InstagramSocial networks are called “social” networks for a reason. They are still human-human interaction, except these are virtual. However, not being able to hear or see the person does not mean the social rules of interaction no longer apply.

This post covers 10 important Instagram etiquette, rules, do’s and don’ts, best practices, tips – call them what you will – that will help you make the most of Instagram.

1. Quality Over Quantity – Always

You are at a band event. Cool! You click several photos of the band performing live from 10 different angles, but can surely get no quality images, since you are hemmed in by the crowd, the lighting isn’t conducive to photography and the band itself is far away enough to justify a zoomed in photograph. Despite all these clear deficiencies, you go ahead and upload all the photos on Instagram (together, no less), because, hey, attending a live band event is impossibly cool and people should know.

What happens next? People will unfollow. The only thing worse than a bad Instagram post is a stream full of bad Instagram posts.

Even if your photographs turn out good, space them out. Outings to beaches, racecourses, live events tend to result in a barrage of photos. Remember, one beach photo is just as good as another. If who have a lot of awesome photos, choose to combine them all together into image.

Three photos a day, uploaded at different times, is a good enough count to ensure you don’t flood your followers’ feeds without compromising on activity.

2. Keep Private Photos Private

If you don’t know already, Instagram has released a Direct option that lets you privately share photos with specific individuals. It’s kind of like sending a Direct Message on Twitter – it keeps your profile clear of photos you’d rather not have everybody see, doesn’t annoy your followers by flooding their feeds and is a simple way to photo-converse with people who care.

Here’s an example of a Direct image a colleague sent me of lunch they had in office when I was on leave:

Direct Message in Instagram.
Direct Message in Instagram. (Yeah, mean colleagues!)

3. Hashtags Rule, Hashtag Rules

Hashtags are awesome. They are one of the best ways to drive more likes to your posts and more followers to your profiles. However, here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • Use them!
  • Don’t use too many – it will annoy your followers.
  • Keep them relevant. A lot of people add a lot of tags to their photos that aren’t relevant at all. Doing so will serve no purpose. Another very important point to keep in mind: Ensure you are tagging properly. Using #breath #taking instead of #breathtaking for a breathtaking photograph is not going to get you relevant traffic and likes. Your photo will show up in the #breath and #taking streams where it won’t be relevant and won’t show up in the #breathtaking stream where it could probably have gotten the likes it deserved. A case in point:

Notice the #breath and #taking hashtags

4. Don’t Steal

Really. Instagram photos are just as copyrighted as any photo that carries a watermark.

Do not steal somebody else’s photos and repost them as yours. If you really want to, ask them and when you do repost, give them credit for having done so in the caption.

Credit on Instagram

5. Shelve The Selfies

Not really. A good selfie put up very occasionally is alright. However, I’ve seen several Instagram profiles that have selfies, only selfies and nothing but selfies. Needless to say, these accounts rarely go the popular route.

Selfie on Instagram

6. Blurred Photos No-No

We are all very visual people, which is why Instagram is as popular as it is. We love to see details and blurring photographs isn’t going to fetch you a lot of likes. Some may argue that blurred photographs do look good, but they have to be really good and most of the average user’s photos don’t cut it. Here’s a relatively good use of the blur effect:

Good Blur on Instagram

And here is an Instagram search of the #blur hashtag:

Blur on Instagram

So, cut down on you usage of the drop shaped blur option in Instagram’s app.

7. Go easy on the food, pet and baby pics

Having a theme for your account is great. If your theme is food and all you Instagram about is food, then go ahead and post food pics. If your theme is your pet/s, by all means, let the furry ones hog the limelight.

However, if you don’t really have a theme, then too many of one or all of these is going to drive people to unfollow. This is also true of accounts with a theme – if you have one, don’t deviate from it too often, since people have come to expect a certain quality and type of photographs from you.

8. Potshots At Screenshots

I am personally OK with screenshots that are funny or informative. However, the general consensus on screenshots isn’t positive, particularly, screenshots of chats with your friends. They will, in all probability, not be as funny for the rest of us as they are for you. So, keep those off Instagram.

9. Be open to discovery

Don’t just wait to be discovered for your talent, go discovering yourself. Find hashtags that matter to you and find and like photos that you like best. Follow these accounts to populate your account with images you’d like to browse through. Besides, these likes may fetch reciprocal likes as well if your photographs are along the same lines.

For instance, I am an unabashed quotes lover. I, therefore, search for hashtags like #quote, #quotes #beautifulquote, etc.

Quotes on Instagram

Notice irrelevant photos in the screenshot above – photos that aren’t really quotes? That is what I meant by irrelevant hashtags.

10. Be Social

This is the final, and most important point. As with any social network, the key to success on Instagram is interaction. Don’t just post your own photos, go ahead and like what others have posted, comment where you can, follow when you find an account that’s worth the follow and be human. Etiquette that’d apply in your real life interactions often apply online too.

A lot of people make these mistakes on Instagram oftener than they’d admit. Share this post and help a fellow Instagram user.

Image credits:

Feature Image: jnxyz/Flickr

Selfie Image: Kaptain Kobold/Flickr

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