Three Reasons Why Instagram is my Happy Place


Yep, this happened.

Originally posted on BRC+.

One of my favorite social media services is Instagram. If you are a visual person and like just keeping up with people’s lives, this may be a great site for you. Instagram is a smart-phone based service that is a little like Twitter – you follow and are followed– except, rather than being confined to 140 characters you share an image with a little description. And like Facebook, your followers can “like” the picture or leave a comment.

I wrote a longer review a ways back, but here are three reasons why I Instagram is currently my social media site of choice.

You can take amazing looking pictures without being a great photographer. Because you can do some light editing and utilize photo filters, your pictures will look far better than your actual skill level. Good for us novices, not so much for actual good photographers ūüėČ TIP: Take your pictures with the camera on your phone as this allows for greater editing possibilities.

Low spam/link possibilities. While I have heard of some people trying to sell things using instagram – “Hey, look what I am trying to get rid of!” – I have been extremely happy with the lack of spam and promotion that goes on via Instagram. Sure, I would love to plug my book or an event, but because links do not work when left in the comment section, people rarely try to get you to go somewhere else. TIP: Some spammers will leave usernames @getmorefollowers as a way to get you to click over to other places. A little¬†annoying, but harmless.

The ordinary comes to life. I know, I know, some people just HATE the “look what I’m eating” and “isn’t my dog cute” tweets and updates, but I love them. I have always found the mundane and ordinary of people’s lives the best way to get to know folks. Instagram includes the world through people’s eyes in a way that is lovely. Sure, as in real life, some people overshare, but for the most part, it is a great way to see the world through the eyes of another. TIP: There are many good folks to follow on Twitter: friends, sports teams, etc, but one of my favorites is a person I don’t know, captures great images,¬†@eric_lampe.¬†

 If you are a subscriber and on instagram, please let me know. Leave a comment here with your username [Username Tip] and please feel free to follow me at @breyeschow.

Tips, Tactics and Best Practices to Improve Your Instagram Life

reposted from @fashion_do_and_dont

Like most successful social media platforms, if it isn’t easy to use, it probably won’t make it, but after my Three Reasons You Should Try Instagram post, I figured I shouldn’t direct you into unknown waters without giving a few tips and and practices to help avoid feeling lost.

Getting started . . .

