How To Use Instagram — Gaining Followers, Likes, And Avoiding Stress

Instagram is an interesting social-media service. It’s a community built solely around images. But, getting noticed requires tactics, similar to the way building a following on Twitter would work.

Disclaimer: my experiments with Instagram and not complete, hence my followers are not astronomical. However, I have been doing plenty of research into the matter, and completing some A/B testing. I have been capable of a steady growth of followers since I took the platform seriously in January.

See my profile by searching for KG_Heath.

Getting Discovered

The most powerful element of Instagram is that the discoverability factor is high. Whilst Twitter is a closed book when it comes to finding people you might want to follow (you need to know the person you want to follow), Instagram has discovery at it’s heart.

Tapping the magnifying glass button gets you straight into discovery mode. It starts out by suggesting images you might like, and as you view and like images, Instagram’s algorithms take over and start suggesting more images based on your liking behaviour.

That means, you have a great chance of being discovered, because everyone has a chance to dip their toe in the discovery button and your images will be suggested automatically by the platform.

The next important factor is #hashtagging #everything #you #post. The more hashtags the better, but they need to be relevant to the image you are posting.

When you type in a description, you can then use the # key and as you type a word, Instagram will suggest existing hashtags and how many posts have been tagged. Choose only the really popular hashtags as that means the more people that are posting to that tag, the more people will want to look at that sort of feed.

Don’t worry about using lots of tags, everyone does it, and it’s a proven method of building your audience.

Some tags that are worth always using are the #instagood #photooftheday, and anything else with millions of posts to them.

Get Specific

I’d like to think that I’m a pretty good photographer, not the best, but also not the worst by any means. However, Instagram (especially in the early days) likes your very best images, and it likes you to be focussed on a niche.

Maybe you like making cupcakes, or have a dog — the cuter the better, like watches, beards, sunglasses, spoons, interior design, or anything else that is niche.

It’s the same rule as content creation in general, the more specific you are the better.

Comment and Like

You’ll only get so far on your content. You need to engage with the community, so they will engage back.

If you like an image, even slightly, like it. If you really like it, give a comment like: “I love it”, “awesome shot”, “you really are a talented person”.

Don’t be stingy with your likes. The cool kids like the hell out of everything, even if it’s not great, but they like everything their friends post, it’s the rules.

If something you see is really up your alley, then go ahead and follow that individual. Again, don’t be overly picky with who you follow. The more people you follow, the more likely they are to follow you back. Have I used the word follow enough yet?

Follow.

Once you are following someone, make sure to comment on their images, that way you won’t be seen as a stealthy follower who does it only for the refollow.

Don’t forget, it is a community and they want you to engage with them.

Forget Reality

Reality is the last word you should have in your mind. Everything that is posted to Instagram is not real. It is highly polished, staged, and never shows the negative side of the individuals’ lives.

So, don’t get jealous about popular people with their amazing, perfect lives. It’s not like that. They are just as flawed as you and me.

That means, you’re allowed to ham it up a bit. Compose your shots, make them look good, take multiple shots to make sure you get the best image.

Have fun and entertain your audience. They want to see wonderful images, taken well, showing something interesting.

Ermagod I’m Gonna Be Rich

Probably not.

Professional social media content creators are rare, especially the ones earning a pretty penny. It doesn’t mean you can’t earn some money, through product placements and sponsorships, but just don’t go into this thinking that is a certainty.

If it stops being fun, then you have the opportunity to stop. Delete the app, put down the phone, go and see the world.

I hope that helps you get started with Instagram.

Did you like this post? Let me know in the comments. If you have additional questions, you can comment or email thekgheath [at] gmail [dot] com.

Kieron Heath is a healthcare technology professional, author, podcaster, and lifestyle blogger. You can download his debut novel, The Marsh free here.

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Jack Reacher Writer, Lee Child, On His Sunday Routines

Lee Child, the author of the Jack Reacher crime novels, starts a new book each September and finishes sometime in spring, 20 books in 20 years. The most recent, “Make Me,” just took over the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list. He spends Sundays the way many writers do, in his own bubble. “It’s hard for others to understand, because you’re living in this made-up zone of fantasy, where that seems real to you, and the real real stuff seems odd,” he said. Mr. Child, 60, whose real name is Jim Grant, lives on the Upper West Side with his wife, Jane Grant

Read the full article

Who Should I Listen To For Inspiration?

