I’ve been an avid Instagram user for the past 3 years ever since I ditched my Blackberry for the iPhone 4S back in the fall of 2011. My very first Instagram post was a picture of my Macbook Air with a pre-set filter.
This is confessions of my Instagram addiction and how it took over my life.
My girlfriend at the time didn’t like me using social media too often and it’s ironic because we first met on a location based social media app called Foursquare (now called Swarm). I told her that I was going to build up my following because everyone starts at 0 and you have to start from the ground up (she laughed). I was casually using Instagram in the latter half of 2012 and ramped up my picture posting in 2013 due to heavy travel patterns. She eventually broke up with me in 2013 because I was too focused on Instagram and other social media apps such as Foursquare and Twitter.
In the beginning of 2014, I made a pact to try and post 1 picture every day because I didn’t want my followers to think I was dead or something. I read online that you should post on Instagram once daily and it really helped. I was giddy whenever I gained a follower whether it was a bot or not.
Fast forward to July 2014 when I didn’t have any travel because airfare was too expensive during the summer. Since I knew I would be starved of content for the month of July, I decided to dedicate the entire month to my favorite things to do in my hometown of Los Angeles. After posting pictures of beautiful food, beaches, and sunsets, I soon knew that’s what my followers loved since those pictures received the most likes.
In September 2014, I made it a goal to get at least 100 natural likes per picture. What I mean by natural is obtaining likes without the use of hashtags or hashtag bombing. During my trip to Costa Rica, I rented a car and made sure I visited every beach on the Caribbean coast for Instagram purposes. My Costa Rica trip was a huge turning point and I gained many new followers.
I did the same thing a few weeks later when I went to El Salvador and made sure I visited the beautiful beaches, cloud forests, and tried the local food. Many of my followers loved my trip to El Salvador and they lived vicariously through my Instagram pictures.
Now, all I think about every day is “What should I post on Instagram today?” This is followed up by questions in my head like, “How will my followers respond to this picture?” “and “Is this picture going to receive 100 likes within the next 12 hours?”.
It takes great technique to produce a high quality Instagram picture taken on an iPhone. I spend so much time on Instagram thinking about what to Instagram for the day. Even though I take many pictures throughout my daily life, not every picture can make it to my Instagram. My #1 rule is “The lighting must be perfect.”
Whenever I Instagram a picture of my food, my requirement is that the restaurant must have lots of natural lighting. I don’t just take one picture, but multiple (sometimes even 10 pictures) at all different angles. Once I go through all the pictures I’ve taken, the next step is to make it looks amazing which means editing the picture on Instagram adjusting the angle, brightness, color, warmth, contrast, and saturation. You don’t ever want to Instagram a bad photo and no photo is better than a bad photo. This process takes a lot of time and energy and a lot of my friends laugh at me when I do this in front of them.
Whenever I eat out, the first thing on my mind is “Which entree is the best looking one for Instagram?” Sometimes I ask the waiter/waitress this question and they laugh, so I’ve resorted to researching the menu beforehand. For restaurant food pictures, I use Foursquare and Yelp which helps out a lot. In addition, I try not to eat out at night because of the no natural lighting aspect. Whenever I’m dining inside, I often choose to sit next to table with natural lighting. If you try and take iPhone pictures of your food with flash in a dark setting, it will come out horrible 99% of the time.
Whenever I do post a new picture on Instagram, the first few hours are crucial because this will dictate how well my picture is doing. If I’m getting a lot of likes and comments, then I have done my job for the day. I especially love #tbt (Throwback Thursdays) because I can re-post an old successively liked photo and call it a day.
My 2015 goal is to gain more followers and achieve 150 natural likes on each picture by June 2015 and 200 natural likes by the end of 2015 (I don’t buy likes, comments, or followers). I guess being addicted to Instagram is better than being addicted to gambling, alcohol, or drugs. Help me feed my Instagram addiction by following me on Instagram and liking all my pictures. Happy New Year!