10 tips for Instagram Beginners #IGTravelThursday

August 15, 2013 Katja Presnal

10 tips for Instagram beginners.

I hope you join us today again to learn more about Instagram and how it relates to traveling! Instagram is such an amazing app for daydreaming of traveling and literally seeing images from all over the world as they happen. I personally use Instagram as a travel guide all the time to also plan my trips. Today I wanted to share some very basic tips for Instagram beginners and for those who want to connect better with other travelers on Instagram. The tips are from my ebook Instagram as your Guide to the World – How, What and Who to Search and Follow on Instagram to Help You Travel the World. I will be revealing some of my secrets from the book also here at Skimbaco Lifestyle in the upcoming weeks, and I will also give out a free copy of the book for the Skimbaco newsletter subscribers on the end of the summer.

NOTE: if you are NOT new to Instagram, you might enjoy the post Why Instagram matters to travel brands and bloggers.

10 tips for Instagram Beginners

1. Add a profile picture of yourself and write a description of who you are.
You don’t have to write your last name or the exact location where you live to protect your privacy, but I recommend adding something personal like your hobbies or likes or even profession in your profile description. If you like traveling – mention it in the profile! Think of your profile as your informal business card or a greeting card to the world.

family portrait


2. Post photos that you have taken yourself.

Your photos tell the story of you. If you want to be seen as a person with whom people want to connect, and trust and they want to share their travel tips with, your photos have to show you are a real person who has genuine interest in learning more. You don’t have to post many photos and be super active on Instagram, but posting your own photos will make it easier to connect with others. Post pictures that you have taken yourself, but limit the pictures you have taken of yourself. You will be more interesting if you show how you see the world, not just post pictures for the world to see you. Or at least get a little creative even with the pictures of you.


3. Don’t steal photos.

Even if we go beyond the legal and ethical reasons why you should not post stolen photos, the only way people really get to know you is seeing your own photos. It is very difficult to earn anyone’s trust if you are not being open and honest.

4. Like and follow in moderation.
This is all relatively speaking, but I recommend only following those people whose photos you like and/or who are your friends, and only liking the photos you actually like. People like to connect with genuine people, and it is not genuine to like everyone and everything. It’s polite to follow back people who follow you, but if they are over-sharing and posting too many pictures, or pictures that you have no interest in seeing then there is no need to follow that person back, just for the sake of being nice.

5. Comment only when you have something nice to say.
This should be self-evident, but with so much hate in the world, there is no need to take negativity to Instagram. If someone is posting pictures you don’t approve, you can always block them and unfollow them, and if they are posting something inappropriate, you can also report the photo or/and the person to Instagram by clicking the small picture with three dots below the photo and choosing “report as inappropriate” or clicking the arrow picture on the top right corner of the profile and choosing “block user” or “report to spam”. Even if the person is behaving badly on Instagram, it doesn’t mean you have to as well.

6. Comment and ask questions.
I recommend asking questions and connecting with people but remember the good manners. You are much more likely to get an answer back if you explain yourself a little better and say things like “Hi, I really enjoy your photos from Italy, and especially this one in Tuscany. I am planning a trip to Italy myself, could you please tell me the town where you took this photo? I would love to visit there.” Your intentions are clear and you show your appreciation to the photos. Don’t be surprised if you will not hear back if you just say “hey, where’s this?” instead.

Gamla Linköping in Sweden.


7. Understand that people use Instagram differently.

There are as many ways of using Instagram as there are people, and there isn’t really a right or wrong way, and everyone makes the best out of it for themselves. Don’t get upset if people are not using Instagram as you are, or even as I describe how some people use it in my book. Some people are talkative and easy to get to know and will help you and answer back, and some don’t. Also there is no “inbox” type of functionality on Instagram, and if you comment on an old photo and the user will not immediately see it in the recent actions tab in his/her account, he/she might not be answering you back just because she never saw your question, and not because she doesn’t want to help you. Some people are on Instagram to share their photos and their photographic talent and creativity. Even if they post pictures of landscapes, or city scenes, it doesn’t automatically mean they have great travel tips or that they want to share them with you.

8. Use appropriate hashtags.
The use of hashtags divides Instagram-users into three camps: to those who overuse hashtags, to those who never use them, and those who use the hashtags moderately. I highly recommend using appropriate hashtags if you want to connect with new people who are interested in the same things as you are, and especially if you want to share your travel photos with other travelers on Instagram. The hashtags are really the best way of finding new users who post specific kind of content. There are many very popular hashtags that people use, and since so many people misuse them, it is becoming more and more difficult to find people you truly want to connect with when using these over-popular hashtags. The more specific the hashtag the better, the more popular hastag, the worse.

