Instagram 101: A brief intro to an app

After noticing some major faux-pas on this new social media platform, I decided to talk people through it. If I don’t speak up now people might continue in their erroneous ways and somebody will get hurt. So, don’t get offended. Let your guard down, take a deep breath and read this guide because you just might need it. I promise not to tell anyone you were here, if you promise to improve your Instagramming skills.

1. Getting started

First things first, Instagrammers! When you have chosen a clever name… don’t stop there!  You must start posting pictures. Instagram is free and so you can post several times a month without worrying about your budget – don’t ration it. It’s a little creepy to see that someone’s been lurking on Instagram for 47 weeks, they have liked every single one of my pictures but only managed to post one picture. Of their striped socks.

2. Calm Down

I mean it. I know Instagram is cool, I know those filters are fun but don’t you dare flood my timeline. Yes, yes, I just told you it’s free and that you should be posting pictures but can’t there be a happy medium? You are not Ansel Adams. Any more than 3 pictures in a row and you’re pushing it. You’re being rude and inconsiderate. Instagram does not revolve around you.

3. Instagram is NOT your Family Album

See the point above? The 3 pictures in a row cannot be of your screaming, crying, puking, naked baby. Nobody wants to see that. Do you want to see a picture of someone else’s child coughing up putrid green mush? No, I didn’t think so.

4. Be Selective

Regardless of your subject matter (whether it’s a cookie, a kitten or a cloud), some photos just might not turn out right. IT’S OK. Embrace it. Look long and hard at that picture. Kiss it. Delete it. Please remember that no filter can beautify an ugly picture.

5. Use Hashtags Responsibly

Do you even know how hashtags work? They create communities and they optimize search results. In other words, they make your picture visible on Instagram. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using hashtags…if they’re related to your picture. Do not take a picture of your black nail polish and tag it #pizza #burger #milkshake #toys #birthday #author #ilovemydog.

6. Don’t repost

I can’t say it any other way. You really should not be taking a screenshot of someone’s pictures and reposting. This isn’t Twitter, therefore you’re not RT. Capisce?

7. Tweetgram? Insta-tweet? What?

I don’t know what those things are called but Instagram is a PHOTO sharing platform. Stop flooding it with song lyrics and questions, complaints and jokes. Oh, you have a lot to say? Use Twitter. Get a blog. Get your WORDS out of my face.

8. Captions

Words are allowed here. Nay, they’re encouraged! Please take 30 seconds to describe what I am looking at – especially if it’s not obvious. I hate having to squint at a picture for a while, turn my phone this way and that and then write “hey, is that toast? I can’t tell!” only to find out that you were taking artistic shots of cardboard boxes. Or worse.

9. Thief Not

Why do you feel like you must capture a random photo from the Internet and share it with me? Explain yourself in 1,000 words. No less. MLA Citation. E-mail it to me and I might forgive you. Hey, I might even “like” your photos of kittens in a glass or whatever it is that you kindly shared with us last.

10. Ask then Post

Many people overlook this one. Look, Instagram is just like Facebook (oh wait, Instagram was BOUGHT by Facebook!). Not everyone wants their picture up there. Take a minute to ask people if they’re ok with you uploading their picture. Common courtesy goes a long way!

You might be wondering why I follow people who clearly don’t get Instagram. I ask myself the same question! I’ll probably unfollow them real soon. It is important, however, to discuss these issues. These days etiquette goes beyond your eating mannerisms at a dinner table and includes your cyber interactions and online persona. As social media becomes an integral part of our lives we need to use platforms like Instagram with thoughtfulness and respect. Adios!

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