Instagram for beginners – who to follow

Quite often, when I tell people that I’m obsessed with Instagram, I get a vague look.
There’s a slight frown, and they’ll say something like, ‘oh I don’t get Instagram,’ or ‘I’ve got an Instagram account but never use it.’

Most of my family members can’t fathom Instagram, my husband can’t understand why, or how I get so much pleasure out of it and a lot of my friends use it only very occasionally and I totally understand.  I do. I had my account for a good couple of years before I ‘got’ it.

So I thought I ‘d do a post about Instagram and how to use it to it’s best advantage.
It’s my favourite place to be at the moment, it really is.  I’ve met so many nice people on there, feel a bit happier every time I’ve visited and get a sense of, I dunno, satisfaction from posting to it. So if you are on Instagram but don’t ‘get’ it, or if you haven’t got an Instagram account, this is for you.

Why Instagram?

The first thing to consider is what you want to get out of Instagram. Is it a place where you only want to speak with family and friends? Where you’re only conversing with people you know?  Or are you open to meeting new people?  Making new friends?  Striking up conversations with people whom you’d never normally meet in your offline world?

If you want to only have a select few in your account, then make it private. This stops your pictures being seen by anyone unless you approve them, but it also means you’re very unlikely to make any new friends or connections.

For me, I want to meet new people and I’m not too bothered about who sees my photographs, so my account was never private.

Who to follow?

The next thing is who to follow, (and all that means is that their pictures will show up on your feed)  BE VERY CAREFUL HERE. This is what can be the make or break your  Instagram enjoyment.

When I first went on, I followed a few mates, a bunch of famous people and who Instagram ‘recommended’  for me. And because most of the people I followed were living amazing, celebrity lifestyles, the recommendations I got were of a similar ilk.  Meaning that every time I went on Instagram, I’d be met with all these high-gloss, exocic images of enviable lives of the rich and famous.

It made me feel inadequate, a bit jealous and fed up.  I did not enjoy Instagram at that time.  I did not ‘get’ the point of it.  I went on maybe once or twice a month and rarely posted anything.
How could I? The images I was seeing were not relevant to my life, and I was not inspired to engage with it at all.

Find your tribe

So here’s how I’d approach it now, imagine that you are putting together a picture book for yourself, nothing else, just pictures.  Nice stuff, images that make you happy.  It could be a hobby you have, or a place you love.  It could be, literally, anything.

For instance, say you liked writing in your bullet journal and looking at other people’s bullet journals would be of interest to you.
At the top of the page in Instagram, there’s a search bar. Using the hashtag symbol, type in #bulletjournal, but DON’T PRESS RETURN!

Here’s why: the hashtag, #bullet journal, has at the time of writing, 1,458,387 posts.
That’s an insane amount. It’s too big, too much choice, there’ll be a new picture every second.  But, if you haven’t pressed return, the app will show you all the other associated hashtags to do with bullet journaling underneath.

Scroll down. Have a read of them, which ones sound good to you?

What you’re looking for, is a relevant hashtag, with a smaller number of posts.  So just a bit further down, I found #bulletjournalweekly with 17,504 posts.  Perfect.

Click on it and start scrolling through the gallery, any picture that you like, take a closer look.  Then go to that person’s profile, see what else they post about.  See if they’re a good fit for you, would you like to see the photographs on their page  show up in your feed?  If the answer is yes, then hit follow.  Remember, you can always unfollow, none of this is permanent.

Repeat this process with other areas that you like and y’know, it doesn’t even have to be a ‘thing’ on Instagram.  It can be a feeling, I love being cosy and warm and cups of tea and my best hashtag searches to find new accounts are around those things.  #hyggehome, #homeisacupoftea, #thatvelvetfeeling are all good ones for me to find kindred spirits in those areas.

Take a look at the comments under each image, who are those people?
Is there a bit of a conversation going? Is the person who took the picture replying?  If so, all the better.  Leave a comment, ask them a question, see if they answer.

Make a connection

If you do this right, before long you’ll be having conversations, learning new things, speaking with like minded souls on all the areas you love from all over the world.  Sounds amazing, right?

And pretty soon, you’ll want to join in. You’ll want to take a photograph of your bullet journal, or your cup of tea, or you dog, or your socks or whatever it is that you’re loving at that time and things will open up for you.

It took me a while to find the right people to follow on Instagram.
People who were genuine, who were real, who I could talk to and who inspired me. It’s a fun little app, but it’s very powerful.  You have to be careful who you allow into your space, so be choosy.

That, for me, was the biggest part of starting to finally see how enjoyable it could be.
I still look at the celebrity accounts, but it’s not all I see on there. I see life in Barcelona, Japan and Madrid from real people with real lives, ok it may be the ‘highlights’ from their day, a moment they want to share, styled and pretty, but it’s authentic.

I see someone is baking cinnamon cake and read how the smell of it makes her feel, I see what dress I’d like to wear for my next holiday, what yarn I’d like for my next knitting project.  I read about how someone is starting a project of collecting vintage books, about what someone does to get them out of a procrastination slump and about the most delicate spiders web at the foot of someones stairs.

I read about wishes, dreams, hopes, dashed plans, moment’s remembered, moment’s lost, I see all of humanity from kindred spirits as I’m going about my day and to be honest, it’s kind of wonderful.

So d’you understand a bit of it now?  How entertaining and fascinating it can be?
I know it’s not for everyone and lots of people complain about how the app has changed but it’s still a massive source of enjoyment for me.

How about you?  Do you love Instagram?  You as obsessed about it as I am?

Leave me a comment on here or on my Instagram page,  I’d love to know.



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