How to Get the Most out of Your Instagram Account

Are you an Instagram user yet?  Instagram is a photo sharing social media site on smartphones.  With Instagram you can share photos with followers that can be friends, family or strangers depending on your interests.  Similar to Twitter which is a way to share brief messages and links, Instagram is a way to share photographs.  This more visual medium creates a much more rich experience than other messaging services.  
While only started in October 2010, Instagram has grown to over 100 million registered users.  People are using Instagram for a wide variety of uses that demonstrate the flexibility of the service.   Distant family members are sharing photos of grandchildren, nieces and nephews on Instagram.  Marketers, such as cupcake shops, wedding planners and other visual businesses, are sharing photos of their most impressive designs.  Organizations, such as charities and sports teams, are providing members with visual updates of their latest activities.  And finally celebrities are building a stronger bond to fans by providing behind the scenes photos.
In order to get the most out of Instagram, I am providing you with a bunch of tips and tricks I have learned while using Instagram over the past year.
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Tips for Increasing your Followers on Instagram

Would you like to extend your reach beyond your immediate friends on Instagram?  There are several ideas you can use to increase your followers on Instagram.
1.  Use Hashtags —  Just like on Twitter and several other social media sites, hashtags (#) are a great way to get your posts viewed by lots of non-followers.  A hashtag is a way to categorize a post.  For instance, if your photo is a photo of a landmark, you should use a hashtag for it such as #wrigleyfield #eiffeltower or #grandcanyon.  That way when someone searches Instagram for the word tag #grandcanyon — your photo is likely to come up in the search.  If it is a good photo, you are likely to end up with a few new followers.  There are also some other common hashtags that get a lot of views including #photooftheday — but use that one sparingly for your very best photos.
2.  Use Geolocation —  You can set your smartphone to share its geolocation with Instagram, so that when you share a photo, the location of where you took the photo also shows up.  Some people like to search for photos in their cities geolocation codes will get you exposure to others searching for photos in your location.
3.  Commenting —  If you go to the discover page on Instagram, you will find lots of interesting photos that a lot of people have liked.  Pick out a few that you really like and leave intelligent comments on those photos and like them, you will be surprised how many people end up following you if you do this often.
4.  Find People with Similar Interests —  If a lot of your photos are about architecture and building, then find other photographers that like architecture.  Follow them, like their photos and comment on a few.  Most people will take a look at the photos of someone that follows and comments on their photos, if they like what they see they are likely to follow you back.

Interesting Celebrities to Follow on Instagram
You might be surprised of all the celebrities on Instagram. Whatever your interest is from movies to TV to sports or politics, there are interesting celebrities for you to follow.

For instance if you are a big fan of movies and TV, you should check out this list of 50 Hollywood Stars on Instagram. If you are a sports fan, there are lots of different options to follow depending on your sport of interest. For instance, if you are into World Cup Football see this story on the 25 Footballers on Instagram or if pro basketball is your thing see the 20 NBA Stars on Instagram.


Other Tips for Using Instagram

Here are a few more tips for effectively using Instagram.
Find Friends —  When you click on your profile page, there is a small settings widget at the upper left corner of the screen.  Click on that widget and it will bring up a settings menu.  The first choice on the menu is Find & Invite Friends.  This tool lets you search for Instagram users among your Facebook friends or your Contact List.  There is also a handy little tool with Suggested Users — to find others with similar interests or contacts.
Explore —  The small Star shaped button on the bottom of the Instagram screen is the Explore button.  This brings up a search bar at the top of the page and a grid of popular photos.  This is one of my favorite pages, because you can discover beautiful photos, cool people to follow or you can just do searches.  Try searching on some of your favorite topics.  Put a # before the topic name to find all the people that used that hashtag on photos.

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