9. Be consistent.
This tip was the most difficult for me to learn, and in fact I had to start a second account for different kind of photos so I wasn’t confusing my followers. And I still can’t be consistent all the time, it’s not just what I am good at. It is recommended to be consistent with your photo posting, and it doesn’t mean that you post every day at the same time, but that you post photos in a regular pace whether it’s five times a day or five times a week or month. I know some people advise never to post “latergrams”, photos taken before and posting them later, and only recommend posting pictures on the go, in the moment, but I find it annoying if someone rarely ever posts and then posts 20 photos a day on their vacation. Chances are your vacation photo extravaganza will annoy others too when in bulk, but we all would love to see the photos if you pace them out even after you have already come back home. I personally post a picture every morning and it is usually always a “latergram,” that I have taken the same week or previous day, and in addition I post in the moment photos, especially when I travel. I also don’t like following people who might post the most amazing travel photos when they travel and then pictures of their cat when they are home. If you want to connect with fellow-travelers, post only travel related content, even if it’s from your home town. Of course if you want to use Instagram for other purpose than travel planning, this tip is not for you and it is always recommended to show the real you – even when it is an eclectic mix of everything.

Private area sign

10. Be safe.
Please take caution and be aware of the dangers of using Instagram or any other social media network. If your account is public remember that everyone can see the information and photos you post. You can change the privacy settings for your account under your profile by clicking “Edit Your Profile” and by scrolling down to “Photos Are Private” and turning the privacy ON by sliding the ON/OFF button, but my advice with Instagram as with any social media network is that even if you have set the privacy limits, there is nothing private in social media. If you don’t want other people to see or hear it, please don’t post it. Social media safety is a book topic itself, but just briefly: use caution when, where and what kind of photos you post. I typically recommend not geo-tagging photos from your home, and being cautious also when you post vacation photos – it can tell the wrong kind of people that you are not home. Don’t share personal information such as your address or phone number online. I personally post pictures from my backyard all the time, and always post from my travels. Although, especially if I am traveling with my family, I typically don’t geo-tag myself or check-in at any location until I am leaving the location so people can’t find me in a location even if I just have “checked-in”.

Photos in this post are all from Sweden, and here is also a quick video of a few more of my pictures from Sweden. If you are not following me on Instagram yet, follow me as Skimbaco, although I do post some more personal photos also as KatjaPresnal.

Join the Instagram Travel Thursday Linky

Join us! Bloggers – add your blog post to the linky. Not a blogger? No problem. Join us at Instagram by using hashtag #igtravelthursday and share your travel photos. But sorry- no linking to Instagram images from the linky, just to blog posts. Get email sent to you when the Instagram Travel Thursday linky post is up (subscribe it here) and add your Instagram profile link in the Instagram Travel Thursday page and follow other travelers who have left their links there as well.

instagram-travel-linky-rules

My mission is to inspire you to live life to the fullest and find your own "skimbaco," how you enjoy life where ever you are in the moment. For ideas for travel, home, food and fashion, subscribe to weekly Skimbaco Lifestyle feed on Mondays and I hope you get my newsletter as well that I sent out sometimes on Fridays.

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Katja Presnal

Katja Presnal shows how to live Nordic inspired life to the fullest and plan your dream life. Katja owns Presnal5 strategic marketing intelligence agency and wants to help marketing professionals to combine a dream career and dream life via freelance work. Katja is an award-winning marketing strategist, and a well-known speaker. Katja has lived in five different countries, and seven states in the USA. Her three children were all born in different countries within three years. When not working or jet-setting the world, Katja is at home cooking big family dinners. She has been featured in NY Times, Glamour, Redbook, Fodor's, Forbes and Woman's Day magazines among many other national and international publications and written for MTV3 and Lifetime TV networks.

Comments (32)

  1. Thanks for the tips. I have only been on Instagram for a few months and have had issues with being consistent. I don’t have a monthly data plan (I have pay as you go) so I’m always afraid to max out and get slapped with hundreds of dollars on ;)

    I am trying to not always be a latergram kind of poster. Haha… Hopefully in a few months I am more consistent in my posting!

  2. Great tips. This right here is a gem –> “Post pictures that you have taken yourself, but limit the pictures you have taken of yourself.” A picture of yourself now and then is fine, a picture of yourself every hour on the hour is too much.

    • Enjoy Life Oils

      Yes – I agree. I love seeing pictures of people when they are creative – but if most of your selfies look exactly the same to me – I already know what you look like… give me something more creative than that!

  3. I love these tips because even though I am not very new at IG, I still need to be reminded that others don’t use IG the way I do. IG is a happy place and we can all treat it with respect by following your tips above. Thank you again for hosting this weekly challenge – I love it!

