Social Media 101: Instagram

TSP • @myTSPnet


Instagram is probably the most popular way to share snapshots of your life. The social media icon was launched in October 2010 and had over 1 million users by the end of the year. Today, the popular app is owned by Facebook and has over 800 million users – a number that only continues to grow.

While the platform is generally used to connect with your personal network, it is not unusual for future employers, clients and coworkers to scope out your grid before choosing to work with you. So, how do you tailor your Instagram to advance your career?

The main point of Instagram is to share photos with your followers. While these photos started out mainly as a method of sharing your day-to-day activities with friends and family, the platform has become increasingly used to share curated content with your professional network.

The first thing you should do before posting a photo is decide why you're on Instagram. Are you looking to share pictures of your fun life with college friends and family, or are you looking to use it to bolster your personal brand? Which one you choose will impact how and what you post. From there, you can begin posting the right photos for your audience.

In the early years of Instagram, selecting a filter was probably the hardest and most important decision to make before sharing. Now, there are hundreds of photo editing apps you can use to make your photos picture perfect. From selecting the best filter for your photo to adjusting the white balance and tonal contrast, there's an editing app for every level of expertise.

Hashtags are a key player in ensuring your content reaches as many eyes as possible. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags in a post, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them all. Select hashtags that are popular and relevant to your post, keeping in mind that sometimes less is more. Hashtags will bring additional attention to your post and have the ability to increase your followers based on shared hashtags and common interests.

Another key component of Instagram is geotagging – documenting where you are in the photo. You can be precise (the exact restaurant you’re dining at) or broad (the neighborhood the restaurant is located in) when geotagging. If your profile is public or you have a lot of followers, be careful of when you share your location as this information is viewable to all who follow you.

Regardless of why you post, it is important you protect your reputation. Just as with Facebook, be careful to not post anything questionable, such as photos of you drinking too much on a night out. What you caption your photos and even who you follow can affect how a future employer may view you as well. If you know you’re only using Instagram for personal use, making your profile private is highly recommended.

Instagram isn’t necessarily what you would consider a traditional networking tool. However, the key to using Instagram to build your network or bolster your brand is to encourage engagement. For those who leave a nice comment on your photo, acknowledge them with a reply or a simple tap of the Instagram heart. Follow your peers and brands within your industry, like and comment on photos that inspire you and send a direct message to someone you want to engage with. In doing so, you will build a meaningful follower base.

Instagram may not be considered a professional app, but that doesn’t mean it won’t impact your career in some manner. Just as with all other social media, knowing why you are on the platform and what you want to share is essential in your success. Ultimately, all your social accounts work together to build or break your personal brand.