My rules for Instagram - Bubbablue and me

My rules for Instagram – how I do it

As far as I’m concerned social media is all about what you make of it. Yes, there’s etiquette, and yes, there are things that people do that are really annoying. But we have to live with that – if they’re happy doing social media one way, then that’s their prerogative.

My rules for Instagram - Bubbablue and me

With Instagram, it seems everyone is now on the bandwagon. I’ve been using Instagram for 3 years now, and I love it. The bit about it I don’t like (apart from all the algorithm changes all the time and instagram stories – just why?!) is the politics about it.

I started using Instagram because I wanted to practise my photography and have somewhere to store it (I didn’t get on with Flickr), then had a photography group who tended to be on Instagram. I got hooked, and then the rest of the blogging (and business) world got hooked as well. Hence why my feed is a mish mash of what I like to take photos of.

Bubbablue and me Instagram pic

So I thought I’d share my thoughts on Instagram and how I use it. Take them or leave them as you will, as I would do with anyone elses.

My rules for Instagram

I follow who I want, when I want

As with any social media, I don’t do follow for follow. If I like your feed and want to see more of it, I will follow. If after any length of time I want a change, or get bored, or don’t get any engagement at all, then I’ll check the feed, and unfollow. It’s not personal, I’d rather just have only the feeds I want to see.

Follow / unfollow is rude

Mostly it’s businesses (see my point below), but just don’t follow people to get them to like you and then unfollow. It’s annoying, it gives people false hope that they’ve gained followers.

Comment pods don’t offend me

Some people are against any type of reciprocal comment or liking deal – whether that’s a facebook group, or instagram comment pod – but if you want to find people with similar feeds, and see their photos regularly, then why not. It means you get more engagement and chat, and let’s face it, that’s what social media is meant to be about. They’re also a good way to see people’s photos where you don’t want to follow their feed.

I get bored with themed feeds

Yes, I know people do themed feeds for a reason and see huge growth with them. But they bore me hence I don’t follow many people who only photography one thing. Or only have white feeds. Or any other themed feed. I like to see a mix of photography, I don’t enjoy seeing just photos of flowers or just photos of kids.

I prefer pretty, well taken photos

Ok, so I work harder at my photography nowadays, but not every photo is perfect. Sometimes I like a photo and want to share it even if it’s not the best photo in the world. But if your feed is dark (and not intentionally moody), blurry, full of babies or quotes, and just generally a bit boring because it’s of things going on in your house, it’s not my cup of tea….unless you’re my best friend then I might let you get away with it.

Blogging essentials and instagram

Keep captions short

Micro-blogging, waffling, huge quotes. Call it what you want, it’s just not for me. It’s become more popular to write lots and use ‘lovely’ quotes, but to be honest, who has time for creating that? If I want to read a blog, I read it. On Instagram I want a short caption, so I can quickly look at the photo, read the caption, like and comment if relevant. It’s my short quick social media where I can get to lots of people’s photos quickly.

Instant over curated

Related to themed feeds, I much prefer to follow feeds with more instant shots. Yes, I do sometimes post photos a bit after I’ve taken them because I’m out and about or have no wifi. But a perfectly curated and scheduled feed is not my idea of what Instagram should be about. 4 days of photos with kids in the same outfits or a week of shots from the same day out just makes me want to unfollow and duck out. If it’s a bit less obvious, then I’m not so worried, but I prefer following feeds that feel more spontaneous than planned.

If you’re taking using your camera that’s your choice. I tend to take camera shots, and then phone shots of the same picture for Instagram, but occasionally I’ll wifi from camera to phone if there’s a phone photo which wasn’t as good.  But it’s the week later shots – just don’t feel forced to add a photo because you always do at that time if you don’t have one, is my view.

Don’t feel forced to follow someone

I have a couple of people who seem to follow me, then a week later I have a notification that they’ve followed me again. It just winds me up. I know they’re there, I know I don’t follow them, and it’s making me even less likely to follow their feed. Having said that, there is one person I followed and have never unfollowed, but when I try to follow it won’t hold it. They probably think I’m that annoying person – trying to follow them multiple times.

I don’t follow businesses

If you’re a blog business and are just wanting me to follow to sell me something it’s doubtful that I’ll follow you back. Even if you have pretty pictures, there has to be something of interest for me to follow you – personal stuff behind the scenes, no pretending to be a personal profile when really you’re a juicer or wrapper. But mostly I’ll just not follow. I don’t want to be sold to on Instagram.

