If you're old enough to appreciate a Polaroid camera, you remember the excitement of snapping a photo, waving it a few times until it developed and then passing it around or sticking it on the refrigerator.
Instagram is a lot like that. And while you can just post photos and never look back (the digital equivalent of forgetting about them under layers of stuff on your avocado green fridge), you're missing out on the true power of what 40-or-so years of technology has given us.
Here are five ways to take your Instagram experience from good to great.
Follow people and they'll follow you back:
Instagram is a lot like Twitter. There are followers and people with @ names. One of the most rewarding experiences is meeting new people around the world and getting to know them through their photos. You can't do that if you don't follow people and create an online friendship.
Comment on photos:
I know, I know ... another social media platform that you have to spend time on. But I've met some pretty cool people on Instagram that I wouldn't mind meeting in person. And it never gets old to see those little hearts under your photos. Think of what you can accomplish if you commit to commenting on just five photos each day. Before you know it, you'll have a community looking forward to your posts.
They serve the same purpose as on Twitter, but people definitely overuse them on Instagram. The best way to make the most of them and get your photos noticed is to find the ones with the most photos about that subject. For example, #Instagram312 is a popular hashtag I created to showcase Chicago and Chicago-themed photos.
Share like crazy:
When you post a photo to Instagram, you can immediately share it on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr and
. Or, click the email button to have it sent to you as a reminder to share later.
Make stuff, sell things:
Thanks to a robust API, you can do more than ever with your Instagram photos. Print your favorites on canvas or create a photo collage case for your phone. You couldn't do that with a Polaroid.
While retro is chic and avocado green fridges are in again (much to my amazement), this column is all about being social. If you think Instagram is cool now, you'll love it even more after implementing these steps. I'll get you started. Tag me in your Instagram photos with @scottkleinberg and I'll be sure to follow you back.