 

Deciding what thought-leader to listen to is not an easy problem to solve. There are lots of people who may lack substance, but are well versed in the skills of Influence. 

Or bullshit. 

“That’s easy for you to say,” you say. It is, because my risk aversion to Bullshit and the scent of Influence is much stronger than it was two years ago. 

It is easy to be adversely effected by those who lack real insight, but are able to motivate you towards achieving their aims. Influence uses everyday language to activate a response in us, one that we are powerless to either notice, or cease to be effected by. I could be influencing you now, and you would never know. 

Influence can be powerful when it’s used for good, or terrible when it’s used for bad intentions.

But, I don’t want you to agree with me. 

Oh whoops, there I go influencing you to agree with me. 

So, how do we know whether someone actually knows what they are talking about. If you go purely off what they write about, or talk about then you are falling victim to their tools of Influence. Look beyond what they say, and look at their actions. 

I watched an interview with Willi.i.am at Dreamforce 2014. He was talking about how he wants to release today the device we could build in ten years, like a smart band that doesn’t need tethering to a phone. 

So, I looked at reviews of that smart band he released. The Verge call it the worst device they have touched in 2015. What does that say? He doesn’t know what he’s doing in the tech industry. 

Be cautious who you take advice from, do your due diligence, but then take the advice of those you discover can do what they preach. 

Approaching the Point of No Return – Resolutions and Objectives

September is a strange month, it’s the dieing days of summer and the nostalgic and prescient days of the coming autumn. 

But, it’s also the time of the year where we approach the Point of No Return on our objectives of the year.  It’s the point where, if you’re no where near your aims, you will need to sprint for the rest of the year. There are also some objectives you just will not be able to accomplish. 

Part of me likes September. I sweat less and I get to feel good in a nice coat. But, part of me feels sad the heat of the sun will be leaving us, that the energy of summer is waning. 

But, it is not yet the end of the year. It might be the start of the final curve, but the Finish Line is a ways off. It’s start to drop a gear and accelerate to the finish. 

What do you want to do with the remaining months of the year?

Too Long; Didn’t Read – How Reading Long Texts Allows You Access To Higher Learning

Tl;dr – too long; didn’t read – is the biggest danger sign of where our attention spans are going, and how we are at risk of missing out on the deep understanding that leads us to get the most from life and work.

The knowledge and arguments that matter can’t be explained in a quick phrase, or a single word. It’s not to say that some things can’t be handled this way, but you can’t expect everything to be handled using tl:dr.

Only the Sith Deal in Absolutes

The world is grey. It’s rare that something is truly black and white. There are arguments, counter-arguments, and whatever resolution we can reach.

Because it is so rare for there to be a topic, argument, or moment in history that can have a single interpretation, it’s important for us to have the ability to explore these things from each of the available angles.

That means reading longer form writing, and being able to cope with long discussions and debates.

If you can accept the world is grey, you will have a much better chance of exploring the world, and finding a better and more balanced understanding of it for yourself.

The Undeniable Power of Being a Good Writer – Impress, Influence, and Lead

  
One of the most underrated skills in anyone’s arsenal is the ability to write both coherently, and with the right level of impact. This doesn’t mean you need to be able to write a novel, but you should be able to write a decent email to your troops, a professional sounding complaint letter, or a thoughtful blog post.

Why?

There a number of reasons why you should be a decent writer. Not all of them are about conveying a message, some of them are how you are perceived by your audience, or your colleagues.

The first, for me, is about the perception of yourself to the individual / audience you are writing to. If you’re trying to gain their trust, or motivate them to follow you, how are you ever going to do that if you can’t spell, or use basic grammar and syntax? It’s the all important first impression that can win, or lose you the acceptance of that person.

The second is the ability to constuct your thoughts in the clearest manner. This is the hardest thing for humans to achieve without the ability to mind-meld: sharing your ideas with another person in a way that they will be able to understand. Being a good writer will allow you to understand how to structure your thoughts so you can share them from start to finish.

Thirdly, the written word is the most powerful way to store the collective knowledge of the human race. Writing something down not only helps to solidify the idea in your own mind, but it is also something that you can look back over, or share with others. Instead of needing to say all of that again with every person you wish to share those thoughts with, you can simply hand them, or send them something that is the entirety of your idea. It’s also something that can live on without you.

How?

I was never great at many subjects in school, partly due to my style of learning, but mostly due to the abysmal approach so many of my teachers took to behaving with me. Maybe it’s the prejudice that comes with teaching for so long, with so many kids not automatically interested with what you have to teach them.

