How to Monitor Your Instagram Account

After Terri started her Instagram account, she didn’t monitor it for 4 or 5 years. She wondered how to monitor her Instagram followers? On Twitter it’s very obvious as the platform has built that dynamic and awareness into their interface. But at the time, Instagram didn’t make it very apparent.

Years after Terri started her account,she was likely still following all the same people. So she began to wonder about the satisfaction of a one-way street, or “following without reciprocity?”

In cases where people are famous, or they are creators of extremely unique content it’s not reasonable to expect a follow back, especially if you yourself aren’t famous or extremely unique. A mundane account that posts pictures of lunch, cats (or dogs), or family gatherings probably won’t appeal to someone with a large presence. (Except maybe if you’re related to them!)

Are People Following You Back?

So last year Terri began to research what tools are available. There is an overwhelming volume of apps out there!

Since she shoots almost all of her photos with a Google Pixel 2XL and spends most of her time on the Android Platform, she began by looking for apps on the Google Play Store.

Her personal phone is an iPhone, and she still uses it because it’s usually faster for catching a “moment.” (She uses her iPhone for the store account.

In her research, she found a blog post that lists “unfollow” apps on both platforms. She hasn’t tried all of them, but she was surprised by what she found.

Often, people don’t pay close attention to people that start to follow them. If you are in the process of building your account, remember you need to give others time to follow you back. Two weeks seems like a reasonable amount of time.

It’s hard to get a decent screenshot of searching on the Apple App Store, so below are a few screenshots of the apps mentioned by esocmedia.com.

Personally, this seems like a lot of work! If that’s your take too, don’t worry about it. Follower/Unfollower tools are mostly useful if you care about having followers who see your content. Those who view your content are most likely to engage with it, and engagement is a big part of enjoying the platform!

Do you use Instagram for business or for personal Enjoyment? What are your thoughts about it?  Please share below in the comments section. Thank you for checking this out!

For more tips, check out How to Build Your Instagram Following.

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How to Build your Instagram Following

How to Grow Your Instagram Following

Suggested

After you create a new account, you might wonder how to build your Instagram following?

Instagram will provide you with a list of people you might want to consider following. In your settings, under “Follow People,” it could take you to “Discover People” and several tabs which could include “Suggested”  “Facebook Friends” or “Contacts.” Suggested people often are people who are new to Instagram. They might not have many followers yet, so maybe you’ll be among the first to discover their photos.

You can follow those you know

Maybe you’ll be more comfortable adding people you know, in which case you might choose to add from “Facebook Friends,” or “Contacts.”

If you choose to follow the accounts of friends, then find you aren’t interested because you already see their content on other platforms, you can quietly “unsee” their content by “muting” them. They won’t know.

Search “landscape”

You can search for hashtags

Hashtags are great for attracting people to the topics you are sharing, or for you to find. If you go to “search” and type in a word or two that reflects what you are interested in, you’ll be able to find accounts to follow. In many cases, a percentage of people will follow you back.  For example, if you are interested in landscape photography, search for #landscape. You’ll be presented with popular images associated with that hashtag. You can take a look and see if there are any interesting accounts to follow.

You can also look at the people who are liking or commenting on the content of those you follow. If you were to follow them, there is a possibility they’ll also be interested in your content.

quickly build An Instagram following

Another strategy I’ve noticed new accounts employing is to follow as many people as possible. The reason I don’t recommend this is, in discussing with various users on the platform, new accounts with apparent imbalances between “followers” and “following” are frequently perceived as spam accounts. For example, if you have 50 followers but you have followed 1,500 people, many will look askance and avoid you, or even report you as spam. Spam accounts are frequently blocked. If enough people regard you as a spammer, you could find yourself locked out of your account.

Don’t buy fake followers

The final, and worst strategy is to buy followers to make your account look more successful than it is. Lots of famous people, under the misconception that the more fans and followers they have make them seem cooler. But platforms like Twitter and Instagram, periodically go through and clear out fake followers. This means accounts that inflate their popularity through artificial follower numbers benefit in only a temporary way, and have to reinvest money to maintain the illusion.

