As the popular photo-sharing application Instagram reaches 50 million downloads this week, it's time for your to ramp up your likes and followers whether you agree with the $1 billion Facebook takeover or not. And while us mortals may not be able to rack up 10K followers overnight like Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian , here are four ways not to miss out on the "Facestagram" revolution:
1. Import your contacts: There is a chance you have a couple of hundred (or thousand) Facebook friends and Twitter followers who, given the sheer amount of press received by Instagram on a daily basis, might be curious about trying the service. Be an influencer by inviting them to join the Insta-party, and if they’re already in, engage with their photos and profiles as the platform after all is still all about community.
2. Use hashtags and geo-tags: Unlike Twitter, where too many hashtags litter your message and look pander-y to others, there is no reason to be shy with the use of these useful tools on Instagram, where the image’s protagonism allows for a long list of words or phrases prefixed by the symbol “#” which act as identifiers of groups and/or topics that will feature your photo along others' in the same categories where users interested in #beach, #landscapes, #puppies or #hot would be able to find, like and follow you. Don't forget to add Instagram’s most popular tags to truly turbo charge your content, and geo-tag your photos as geo-tags provide another data point that can be used to categorize and display content.
3. Share, share, share: Instagram is a community and as such, it grows and nurtures from engagement and interactions. Make sure you use emoticons in addition to words in your profile as well as in your comments, as the visual nature of this photo app makes them wildly popular and attention-grabbing. Share your Instagram uploads to your other social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare) and tag other users and brands while doing it (yes, product-placing can help you get followed by cool brands as well as other power-users which in turn could boost your presence). Finally, "barter" likes and follows within your community (e.g. “follow me and I give you 20 likes,” etc.).
4. Content is king: When it comes to content in Instagram, quality beats quantity. Don't just upload any trivial picture (or even worse, tons of trivial irrelevant images at once) as they might turn off other users. Look for what works in the "popular" section, which is usually good content images (no blurry, etc.) with interesting colors and compositions, as well as artistically applied filters. Find a good combination balance between images of places, people, and objects as numerous images of the same subject could bore other users (unless you are Ryan Goslin or Adriana Lima). Last but not least, think small in the sense that images are going to be displayed in thumbnail size and need to look good (and grab attention) while in the palms of users' hands.