What is Instagram? A Review.

What is Instagram? A Review.

NB: Work in Progress, more later, email thomasfarley@fastmail.com with questions you have for me about the Gram.

Q. What is Instagram?

A. Instagram is a social media platform owned by Facebook/Meta which lets users share photos and videos and short comments about same.

Q. What are the distinctive features of Instagram?

A. Instagram is most identified with mobile phone use; only recently have users been able to post using a desktop operating system, finally enabling a full sized keyboard and screen. Most photos are in portrait view which constrains later use since landscape view rules video and conventional photographs.

Q. What is Instagram mostly used for?

A. People mostly share photographs and video clips of everyday moments. I share photos and videos of my travels and my outdoor adventures involving rockhounding. I live in the Death Valley region of Nevada and my followers enjoy seeing videos of the desert and other places they might never visit. Similarly, I follow such Instagram accounts as the one in Belgium which daily shares photos of two cats and another which features photos of a working farm in the Scottish Highlands.

Q. So, images, correct? Not a place for text?

A. Yes, for the most part. I know a geologist that posts about five hundred words with each of her posts but she is the rare exception. She must have a full size wireless keyboard that connects to a tablet or her phone. Hunting and pecking keys on a mobile phone screen is of course torturous. Educational and thought pieces present better on a conventional web page.

Q. What about likes and views?

A. Likes are easy for a viewer to make. Just click the heart icon at the bottom of a post. I don’t know how to tell how many views a post is getting. It’s not displayed or given to the poster in any way that I know of.

Q. What posts get the most likes? Easy. Cute animal photos. My cat photos generate three to five times more likes than my travel or educational posts. Put a bandana on a dog and a helmet and then put them on the back of a Harley Davidson. Get the idea?

Q. Are you unhappy or discouraged if an important post doesn’t get many likes?

A. Of, course. Everyone wants affirmation, especially if a topic is dear to them. But the internet is a big place and Instagram is Short Attention Theatre. If that important information fails, repost it to your blog. That’s a more permanent and accessible home. I pull any post that does poorly. No need to clutter up my post library with ones no one wants to read.

Q. What’s the difference between followers and following?

Followers are the people following you, following are the people you follow. You’ll see crazy numbers. The person below has 509 people following her account which she is keeping private. Only people following her can see her posts. She is following 744 people! I’ve seen numbers well over a thousand  for personal accounts.

This means that each time she logs onto Instagram she’ll get a firehose of posts to wade through. 744 people possibly posting at any one time. I follow 75 accounts and I think that is too many. Why do people do this? It’s easy to explain for a business — keeping contact and building a brand for the business.

A business often asks a customer to follow them and in return the business will follow the customer. This lets the business notify customers of new developments and it increases the number of people following the customer.

Signing up accounts may be an ego thing for the a personal account holder. “I have two thousand followers!” Or, I have five hundred more followers than you.” Well, if their ego is at stake, they haven’t been on the internet very long. But Instagram is definitely the most positive of the social media platforms I have used.

Q. How do you post?

Fairly straightforward. Experiment. You can always delete a post from the device you used to post so get used to the procedure. You can post up to ten photographs and up to 59 seconds of video. OR nine photos and 59 seconds of video. OR two videos of 29 seconds and eight photos. Any total up to ten and no more than 59 seconds of video. Longer video gets converted to what’s called an IGTV video and that’s another topic.

Tricky thing when posting is hitting the return key. Be careful. Hitting the return key immediately posts the video. It does not add a line return like you want between paragraphs. Instead, at least with the iPhone, you have to hit a number or special character key first. That calls up a dedicated key that is clearly marked “Return.” Hit that for a proper line return.

What Are Hash Tags?

These are identifiers which relate to the subject of the post at hand. They enable searching through Instagram. For example, if I have a post about looking for rocks near Tecopa, California, my hashtags at the end of my descriptive text may be:

#tecopa#rockhounding#geology#rocks#minerals#mojave#mojavedesert#getoutside#exploremore . . . .

And on and on. Up to thirty are permissible in a post. They are a complete drag to write out. I’ve sometimes cut and paste my already prepared hashtags from Notes into a post and that, too, is annoying. I sometimes go back in the evening to add them since any post can be edited.  You don’t have to write hashtags but they are the only easy way for people to identify an interest. It’s like an unlabeled photo, forever missing in action and without context.

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About thomasfarley01

Freelance writer specializing in outdoor subjects, particularly rocks, gems and minerals.
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