Instagrowth: Guidelines to Help Keep Instagram, Instagram.
Avid and often addicted Instagram users have had quite the month. First, the hashtag #iPhoneOnly became instantly obsolete in early April with the addition of millions of Android users to the photo sharing app. Last week however, new members and old were shocked at news the social media giant Facebook had purchased the 13 person company for a jaw dropping $1B. For some, shock gave way to outrage and fear of the undoing of one of the purest and simplest forms of creative expression.
We can be so over dramatic sometimes. And by we, I mean me. I still have a hole in my heart from the loss of “Gotham”, one of Instagram’s original black and white filters lost in 2011 with the 2.0 update. Sadder still was that my poor wife had to hear me complain for weeks about how much I loathed the subtle differences between the new and old “Earlybird” filter.
But, I’ve matured over the last year, and honestly, I welcome new users and the unique view of their lives and the world that Instagram makes possible. I don’t mind their likes and follows either… ahem @robhutti.
That said, I think it’s worth reaching out now to these new folks and giving them a lay of the land as to how to keep Instagram classy. Not so much rules, but guidelines to build a better Instagram community:
:: Instagram Guideline 01: A Level Playing Field ::
One of my favorite aspects of Instagram may also be the reason for its success. The #iPhoneOnly mentality of many users has created a level playing field for core users. DSLR cameras are incredible, and incredibly expensive. Most of us, however, are walking around with a 4-8MP camera in our pocket, and the fact that we all have basically the same tool and technology at our disposal is rare even with regard to creativity. So put the fancy cameras away, and push yourself to see what you can do with your mobile device.
:: Instagram Guideline 02: Fill the Freak’n Frame ::
This is my biggest pet pieve, and always yields non-likes and even a few un-follows. Make sure you fill the frame. Instagram’s use of the Kodak Instamatic’s square aspect ratio is intentional. Not only is this a conceptual and aesthetic function, but also allows for a much cleaner and more usable UI. To me, deciding the composition of an image is more important than what filter, frame or depth of field is chosen. Leaving black bars at the top and bottom will diminish any photo.
:: Instagram Guideline 03: Instagram Can Wait ::
Remember you can pull photos from your library in IG, so you don’t have to use the camera within the App for your captures. There are those who would tell you that Instagram is intended to be Instant. They’re probably right. The app was created to reflect a Polaroid where the picture you take is the picture you get. But, I think the best Instagram users are not so impulsive. Take your time, unless your photo is newsworthy or timely, it can wait. Take multiples, explore various compositions or over/under expose it. Then when you have a second to breath and really look through what you have, chose the best. Feel free to try other filter apps or even typography apps. Trust me your feed and followers will thank you.
:: Instagram Guideline 04: Quality Over Quantity ::
Likes are easy on Instagram. All a buxom female needs is her camera and a mirror to send likes, among other things, through the roof. Though my 14 year-old self would kick me for saying it, I hate this. Jealous? Yep. But mostly frustrated for the amateur photographers I see everyday capturing smart, unique and unbelievable snippets of this beautiful world we live in. It gets frustrating. But, increasingly in the social space we see a shift from how many followers and likes we get, towards the quality/substance of those who follow and like us. Instagram is a good example of this. Don’t feel pressured to follow everyone you know, and only reward photos you truly appreciate with a like. Trust me I crave likes as well, but the unquenchable thirst for that little heart icon only yields more trolling, cleavage and performance anxiety. At a point it just isn’t fun anymore. Instagram what you love, and you will be amazed at the people you meet and the genuine praise they will give you.
:: Instagram Guideline 05: The Golden Rule ::
Do unto others, as you would have done unto you. If you are the type of person who likes to look at other peoples cats all the time, then by all means take cat photos all the time. If you like seeing what others are eating, let your culinary flag fly. But if you are the type of person who doesn’t like to see the same thing over and over and over and over and over… and over again, please switch it up a little bit. I go to Forest Park in St. Louis a lot, and admit that I find it to be one of the most photogenic locales in the city. This is my public apology for its over-saturation in my feed, but I do try to find a different perspective or vantage for each shot. Thats all Im asking. Share true, pure, unique moments from your life, and let me save the mundane receptiveness for my own.
A Second Opinion
Since my measly, yet appreciated, 230 followers don’t exactly grant me expert credentials, I have reached out to some of my favorite Instagram users to get their ideas as well. Following these folks may change your life, or at least bring some beauty to your daily bowel movements (no photos please):
Main thing CONSISTENCY. I’m most impressed when u can tell every pic was carefully shot/edited/chosen to post… instead of my feed just getting blizted with mediocre pics. Love seeing a personal side on occasion. Getting to know who Im following. Love honest, real, meaningful comments & replies. Shows that the person is not just a great photographer but a great person too.
Do’s: Find the best users that you know will inspire you. Research apps. Develop a style and theme for your stream. Be consistent.
Don’ts: Spam asking for follows or likes. Steal peoples work. Post MySpace photos of yourself or your food. Come off desperate.
