85 - ... on Instagram

Friday, July 08, 2016

Things I have learned... On Instagram

I fell out of love with Instagram for a while, around about the time the news of THAT impending algorithm change broke. Now it has happened, I find it is kind of freeing. I'm less bothered now about posting time, likes, popularity or the whole numbers game (tho I'm sure they are still important factors in reach and engagement figures etc. which ultimately lead to a better user experience - if you're talking it's nice if there's someone listening, yes?) and more interested in pulling back to my key ethos, telling a story and telling it well.

I've sought out knowledge and researched how to up my game. Which is what I do when I set something as a goal - research it incessantly... I wanted to improve mostly out of respect for the platform rather than playing the numbers game (but I did find out a few things that would help with that too). I like that it is for sharing great photography and want to stay true to that (+ I always have twitter for pictures of my kids pretending to be rock stars...). Here is what I've found...

1) More visibility across the community (liking and commenting on others posts) means more visibility for you. Likewise, hashtags let people find you by subject matter, don't forget them.

2) The golden section applies. I attended an iPhoneography / styling class with Sara Tasker of Me and Orla last weekend and one of the things she said was that rule of thirds is key for taking great photos, she didn't know why in particular but it seemed to work. It occurred to me, I do know why, albeit by a different name and slightly different principle in practical use. I feel super silly for having forgotten it in the first place, one of the key things I learnt as a designer was about the golden section/ratio. It is fascinating, mesmerising and quite honestly mind blowing - I've gathered a few sources for this (relating more to photography than purely principle based) and theres a whole rule of thirds vs golden section conversation happening which is also quite intriguing - links below...

3) People are fickle. They follow, they unfollow. Minds change, trends come and go. The likes and followers can be somewhat like a tide but as long as I'm telling my story in a way that I'm happy with, the rest is redundant really.

4) Light is everything. More than that, it is magical. On my walk home from taking the littles to school this morning I stood and watched a flower blowing in the wind and was captivated by the light casting over it and changing how it looked at any given moment and how that in turn altered my perception of what I was seeing. Light can help you tell your story and make images appear "on-brand" - use it wisely.

5) I appreciate there's a lot of skill that goes in to crafting the perfect image quite often. Personally, I'm not happy styling and posing images for the sake of having content, and I've finally learnt - that's ok. I might not get so many followers (refusing to be a crowd pleaser for the sake of popularity), but that's ok too (see no. 3).

6) It is a platform to tell my story. Share the things that I see, share why I see them that way. To give other people a look at the world from my perspective. It's my adventures, my work, my story, through my eyes, shared with you.

I'm sure there are numerous other shimmer shiny gems of advice, but those are the things that have stood out for me. If you have any other bits of advice you think I should hear, please do comment, I'd love to hear them!

I had a bit of inspiration whilst working after writing this post so thought I'd add this last thought...

7) It has been said that a cohesive feed is most attractive and will bring greater Instagram happiness (that or higher engagement figures / more followers) and you should plan your feed and how images fit together. Using the VCSO grid seems to be a fairly popular way to do this but I stumbled upon an idea this afternoon that seems too simple for words - set up a "ghost" account, set to private where you can post everything before posting it to your actual feed. Simple huh?


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