  • Getting Started:¬†You have to have a Smart Phone to use Instagram. You can access open your account online, but Instagram is a smart phone only app. Visit to open your account, set up your profile and download the app for your iPhone or Android. You do NOT have to do any of this online, so if you prefer, you can simply download the app and get set up.
  • Name, Bio and Picture:¬†When you do start your account, include both your full name, a bio and a picture.¬†I find it helpful when deciding if I should follow someone if their full name and a picture is part of the profile, so unless there are extenuating circumstances that demand anonymity let us know who you are.
  • First things first: After you have set up your account and downloaded the app, open it up and explore the app itself. After a few clicks around you will find out where each button takes you. I have some suggestions below, but I would suggest just taking a few pictures and playing with the filters and focus settings while getting a feel for your camera. Soon you will discover the artist within.
  • Find friends:¬†Once you have wandered around the app, you should now find some folks to follow. Even though your app may say that you can find folks via Twitter, you can actually only find friends via your contact list, your linked Facebook account and by username/name. I have found that the “Find Friends” feature works really well, so consider connecting your Facebook to your Instagram account.
Capturing and editing . . .
  • Which camera to use:¬†In the app, you will need to select in the setting if you will use the Instagram camera or your phone one. I have used both setting, but have settled on my default camera because it gives a little more flexibility. You do have to remember that¬†Instagram¬†post square pictures, so you have to keep the¬†subject¬†in a square area of the picture.
  • Taking your first picture: No secrets here. Find something or someone that captures something unique, interesting or puzzling and snap away. Seriously, if even taking pictures seems daunting, this might not be the platform for you. You can also grab pictures that you have taken before by sharing from your phones photo gallery. This is¬†particularly¬†helpful when you don’t have to edit and post, but will want to share later.
  • Editing the image: After you take a picture, the Instamagic begins. You can use the crop¬†square¬†to choose the exact image, use the filters to create the effect you like, choose what to keep in focus and add some brightness. In the screen shot to the right –Still trying to get used to the idea that I have have a child old enough to drive – I used the Lo-Fi filter, blurred everything except the face and added a little brightness. After you have played around and are satisfied, you hit [>>] in the top right hand corner and the final image will be created.
Sharing, captioning and tagging . . .
  • Captioning: Now that you have created your latest masterpiece . . . or are just¬†gloating¬†about the awesome dessert you are about to devour, you should caption it. Captioning is where you let us into your mind a bit. Any image is going to be seen through the lens of the viewer, but you should give the view a little idea about why YOU thought it was worth sharing.
  • Tagging:¬†Now that you have added a caption you should tag your pictures with some of the more widely used tags in order¬†to connect with more people or add¬†unique tags that you think will help bring the picture to life. You can go back to each picture and tag in a comment line if you don’t want to include tags in the initial caption. Here are the top 10 general tags that I would add to a picture if you want your photos to be seen more widely:¬†#instagood #instamood #instahub #igaddict #ignation #followme #igdaily #instadaily #bestoftheday #picoftheday #photooftheday #webstagram #statigram¬†and then here are some other popular tags: #food #dog #pet #me #beautiful #food #sky #cute. Keep in mind that more tagging will not generate more followers and some see¬†over-tagging¬†as spammy.
  • Tag limit:¬†Each picture can only have 30 tags to avoid tag spamming, so be somewhat discerning when you do tag.
  • Sharing and geo-tagging:¬†If you are one who does not want to share your locations, past or current, Instagram geo-tagging is opt-in, so you have to check the box in order to share your location. In the picture to the right, the box for geo-tagging is checked. After you opt-in you can search for the exact location via Foursquare. For sharing on other services: Twitter, Facebook, etc. you also have to opt-in. This is¬†particularly¬†helpful so you are less¬†likely¬†to¬†accidentally¬†share on other platforms.
  • Uploading: When you have finished choosing all of the options – Do not worry, the process gets easier and quicker the more you do it. – just hit [UPLOAD] and your pic will be be uploaded and will show up in the photo stream of all who follow you.
Playing nice with others . . .
  • Twitter/Instagram Username Dilemma:¬†Like other social media platforms, you can mention other users by including the @username in your comment. Be sure to do this if you want that person to know that you have mentioned them,¬†especially¬†on a photo that is not their own. When sharing a picture that includes an @username via your twitter feed, be sure that their Instagram and Twitter usernames are the same. Otherwise, some stranger will get notified on either platform that they have been tagged and they will wonder why. Not that this has ever happened to me ūüėČ
  • “Like” and double-tapping:¬†As you see pictures via tags or through the people you follow, be sire to show some love by “Liking” the pic. To like a picture, you can either hit the ‚ô•¬†or just double-tap the picture and it¬†automatically “likes” it.
  • Commenting:¬†If a picture touches you in some way that¬†warrants¬†more than a “like,” I know that I always¬†appreciate¬†comments people leave. If you want to reply to someone else’s comment be sure to use their @username so they are notified that a comment has been left from them.
  • Interaction: In general, like all social networks, the more interaction the better¬†experience¬†or everyone. This does not mean that you have to follow everyone who follows you, but taking the time to respond to comments and liking people’s pictures is a good general practice on Instagram as on other social networks.

Now I am sure there are many more tips you there, so please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comment section and I’ll update as I can. My next Instagram post will include a selection of apps and online services to¬†enhance¬†your Instagram life. If you are dying to try one, check out¬†Statigram¬†a viewing, analytics and management site for¬†Instagram. And of course, if you want to follow my Instagram life, I can be found by searching for¬†breyeschow.