Step Up Your Insta Game

Instagram is my day job. Here are all the tricks of the trade.


1: Lighten Up

Lighting is contour you don’t have to buy. It is the spotlight for the post-worthy food you did buy. Shoot in natural light, and adjust the results in an editing app. Play around with lighting (brightness and contrast) to capture everything just the way you like.

2: “Overposting” is Overrated

Repeat after me: There is no such thing as overposting. There is a misunderstanding that one should never post more than once a day. The truth is, many of the top Instagrammers do. It increases your visibility and keeps you relevant. The only reason to worry about overposting is if you can’t produce one good photo to begin with (another might just add insult to injury). Your account is yours to share, however you want; even if that means posting three (yes, three) photos in one day. You’re never oversharing if you have something genuine to share or show. I like to compare it to the idea of the dreaded double-text. Many of us worry about saying too much, too fast, too soon. My girl friends will often share their concern about sending a second text in a row, as if it tips the scales and gives them too much of a voice. That’s when I like to remind them that, as much as society can try to prevent it, a woman can have a voice and use it as much as she likes; even if that means sending three (yes, three) texts in a row. So don’t hold back. With Instagram’s newest Album feature, you can share up to 10 photos in one post so you’re not getting too overzealous. Otherwise, space out your posts (let’s say three—yes, three hours apart) to avoid the spam effect. Share what you like, how you like.

3: Apply an App

Know the Holy Trinity: VSCO, Afterlight, and Facetune. VSCO has fantastic filter options, and different controls for adjusting light, colour, and clarity. Afterlight allows you to alter photos with overlays, filters, light streaks, and other controls. One rule is to not get too carried away. That also applies to Facetune: a virtual airbrushing app. It is great for touch-ups, and alterations. I use it to whiten backgrounds. It has other features that can alter your appearance drastically. If you choose to do that, consider enhancing features you already have. Less is more; don’t lose yourself by over-smoothing your face and tweaking your body. The right angles and lighting will do the trick just fine.

4: Be Consistent

There are many names for it: an image, a vibe, an aesthetic, or a theme. Whatever it is: have it. Give followers something to expect. Let your page be a consistent expression; your own little brand. A recognizable and reliable Instagram draws more followers, and keeps their interest. A mismatch of odd-coloured photos can look messy. Instead, pick a constant set of colours and filters to feature on your Instagram. The same goes for crops and borders. A feed that mixes squares, horizontal borders, and vertical borders can look like a puzzle of bad tile-work that no one wants to step on. If you use borders, make it your trademark. At 1.3 million followers, Vetements is a social media favourite and rising star in the fashion world. Their photos are instantly recognizable with white vertical borders. Every once in a while, a horizontal photo breaks up the pattern for videos. However you choose to present your photos, be consistent.

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Source: @vetements_official on Instagram

5: Know How to Handle Hashtags

Hashtags are signs on the social media highway that direct users on their scenic drive through Instagram. You want to see a picture of avocado toast? You’ve got it! Turn left on #Basic and #Healthy, and pay the toll at #WhyAreYouPhotographingProduceOnBread? Direct traffic to your page with popular, but relevant, tags. If you overload, it gets confusing and spammy, and you end up with comments asking you to buy ‘Likes.’ Google some of the top hashtags and pick a few you like, then tack on some tags that specifically apply to your picture. Post them separately in the comments so you don’t look #TooDesperate.

6: Black and White Is Your Best-friend

Black and white is the perfect filter for that photo you’re not too sure about. It smoothes and softens. It highlights, and balances contrast. It is the best-friend to any photo that doesn’t get along with other filters. Try it out next time.

7: Get on the Grid

Follow the rule of thirds.  Use the grid on Instagram to align the subject of your photo; whether you’re centring or balancing something on the left or right side. This can balance out your image, and weigh out proportions for the perfect shot. If you’re at a loss, symmetry is always a good idea.

8. Get Engaged

A proposal shoot with your engagement ring will totally bring in likes, but that isn’t what I mean. Get engaged with other accounts. Like and respond to comments. Leave comments and likes on photos that you stumble across. Engage with other users to keep them active with your account, and be visible on other accounts to drive traffic right to you.

9. Know When to Post

Wednesday at 5pm is the best time to post on Instagram. 2 in the morning is also a magical hour. On weekends, posting between 8pm and midnight works best. Keep your own follower trends in mind, and consider timezones, to figure out the best time to post pics that make an impact.

10. Know Your Angles

Unconventional angles can turn an ordinary photo on its head. A classic overhead shot of food is often more appealing, and works best for shooting your lunch spread at a café. For your face…you’ll have to figure that out on your own. Experiment with angles and lighting that do you justice. If you’re shooting a scene, try to straighten out the horizon or any vertical lines running in the photo.

11. Post for Yourself

Know your audience: It’s you. A successful Instagram attracts people who are like you, or people who like you. Be an authentic account; someone you want to follow. Even if it means breaking some of these “rules.”


Tell us your tricks and tips on Insta, and follow @CAISAFS.

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