The Wonder of Tech welcomes Brock Thompson who writes about one of his favorite websites, Instagram, a popular social media site that was purchased by Facebook last year. Brock explains why he is such a fan of Instagram and why you should be too!
What Is Instagram?
Instagram is a mobile application that allows you to post photo status updates for your friends and followers to see, comment upon, and favorite. You can follow people and have others follow you. Photos are the essence of Instagram.
Instagram was launched in 2010 with its unique approach to online interaction. The service continues to grow quickly and now has over 100 million users. In 2012, Facebook, recognizing its popularity and growth, purchased Instagram.
Why Should You Use Instagram?
Most of us use social media outlets to stay current and communicate with our friends and family. More than ever, we now have the ability to tailor our social media experience to our preferences by choosing the social media applications we wish to be involved in. These applications are constantly vying to be entrusted and chosen as our favorite social media site.
Instagram is different from other social media applications because each user’s post simply consists of an image with an optional caption. Instagram is visual so viewing your Instagram feed is a beautiful, image-rich experience for the people that mean the most to you. If you “read” magazines only for the pictures, Instagram is for you!
Images make the social media experience more exciting, personal, and engaging. Including an image within a Facebook status update generates 53% more likes and 104% more comments than a basic (boring!), text-only post.
There’s no better way to feel as if you’re near someone you care about than viewing snapshots of their lives. For example, a text-only status update that reads, “Whoa! I just made an awesome dinner!” does an inadequate job of describing the dinner compared to a photo status update. A photo communicates what food was prepared, how it looked, how much was made, how appetizing it looked, the texture, and the setting in which it was prepared, all without saying a single word. Your followers can interpret the photo themselves to decide how good it looked and communicate it through a comment or “liking” it.
It’s Not Facebook
For many, Instagram proves to be an appreciated alternative to Facebook due to its privacy settings. A recent study of 802 teens by the Pew Internet and American Life project found that many teens are worried that too many people may be watching what they post to Facebook such as college admission officers, parents, teachers, or preachers. Interestingly, some respondents expressed they feel safer and less vulnerable using Instagram versus Facebook.
Female (age 13): “I feel like over Facebook, people can say whatever they want to. They can message you. And on Instagram you can delete the comment really easily, and you don’t have to live with it, kind of. Whereas Facebook, if they say something mean, it hurts more. I don’t know why it does. And also [Instagram] it’s not public, so people tend to not come off so mean. Because all they really want is for people [to] like their photos.”
Instagram’s simplicity and superior privacy enable users to have a fun, Facebook-free outlet to share visually what is going on in their lives while minimizing the fallout from mean friends or snooping viewers.
Grab your mobile device!
Instagram is inherently mobile which is convenient since you’re snapping and sharing photos on the go. There is an Instagram website, but it doesn’t have all the features of the app. Instagram.com won’t even let you register a new account on their website, so don’t try! Instead, head over to the app store and download the official Instagram app.
The Instagram app is available for free:
Instagram uses Twitter-like “handles” for usernames. When you register, you’ll choose a handle that nobody else on Instagram has claimed yet. Use a derivative of your name (mine is brockthomp) or words that describe you.
After you register, you can let Instagram scan your list of Facebook friends to see which of those friends also have an Instagram account. Then you can decide which of those Facebook friends you’d like to follow on Instagram. Odds are, those friends will follow you back.
Get your feet wet
Pretty easy so far, right? Now you’ll have a beautiful, photo-rich feed on your Instagram homepage filled with photos from the users you’re following. See a photo you like? Double tap a photo in the feed to “like” that photo. You’ll see a heart that shows you liked that photo.
You can easily leave comments by clicking the thought bubble below each photo. Like Twitter, you can mention another user if you wish by using the @username format. Doing so will alert @username that they have been mentioned in a comment which encourages them to join in the conversation.
You’ve poked around long enough. It’s time to post your first photo! Find a beautiful or interesting subject (scenery, a baby, a crafting project you just did, etc.), open the Instagram app and choose the middle icon that looks like a camera . Then, take a picture!
You’ll be able to edit the photo from within the app, adjusting the contrast, brightness, or rotation and applying filters if needed. Feel free to try filters to apply an effect such as making the colors more/less saturated, converting to a black and white/sepia look, and many others.
After applying those final touches to your photo, you’ll see another screen allowing you to add a caption, include people (if the picture has another Instagram user shown in it), add the photo to your Photo Map (which tags geographical information where the photo was taken), and share the photo to other social media outlets as well.
After accepting the final settings, your photo will be posted to all of your followers’ feeds where they can Like and leave comments on your photo.
The simplicity and effectiveness of Instagram give you the ability to colorfully illustrate and share your life through photography. You should use Instagram if you’d like to share your life and engage with others with more than just words.
Have you given Instagram a try? What did you think? Let us know in the Comments below! Share your Instagram user name in your comment if you want more followers.
Brock Thompson is a fellow technology blogger and a web project manager at Spire Advertising in Ohio. Check out other articles by him at Brock Thompson’s technology blog.