My Instagram Tour

Judging from the search terms you use to find my blog, a lot of you visit me searching for information, help and facts about Instagram. So I thought I’ll make it easy for you and make a collection of all my posts about Instagram here. Welcome to my Instagram Tour!

Let’s begin the tour by establishing what Instagram is: a free photo-sharing program & social network mainly accessed through a smartphone app. Before sharing your pictures, you can edit, add filters and effects to them. In the uploading process you can choose to share the picture in multiple other social networks as well, such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Once the picture is uploaded, all your followers, and anyone that search for the hashtags used, can see, like (heart by double-tapping) and comment on it (privacy settings are available). Instagram has a dedicated user / fan base (IG’ers) which mostly refer to Instagram as IG, and arrange Instagram photowalks and get-together with other IG’ers.

More info can be found in my Instagram guide posts: Instagram (My very first post about Instagram! *Nostalgia*) and Insta-lovin: A 101 Guide to Instagram

Next stop, hashtags. Just like Twitter, Instagram supports hashtags (#Keyword) to categories content, make it searchable and capture a feeling or say something about the content. More about hashtags in my post Instagram Hashtags: How does it work and why should you use them.

Let’s continue by looking at some numbers. In April 2012 Instagram contained more than 1 billion uploaded images and had more than 40 million users. For more stats, have a look at Instagram by the numbers.

All the widgets and add-ons make Instagram even cooler, you can do almost anything with your IG photos! Print, make postcards, fridge magnets and photo books. Gramfeed (and similar services) lets you view your photos from the web (not just your smartphone). Instalook lets you discover IG photos taken around you / at your location. You can even open your very own virtuell gallery, the Instacanvas. Another cool add-on is Statigram, giving you a full overview of all the stats about your IG account, and IG in general. Statigram also provides an overview of trending topics:

Because of it’s visuell features and large user base, Instagram can be an effective marketing channel for businesses. Companies and brands can engage with their customers and fans by e.g. hosting hashtag contests or asking for the customers best picture about their product. In my post Don’t say it, show it, you can read more about images as part of a marketing strategy. The Instagram For Businesses Blog also has a lot of examples of good usecases for companies. I for one love the Instagram campaigns Tiffany & Co have been running, for more info check out Tiffany’s #TrueLovePictures.

I’ll end this post with a warning, Instagram can be very addictive! If you think you or someone you know suffer from an Instagram addiction, you can see the signs in my post How to Spot an Instagram-junkie.

Did I miss any stops on my tour? What else do you think is worth knowing about Instagram?

I’d love to see your IG photos, look me up on Instagram (@Mariannemixi), or share your username below! 🙂

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Insta-lovin: A 101 Guide to Instagram

It’s hardly a secret that I’m an Instagram fangirl, if you read this blog somewhat frequently you might even have grown tired of all my Instragram talk ( I dedicated my love to the picture-sharing-service here, here and here). Today I felt like doing more than just talk about how great Instagram is, and actually show it. So I have put together a little Instagram 101 guide.

*Insta-heart it

To indicate you like someones photos, you can click the heart icon below the photo. Liking (or hearting) is a key feature of Instagram, and serves as both giving reconginitons to others and saving the picture so you can easily find it later (stored in the “photos you’ve liked” tab on your profile).

A faster way of adding a heart to the picture, is double-clicking it. A pretty basic tip, but it saves you a lot of time if you are browsing to a large stream of photos.

*hashtags and mentions

Like Twitter, Instagram lets you add hashtags (#) to your updates.
Hashtags makes it easier to categories your photos, and helps others finding your pictures. If you e.g. search for #cupcakes (I tend to do that a lot!), more than 400 000 pictures pops up.

Hashtags are also used to enter contests and shout-outs.

To interact with other IGs, Instagram lets you – again like Twitter, mention others using a @ and the username of the IGer you are talking to.

*Create photo magic

A key feature to why Instagram’s popularity keeps on growing, is the fact that it enables everyone to take great photos. With all it’s filters and features, you almost can’t go wrong.

The photo to the left is taken with the Camera+ app for iPhone. To the right, the same photos is given som Instagram magic.

To make this effect, simply to as follows: 1, upload to Instagram, 2,tap the sun icon ( low left corner) to add brigther colors, 3, tap the drop icon and select the radial / round shaped icon to make one area of the photo focused and the rest blurry.

*Insta-Widgets

To add even more value to the Instagram experience, check out some of the numberous widgets and services such as statigr.am for all your Instagram statistics and pingram.me to showcase your IG photos the Pinterest way.

With Instacanv.as you can showcase and sell your IG photos in your very own online gallery.

What’s your best IG trick?

Pinterest Contests: Pin It To Win It!

Pinterest can be used in many ways, Live pinning from events, daydreaming, planning your vacation , organizing your life and much much more. One great use case for businesses and brands on Pinterest, is arranging contests.

There are lots of ways to throw a Pinterest contest, such as encouraging people to “repin to win” or upload their own pictures, introducing special hashtags and shared board or appealing to peoples adventurous side with puzzles and quests. Here are a few examples of how different brands have arranged a Pinterest competition:

The fashion brand Guess turned Pinterest users boards into campaign ads by encouraging them to style their boards and making them fit for the spring season.

Similar contests have been held by Ann Taylor, Pottery Barn and several other brands.

Pinterest contests are not only for clothes and fashion brands: Confused — a U.K. insurance comparison website recently held a “driving-in-heels” competition on Pinterest, encouraging people to pin pictures of the crazies shoes worn while driving a car.

Also car companies can launch successful and creative Pinterest competitions, as Peugeot did with their puzzle competition:

Peugeot invites people to complete the puzzles by participating in a quest for the missing pieces at the companies web pages (and hence driving more traffic to their pages):

You can create similar puzzles, by following Mashable’s guide to “hack” your Pinterest boards.

Have you participated in a Pinterest contest?

Photography 101

When taking pictures there are so many things to think about, settings to learn, technic to master. Earlier I was super conscious about this, always trying to get things “right”. Sadly, it usually resulted in me over-thinking it and giving up as soon as I didn’t manage to get it right.

Clearly this was frustrating, and it almost ruined my passion for photograpy. In order to fix this, I had to change my perception on what taking pictures really was and changing focus my focus.

Now, when I take pictures, I try to focus on the motive and the story I want to tell, and forget the “rules”. My aim is to play around and try different ways of capturing the motive.

I get a lot of inspiration from Digital-Photograpy-School.com, a site that features great tutorials, tips and guides. Below I have tried to follow some of their advises on how to take better portraits.

Alter Your Perspective

Play with Eye Contact

Break the Rules of Compositions

Experience with Lighting

Your turn – What do you focus on taking pictures? If anyone has any good guides or tips on how to (easily) improve the techics of photography, I’d love to hear them 🙂