Rocking the 'Gram: read this if you want to become Instagram famous!

I don't know whether you've ever seriously faced the issue of why your heart is so empty? I guess that's for another post. In the meantime, you're here because you clicked that baity link about becoming the new Insta sensation. Do you have a mirror? Look in it. Now back to me. Now... jk. 

Seriously I read a lot of books, some of them very silly. So here's my key learnings from the wonderfully titled "Read This If You Want To Become Instagram Famous." Which is a real thing and I read (well, skimmed) it. The things I do for you! But seriously, it makes for a great coffee table book. It's so pretty: 


I took these notes while browsing through the book. Here's how to become a God(ess) on the 'Gram: 

  • Hard Work. There's no overnight success. Insta is hard work and it has become super professional. Behind every great account, there's "a super snazzy snapper" (haha) who knows exactly what they're doing. Even if they kind of stumbled onto the formula (yes, there's a formula), they're now an execution machine. They probably live in that influencer house in LA. Good luck keeping up with their passion for themselves. Narcissus has nothing on them. 

  • Nail the Basics. Your @handle is obviously superimportant. You'll have to be creative nowadays to get something that isn't fugly long. Your picture is your brand identity aka logo and should be recognizable in thumbnail, so don't make it too subtle/detailed. Your bio should be English if your audience is global. Keep it short and add some emojis for personality. Or, you know, don't. Because emojis are so 2017. 

  • Technical Proficiency. Insta is all about the visuals. So there's a measure of being able to take an objectively good shot. Read about light - fresh shades make for fresh photos. Look at the lines - visuals where the lines lead from the edge into the photo draw in the viewer. Train your eye - see the hidden details in common things. Wait for the right light. Use colors to great effect. Just google photo composition and do that.

  • Consistency. You have to stand for something and then you have to keep delivering that. Change up the mix too frequently and you'll lose loyal followers. True for content. But this also means sticking to the same editing tools. Trust me, I screw this up all the time. I mean, I'm writing a blog post about being awesome on Instagram. Yesterday I wrote one about the market for something to believe in being infinite. Be less random than Max.  

  • Be Yourself. But Then Be Different, Too. The world wants your conformity. Your parents want your social respectability (you do, too, but from other people). Instagram wants you to be different but also not too different. Yourself, but not too much. You know what I'm talking about, weirdo. 

  • Think Omnichannel. While the 'Gram may be your main channel, other social platforms can push traffic and hence new users to Instagram. So check for the same handle on Snap and Tumblr. And maybe FB and Twitter if you're an oldfag like me (is 4chan language still cool? Showing my age here). 

  • Participate. Comment with care. And empathy. Treat people like people. This is generally very solid advice. 

  • Use Tactics to Get Noticed. Break-out accounts do break-out things - new and memorable and category-defining. To drive engagement, use poppers - pics that stick out. To increase retention, take a mini-series. From a composition point of view, getting down low or up high changes scenes dramatically. 

  • Editing Apps: use 'em. VSCO, Darkroom, PicTapGo, Snapseed, SKRWT, Cortex... and obvs Glitché (haha)

  • Be Human. Let your photos speak volumes. Tell true stories. Put yourself in your shots (partially). Be enthusiastic. Be relatable. 

  • Go for Geometry. Shoot straight on symmetrical architecture. Shoot flat lays (preferably food!) with lots of natural light. Full frontals. Create breathing space with powerful borders. People want order. 

  • Hashtags. Use them, but sparingly. No need to be so desperate. Don't copy generic ones - do your research. Also: you can hide hashtags in a comment that will disappear with volume. Also, don't forget about the weekend hashtag project! 

  • Geotags. Massively under-rated. Geotags lift engagement by like 80%. Even more so than a person or face or another user's handle (which are other good predictors of engagement). 

  • Become a suggested user. Don't over-cook your photos (Insta loves it au naturel). Keep it pure. Post consistently but not too often. Follow the zeitgeist.

  • Hot. The book doesn't talk about this, which is weird, but it is good to be attractive. More attractive people with exhibitionist tendencies tend to be more popular on Instagram. Just don't take off too much (that'll get you banned).

So if you're anything like me, at this stage you're a little disappointed in this beautiful book. Because it turns out the formula is pretty much the same as being successful online in any other way: make beautiful stuff that has meaning. Which just goes to show (we've known this for a long time) that you can't learn much about the internet from printed materials. It's better to just, you know, use the internet.

Thanks for letting me be silly today.

Much love,

Max