Last week, we set the tone for my series on using Instagram for business.
If you haven’t read that post, I suggest that you go back and take a peak so you’ll be up to speed as we discuss how businesses can begin to build a presence on this new and popular photo sharing network — by learning from the examples set by influential Instagramers already working in the system.
It’s true that it’s still very much the early days of Instagram as a social network. As we’ve seen with other social media services like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn that have come before it, getting your employees, your brand and even yourself involved while it’s still a cradle social media network, will give you and your brand an early advantage against your competitors.
Your time is now. The time for your brand is now. Agreed?
7 Habits of Highly Effective Instagramers
At the end of the day, the secret is simple:
To become an influential Instagramer, the average Instagram user MUST adopt the behavior pattern of capturing and publishing compelling, beautiful and eye-catching photos consistently and at relatively high frequency.
Sounds easy, right?
Except that to truly build a brand presence as an influential Instagramer, you will need to know some of the tactical moves that help the current popular Instagram users get more eyeballs looking at, liking and commenting on their photos.
Here is a detailed list of 7 habits used by the most influential Instagramers so that you too, can gain the maximum exposure for the photos your share.
1. Use a more advanced camera application.
Most on board smart phone cameras are limited in what they can do.
The camera offered in the Instagram app is much the same. That’s why the more influential Instagramer makes a point to download camera apps that are more advanced, shoot and edit photos with outside of Instagram and then upload them through the Instagram app.
Killer iPhone camera apps that will help you up the artistry on your photos include:
- Camera+ – this app offers a range of shooting features, like constant fill lighting from the LED, image stabilization, timer and burst modes, and a 6x digital zoom option.
- CameraGenius – adds additional shooting options, like a full-screen shutter button and time stamping. The app retails in Apple’s app store for $3.
- Snapseed – this editing app features adjustable brightness, contrast, color, sharpening and saturation. Rather than simple filters like found on Instagram, Snapseed supports special effects like tilt shift and adjustable texturing.
- Mattebox – at $4, this application is great if you are used to shooting DSLR photos. Mattebox displays information pro photographers expect to see including: ISO, white balance, shutter speed and focal distance.
- Camera Zoom FX – the most feature-filled, handling both shooting and editing duties from one interface.
- Camera360 – this free application has similar features to Camera Zoom FX, but you can’t really argue with the cost.
- Pro HDR Camera – This high dynamic range app will help you balance your images by taking photos at different exposures, then combining them into one shot for a more even exposure.
- Aviary Photo Editor – This plugin for your Android device will allow you to do everything from quick crops to teeth whitening — as well as filters and effects.
2. iPhone Users: Consider purchasing a lens kit.
While Android devices are all over the board in terms of design aesthetics, iPhones are fairly similar.
The advantage to Instagram users who opt for carrying an Apple device is that you have will have access to affordable add-on accessories that can help you increase the power of your camera lens.
Below are three options for lens kits that are available for the more recent versions if the iPhone:
- 4 in 1 Camera Lens Kit for Apple iPhone 4– This kit contains an 8X black telephoto lens for distance zooming, a fish eye lens that will change the perspective of your photos, and even a wide angle and micro lens that will give you more flexibility in your shot composition. The kit also includes a tripod and hard case and retails for just over $25.
- AGPtek 3 in 1 Camera Lens Kit for Apple iPhone 4 iPad – with this package from AGPtek, you get essentially the same type of lens power in a bit smaller size. This kit also retails a bit cheaper at just over $18.
- Olloclip Quick-Connect Lens Solution- a bit in the expensive side, this kit retails for just under $70 and includes a high quality fisheye lens, macro lens for tight close ups on small objects, and even a wide-angle lens. It’s high end, but you pay for what you get.
3. Integrate Instagram with your brand’s social media properties.
The majority of Instagram users access photos that are shared on other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler.
Make a point early on to connect your Instagram account with your or your brand’s other social media properties so that you can use each additonal distribution channel to your advantage. This article on the Instagram website will walk you through the steps.
4. Photo walk during the magic hours.
Most Instagram users will tell you that shooting in natural light produces the best results. Except for when it’s 2PM during the winter months when the sun is angled low in the sky an produces a bright white light.
Shoot in that type of environment and you’re sure to have bleached faces and backgrounds in your photos.
Make it a habit to shoot your photos during the magic hours. You’ll find that light quality is best when the sun is 6-7 degrees above the horizon, and the effect ends when the sun is 6-7 degrees below the horizon.
5. Tell a story with the progression of your images.
Suddenly, with the release of the ‘official’ Instagram web interface, every influential Instagramer has a cleaner way to tell a broader story through the timeline progression of their photos.
Each Instargam user at RedBull does an incredible job at this type of story telling, pulling in images that give hits to the location of their shoots, the extreme athletes in the photos and even the days, times and themes that categorize their content strategy for Instagram.
6. Categorize your photos with hash tags.
Instagram users tend to be a bit hash tag crazy — and, for good reason too!
One of the main ways people discover images on Instagram, particularly through older web interfaces like Webstigram is by searching topical hash tags.
Remember that when posting photos to your account, make sure to include hash tag descriptors that will help your images and account become much more ‘discoverable’ by the average Instagram user — who also may be a member representing your target audience.
See the example below from Winston Tran, a personal trainer and influential Instagramer who uses the mobile service to share images that depict nutrition, health and wellness and about physical training.
7. Always be shooting.
One of the big changes in photography came about when digital cameras disrupted a film-based industry.
Before things like smart phones and DSLR cameras, people went to school to learn how to work with film, compose better shots and trim out the waste of their shoots by being efficient. Only when photographers learned to become efficient were they able to make a business out of photography.
Today, the fat doesn’t matter as much as it used to. Film is mostly non-existent these days, and adding memory expansions to your camera devices is cheap and easy. Not to mention that particularly in the case of Instagram, your photos will be stored in the cloud.
So what does this mean for you?
Shoot. Shoot. Shoot!
Every photo you take will not hit the gold standard of content you would hope to achieve. But, you can make up for this with volume and then select the best and most compelling shots to share on Instagram. The more photos you take, the more chance you have of finding that one image, perfectly composed and filtered that will wow your followers.
In short, the more your shoot, the better you will do on Instagram.
Which of These Habits Have you Already Adopted?
Chances are, you are already an Instagram user today, even if it’s only at a personal use level.
But are you already curious about becoming one of the popular Instagramers?
If so, which one of these habits have you already found yourself adopting?
Or, better yet — how has Instagram itself changed your social media behavior towards capturing and sharing photos?