Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Boston Baby Mama's Guide to Winning Instagram

some of my favorite IG accounts - see details below!

So you joined Instagram...what now?

Are you using it to share family photos with friends? Good for you! Have fun! This post is not for you.

Are you into taking creative photos that you want the world to see? Do you want thousands of followers? Lots of likes? Tons of comments? Features (more on what this means in the IG community in a bit) galore? Please, sit back and continue reading, because I have a surefire way to make you popular on Instagram.

Let me start off this post by saying this - I am not popular on Instagram, but I could be if I wanted to be. I have a little over 1600 followers, which by IG standards means I am a "math club dork." I share a mixture of family, every day and creative photos on my feed, and that is my downfall.

I know what it takes to be a varsity football QB of IG, but I don't have the time, nor do I have the energy to put in the effort to be more popular. If that is your goal in life, to have 50k followers or more on IG (let me also mention that I am talking Average American IG status, and not celebrity status), I can get you there with the following guidelines...

1. Consistency. It is all about consistency. The most popular people (that I follow) on IG post photos that all have something in common. Some have galleries that have a consistent color scheme. My friend Kim, @runnerkimhall, posts photos only of her dog, flat lays (which means photos taken of something arranged on a piece of paper and then photographed from above) or of herself in the distance (never up close). All of them are pastel-hued photos, therefore they all look amazing and very appealing in her gallery.

@runnerkimhall' s fabulous IG gallery
Another one of my friends that does this well is Jo from Perth, Australia aka @sayhellojo. She is known for photos of her dear son in front of vibrant walls, colorful minimal shots, and for holding objects in front of bright colored walls. All of which make for a tremendous IG gallery!

@sayhellojo's vibrant IG gallery

Another friend of mine, Julie from Quebec or @julie_audet has a breathtaking gallery full of animals and nature. She finds consistency in her color composition, but at the other end of the spectrum. Her photos are all serenely edited to have the same neutral tones. 

@julie_audet's serene IG gallery

Another way to be consistent on IG is to have a recurring theme in your photos. My dear friend, and creative inspiration, Carolyn from Miami, aka @carolyn_mara, photographs herself most of the time. No, I don't mean she has a gallery full of selfies, but she takes artistic and envelope pushing portraits of herself, which you would be shocked to know are mostly taken with her iPhone! Here are some of my favorites from her gallery...
some of my favorites from @carolyn_mara's awe-inspiring gallery

Another good example of a consistent theme is my friend Laurie, also from the Boston area, aka @lauries_little_ones. She burst onto the IG scene in the last couple years with her stunning, natural light filled photos of her little beauties. Most of the photos she takes are in front of a window or door, as you can see in her gallery. 

@lauries_little_one's precious family gallery

You could focus on taking photos of your city, like my friend Smita aka @hoggerandco, who is also from Boston. She has a growing love affair with our historical city, and magically captures it's beauty and lifestyle on a day to day basis. 

@hoggerandco's city lifestyle gallery

My final example is my deeply talented friend Mari aka @meandering_mari, who is a former chemist turned artist. She showcases her colorful works, as well as creates what she calls #meanderinghearts, which are flat lays that all have a heart in the center of them. 

@meandering_mari's creative IG gallery
So what am I getting at? All of these IG superstars have one thing in common - consistency. They have a theme to their gallery. They aren't posting vacation photos, they aren't posting selfies or date-night photos, they all have a theme and have stuck to it, and have become wildly successful. If you decide you want to only take photos of puddles, and create a gallery full of puddles all over the world, I bet you could be successful. Or take photos of your breakfast every day, but have it always on the same blue plate. I kid you not, you could have 10k followers in a year. But now the question is, how do people find you??

2. My second bit of advice is to tag, or hashtag, feature pages, and hashtag a ton of them. 

What is a feature page? A feature page is an IG account that doesn't post their own photos, but re-posts photos that have been tagged to the feature page's hashtags. Still confused? Stay with me. 

I run a feature account on IG called Nothing Is Ordinary (@nothingisordinary). Myself, along with 5 other ladies, literally from around the world, choose daily themes and create a unique hashtag for people to "tag" their photos to. Each day we go through about 1000 photos that have been tagged and pick our favorites to be featured on the @nothingisordinary account. These featured photos are seen by almost 80k IG users worldwide, and will now have people following their accounts. The more features you get, the more exposed to the IG community you are, and in turn, the more followers you will have. 

some feature pages for your tagging pleasure

3. Post often, but not too often. You need to be posting a photo a day, at least. You don't want to be filling up people's feeds with your photos, but you want to keep your account fresh in your followers' minds.

So you have picked out a theme for your IG account - let's say "Dogs in Wigs" (because that sounds amazing and I would follow the crap out of your account!) Now you open up your account, @dogsinwigz on IG (because I just checked IG and @dogsinwigs exists so you have to change the s to a z, because that is what you do, right?) You've got a consistent color palette in all your photos (all the dogs are photographed in front of a solid pink background), and your feed is looking great. Every day you are posting a new photo of a dog in a wig, and maybe you have branched out to dogs in glasses too, but you are keeping the editing and composition of the photos fairly the same. You have been tagging your photos to feature pages, and your follower base is growing. Now what? 

4. Now you need to establish a relationship with our followers. Those kind people who like your photos all the time, and even take the time to comment? You need to respond to them. Thank them for liking your photos. Check out their feeds, and possibly follow them. Like some of their photos. A little IG love goes a long way. Being friendly and sharing the love will make your followers more likely to suggest your account to other IG users, in turn getting you more followers. Also, it is just nice to be nice!

I know what you are thinking - @bostonbabymama, why don't you follow your own guidelines and become a successful IGer? Well, for one, I don't have the time or energy. It takes a lot of effort to create the beautiful works of art on the accounts I featured above, and right now I just don't have the focus to do it. I have the ideas (I still want to have an account that recreates daily activities, but only with toys - check out #bbmtoys for some of my past photos like this) but I have too many ideas and can't concentrate on one. 

Right now my feed consists of photos of my girls, some portraits of myself, flat lay photos, things held up against bright walls, artsy photos, lifestyle shots, vacation shots...you name it, I have it on there and none of it is edited consistently. They are all great photos, or so I have been told, but my feed is not generally appealing at first glance. I am like a combination of all the feeds above, and that does not make a popular IG account. 

To sum up this novel of a post...

To become an uber successful Instagrammer you must:
1. Have a consistent theme to your posts, therefore a visually consistent gallery
2. Tag your photos to feature pages and other hashtags
3. Post at least once a day, but don't fill up your followers feeds!
4. Share the love with your followers

Seems simple, and it truly is, but it is time consuming. I challenge you to give it a try though! I call "Dogs with Wigs" though...you can have "Bacon Man," the account where a piece of Bacon comes to life, marries a human and leads an average American lifestyle. Actually, I don't know if I would follow that...yeah, probably not. 

Now if it was a family of Bacon people....


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