Let's get social: navigating your way through Instagram.

As a passionate student of social media, I can tell you it's a never ending learning curve for me. (this might explain some of it) There are so many channels to manage - each of them having a distinct purpose, audience and tone - that I've learned to really hone my craft by focusing on one a month. Now, technically, that's not possible for me anymore because I have clients to serve, but, what I do recommend is concentrating a large percentage of your efforts on one channel a month and really cutting your teeth on what's effective and what's not. 

P/S Follow my feeds, duh! 101thingsilove | OakStSocial

If there's one channel I am particularly OCD about - it's Instagram. I am a devout student and completely neurotic about every post I create. Whether that's for me or for my clients. At times, I don't have the freedom to post or say exactly what I want, however, when it comes to my own channels, I really focus on pushing my creativity. I "heart" Instagram big time.

Still...there are very specific rules I abide by, and in turn, have reaped big rewards. Today, I'm gonna share what I've learned: triumphs and flops. It's called paying it forward, socially speaking!

I suppose it's important to discern how you want to use Instagram: business or pleasure. For me it's both and it's quite hard for me to figure out the ratio because I take it very seriously. Ask my husband. And my partner. 

Instagram is a visual art that some have mastered and to be truthful, have blown me away. Instagram has officially trumped the amount of users Twitter has and is following closely on the heels of Facebook. Think over 300M users and growing. No shocker there since they're owned by Facebook, which, at the time paid a cool $715M to acquire the company. To date, 20 billion images have been shared. Wow.

But enough about stats...let's get to the Do's and Dont's!

  • Do! use the entire square to post your image. I really loathe cropping photos unless it's totally necessary. And the ones I have cropped perform poorly.
  • Do! use color and lots of it!
  • Do! use hashtags. This is a discovery tool and you should research what's trending by searching the hashtag window and typing in your keyword to find the top hashtags for your subject.
  • Do! use more than one hashtag. Did you know the limit of hashtags usage is 30 and the average user posts 11-15 per image? #truth
  • Don't! post your dinner unless you're a stylist and you have great lighting. There's nothing worse than a gross food image.
  • Do! seek plenty of natural light and white space. There is a ratio the experts use to create the best images.
  • Don't! post memes. Seriously, please don't.
  • Don't! overpost. No one likes a spammer.
  • Do! post a minimum of 3-5 posts per day. And if you're a fashion blogger, trust that this is the magical number.
  • Don't! post just to post. Be authentic to you and post images you're passionate about. I posted a lot of crap in the beginning and I'm still learning. Exhibit A. Exhibit B.
  • Do! post regularly between the hours of 5-9pm. This is the sweet spot.
  • Do! post on Thursday's which is said to be the best day of the work week to post.
  • Don't! forget the weekends - Sunday specifically!
  • Do! get creative. Your face or entire body does not need to be in every photo. A snippet, a detail...these perform really well. 
  • Do! master the art of styling your photos. It's not easy!
  • Do! tag the companies you are wearing or working with in your photos.
  • Do! create smart, succinct copy. No one wants to read a novel.
  • Don't! post your baby, cat or dog all day, every day...and this is coming from a mom!
  • Do! post quotes. Quotes are powerful and can break up your content.
  • Do! focus on details. If you post a full body shot in the morning, post a detail shot next time around.
  • Do! use Simply Measured or Iconosquare to track your reach and engagement. That is, if you're serious about it.
  • Don't! expect to grow your followers or engagement without reciprocating. It's just like starting a blog...you have to put forth the effort to reap the reward.
  • Do! research the top hashtags. I keep a running list of them in a notebook that I switch out depending on the content.
  • Don't! host a giveaway every week.

Most of all - have fun! I realize this could be a long post but I really believe in the channel and what it can do for not only bloggers but brands. Hello Nike and Starbucks!

I hope this has been helpful. While I haven't mastered it yet...I love learning tips and tricks to see what really works. There's a lot more to uncover. Depending on how you guys feel - I can make this a series - feedback welcome!

See you on the 'gram: 101thingsilove | OakStSocial

* Check out today's link ups: Mix & Match FashionPenniless Socialite, Sincerely Jenna MarieLiving in Color!