Instagram is an app that makes it very easy to share content straight from your phone with a simple tap. While Instagram’s main focus is editing and sharing photos, you are also able to use image captions and direct messaging to engage with your followers. Over the years, Instagram has become the home of many different communities from art and fashion, to sports and entertainment. Yet its main purpose remains the same - to connect people from all around the world.
The model horse community on Instagram has grown drastically since I first joined in 2013. While there only used to be a few accounts, today more and more people join the app, from young and new collectors to artists who have been in the hobby for years. That mix of people makes it very easy to become part of this amazing community, no matter what age, gender or country you might be from.
To become part of the community, you simply need to sign up for Instagram with your email and create a username. The choice of your username is very important, because it is the first thing a potential follower sees. It should indicate right away what your account is about. If you are into photography, consider using a word like "photos" or "pictures." "Stables" and "ranch" usernames are popular with collection accounts. If you customize models, use words like "creations" or "studio" - don’t worry, you can change your username at any time!
Avoid overly-long usernames and combinations of numbers since it makes the username hard to remember. You can use an underscore or a dot to separate words like I did for my username, da_vinci_creations, which makes it more reader-friendly.
Once you have decided on a username, your profile picture and biography is next. On Instagram you are only able to use circle-shaped profile pictures. Make sure you choose a picture that has its main focus in the middle, so it does’t crop out anything important. Since the profile picture is quite small on the app, you should choose a picture that shows something in particular that is easy to recognize. Some examples are a headshot of a Breyer or even a picture of yourself.
Your biography on your profile is split into two sections - your main biography with a limit of 150 characters and a field that Instagram simply calls Name. While you should use your bio to briefly introduce yourself and your passions, the Name field is more important than you might think - it is more of a "headline" for your account. You can use it to write down your real name or what name you would like to be called. However, when you do a web search, this name will come up first rather than your actual Instagram username. That is why I chose my headline to be “Equine Art by Vincent Lange,“ therefore my Instagram is coming up when people search for my name.
Make sure both your username and headline are connected in some way, as it will make it easier for people to find you online. If you are active on other social media platforms, keep your name consistent across platforms so your followers will find you easily.
In fact, Instagram even supports cross-posting over different social media accounts to reach a bigger audience. Before you upload a picture on Instagram, you can choose to post it on any of your other linked social media accounts. All you have to do is to connect your Instagram with your Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, and with a simple tap you can post on multiple platforms at once.
The link function in your bio and in your story (only available for business accounts with at least 10,000 followers) allows your followers to watch your latest YouTube video with a simple tap or swipe. This makes it very easy and time-saving to manage your other social media accounts through Instagram.
And now for the most important part of Instagram: the pictures! Instagram is the only social media app that lets you post from your phone only and not from their website. Therefore, it is the easiest to take pictures with your phone and post them right away to Instagram. With that being said, if you have a good camera you definitely should use it to take pictures for your account. This will increase the quality of your content. However, you would need to go through the effort of getting them from your SD card to your phone - Dropbox is a nice and easy way to do so.
If you decide to take pictures with your phone, make sure you’re taking the best quality pictures you can: consider the focus, angle, and the lighting. Natural daylight is still the best light source, but there are also attachable ring lights for your phone available online that will make your life much easier. Two examples are the QIAYA Selfie Light Ring and the UBeesize Mini LED Camera Ringlight.
While Instagram previously only allowed you to post square pictures, you can now also post landscape pictures with a dimension of up to 1080px by 566px. However, keep in mind that the picture will still be shown as a square image on your profile.
Let’s talk about your Instagram feed. It is quite nice to have a specific theme that people immediately recognize when they browse through your pictures or look at your profile for the first time. Since your profile always shows three pictures in one row, I always choose to post three pictures of the same model or topic in a row. To support the connection between those there photos even more, you can use the same filter on each of the images and a different one on the next three - but that is entirely up to you, since the style of your feed should represent yourself.
Instagram offers many different filters and ways to edit your images. I like to use the contrast and structure options to make images sharper, rather than using the actual sharpen tool, since it can make images look patchy. I also would be careful with using the different Instagram filters, since it can decrease your photo quality.
When applying a filter, you can click on the filter again to adjust how transparent you’d like the filter to be. If you choose a 50% transparency your picture will remain of good quality while still showing the effect of the filter.
In part two of this series, we'll cover how to connect with fellow Instagram users and build a following base.
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