Follower vs following ratio does, and doesn’t, matter

Some people are evangelical (especially businesses) in saying that it looks spammy if you have similar number of followers to those you follow. They say it looks like you do follow for follow and that doesn’t look good to others. Personally I think they’ve got it the wrong way round.

When I look at someone’s feed and see they’ve got similar levels of followers I’m more likely to follow them than I am someone who hardly follows anyone. If you have tens of thousands of followers then it’s fair to expect you can’t follow that many back, but if you’re under 3-4k level, following 100 back, it’s telling me that either you’re an amazing photographer who everyone loves, or you’re someone who doesn’t care about their followers and doesn’t want to be social. If I’ve got the choice of following 2 similar feeds, 1 interacts and looks like they follow a decent number, or a feed who hardly following anyone, I know which one I’ll follow.

I rarely follow private profiles

Sorry, but unless you’re a real life friend, or a blogger I know and recognise who I really like and want to follow, there’s not much chance of me following you. Mostly because I have no idea who you are until I follow and I don’t want to have to unfollow you again (it’s really annoying when people follow and unfollow straight away). Plus I think if you’re on social media and don’t personally know the person you’re trying to connect with, then why be on that platform. For me, it’s the same as getting friend requests from random people on Facebook who I’ve never spoken to, met or even recognise their name.

These are the ways I use Instagram. I love it for commenting and liking, seeing a whole lot of new people and photographs but when it comes down to it though, it’s horses for courses. Yes, I’d like my Instagram to grow, but it’s growing slowly, hopefully with people following who want to follow my feed.  And those who I’ll hopefully like their feed (or won’t be offended if I don’t like it back).

P.S. If you’re someone who does all or several of these, I may still follow you because I like you, your blog or your photos. As I said, we all use Instagram in different ways.  Hopefully this shows people they don’t always have to do things the way people tell you to do it just because you’ve read it works.

If you want to try a good free course (and paid ones, although I have to admit to not having finished started the one I’m meant to be doing yet), check out Alex Tooby‘s (businesses angle) and Sara’s from Me and Orla (more general Instagram and photography).

How do you use Instagram? What rules do you follow? Are you offended by any of mine?

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  1. Really interesting post. I had barely used IG before becoming a blogger, but I’m slowly getting into it. My biggest gripe is the accounts that only follow you to get a follow back and then they unfollow you to keep their ‘following’ numbers down. Like you, I don’t generally follow businesses and want to follow accounts I’m genuinely interested in. #SharingtheBlogLove

  2. I relate to a lot of these, I don’t follow for follow and I have started to unfollow people that are constantly selling…I just don’t think it works with Instagram. I hadn’t thought of wifi’ing photo’s over from camera to phone, we’ve just borrowed my sisters camera for our holiday and I didn’t even see if that was something I could do! #sharingthebloglove

  3. Got to be honest, since the introduction of the awkward algorithm with Instagram, I don’t go on it half as much as I used to. It’s such a shame but I want to see recent posts, and with no option to choose how my feed is listed, I’ve just got annoyed with it. I use it for myself but rarely look through the feed. It’s a real shame. #sharingthebloglove

  4. I find your perspective on IG interesting. I like captions used for blog posts if they’re funny but I agree that photos should be mostly instant. I do try to comment & like my followers photos but I only follow people I engage with regularly. If I follow too many people I can’t keep up. I like a theme sometimes, if photos on someone’s feed don’t make sense as a whole or are dark I tend to feel it’s a bit overwhelming and won’t follow. Glad I read this. Some things for me to think about. #SharingTheBlogLove

  5. Love this post as it’s really made me think more about my instagram feed. To be honest, I mostly just upload phone snaps that I have randomly taken. I too am not super into themed feeds. I do get it, but it’s far more fun seeing ‘moments’, rather than overworked images. #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. I’m glad you found it useful. I agree about the moments. Obviously photographers want to show their wares which I can appreciate, but for bloggers I prefer to see real (well taken). Thanks for commenting Annette

  6. I love instagram, it’s my fave social media platform by far. I don’t have a theme, I think I’d struggle to keep up with it but I think it works for some people x #sharingthebloglove

  7. I really like this post and agree with almost every point. Personally I quite like a long caption (I’ve been guilty of doing it myself), I think it’s the nosey part of me that likes to sometimes low the story behind the picture. But that’s why we’re all different isn’t it? xx

    1. So true It would be boring if we did everything the same way. Which might be why I say sod that to all the samey samey advice about social media/blogging

  8. This is an interesting post. I have started using Instagram to try and promote my blog a bit, but I have to admit that I’m a bit clueless about photography and don’t really get it! Keeping the captions short is a good tip. I don’t even know what a commenting pod is. And I think your thoughts about following are spot on. #sharingthebloglove

    1. I don’t openly use it for my blog. And personally these are the type of accounts I try to follow – for the photos, not for the blog behind it. Thanks for stopping by to comment

  9. I get this! I have recently tried very hard not to post as many pictures of my girls as it does get a bit boring. I think I’m doing ok with it. I love the social aspect of it and wish I had time to comment more, if something stands out to me I will make the time. For me it is the best social media platform.

