Thoughts on Instagram

I have recently started using Instagram, actually after a webinar I watched at work where the librarians were talking about what a great social media space it was. They had a lot of success with being found, with getting constant interactions on posts, and with being able to ask questions and get answers. Well, that all sounded pretty good. So I gave it a look.

So far I have really enjoyed Instagram. It doesn’t get spammed to the extent that something like Tumblr does, so I can in a few minutes scroll through and see everything that’s posted for the day. It’s visual like Tumblr is, though, so it’s easier and better for scrolling through and checking out on the fly than I have found Twitter or the WordPress Reader to be.

How do they pull this off? Well, for starters, there’s no sharing. At least, not that I’ve figured out yet – I do see the occasional “re-gram” with a little share symbol and username in the corner of the image. Not sure how that’s done, but it’s pretty rare. Unlike a space like Tumblr, where sharing is the majority of the activity. You can like and comment, both of which being closest to something like Facebook in terms of use and visibility. However, some things in posts or comments don’t work – like websites. No hyperlink. So it discourages going in and linkdumping – unlike Twitter, where that’s almost the whole deal.

So it’s a visual space that’s there for others to experience and interact with. And really, I’ve had more success there with interaction than on other social media accounts. Things on the Facebook Page almost never get seen. Tweets rarely get any likes or shares. Tumblr doesn’t see much action. Indeed, in a couple of months I have as many Instagram followers as Tumblr followers, and the latter account is over a year older. In other words, it ended up really being what was advertised to me: a fun space with good interaction.

So let me run down a couple of things I have discovered regarding how Instagram plays with my whole suite of other social media accounts, to give you a more complete picture of how it works!

WordPress

Blue-wpAt points I have considered moving the Wordless Wednesday posts to Instagram, and then just sharing the Instagram photo on Wednesday on the blog. But then, the Instagram followers have already seen it! also, do I set up a second Instagram account, or share the photos here from the Comparative Geeks account?

Hmmm, these sound like too-many-social-media-accounts-and-identities problems. I maybe should have never split these two apart, but alas, what’s done is done. Doesn’t mean I need to do it again…

If I wanted to, though, it would be easy. Just drop an Instagram link into a WordPress post, and it will load in the picture – complete with interaction buttons. I’ve seen others do similar things with Pinterest pictures, and I’ve done similar stuff with tweets. Having another sort of social media item that can be embedded like that is very cool. It does take a moment longer to load, but it’s a picture. That happens.

Something else fun I discovered – and have tried not to abuse – is that if you drop an Instagram link into a WordPress comments section, it will embed the full image with interaction pane there! Easy to abuse, so be careful on that I suppose. But also a nice feature and interaction.

As a final note, there is of course a display widget as well for Instagram. It’s very customizable, and I played around on Comparative Geeks with what seemed best in terms of how many images to show. You can find it in one of the side columns. You can choose the number of columns and images. And scrolling over them, it shows the image text – and clicking them gets you to the full image. A fine widget, and a whole set of nice reasons for a WordPress blogger to use an Instagram!

Facebook

F_iconLike a number of other services, Facebook connects in with your Instagram allowing you to choose which of your pages to display on. So of course there we go, I can feed the Comparative Geeks Instagram over to the related Facebook Page. However, I think also like other services (like Twitter), it looks like only one can be attached – and by attaching it, my friends see that it’s me. Which works I guess, but is a bit awkward – it’s always going to be tied to an individual, even if feeding to a page.

Anyway, once you do have it hooked in, Facebook will display the Instagram pic as an image on Facebook, and even adds the image to your mobile uploads album! That’s kind of cool. It brings the text over too, so you’re overall set with it being a post in both locations.

Of course, Facebook pages being what they are, the images still aren’t seen by many people. Indeed, the images have done better on Instagram than on Facebook – oh, and that works, because we have almost as many Instagram followers as Facebook followers, and that’s with the Facebook account being 2 years older!

Of course, Facebook owns Instagram it seems, so of course they play well together…

Oh! And like on WordPress, you can drop an Instagram image into a conversation or post just with the link! Easy enough once again to share that way. I think there’s also a direct share-to-Facebook option in Instagram I haven’t used yet.

Tumblr

New_tumblr_logoThis one was a disappointment, as you can only connect your main Tumblr account to Instagram, not a secondary… and we have the Comparative Geeks Tumblr set up as a secondary. In many ways, I regret that, and now this is a new way to regret it.

