Let’s be honest. You’d kill for over 2 million Instagram followers. And wouldn’t it sort of feel nice if each time you uploaded a washed-out picture of you and your new hair it received 150,000 likes and 45,000 comments?
While it might take getting elected to the most powerful position in the world to become as popular as President Barack Obama on Instagram, there are still a few lessons we can learn from his Instagram page.
1. People don’t care what you ate, they care who you ate it with.
Stop taking those boring shots where you hover over your plate at a 90° angle. If we want to see the menu of that new Korean BBQ place, we’ll look at the menu for the new Korean BBQ place. But since we’re looking at your Instagram page, what we’re looking to find are pictures of you and your life. Your friends. The ambiance of the place. Tell us the story of your night, not the story of how many calories you ate.
2. Make your followers feel exclusive.
Don’t feel the need to share every Instagram shot with your Twitter followers and Facebook friends. Having a bit of exclusive content just for the people that follow you on Instagram will make them feel…exclusive.
Plus, don’t most of your Instagram followers already follow you on every social network anyway? Duplicating the content dilutes the number of “likes” your picture will get!
3. Don’t be afraid to show us what you do at work.
I’m not suggesting that you take your cell phone into super-secretive meetings and start photographing all of the trade secrets your company holds. But you spend a lot of your life at the office…why not show your followers this real part of your life?
4. Sometimes the best shot cannot be done by you.
Every once in a while you’re going to need to hand your phone over to someone else and ask them to help you get a shot. Selfies are great, and everything…but it’s sort of difficult to really capture how fabulous your shirt matches your pants without relinquishing control.
5. Participate in #TBT…but not every damn Thursday.
We get it. You were so skinny…back then. You were so young…back then. You were so whatever…back then.
Throwback Thursday (#TBT) is fun. We all enjoy seeing old photos that you dig up. But when we start to suspect that #TBT is a way for you to live in the past, we start to feel sorry for you.
We follow you on Instagram because we like to see what you’re up to. Not what you were up to 20 years ago. So if you’re going to post a #TBT, do it sparingly.
6. Don’t be afraid to use the Willow filter.
Some pictures look good all Kelvin-ed out…but don’t be afraid to use the simple black & white filter called “Willow.”
This filter works especially well when there are areas of both light and shadow in your image.
7. Don’t be afraid to use no filter.
I know. I know. Sharing a photo on Instagram without a filter is a lot like going to McDonalds and asking for no salt on your fries.
Trust me here. Your Instagram feed will look okay without each image having shadowy corners and sepia tone centers. Try it once.
8. Take pictures of people posing…for different cameras.
This isn’t exactly a candid shot since the subjects in the photograph are posing. But there’s something dynamic about photographs of posed people looking at other cameras. This makes your Instagram follower feel like part of your action…watching on as the photo is taken instead of looking at just another contrived “Say Cheese!”
The Obamas do this one well (that’s why I’m including two examples). Part of the reason they do it so well is because their Instagram is managed by a team of people that are taking photographs at their events. But this technique is also one that really draws in the viewer and makes them feel like there are on the inside…which is on the list of objectives for the President’s social media campaigns.
9. Have an agenda.
Have something to say…and try to make sure your pictures tell that story.
Your “story” doesn’t have to be as grandiose as running for President of the United States of America. Perhaps your story is simply “I am a wonderful woman that likes to knit.” In which case when you see a big ball of knitting yarn and needles sitting next to your arm chair (I know NOTHING about knitting…do you use yarn? are they called needles?) you might feel inspired to snap a photo.
I feel like my Instagram agenda is to show how diabetes affects my life. Therefore I find myself taking a lot of photos on Instagram of my glucometer and posting videos of diabetes paraphernalia. Don’t let this “agenda” limit what you share, just allow it to inspire you. As my friend Kerri said about diabetes, “Diabetes doesn’t define me, but it helps explain me.”
10. Do not stop taking pictures of dogs.