There are also tools and apps that users can deploy to automatically follow people, and apps that will unfollow people if they don’t follow back.

Bottom line – start slowly and have fun!

A best practice is to let your account grow naturally through organic following and engagement.  And importantly, it needs to be fun. If you enjoy it, you’ll stick with it. And if you stick with it, you’ll succeed!

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For more tips, check out How to Monitor Your Instagram Account.

More About Terri:

Her store on Alki Beach: Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

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How to Use Filters to Create Effects on Instagram

Use filters to improve your photos

It’s possible for an average person to look like a professional photographer through using Instagram’s built-in filters and additional applications. It can feel like a magical experience to see your photos come to life through adjustments and filters.

In addition to Instagram’s built-in filters, there are hundreds of apps and filters available to explore. I’ve downloaded dozens of them taking up two screens worth of icons on my iPhone, but at the end of the day, I use only a few. Some apps are available only on iPhones and others are only on Androids, but there are many that work for both.

Snapseed, VSCO, Lightroom, Prisma, Afterlight

Sample apps for Android and iOS:

Here are some of the effects you can achieve:

Snapseed
VSCO
Lightroom
Prisma
Afterlight

Instagram has caused me to view the world in a completely new way because all around us there are interesting things.  I’m a firm believer that almost every average-quality photo, even of the most mundane subjects, can be processed into something pretty nice on Instagram and make you look like a professional photographer even if you only use Instagram’s built-in filters.

From simple to complex edits

Because Instagram has the ability to correct lighting, you can take under- or over-exposed photos and often still make them work.

It’s possible to save a lot of dark photos with Instagram’s brightness adjustment, but it’s helpful if you have some highlight and shadow detail in the first place. If you shoot during the day with available light, you’ll probably be fine. At night you might find your images become grainy. I’m not crazy about the way photos look with a flash, so I usually try to shoot with available light, even at dusk. But the application is so forgiving, that even if you don’t start out with a reasonable shot, you can often adjust it to work.

There are specialty apps that will create “mirror” images, convert your photos into paintings, add bokeh effects, snowflakes and stars, and any effects that are impossible to even imagine. Take a look through the Play Store or App Store by searching “Instagram.” You’ll see what I mean.

Additional apps to bring different things to the party:

I really don’t think there is a right or wrong way to shoot photos for Instagram. Some of the weirdest pictures can become wonderful. Just enjoy the surprises you discover once you’re processing your photos, then share them for others to enjoy!

Do you have a favorite filter or favorite auxiliary application to use with Instagram? I would love to hear what they are!

Find more information on editing in Correcting Your Instagram Images.

More About Terri:

Her store on Alki Beach: Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

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Shoot In Focus With Your Smartphone

Anchor arms against the body for stabilization

Instagram is a fantastic outlet to express your creativity. But in addition, it has the potential to be used for marketing. Maybe you have an Etsy store or an online business? Instagram creates opportunities to show potential customers what you do, as well as simply giving you the chance to connect and communicate with interested people. But you’ll want to shoot in focus to make the most of Instagram!

Having spent decades of my life standing next to pro photographers as I directed photo shoots, it’s a fun to be the actual shooter. Through trial and error, I discovered ways to shoot better photos. My primary tips: Shoot pictures that are in focus and think about framing.

Available and low-light

Your photos will look best if they are in focus, and shot in available light. What is available light? This means: don’t use the flash. It’s 2019, and more smartphone cameras have improved their low-light capabilities and many compensate for low light. In fact, Google Pixel 3 has a very cool feature called Night Sight, and it’s really quite amazing.

Door jamb used to straighten camera

Low light can create challenges for focusing, so if you’re in a very low-light situation, a tripod will help as it stabilizes the camera. It’s easy to throw an image OUT of focus on Instagram, and you can “sharpen” a photo’s details, but you can’t really make a blurry photo sharp.

How to focus

On most camera phones, tap the area of the screen you want to be sharp. The camera focus circle or box will appear, and the lens will adjust. Simply anchoring your phone against a solid, plumb surface, like a table or wall or door jamb will go a long way to make sure your shots will be in focus AND perpendicular to your horizon line. If your shots are hand-held, the key is to be as still as you can. By anchoring your biceps against your body (like a support brace) and holding your breath when you shoot, it improves the chances of a sharp picture.