  4. I think your tips are great for beginners and excellent reminders for people who have been at it awhile. I am just starting to really blog all of our family travel adventures and I am struggling with whether or not I should have a separate account. It feels like one would be empty when we aren’t traveling and the other empty when we are. For now, I am just keeping the one I think and I am going to work on trying to get to know people better on Instagram. At the end of the day I am a mother and some of my photos will be of my kids enjoying a destination and not just the destination. I may change my mind down the road though. Thanks for the great post!

  5. Satu Vänskä-Westgarth

    Consistency is definitely a difficult one at times and so is “not being nice” too, I find it SO hard not to follow everyone back…

  6. With all the different avenues of social media, it’s good to know how to use it better. I’m always looking to improve and hope to use this in the field. Thanks!

  7. Great tips again this week, Katja! I’ve only been on Instagram for less than a month so I appreciate any and all tips on how to use it effectively. I’ve been wondering this week if it was okay to space out photos or whether they had to truly be “instant” and now I’ve learned the correct terminology – “latergram”!

  8. These are such great tips even if you aren’t new to Instagram. I agree that everyone uses the app differently and it reminds me that I really need to sit down and think about what I want to achieve with my account. You have shown me that it can be so much more than just a way to share pictures with your followers and I think, as a result, that will have an impact on the photos I take. Really enjoying this linky party!

  9. Great post Katja. I am totally guilty of judging people for how they use Instagram. I think of it as a site to share beautiful images and a stream of 20 shots of someone at a travel convention don’t fit the bill and then I get annoyed. I should be more kind. But I’m not, I unfollow them. Someday I will be as nice as you are :)

    • Enjoy Life Oils

      Oh, I unfollow them too :) I even unfollow those too who post too many pictures of cats, because I’m scared of cats. But I can’t really judge how they use Instagram, some of the accounts that don’t appeal to me at all have ton of followers and engaged community around the photos. And some have three followers, like their mom and two spammers, and that’s fine too. I’m just tired social media people telling “the right way” of using any of the tools. Use how you want, make it work for you! If people don’t like it.. they will unfollow.

  10. Great tips–the like and follow in moderation is an important one. It is hard to keep up with the people/streams you really want to keep up with when you have so many followers (unless Instagram creates lists which would help organize people you are following- though that would end up just like twitter I suppose.)

  11. Great tips. I find that my frustration when it comes to my own ‘latergrams’ is only due to necessity. I might not have a signal or wifi to post when I want, which in turn I find kind of lame that I am forced to post it later. Also- I can’t get over the number of selfies some people post. Usually that’s a quick unfollow on my part. And if you’re not there to share and interact- I probably don’t follow you for long. Unless you’re a really big deal and have a gazillion followers- I guess I understand why you might not have time to comment back. But some people dump their entire trip- then you never hear from them until their next one. Not cool.

    • Enjoy Life Oils

      My phone bills are ridiculous… like ridiculous. And only because I sometimes Instagram pictures on the go, and don’t wait until I have wifi. I have gone over the overseas roaming I’m allowed with my contract almost every month this year, and I truly try post as many latergrams as I can, and always only post when I’m back at the hotel or in a restaurant with wifi etc and not use roaming. But at the same time – I don’t want to post pictures from a trip that I was three weeks ago – even if I post latergrams, I post them when I am still in the city/country and try to limit the number of photos each day. And I agree with you – I like Instagram for connecting with people, not only to look at photos…

  12. Thanks for great beginners tips, I have only been using Instragram for less than a year – and am still trying to find my way around the dos and don’ts.

    I struggle with the ‘follow in moderation’. I follow everyone back, and then feel so guilty when I unfollow people for clogging up my feed.

    As for the hashtags – how many is too many? Care to throw a number at me.

    • Enjoy Life Oils

      I feel the same way – I feel bad about unfollowing, but there is no way to create lists or not follow all of the photos from someone, and there is so much AMAZING talent on Instagram that I do unfollow those who example only do promotional images. And when it comes to hashtags – I recommend 3-5 to start with, but you can go afterwards and add more hashtags so people can find the photos later. I don’t typically add many hashtags when I am posting the picture, but go later on to add more.

  13. Ann

    I like your tips. Especially the one with too many photos in a row from one trip. I’d rather see it spaced out a little. I also employ the latergram technique even if I don’t hashtag it because I’d rather people not know where I am at any given moment.

    • Enjoy Life Oils

      You can still hashtag after you have already left the destination! They are a great way for people to find your photos later on, and maybe inspire them to travel to that destination or find your blog that way too.

  14. I thoroughly agree with all your tips. #7 especially resinated with me. But #9. Be consistent, still struggling with this one. I did create a 2nd account just a few weeks ago to display a public feed that showcases all of my work in one spot but still..work in progress!

    • Enjoy Life Oils

      Yes – I created a few accounts too and I am really trying to be more consistent! And with #7 — we would like Instagram to be something we like, but everyone is never going to see it the same way… It;s easy just not follow ;)

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