon to my iPhone I use an Eye-fi SD card. It allows me to transfer my photos from my D3100 to my iPhone wirelessly allowing me to store the photos onto my 32GB iPhone, but also allowing me to upload higher detail photos to Instagram.

I hope you have found my tips to be helpful, and if you have any of your own please share them in the comments.

Already have Instagram? Share your username below and I’ll be certain to check out your photos. You can find me on instagram as @JasonAHowie

Update for Instagram Tips and Tricks:

This article was written in February, 2012, since then Facebook has purchased Instagram, it now has over 100 million users, and is offered on both iPhones and Smartphones running Google’s Android. Additional features now include, 15 second videos, and a website portal for people to browse profiles online.