Do: show interest in other peoples work, participate in contests, check who your favorite IGers are following, be inspired.
Don’t: spam, ask people to follow you, upload too many photos, post photos of yourself constantly, use heavy hdr effects.
Not to let @HerbertSchroer do all the work but he said it perfectly. Oh and cats too!
Use Snapseed and Filterstorm. Both cost some yet great apps to raise curves even on night shots.
Do: Engage your followers and the people you follow. Comment. Share. Interact. Have fun. Be sincere. Be yourself.
Dont: DON’T think you need wild adventures for great photos. A small change in routine’s enough to open your eyes to beautiful pictures.
Do: Create a dialogue and get to know your community.
Don’t: Become a voyeur that only giggles at his/her own grams.
Dos: Always focus on basic photo skills while shooting – find good light, hold your camera very steady, think about composition.
Donts: Don’t be aggressive with commenting in any way. Good photos speak for themselves.
Like the photos that appeal to you & follow the people who inspire you. Work on consistency & technique & people will notice you.
AT&T Education Solutions
Great photo shoot and concept came together here for an immersive walk through in AT&T’s ethernet services for their education customers. Technology is a mandatory for success in school districts around the country, and we wanted to relay how AT&T’s reliable services and network of possibilities facilitate eLearning in the classroom. Check it out.
World Class Medicine from MoBap
Missouri Baptist Medical Center, or MoBap as we like to call it, has had a long and successful relationship with RodgersTownsend. So in 2011, when it was clear that the MoBap web experience was not living up to the standards of excellence they demanded for patients and the community, they looked to us.
After a long discovery phase, extensive content audit and thorough wire-framing we had an intricate road map from which to create the UI. Where we landed not only pushed MoBap’s digital presence to a level on par with the reputation of their medical center, but ahead of most of their regional and national competition.
I’ve never had a design recieve so much praise and so many dissenters. At least not in a public way. Its a testament to how much St. Louis, especially the creative community, has embraced Loufest.
Loufest is two days of music, food and fun in Forest Park here in St. Louis. Acquired by C3 (of Lallapalooza and Austin City Limits fame) in 2013, they were looking for a bold new look without the nuances of a particular genre or lifestyle. In layman’s terms, they didn’t want a hipster logo or a strictly Rock’n Roll vibe. They were looking for something generic enough to appeal to a broad audience, but bold enough to make a statement and have staying power.
I’m not sure I accomplished it, but this is where we landed.
After the rebrand Loufest more than doubled their attendance and had their most successful year to date. Some might attribute that to a vastly improved line-up compliments of The National, Alabama Shakes, The Killers and others. But I think, deep down, we all know what really caused the surge.
ATT New Business
A responsive site for ATT that adapts to fit screen size and resolution through a seamless and fluid dev.
Smart Grid Technology from AT&T
This was a nice HTML5 parallax website we did for AT&T’s Smart Grid Solutions. The target here was high profile civic and private utility companies. Experts in building and maintaining the smart grid, but not experts in communicating between the various elements of the infrastructure. We gave them a step by step breakdown of AT&T’s services and how they would benefit the target, but did it in a way that told our story in a simple, seamless and scrollable way. Excuse that alliteration (and the Dev of this live site).
Martin Luther King Tribute
I wanted to attempt this style in February, and being Black History Month I chose the Rev. as my muse.
His face is made up of the words of his epic Lincoln Memorial “I have a dream…” speech.
Take a look. I am having it framed as I type.
Smoking Goat Branding
I like beer.
Beer high in flavor, alcohol and price. I brew at home, but wouldn’t consider myself very good at this point. I’m working on it.
We have friends in Louisiana who I would consider really good. I designed some branding for their forthcoming brewery down there.
The Smoking Goat will hopefully be amazing, especially if I get some good beer out of the deal.
Have a look. Then drink a beer and have a look again. Continue this process until the logo looks awesome.
This is a poster I made for my buddy Dustin.
A classic quote from him as we drove by Effingham, IL’s infamous and huge cross.
I thought it would look good in his new apartment.
I recently got the chance to work on a project for the Humane Society. Given the fact that every time I walk into an animal shelter I have to be talked down from taking home every animal in the place, I was happy to help in anyway I could.
With the majority of pet buying in the United States coming from breeders, mall pet shops and unfortunately mills, animal shelters (specifically the Humane Society) are left overflowing with pets that need loving homes. They are running into a perception problem however, and many misconceptions about shelter pets are accepted as fact, and often repeated as such.
To get past this, we decided to take the problem head on, and address the most common misconceptions individually.
Here is where we landed:
Lauren and Dan sit’n in a tree…
My good friend Lauren is getting married in July, and though I am extremely jealous of her fiance Dan (don’t tell my wife), I made their save the date cards.
I use VistaPrint to print these types of things. Though the quality suffers, and the rumor is that they are destroying local community printers nationwide, for the price they can’t be beat. Check them out next time you want to customize your own holiday card or invitation.
Here’s how Lauren’s STDs turned out: