Social media baffles me in so many ways. It can either be a huge time sink, or it can be a lifeline. Sometimes it’s both at the same time. If it weren’t for this blog, and my silly desire for people to read it, I would probably know nothing about social media at all. As it is, I try to be selective in how and when I use social media, with the exception of Pinterest (Oh how I love that little round red P!) and Instagram. Why Instagram? I could go on and on about reader engagement, expanding my reach, and finding new followers, but really I just love it. It’s like eye-candy. And it’s so simple and easy, compared to the bloated Facebook, cryptic Twitter, and behemoth Google+. (No offense guys, please don’t shut down my accounts!)
Instagram is a bit like what the baby of Pinterest and Twitter would look like. It’s photo-driven, with a bit of space for a caption or message, and the ability for readers to comment and/or like. Pretty simple and sweet. And for a visual person like myself, that’s all I want. Also, big bonus here: no ads. That’s just nice.
Instagram has found a way to share inspiration and foster conversation without leading you down the rabbit hole and forgetting what you turned on your computer for. Plus, it’s phone-based, rather than computer based, so it’s really best used on your phone, which lends itself to checking in while waiting in the doctor’s office, rather than sitting down and getting lost for hours at a time at your computer. (Tell me I’m not the only one who does that!)
In the short period of time that I’ve been using Instagram, I’ve learned to love hashtags. They are hands-down the best way to find other people who share your interests, and they’re quite useful for speaking the same language as other bloggers. If you’re wondering what is the point of hashtags, think of them as the links that act as little synapses connecting brain cells to each other. If you click on a hashtag in Instagram, it will take you to a list of other photos with that tag, which is a great way to find new people to follow, or people who are sharing similar experiences. They also act as a form of shorthand, saving time while you are writing your post. But to use them effectively, it’s helpful to know what a few of them mean.
Five Instagram Hashtags You Need to Know:
#WIDN – What I’m Doing Now. I see this hashtag a lot, and it used to confuse me. But the more I understand Instagram as a behind-the-scenes look into people’s (and brands’ and bloggers’) lives, the more it makes sense. Most of the time when you’re writing about something on your blog, it’s all polished and pretty by the time you show it to your readers. But when someone tags you with #WIDN, you’re supposed to stop what you’re doing, take a picture, and show people what’s going on in your life at that moment. Sometimes it’s funny or messy, or just a fun glimpse into a project you’re working on. This has become one of the hashtags that grabs my attention the most as I’m scrolling through my feed.
#FF – Follow Friday. This one is great for finding new inspiring Instagrammers to follow. It’s also a really nice way to give a shout out to other bloggers that you admire. It’s usually followed by a few Instagram handles that are preceded by the @ sign. Putting the @ before another person’s handle makes their name clickable, so people can easily look at their profile.
#WAHM – Work At Home Mom. This hashtag has come to represent a whole slew of women who work from home. If you have ever tried working at your computer while your toddler is asking for multiple snacks and simultaneously throwing toys at her baby sister, you feel the pain of every WAHM out there. We must band together, ladies! Also related is #SAHM, or Stay At Home Mom.
#WCW – Woman Crush Wednesday. This is a great way to praise another person publicly. If you have a friend or blogger who’s really inspired you, you can write a short ode to them, tag them in the post, make them feel really great, and possibly gain them a few new followers. Closely related but including a Y chromosome is #MCM, or Man Crush Monday.
#LinkInProfile – This one’s pretty self explanatory. Bloggers use this one to remind people to click on their website link in their profile page to learn more about a project or article they are posting. Closely related is #OnTheBlog. I like to search this hashtag when I’m looking for new bloggers to follow.
Two Bonus Hashtags for Bloggers:
If you are a blogger, and trying to make your way on Instagram, you should also pay attention to trending hashtags such as holiday names. Let’s say you’ve just created a post on Easter decorations for kids. Look around and see what other hashtags are trending at that season. When you type #Easter in your caption, it will tell you how many other posts have that tag. If you want to get more specific, rather than trying to compete with the several million other posts with #Easter in their caption, you could try #Eastercraftsforkids or something similar.
Also, consider hashtagging (Is that really a verb now?) your blog name when you share your posts. This makes it easy to find all your posts, and lets you check to see if other people are talking about your fabulous ideas.
Bonus tip: Instagram allows 30 hashtags per post. #But #don’t #be #that #guy. Always remember that at the end of the stretch of cable or Wi-Fi connecting your computer/tablet/phone to all the other devices out there, a real person is reading your post. Talk to that person in normal language and treat them like you would like to be treated in real life, not just cyberspace.
I’d love to connect on Instagram, so leave me a comment below with your insta-handle if you are following me from here. I’d also love to hear what hashtags you like and use the most. I know I’ve missed some, so tell me what I need to know!