I see others’ pictures sharing on Tumblr from Instagram, so it seems like this works well enough. It’s also an argument for me to consider a personal Instagram to share to my “main” Tumblr… but I don’t feel like it’s enough of a reason. As I’ve mentioned, interaction on Instagram is far exceeding what I see on Tumblr.

Twitter

TwitterHere’s where I’m far less satisfied. I actually originally started using Instagram with the thought that it could replace using Twitter to share pictures. Well, it has, but unfortunately the loser in this trade was Twitter.

An Instagram picture only shares as a link to Twitter. Not as the image as well. So all of a sudden, it’s like my multimedia went dark on my Twitter feed. Whoops…

I should add that one of the places I look at when determining whether or not to follow someone is their pictures feed. I feel this can show you someone who is putting out their own stuff as well as sharing links. It also should be images that match what they claim to be in their description. Generally, this is the case. But switching to Instagram meant I kind of stopped matching my own qualifications for this…

Since I started using Instagram, something changed with how Publicize shares WordPress posts, the link now being a full link instead of a short link, and the image being shared actually as an image in terms of Twitter – so all of a sudden, the images coming through with shared posts are showing up in my media on Twitter. So I guess this somewhat solves the problem of wanting pictures shared on Twitter… but I’d still like to see Instagram pictures show up.

One other problem: if I’m sharing to Twitter with a picture, I want to keep the caption really short. So that tends to mean only room for one or two hashtags… which doesn’t actually seem to be how Instagram works…

Final Thoughts: Instagram Itself

instagramSo I guess I should say a thing or two about Instagram itself. First, I feel like the explore stuff works pretty well for people finding related people. I’ve shared a lot of board gaming and war gaming, mainly, and a number of active people in both communities have found the account easily enough.

One thing I have seen by looking at their posts, and others, has been that Instagram tends to use a lot of hashtags. Which is fine, as they don’t weigh it down much… you’re busy looking at the picture and the caption, and you can easily glaze over the hashtags. Those are there for the computer. But they do a great job of matching people together for related content.

A major point I should mention about Instagram is that it is mobile only, born mobile at least. Uploading and most interaction happen on your phone, even if you can look at things on a proper computer browser. However, I feel like the mobile phone stuff has adapted for Instagram, like the
“square” photo option now on the iPhone, and an option to edit an image to make it perfectly square. I’ve used both of these to create images for Instagram.

There are a ton of other options within Instagram, as well, mainly filters and such. After all, all the editing has to happen on the phone since it’s all mobile… I have only used one or two filters, there’s one in particular that I think works pretty well with wargaming models, or at least with my paint scheme. Someone more professional than me could do a whole lot more with this, but it’s totally unnecessary – and super easy to eyeball, as you just click through them and it does the work for you.

As a closing thought, I thought I was bravely venturing out into Instagram, that not many folks I knew were there. I have found this to be wildly untrue, with a ton of my local blogosphere, and a ton of Facebook friends, already there. Meaning hi reader, you’re probably already on Instagram. Did you learn something from this post? Anything you’ve learned or can add? Share below in the comments!

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About CompGeekDavid
Co-founder, editor, podcaster, web comicer, forum moderator, and writer for Comparative Geeks. Father, husband, geek, nerd, gamer, librarian, Christian, Libertarian, Science Fiction philosopher, and probably a number of other descriptors.

6 Responses to Thoughts on Instagram

  1. I stopped using Instagram late last year and I have no idea why because I really enjoyed it. I’m hopeless at the whole social media thing, the only thing I manage to do regularly is blog. But I became addicted to this platform. I took silly pictures, serious pictures, all kinds of pictures and it fed my photography passion. Great post, David. It certainly made me stop to think about why I stopped using it because there are many benefits – not least of all fun 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems a perfect place for some photo blogging, and I even found some photo bloggers I know there 🙂

      I have too many social media accounts, which really splits my attention and efforts. Kind of wish I just had one profile on each platform… Would be nice. Feels a bit late now…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have the same problem with my blogs – I have five and I wish I stuck to one, but it feels a little late to back out now! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • Let’s see… 2 Twitter… Facebook profile & page… 2 Tumblrs… Instagram… 3 Google+ (dang it)… If I could merge the Twitters and just plain give up on the Facebook page, actually, it would be pretty good. And just ignore Google+…

          Like

  2. One thing I just noticed: Instagram is one of the top clicked links from Comparative Geeks this year, so people are clicking out to check out the images. So it gets interaction in that way, as well! 😀

    Like

  3. Pingback: If We Were Having Coffee… Are You Still There? Edition | DBCII

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