    1. For me it’s definitely too much of the same. But lots of other people love it, and with only 1 type of photo then you’ll gain followers. But as someone who engages with accounts, it gets hard to comment when there’s not a lot to say/just repeat comments. It also depends what you enjoy taking photos of and looking at. Thanks for visiting and commenting Kirsty.

  10. A great read – thank you for this! I agree with so many of these points!
    I have been slow with instagram but am gradually starting to work on it a bit more. It is ignited a whole new love of photography!! #Sharingthebloglove

  11. I’m just getting to grips with Instagram, so this is some great advice to consider. Thanks! #SharingtheBlogLove

  12. Good advice I’m on on instagram a couple of weeks and I’ll be honest I’m not sure I get it yet. Trial and error I suppose. Your advice has helped me tho thanks #sharingthebloglove

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  14. I don’t purposefully have a theme, but I guess anyone looking at my feed might say differently as it is all photos of my family. But, then I guess with my blog I am not sure what else anyone would expect to see from it. I am a SAHM and I love to take photos of my girls and share them. I don’t really have any other aspect of my life that I would photograph.

    My photos are always a day behind, I just don’t get time to post when I am with my girls and prefer to post first thing in the morning and then I can spend the day just being with them.

    I don’t check to see if people follow/unfollow me, it would annoy me too much!!!

    Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove Laura x

    1. Yes I think most would expect parent bloggers to have lots of photos of their kids. You either don’t look or lump it if you’re not a fan of every photo being the kids

  15. Great post! My number one pet hate on Instagram is ‘follow for follow. I had my first such request the other day, I ignored it. On a more positive note, I too like seeing lots of colour, and I also want to see original content, not just lots of reposts from other accounts.

  16. Great post! It’s fab to read other people’s views on Instagram. I agree with pretty much all of your points, although (as you saw in my post) I do ‘store’ images to use throughout the week. I do try not to make it too obvious and to mix other images in with it so hopefully it does’t get boring!
    I completely forgot to mention private accounts and the follow/un-follow brigade on my list, they annoy me too!

    1. Ah mixing I can live with, but it’s when it’s obviously from the same photo shoot – basically the same people, same clothes, doing the next set of poses. Yawn. I don’t understand why you’d want to fill up your feed with 3 similar images 3 days on the trot. It looks like you just don’t take photos, so I’d just find something else to put inbetween, or not add anything….or as a blogger, upload one, but share the rest in a blog post. That’s what I don’t understand – using tonnes of the same image on IG if you could be using them on the blog.

  17. I’m relatively new to Instagram and blogging so found this really interesting. I’m loving it so far, especially the quickness of it compared to other social media channels, it’s become my guilty pleasure whenever I have a few spare minutes.
    #SharingtheBlogLove #TheList

  18. I’ve just started on Instagram and I’m loving it. Although admittedly I don’t understand the filters or most other things!! Find it a cheerful social media platform that always makes me smile! Like your rules and I’ll bear them in mind! #sharingthebloglove

    1. Thanks for commenting. It’s all about finding your own way. I’d say, avoid filters, and concentrate on using the edits/settings just to brighten or sharpen etc. Unless you want to have the same look and filter every time, it’s easier and probably better to concentrate on good photos instead.

  19. I’m a relative newbie to Instagram so found this pretty interesting. I think I’ve got a lot to learn!

  20. Great post. I love reading about how others use instagram and other social media channels. There definitely seems to be some similarities in how people use instagram, and then some things that are quite individual too, like the commenting/quote thing and instant vs curated. Really insighful, thanks for sharing it. Emily #TheList

  21. It’s so interesting to read what they enjoy about Instagram and how they use it! I’m also not one for black and white themed feeds, or too ‘white’ – I like lots of colour! I also don’t tend to follow feeds with lots of quotes as images – that’s not what I’m looking for from IG. I’m also baffled by all the private profile followers who then unfollow – I don’t want to follow just to find out what your photos look like and then be one of the ‘follow unfollow’ crowd if it turns out I don’t like them. I’ve also had a couple of accounts where I just couldn’t get the follow to stick – embarrassing! Oh, and obviously, comment pods don’t offend me either! 🙂

    I can’t quite do the total ‘insta’ bit of IG though – my feed probably falls somewhere between instant and curated. I find it’s just too much pressure to be ‘insta’ but pretty too. And although I don’t tend to do it myself, I really enjoy the ‘micro blogging’ that some people do – it gives a really lovely insight that sometimes can’t be captured in a photo.

