Jul 08, 2013, 06:47AM

Eight Ways to Avoid Screwing Up Instagram

Let’s not shit in the social media virgin forest.

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People could rattle off the top 10, or even the top 100 reasons they’re sick of Facebook. Whether it’s ads, apps, or assholes oversharing, it’s clear the social media platform has taken a dive in recent times (people say “I’m just taking a break from Facebook right now” like it’s a relationship), though we’re all still there every day like it’s a chore. Ditto Twitter. Traffic has decreased; people seem to use it more as a resource (when a news story hits, Twitter trends are as valid a journalistic media to get information than anywhere—even Google).

So with all this social media exhaustion rampant across our computers and mobile devices, where is it that people are spending time? From what I’ve seen, Instagram is the new hotspot. Why Instagram? It’s quiet. It’s made simply out of photos. It’s a photo feed even more streamlined than Pinterest (which I still prefer to FB and Twitter). There’s no chatter on Instagram. Can you comment on someone’s photo? Of course. But there’s no back-and-forth discussion like you see on Twitter where you have to watch the popular girls @ reply each other all day like it’s the cafeteria table and we have to overhear their loud discussions and faux-veiled egomania. Hashtags are as effective to use on Instagram as they are on Twitter: whatever your topic of choice is, you search it and immediately arrive at a stream of photos from around the world. I enjoy spending time on the platform more than anywhere online.

Here are some tips, in case you’re a newcomer to Instagram, so we can all keep it the virgin social media forest it still is without cluttering it the hell up like we have everything else.

  1. It’s only for pictures. Taking pictures of something written down may be done rarely upon special exception, but don’t hand-write messages and take pictures of them and Instagram them. It’s annoying.
  2. Please STEP AWAY FROM THE SELFIES. We can already see your profile picture, so update that six times a day if you must, but posting multiple pictures of yourself every single day? Who likes that? It makes you look insecure. Please restrict selfies to once per week and only if there is something interesting behind/next to you.
  3. Kids/cats/dogs: get over them. They’re cute, especially to you since they have meaning in your life. We all have meaningful living things in our lives, and we manage not to publish photos of them 10-12 times a day. Please keep photos of human and non-human creatures to a maximum of two-three a day. Really one a day would be fair, I mean, your dog/cat/kid looks the same in every photo and we just saw them this morning.
  4. Let’s talk about Instagram frequency. I’m not in charge or anything, because I looked on monster.com and there is no “Instagram police” job or else I would jump all over that shit. But if it were up to me, I’d say people should be limited to let’s say six total Instagram photos a day. I don’t know about you, but six interesting things in a day rarely happen to me. I only post maybe one-three times a day on Instagram. My life is just not that interesting.
  5. Which reminds me. INSTAGRAM INTERESTING THINGS. Not every meal you eat. Not every building you walk past. Not every flower. Think about the people following you. They shouldn’t be scrolling through 10 pics in a row that you posted. They’re following other people too! Don’t hog the feed! Choose things that are unusual and/or of general interest to all your followers.
  6. Captions are meant to be captions, not long diatribe blog posts that go on for several paragraphs. Keep it to two lines or under. Let us look at the picture without reading more than a brief statement.
  7. Don’t link to something more than once a day. I follow a lot of sea glass people, and the shops/jewelry makers I follow don’t overdo it with the sales pitch, I don’t mind them linking to their store or etsy shop once in awhile, since I love their stuff and thus am following them. Someone posts 13 pictures of something they’re selling in a row? And I unfollow.
  8. Have fun. Seriously, the main reason I love Instagram is that people generally are having fun on there. The Instagrammers who are doing it best are snapping a moment in time that tells a story, and I love stories.

—Follow Mary at instagram.com/pajamasandcoffee.


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