Final Instagram tutorial.
This is the final post on this topic, and I know it might be elementary for those who are regulars on Instagram. I dare you to take a look…you might just learn something.
Here are my planned posts/topics:
- How to be a follower.
- How to take an image.
- How to integrate with other social media.
- What and how hashtags (#) work on Instagram.
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag on Instagram (or on Twitter) is the ‘#’ symbol before a word or series of words (all run together without a space). The purpose of the hashtag is to categorize the images and make them searchable.
You will many times see hashtags in Instagram to show how an image was created (the apps or filters applied), the style applied (vintage, classic, etc), who the image is for (business, a certain purpose, etc), describe what is in the image, or to simply group with other similar images.
You’ll notice within Instagram hashtags are clickable. This is what the screen will look like if you click on a hashtag.
Why use a hashtag?
There are any number of reasons to use a hashtag in Instagram, but let me share 3 of the most common and useful.
1. Brand yourself.
Instagram, even more than other social media platforms, is not the place to openly sell you or your brand. I’ve only seen a few times where people have posted “sale” images. Every time they have come off in poor taste.
However, Instagram is a great way to brand yourself or your business using hashtags. The key is to show…not sell. Here are 2 photographers who have Instagram accounts and are furthering their senior photography brands.
2. Gain more followers.
Since Instagram really doesn’t lend itself to selling or even pushing people out to your website, a large contingency of followers isn’t vital to market your business (this is why connecting to your other social media is so important). However, there is no real downside to growing your followers.
Over the last few months, I’ve been fascinated by a guy I know only online – Tim Landis (aka Curious2119). He started on Instagram around the same time as me, and as of 7-8 months ago had less followers than I did (around 200 or so). Since that time he has been able to grow his followers to over 39,000!
How? From my observations he has done 4 things with his Instagram account (which is also a great model to follow on any social media platform):
- Consistency. He posts regularly – at least once/day.
- Quality. Everything he posts is really good and interesting.
- Interaction. He interacts with those who comment, and he has built relationships and collaborations with other Instagram users.
- Hashtags. He has used hashtags on almost all images making them searchable.
3. Pull into a feed.
In it’s most practical form, the hashtag is meant to be a search tool. This is applied directly within Instagram (as seen above in the image showing all the #ThePhotoCollective images) but also in other programs.
Instagram uses the practice of an open API (Application Programming Interface) which allows programs to talk with one another. Because of this, there are literally hundreds of software applications interacting with Instagram. One is the WordPress plugin InstaPress.
InstaPress is the plugin The Collective uses to displays Instagram images in its footer. There are 2 ways to set-up InstaPress. Either you can pull all images from one user, or pull images with a specific hashtag.
The Collective uses the 2nd way. Any image with the hashtag #ThePhotoCollective is randomly displayed in the footer.
There are 2 purposes for this.
- I didn’t really want each image from my feed to be displayed.
- I wanted to open up to anyone the opportunity for their images to be displayed on The Collective.
Note: if you use this method to post images to your website or elsewhere, make sure to create a VERY specific hashtag. If the hashtag is too general (such as #Senior 2013), it will pull images that may not be representative of your brand.
How to you create a hashtag?
Creating a hashtag is very simple, and there are 2 ways to do it.
The first way is to create the hashtag when you are initially posting an image.
The second way is helpful if you are planning to pull a hashtag feed into another website. You can go through and add hashtags to images after they have been created. Only images you are the creator of will be pulled into that feed (this stops you or someone else from hijacking an image).
Here are a few posts from both The Collective and elsewhere on Instagram:
- Instagram: New, best way to promo your photography.
- 2 Instagram updates to follow.
- Instagram on Android (via Mashable)
- Fast. Easy. Marketing. Instagram & Tumblr how-to.
- Instagram: iPhone & Android side-by-side comparison (via TNW)
- Why I’m not following you.
- Instagram arrives on Android.
- Be a follower.
- How to post images on Instagram.
- Dominate (your) world with Instagram.