A Beginners Look at Instagram
  • Kimberly Pham
  • October 31, 2013

Top row: NAILS assistant editor Brittni Rubin and me. Bottom row: NAILS senior editor Beth Livesay, marketing coordinator Amy Martin, and graphic artist Yuiko Sugino.

Happy Halloween from a few of us in the office! A few days prior, Beth had the idea to be Instagram filters, as each filter has a unique name. We found boxes and cellophane wrap, bought spray paint, printed some labels, and put it all together to create instant Instagram accounts.

Strangely, even with all of my social media accounts, I did not have an Instagram prior to this project. I couldn't even find the sign-up button the first time around. That's because I was looking for it while using a desktop computer. To my surprise, you can only sign up and post photos using the Instagram app for smartphones. Once you have an account, you can view your Instagram photo feed from a computer, but posting and exploring photos is only possible from a smartphone.

I feel like such a newbie, and it's such a great feeling! Instagram is a whole different world compared to Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. Creating a new account on any of these social networking sites opens the door to new possibilities, new connections, and new potential clients. Here's a great in-depth introduction to Instagram from a nail artist's perspective: http://www.nailsmag.com/article/96212/instagram-ification

Below is the detailed account of me posting my first Instagram photo and ways you can maximize your presence online.

1. Sign up, take some photos.
After signing up with my username, I printed out my makeshift status and shared my first Instagram photo, my real-world makeshift Instagram "selfie," which is a photo you take of yourself. However, that was just the beginning. You can add filters and frames, as seen in our costumes above, and all photos are cropped into squares.

2. Add a description and hashtags.
It's good practice to add a description for each photo with suitable hashtags. Hashtags are single word topics and phrases shown with the "#" hash symbol. Topics with multiple words get squished into one-word tags. (For example: #nailart #nailtech #happyhalloween) Hashtags help group topics together and help users easily find topics they are interested in.

You can use hashtags on most social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest to name a few. On each of these sites, #hashtags turn into clickable links directing users to a search page that shows every photo or post that includes the hashtag. Using hashtags in your photos will help others find your photos that are of interest to them. Your posts will then reach more people and expand your presence online.

3. Connect with friends, find people to follow.
Instagram pulled information from my Facebook, making it easy to follow friends that were already on Instagram (which was almost all of my friends). I clicked on my tags to find others who were interesting. Here are a few nail artists and friends to VietSALON: @Thenailboss, @amygelz, @dawn_jfn, @MAXZERo0000, @nailsbysukie, @nailsmagazine.

4. Cross-share your posts and photos with your other social networks.
Many artists connect their Instagram accounts with Twitter and Facebook so that Facebook is automatically updated with the same photo. It also brings in your hashtags. I personally don't want my Facebook photos to be square so I uploaded it separately to Facebook. I also uploaded the photo separately to Twitter so that my photo would show as a photo instead of a link.

Remember, if you're tagging friends on one site with the "@" symbol, their username may be different on another site, so keep that in mind before cross-sharing photos tagged with friends. Cross-share to your heart's content with hashtags!

5. Love and be loved.
It's exciting to see others follow and "like" my first photo. It's also easy to go on a "liking" spree and like and comment on every photo in my feed. Although social networking can be overwhelming and exhausting, it can be inspiring and business building if you choose to let it be. I stayed away from Instagram because it felt like another social site to get lost in, and it is, but I also see its potential.

And there you have it. All I wanted to do was wish you all a Happy Halloween (that was my working title), and it turned into my experiment with Instagram.

Leave your Instagram names in the comments and I'll add them to our list of friends to follow!

— Kim


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