Jun 20, 2012

How to use Instagram

When I saw a lot of people posting pictures in a neat, new, square shape to Twitter last year, I was interested. Interested enough to notice that they were using something called "Instagram." It didn't take me a hot second to decide to download it.

Being who I am, I took it at face value: It was an app that would let me take a picture in a square format, apply a cool filter to it, and post it to Twitter. Did not Google it. Did not read its "About" page. I had no idea it had social-media properties all its own. (And this will become VERY apparent to you when you see tomorrow's post. THAT WAS A HOLE THE SIZE OF THE GRAND CANYON in terms of my understanding of the app.)

I didn't know I could follow people. I didn't know people could follow ME. I didn't know I could comment on or "like" other people's pictures, nor they mine. In a nutshell, I now know that Instagram is a Twitter-Facebook hybrid that revolves around photos rather than text. But a year ago, I knew NONE of that. I thought it was just a second camera option for my phone.

But I'm here to educate you, and encourage you to download it and join the fun. I'm following a fun mix of people, and I add a couple more every week. I'm following some of my own blog readers:

Several mommy bloggers:

Several design bloggers:

People whose blogs I read who once were strangers but who are now IRL friends:

And, of course, everyone's favorite weather man, James Spann:

Once you've downloaded the app, taking pictures is simple. You select the little camera icon at the bottom center of your screen, then tap it to take the picture, like this one I took of my new camera strap last night:

At that point, you can either scroll through and try out the filters along the bottom of your screen (just tap them to see them in action), or leave it au naturel, then tap the green checkmark to accept it.

Once you've tapped the checkmark, this screen will appear. You tap the blank field at the top to caption your photo if you'd like, but you don't have to. You can leave it blank. I often want the image to post to Twitter as well as to my Instagram feed, so I slide the Twitter toggle over to ON. If you also want to email it to someone, tap "Configure" on the Email line.

If it's your first time to email someone a photo from Instagram, you'll need to tap "Add Email Address" and type their address in. You only have to do that once, though, because it will save each address you enter for future use. Select the recipients by tapping the radio button beside each person's name. Then tap the "Back" button at the top of the screen. (That's the only part of the entire app that I think isn't really intuitive, by the way. Seems like you ought to go forward, not back, to me.)

That will take you back to the previous screen, where you will see your caption and whatever recipients you've entered. (You can also post Instagram photos to Facebook from this screen.)

And that's all there is to it! Your photo has been posted/emailed.

Now, a few tips about the screens within the app. If you tap the Speech Bubble icon at the bottom of the screen, you can see a list of the people you're following if "Following" is selected at the top.

If you select "News" at the top, you'll see who has commented on your photos, who has "liked" your photos and who is new to your Follower list.

And if you then tap any of those lines, it will take you to the photo in question so you can see the comments themselves.

The icon farthest to the right at the bottom of the screen is a functional screen that allows you to find friends, invite friends to join, see all of the photos you've posted (minus ones you've deleted, ALSO AN IMPORTANT FEATURE), edit your profile, make your feed private or public, etc.

For the record, until now, I've never asked anyone to follow me on Instagram. I had no idea how people even found me in the first place until I found the screen above about a month ago. I guess Twitter peeps found me that way, at a minimum, because you get that option if you tap "Find Friends":

If you tap "Your Photos" on the screen above, a screen like the one below will pop up.

I'm sure there are many other salient points I'm missing with this tutorial, but what else is new?

Trust me, you're going to want to tune in tomorrow for the more IMPORTANT post about this app: "How NOT To Use Instagram." It will be, um, educational.

1 comment:

jennhenders said...

I could have so written the top part of this post. I didn't realize the social implications of this app either until my preteen got into it. Now I realize how far reaching it is and it sorta scared me to death. There's no real way of monitoring who follows you except making them ask permission to be approved but you (or your children) can follow anyone who gives them permission. And there are some unsightly things there. So, just a word of warning for those with with kids. Monitoring who they are following is a good idea. Also my son has several followers that neither he nor I know. Apparently the kids have a sort of unspoken competition to see who can get the most followers and/ or the most comments on a single photo.

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