If there’s one facet of technology I could spend way too much time exploring, it’s not perusing Facebook feeds, live-tweeting during a TV show, or endlessly scrolling through Pinterest. Instagram is my one true social media love (you can follow Litfuse on Instagram here), and if you’re like me, you probably upgraded from that old-school flip phone to a smart phone for the sole purpose of being able to take part in what was back then an up-and-coming social media platform.
Looking back at some of my earliest photos on my account makes me cringe ever so slightly. The photos are either grainy, boring, or have too many filters and special effects. Since then I’ve really tried to hone my “iPhonography,” and as a fellow blogger and writer, I wanted to share my tips and tricks for creating quality photos, building followers, and getting extra likes on your photos.
- The Setup: Think in terms of a professional photographer. A pro would probably want to take pictures using as much natural light as possible with a simple background. If you are shooting at night, make sure to fill the room with lots of bright light to keep your photos from getting grainy. Also, think in thirds; the eye is drawn to photos that follow the “rule of thirds.” (This is a great article that does a much better job of explaining than I can.)
- The Shot: Now that you’re all set up to take a great photo, what would your subject be? For bloggers, you might want to take snaps of your bookshelf, the next book on your to-read list, what’s on your nightstand, tonight’s dinner ingredients. For authors, you might want to take snaps of your writing desk (including a shot of the next novel you’re working on), what you do when you take a break from the daily grind, the devotional you’ve been using, your go-to coffee order. For bloggers and authors, the most important thing is to be personal and genuine. Remember: People are inherently nosy, so satisfy a bit of their curiosity.
- The Filter: With so many photo-editing apps, which ones should you choose? There are some great free and paid ones out there, starting with Instagram itself. Since Instagram revamped itself this year, the app itself has a variety of filter and photo-editing options. My other personal favorites are Afterlight, VSCO Cam, Pic Stitch, A Beautiful Mess, Picfx, and Camera+.
- The Hashtag: Hashtags have their place in social media. Hashtags should be used sparingly on Facebook and cleverly on Twitter. But hashtags and Instagram are like apple pie and vanilla ice cream—meant to be. Hashtags are a great asset for gaining new likes and new followers. I like to use hashtags in the comment section of my Instagrams. Do some research on similar accounts and photos to see what hashtags you should be using for your photos, and be prepared for new connections and hitting double-digit likes.
- The Extras: If you’re promoting something on your blog or a place to purchase your latest novel, add it to your photo map manually by creating your own location using the URL. Also, make sure you’re posting consistently; I try to post on my personal account up to three times each day (morning, afternoon, and evening). Statistics show that while Instagram is consistently busy, Thursdays are often the busiest and the most likely days for your photos to go viral.
- The Look: Just as you brand your blog or your books, Instagram should fit in with your brand as a whole. Part of that is creating a consistent look for most of the photos you take. I have one go-to filter (Russ on Afterlight) that I use for the majority of the photos I take. It’s nice to look at someone’s grid of photos on Instagram and see that the photos are all relatively uniform; to me, that shows professionalism and care. However, don’t go overboard with editing the photos; you still want them to look realistic.
- The Connection: Connecting your account to your other social media accounts is absolutely necessary. Our Litfuse one connects to our Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages. We don’t always post our Instagram photos to all of those platforms, but it’s a great feature to set up if you haven’t done so already. If you want the most bang for your buck when it comes to images on Twitter, though, you might consider only occasionally having Instagram directly post a photo to Twitter. Since Facebook bought out Instagram, photos from Instagram never show up directly in Twitter. You might consider taking a few extra steps to copy your Instagram caption and post the photo directly to Twitter to give it some extra pop on that platform.
OK, now that I’ve probably exhausted you, go forth and create beautiful pictures! We’d love to see your Instagrams using these tips and tricks, so tag us using @Litfuse and also using #LitfuseReads.
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