    Thanks so much for joining us again at #SharingtheBlogLove – I really hope we’ll see you again next week!

    1. I don’t understand those who do lots of quotes/ or just advertise their blog posts with their featured image. For me IG is all about photos. Although, my dance IG is a mix of inspirational dance quotes and photos as well as general dancing/personal images. I use that more as a presence because I just don’t get to take photos while dancing.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment Katy.

  22. I agree with a lot of these, however, I am one of those people who has a low number of following vs follow ratio. It’s not because I don’t care about other people’s feeds, It’s just that I often don’t have a lot of time to be scrolling through it and have only been liking the accounts that I like and want to make the time for (if you know what I mean?) I am working on my followers at the moment so hopefully I can bring my numbers up 🙂 #sharingthebloglove

    1. That makes sense to make thing manageable.. Just for me, unless the feed was unmissable, I wouldn’t follow. What I have started doing is using hashtags more, and just liking/engaging rather than following lots of people for exactly that reason, that I just don’t get to see everyone’s photos. So if I’m seeing them through hashtags, I’ve a better chance of seeing them

  23. I’m fairly new to instagram so this was an interesting read – thank you. #sharingthebloglove

  24. This is really interesting. I’ve never thought about it that carefully, but I do know I don’t like to follow feeds which are all the same thing and I can’t bear inspirational quotes! Mine is a mixture of places we’ve been, the garden and running selfies. It’s not beautiful, but it’s OK!

    1. Ha ha, I’m so with you on the quote – whether as an image or otherwise. But even worse than that are people who open an account and literally the whole account is images of their blog posts. Why?! Instagram’s meant to be about photos and images, not a blog post title. Maybe I need to add that to my list.

  25. Blogging is a funny world sometimes. Like you said. ..seems like there are too many rules. I just like to do my own thing and go with the flow! #thelist

  26. I spent ages when I first joined Instagram trying to make sure I posted everyday at a set time and everything was perfect – and I hated it. Now I post what I want when I want. Sometimes it can be 3 pics a day, other times none at all. I know it’s not recommended practice but I think social media should be fun and it was a chore doing it the “right” way.
    It’s driving me mad at the minute though. It tells me I have notifications but won’t show me them so I have to go on the desktop version to respond to comments and I can’t see new followers at all!!

    1. I agree about social media being fun. It needs to be otherwise you’d never do it! That’s weird about your notifications. My bugbear is the default link to Facebook which doesn’t seem to stick.

  27. See, I love the curated feeds and I feel that I’ve lost them with the algorithm change – I just see the people who I’m friends with on Facebook! I really liked the creativity and beauty of Instagram. So it’s good to read another opinion! I am starting to enjoy Instagram stories though.

    1. Hmm, I don’t really get IG stories. To me they’re on there anyway as photos and videos….or are for non-curated feeds. I’ve not seen a benefit, to my feed from using them or not thankfully. I can just ignore them.

      I think with curated feeds, I appreciate the time and effort that goes into them.I guess it’s the equivalent of a show home.

      Thanks for stopping by Naomi

  28. I so agree with you! My current pet hate is the current practice many bloggers have of following loads of accounts hoping for follow back and then mass un following all, trying to get their ratio of followers to following look more beneficial for brand work I suppose. It is seriously starting to grate me. IG has changed a lot recently.

    1. I think it has too. I’d much prefer it to go back to what it was, which was enjoying photos rather than about the likes, but I guess we all like to know that people enjoy what we post. I think as long as we’re happy with using it the way we want, and don’t worry too much about how others are using it then it’s much more enjoyable.

  29. I love taking random photos, I find I’m mostly about my kids, holidays, food or buildings with some flowers thrown in. I don’t follow people back for the sake of it as I don’t really know some of them and I don’t want my feed littered with just randoms that I’ll then feel obliged to “like”. I do love to style a photo every so often though!

    1. I know what you mean. I need to do a bit of a clear out of those I just followed back way out in the beginning. After blogtacular’s photo workshop I’ve realised I’d never be able to do more than the occasional (and fluky) styled photo. They look pretty, but I’m really not good at it. They take so long to do as well!

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