Do you like taking photos of your dog and wish you could share them with the whole world beyond Facebook where your circle of friends can see them? You are in luck: Get yourself to Instagram and open up a whole new world of canine connections. It’s easy, fun, networking at its finest, and with about 10 minutes of your time a day, your dog can be the next social media superstar (or at least be on his or her way). Here’s the scoop on how to make your dog an Instagram rock star…or at least get a pretty darned good jump start:
Breathe In and Out
Before you blurt out, “the last thing I need is another social media network to crowd my already busy day,” let me tell you I felt the same way. Though I like Pinterest, I am not as addicted to it as some. Instagram, however, is another story.
What Instagram Is
Instagram is an online photo sharing service that allows you to upload photos, apply effects or filters, then share them to a variety of other places. It’s easy, it’s fun, and I’ve been playing around with it for a several months now. I am gaining new followers and fans to my magazine dog blog. Plus, I’ve connected with a whole slew of dog parents who are just as into their dog as I am. Are your ears perked now?
What Instagram Isn’t
Instagram is not Pinterest. You don’t have to separate your pictures into “boards,” and there are no categories to build. Instagram is not something you have to worry about building and following and gaining new followers unless that’s your thing. If you love your dog, want to show the world, and see pictures of other people who love their dogs (amongst other things), Instagram is all that and then some.
Snap and Go
Once you take a photo with your camera phone, uploading a picture is easy. You can actually use the camera or video feature right through Instagram or take a photo and then add some fun effects to your photo, as I like to sometimes do. Determine if your phone is Instagram (IG) compatible. I have an iPhone 5, so it worked for me.
I added hearts to this photo of my dog, Dexter, and then hashtagged it appropriately (more about that in a few seconds). If you are familiar with apps, then you can try this app that has become a go-to resource for me when filters are needed. It is called Picfx; there is a free version and a paid version. You can play around with it, but this particular features is under the “Lights” feature. Pretty fun, right? If you really like a photo you add a filter to, why not go all old school and print it and frame it? I have done that on more than one occasion.
Once you’ve uploaded a photo in IG, you want to hashtag it appropriately. Hashtags on IG are similar to but work a bit differently than hashtags on Twitter. Any word that is preceded by a hashtag will be searchable in IG.
When Bruno Mars performed at this year’s halftime show, I decided to do a split screen of my dog wearing sunglasses just like Bruno. The app I used for this, which is free at last check, is DipTic. You can do a variety of collages in a bunch of different styles with this app.
Okay so what the heck does all of that mean and why so many hashtags? When each of those hashtags are clicked, it will take the user to a screen full of pictures with that same hashtag.
So, for example, if the user clicked on the #cockersofinstagram hashtag, he or she would find plenty of Cocker Spaniel pictures. There, I can follow other users, since I know we have things in common: Well, Cockers at least! Then those followers can reciprocate and follow me back. Much like Twitter, you gain followers. You will see some photos with a boatload of hashtags and more power to you. In fact, experiment and hashtag away. It’s sort of the world’s universal shared photo album on Instagram.
Ideas for Photos and Video
Be different, be original, and be real. Think of what photos you enjoy seeing. Start following some folks who have similar interests and take note as to what you like about their images. Mix your mediums and occasionally shoot a video, which is a feature included in Instagram. You can shoot up to 15-seconds of video, so it’s fun and easy to do. Try experimenting with filters and even quotes, text, and frames. DeluxeFX is a fun and functional app for frames and filters. Oooh and that made for good alliteration, too.
You can’t edit a photo once you post it, but there are a variety of things you can do with it, as indicated by this screen shot:
Like any social media network, the first word is “social,” so be that but be mindful and respectful. You don’t have to follow everyone back who follows you, but this is a good practice in general.
Most folks will choose to LIKE your photo, much like Facebook. So I return in kind, generally follow folks back (who appear legit) and start perusing their photos and LIKE them back. It’s a fun, reciprocating relationship that involves photos, fun, learning, and networking.
You’ll want to fill out a profile and I include my blog URL in it for easy click-through. Here’s my profile. However, gobs and gobs of Instagrammers have a dog account. You won’t get banned or removed from Instagram for having a pet account the way you would on Facebook.
* There are a variety of fun and engaging hashtags folks use. Much like #FF (Follow Friday) on Twitter, here are a few to get you started on Instagram:
#100likes, #200likes or #300likes.
Add these tags to your pictures when they reach 100, 200, 300 or more likes. This will make it easier for users to find pictures that have reached these numbers.
#flashbackfriday: Use this tag on Friday’s when you want to post pictures of your past, of your family, or when you where young.
#tbt or #throwbackthursday: A photo of you or your dog or whomever from years ago.
#tot for Tongue Out Tuesday where folks share a photo of their dog with their tongue showing (the dog, that is)
Looking for More Hashtags?
I recently discovered a free app for the iPhone called Grama: It is fantastic for finding hashtags related to your topic so you can easily copy and paste them into your Instagram post!
If you want some more basics or need some intermediate to advanced ways to use Instagram, I’ve found Instagramers.com to be a good resource, chockful of tutorials, too.
Hungry for more? Click the Instagram tips below to learn, grow, and help make your dog a rock star!
See you on IG! Oh, and I’m @FidoseofReality. Are you on Instagram? Put your IG name in the comments below and if you follow us, we will follow back!