Words by Rachel Campbell

Instagram has the reputation of being used by stereotypical hipsters and young people, but with a recently recorded active user number of 100 million, this demographic has been widened. Launched in October 2010, Instagram has embraced the beauty of photo sharing for more than 2 years now, allowing iPhone and Android users to post pictures from their phone with a variety of filter options.

Like any social network, Instagram comes with a number of unwritten rules and suggestions of what you should and should not do with the freedom of your account.

Do

Connect your accounts

Instagram is a thriving social media outlet in its own right, but it also allows you the option of connecting to your other social networks. If you edit a photo on Instagram that you’d like to share on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr, then try skipping the extra step of reposting and just link your accounts. Plus, sharing your photos also has a direct link to your page so friends from your other social networks can see your photos or even follow you. This linking option is available on the final page of your post or in the “share” option of your feed.

Hashtag

The hashtag technique was introduced to us with the creation of Twitter. Here, the purpose of them is to trend topics and make tweets more searchable. The hashtag is also used on Instagram to aid in the searching process. You can type in any word in the “Explore” section of the app to find photos that use that hashtag. Including them on your own photos allows other users to discover pictures that may interest them.

Add to your photo map

Like hashtags, the photo map lets you and other users see specific types of photos. You have the choice to add your picture to your photo map when editing. Turning it on saves it to your own map by default, but you also have the option to name the location. This can be done by searching for nearby places or naming your own. If you choose one that was already created then you can click the name once it’s posted to see photos from other users at that same location. Sticking to tagging public places is probably your best bet. We all had that stranger danger conversation in our youth, so avoid tagging your dorm or apartment if you can.

Enjoy your photos off of your phone

The beauty of the Internet is that you can go back and look at things whenever you want, but there are some people out there who are still suckers for hard copies. StickyGram allows you to take your photos and transform them into magnets. If you’d rather get regular prints, PostalPix is a free app offered on both the iPhone and Android that allows you to order prints straight from your phone to be delivered to your door. There’s even sweet ways to display them afterwards like the Instabook from Photojojo.

Don’t

Use your account as a mirror

We all have days where we’re feeling extra fabulous. It could be attributed to a good hair day or to that rad new outfit you’re sporting, which of course are social network worthy moments that need to be documented. We all do it, but you probably shouldn’t do it every day. Or every hour. No one wants to see the same smirking face or mirror picture clogging up their feed. Unless you’re Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian, constant vanity is a sure way to lose online followers and annoy your real life friends.

Post more photos than there are hours in a day

You should be aware of the amount of posts you make per day especially if they’re about the same thing. Try enjoying that concert instead of snapping and posting every time Freddie Frontman does something you’ve deemed photo worthy. Are you having a fun time at that party? It would probably be more believable if you didn’t have your phone glued to your hand to share every Kodak moment to your feed. Remember there’s a fine line between sharing and spamming.

#nofilter? #noonecares

As mentioned above, the point of a hashtag is to make your photos more searchable for people who may have similar interests as you. The point of Instagram is to add snazzy filters to photos you take on your phone before sharing them with the world. So what’s the point of the #nofilter hashtag? Nothing. You should use Instagram to spice up your photos and not simply just share them. We have twitpic and Facebook accounts to upload unfiltered photos. Take advantage of “Earlybird,” “Toaster” and more before you hit that share button.

Screenshot your other social media accounts

Just connect them. It’s easier. Plus when you screenshot your tweet or Facebook status to post to Instagram, it just makes it look like you’re desperate for likes. It may be witty, but Instagram should be for photos and not text.

Snag high quality photos that weren’t taken on your phone

Instagram is for in-the-moment captures. Its purpose is to display your talents as a camera phone photographer, so where’s the fun in reposting photos from a DSLR? Keep it simple and stick to your phone’s photos. There’s always Facebook or Flickr for your high quality shots.