I turned out alright in the end and have surpassed the better students in my abilities and career. Maybe there’s something to explore in further depth there.

But, something that struck me a few years ago was how badly I was taught about my own language. I have picked up a natural understanding of the structure, and have a pretty good vocabulary, but I couldn’t tell you what an adjective, or a split infinitive is. That’s the next step in my understanding of the English language.

I can’t tell you how to use grammer properly, but I can advise you to read my articles with a more critical eye. Notice where I am placing commas, semi-colons, and how I am structuring sentences. You should also read a lot more of the great writers (anything that’s not trash writing, like Fifty Shades of Grey, Da Vinci Code).

But, it’s not just the mechanics of writing you need to understand, it’s your voice that needs to be carefully considered. The way I write is my attempt to ensure that the voice I am trying to convey really comes through. I am trying to force my readers to read my writing in such a way that they cannot but hear this voice in their minds, or aloud if they choose to read my stories and articles to their dog. The rules of English can be bent and broken, Neo, if it leads to you best delivering your message – and not looking like an idiot. I only do this in the interest of my voice being heard.

I believe that accessibility is one of the most important aspects to writing. Not only is this to ensure that the most readers have a chance of making it to the end of your writing, but it’s also the best way to ensure that your true meaning is understood, and with the most impact.

So what do I mean by accessibility? I mean not choosing to only speak with long words. This might make you sound intelligent, but it will have everyone reaching for their dictionaries, instead of nodding their heads in agreement. Sometimes, hippopotomonstrosososquipadalianism is not beneficial to you. That long word? It means a liking for long words.

Write in a near conversational tone and the world will love you. Write like a lawyer and your readers minds will turn inside out.

Style is just as important as voice and structure. I see this as the way you structure your sentences and paragraphs, as well as the bolding and italicising of words. Good writing is not just about the words you use, but it should also be pleasing to the eye. Paragraphs should not be gigantic blocks of text (unless intended for some reason), and you can do a lot to emphasise something by singling it out as a paragraph of it’s own.

Like this.

The final aspect of writing that I want to highlight is the most frequently neglected aspect. Editing. It’s alright putting your thoughts down on the page, but unless you’re going to correct those spelling, grammatical, and styling issues, it’s just the same as not investing any time in writing. Take the time to re-read your work, and you’ll be a step ahead of the rest.

If you would like to have your name on something well written, but you lack the ability, or time to learn, then you can either choose to say everything, or you can value the written word and ask someone else to do this for you, or invest in a good writer.

Do not underestimate the power of writing well, both for your own development, and for the people you lead, or want to attract. Do not allow your strength in person be let down by the weakness of the words you choose to write down.

Every Day is a Lesson – On Always Re-building Yourself

 

It is easy to think that slow days, or the days you spend in a job that is not your dream, are wasted days. But, the truth is, there is something that you can learn from every day of your life.

One of the major faults I see in people I coach and mentor is they are blinkered to the world around them. It’s a strange thing, like the Observance Dial has been turned down a little on them. But, it’s an easy thing to allow to happen. It’s all part of our Auto-pilot that enables us to cope with life.

Those of us living the Positive Pragmatist life-style need to turn that dial up a notch. Look at the things you do in a day, for a week – perhaps by writing a diary of your activities – and then look back at the things you do, tallying them up.

It might look like this:

Watching TV – 9 hours

Facebook – 4 hours

Working – 30 hours

This will very quickly bring to light the lazy, or unproductive hours you have slipped into. It will allow you to see that even on the slowest days, you will be able to learn something about yourself – maybe it’s your fault that these slow days even exist.

It’s always worth taking stock at the end of the day to look at what you have achieved in that day. Did you figure something out, help a customer, achieve an aim, or come across a new opportunity?

Look at the positive actions and behaviours, and the negative. Decide the actions you want to Stop, and the actions you want to Increase. Remember, it will take 9 repititions of the new actions before they get into the Muscle and feel a little more natural – the more you do them, the easier they will become.

You are an ever evolving creature, able to consciously change who you are (there are some limits, but most behaviours can be learned over time). You can learn new skills – most things can be learned from a Youtube tutorial, a free course, or articles – so you can improve yourself.

Open your eyes to what you are doing with yourself, do not accept that you are who you are – limited by your station in life – and improve the ways in which you behave.

Like any new behaviour, the more observant you become, the easier you will observe yourself and others.

Get out there and grow.