Imagine my  terror when the college magazine commissioned me to write a guide to  Instagram.  Me, who cannot take selfies for risk of looking like a stoned dolphin, writing about a service which is all about promoting Olympian body images! It’s almost as an inexplicable a piece of casting as Mark Wahlberg as a lovably scatter-brained inventor.   However, after  trawling through hundreds of absolutely identical feeds, I decided to give it a shot.  Hope you enjoy.

It seems simple.  Point. Snap. Post.  But to really master Instagram, which of December 2016 boasted nearly 600 million users, you’ve got to find a way to satisfy both yourself and a global audience. Here are Tag’s tips for maximum Instagram domination.

Private or Public?

Like Facebook, Instagram allows you to privatise your account so only followers you approve can delight in your cheeky beach day albums.  Whether you choose to don the social media equivalent of an invisibility cloak or remain public rests on what you want from Instagram.  Private accounts are fine for interactions with friends and family, but often deter users from applying to follow you, whereas being public lets complete strangers see exactly what you had for dinner on  June 25th, 2016.   If that’s unnerving , private is probably the way to go.   But if broadcasting images of your Mum’s homemade casserole to a global audience is your life’s ambition, then open your borders and let the huddled masses flow in.

Post Your Own Stuff

Every day, we each consume 54,000 words and 443 minutes of video. Compare that to the average two and a half pages of newsprint we devoured daily in 1986, and it’s obvious the advent of 24 hour news and the internet has supercharged our appetite for information, stories, and overhead pictures of neatly arranged dinners.   We want new content and we want it served to us 24/7. So, the key to unlocking Instagram success is to constantly produce original images.   Believe it or not, no one is as interested by a recycled ‘inspiring’ sunset than a unique insight into a stranger’s lifestyle.   Offer people something they can’t find with a swift Google  and watch your follower count explode like a selfie-based bomb.

Hashtag Appropriately

You know how this works.  #’s help us find an audience for our pictures beyond the immediate social circle of cooing aunts and biased besties.  Use them appropriately- for example, don’t sort a cat photo under #Raspberries – for maximum results.

Forget Framing

Instagram isn’t about being professional or taking ‘good” snaps. It’s about capturing and preserving those special moments which pepper our lives with some sort of meaning. When you take a group picture, don’t fret about the clarity of the focus or the framing.   As the reputable philosopher Ferris Bueller once mused, “Life moves pretty fast”, and if you hesitate, you just might miss the perfect photo opportunity.

Be You

Apologies for the cat poster subtitle, but it’s the truth. Instagram cultivates a particular standard for the human form. All the women must have pouts thick enough to stack shelves on. All the men must be so ripped their veins pop from their forearms like parasitic centipedes. And it’s all undiluted rubbish. Don’t buy a £900 Canada Goose coat because all of the vlogstars are wearing one. Your account should represent your style, your aesthetic, and not the flavour of the month.

Don’t be Afraid to Engage

One of the many reasons sites like Instagram and Tumblr flourish is that they remove the social barriers which usually stop us from approaching attractive strangers at the bar. This is a gift unique to our generation, and you’d be a fool not to unwrap its true potential.  Don’t be afraid to complement someone’s make up demo or praise their landscape photography.  Who knows? A chance exchange could spark a beautiful friendship.