How to Be Social in Instagram

CL_InstagramPhotography was never my strong suit.

Yet we live in a visual world. And as a “word” person, I need to keep learning about visual ways to communicate.

Enter Instagram.

Setting goals. My reason for being on Instagram is to develop my photography skills and the eye for the visual. I began with beautiful scenery, and my next area of focus is people.

My audience is a mashup of personal and professional contacts. I’m not strictly focused on a business-related goal. Yet.

That said, great resources for using the platform for business to “share your brand’s point of view” can be found right on the Instagram site.

Getting started. A James Dean quote inspired me one weekend while I was out and about. “Dream as if you will live forever. Live as if you will die today,” caught my eye. It was so powerful and timeless that I wanted to share it. And thus began my Instagram posts a year ago this month.

Set your goals and then just start. Learn and adjust as you go. Explore your passions as they evolve. Connect with interesting people and brands. “Like” and comment on others’ posts. Have fun with the experience.

After all, isn’t that what life is all about?

Finding people and organizations to follow. Starting with my employer, I’m proud to follow @DIRECTV, @DTVBlimp and @DIRECTVCareers.

Working in entertainment, I enjoy following major events like the @GoldenGlobes and @TheAcademy. Plus favorite TV shows @DowntonAbbey, @TheGoodWife and @BetterCallSaul. And an amazing documentary about “ordinary women doing extraordinary things,” @EmpowermentDocu.

Then there’s the mashup of work colleagues, community friends and family members. You never know where inspiration is going to strike.

Creating compelling content. Instagram is my online, real-time photography class. I keep an eye out for compelling images in the everyday world. I practice taking different shots from different angles, with different lighting. I experiment with the fun filters available on Instagram. I try cropping images in different ways.

On the topic of photos, I take a counter-intuitive approach to bio photos across social media platforms. Most of the great advice about building social media profiles says you should use the same photo across all platforms to build your personal brand.

However, I use different photos for different reasons. My LinkedIn profile has the professional bio shot provided by my employer. This matches my employer’s corporate bio for me.

My Twitter profile has a bio shot that I had done independently. And since I’m not tweeting in an official capacity for my employer, a professional photo not associated with my employer made better sense to me.

My Instagram profile has the same photo as my Facebook profile. Since my purpose for being on Instagram is more informal, I felt something with a more casual feel would work better.

Fitting it into daily life. Wherever I go, I’m on the lookout for visually appealing images. The blue trees above were from the @DIRECTV holiday celebration event at our Southern California headquarters. As I was heading home, I was struck by the colorful vibrancy our amazing Corporate Events team led by Kerin Lau had created. A quick snap of a picture and a comment mentioning DIRECTV was all it took to capture and share the moment.

And many of my pictures are taken while I’m out exercising. So I’m taking steps for my health and my Fitbit at the same time as I’m creating content. The added benefit is I find I’m more attuned to and aware of my surroundings. This creates more mindfulness in my life in general, plus deep gratitude for the natural beauty of our planet. All good things for a healthy and productive life.

Finding adjunct uses. Everything interconnects, I shared in How to Be Social.

This blog requires a variety of images, so the photos I snap for Instagram also become part of my personal photo library. There’s no copyright to worry about or payment for the images, since I’m the photographer.

And over the holidays visiting family in New England, I followed my nephews and niece in Instagram (and somewhat surprisingly, they followed me back). And I helped my mom set up an account, so she can follow us and feel more connected to our lives across the country.

My teen daughter and son are great coaches. They help me through the “how do I . . .?” moments. And I heed their advice to post no more than two images on any given day. That keeps the quality up and hopefully means followers look forward to seeing more, rather than wishing to see fewer, posts.

What are your best Instagram tips?

Published by

Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, How to Build Your Career through Social Media, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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