A sub-category of shooting sharp, (in-focus) photos, is shooting straight. For example, when you shoot a lake, and the horizon line is leaning a bit, it can look odd. The same goes for buildings. So if you find your shot is skewed, don’t worry. Instagram has an option to correct the rotation. OR you can purposely tilt your camera, which can result is an interesting photo.

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For more tips, check out How to Make Your Instagram Images Better.

More About Terri:

Her store on Alki Beach: Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

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Should You Choose an Instagram Theme?

If you do a search, you’ll find it is a common belief that an Instagram theme for your Instagram will help in myriad ways. So I think it is worth considering whether you have had an Instagram feed for a while, or are just getting started on the platform.

Instagram Theme samples

@christine_akzoti o
@Christine_Akzoti primarily posts B&W in a modified checkboard design

Hubspot provides a list of 12 ideas to consider as a theme for your instagram:

  1. Black and White
  2. Bright Colors
  3. Minimalist
  4. One Shade
  5. Pastels
  6. One Theme
  7. Puzzle
  8. Horizontal Lines
  9. Checkerboard
  10. Black or White Borders
  11. Same Filter
  12. Flatlays
@queenhorsfall on Instagram is focused on Fashion, Travel and Fun

In the years I’ve spent on the platform, I’ve noticed others. Here are a few more themes for your Instagram

  1. Fashion (different styles)
  2. Food – pictures of cooking as well as prepared food
  3. Art (painting, professional photography; other media)
  4. Cats
  5. Flowers or plants
  6. Landscapes and seascapes (including sunrises, sunsets)
  7. Quotes or quotes with images
  8. Travel and architecture
  9. Collage (where 9 images form an image)
  10. Macros (butterflies, bees and other types of bugs; flowers and more)
  11. Animals (dogs, bunnies, horses, etc)
  12. Kids/families doing stuff
  13. Knitting. (Yes, Knitting!)

Why Themes are Useful

Cute cat pictures by @tibinekocat

One reason why an Instagram theme is useful is that, as the curator of your feed, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. If you post flowers, you know you can go for a walk in the afternoon and look for neat flowers—Piece of cake!

Another reason a theme is helpful is that it facilitates connecting with people who relate to your content.

For example, there are many people on Instagram who post only photos of their cats. Upon inspection of those who follow “cat accounts,” I’ve discovered many have “cat avatars,” and self-identify as fans of cat photos. (NOTE: If your avatar is a flower and you post flowers, or depicts the most often posted content on your feed, it allows people to quickly identify you as someone they might wish to follow.)

Using Hashtags

knitting by @elle637 – uses a variety of hashtags related to her pictures

People search for hashtags, and if your content has a consistent focus and you use hashtags, your images could pop up on search. It enhances the chances of being found and followed because of the hashtags you use. For a list of current popular hashtags, click here.

There are also apps that provide you with common hashtags based on the kind of image you are posting. One problem with them is Instagram doesn’t look upon them too kindly and will sometimes delete a post that uses “canned” hashtags.

That said, if you decide to focus your Instagram feed on your orange cat, you might choose hashtags like #cat #cats, #catsofinstagram #catlover #tabbycat #orangecat and other similar words that might lead people to find your content. And part of Instagram is posting images that others will view, like or have reactions that they want to share with you, right? Very few people want to post in a vacuum.

Share What You Enjoy

Flowers with quotes by @chinneo.lhungdim

Even though I have been aware of the importance of following an Instagram theme, I’ve elected to post whatever I want! Because for me, life is multi-faceted and I don’t want to limit myself to one visual niche.

Another thing is, you can choose a theme, like black and white, or pastels, and STILL be able to shoot anything you want. If you enjoy the photos you capture, you’ll be more inclined to share.

Do you use Instagram? What do you like best about it? I would love to read your feedback!

And thanks for checking out this post!

For more tips, check out How to Build Your Instagram Following.

More About Terri:

Her store on Alki Beach: Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

 

 

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