Wish you could be at a retreat/event? Just want to see tons of pictures of knitting/crochet projects and yarn? Instagram is perfect for that. I know a number of you already use Instagram, but I know not everyone is there. Whether it's because you're not comfortable with Instagram and/or don't know how to use it or you're not sure why you'd even want to be on Instagram, I hope the tips that I share below will help you. (And those who already use IG, I have some recommended hashtags, so be sure to check that part out.)
Why Use Instagram?
The nice thing about Instagram is that it is a picture-based social media platform. Although there can be text that goes along with the pictures (and some great conversations), if you just want to look through the pictures for inspiration, it's really great for that. And then if you want to join in on the conversation, you can add that dimension to it as well.
I love looking at what other fiber enthusiasts are creating. I've gotten recommendations for patterns and yarn based upon what I see. And it just brightens my day to see all the lovely creations out there.
First, Instagram is primarily a mobile app, so you'll want to use your smart phone (if you have one) for Instagram. Although you can use it on a tablet, I've found that it's sized for a phone so looks strange on my iPad. And although you can view your feed on your computer, you can't post from your computer; it's really meant to be more of an "in the moment, on the go" type of platform (hence the "Insta" part of the name) rather than something you do while sitting in front of your computer.
If you've never used Instagram, you can Google "Instagram tutorials" and find websites and YouTube videos to walk you through it. I don't want to go into all the details here, so I'm just going to focus on a few things.
What Is a Hashtag?
Hashtags are what drive Instagram. Think of a hashtag as a way to categorize a post. It makes it really easy to find posts with topics you'll be interested in by searching for specific hashtags. (In technical terms, a hashtag is formed by using the number sign followed by a word/phase with no spaces, such as #roundtableyarns)
Through Instagram, you can search a specific hashtag, such as #knittersofinstagram, and find all sorts of knitting-related posts. When you use a hashtag on your posts, others will see your post when they look at that specific hashtag. It's a nice way to filter the content that you want to see.
Not sure which hashtags to use? When you are typing your post, start by typing that number symbol # and then a word such as yarn or knit. Instagram will pop up suggestions for you to use.
You can follow other accounts and you can follow hashtags. To follow a hashtag, when you are looking at a hashtag, there should be a blue button at the top that says "Follow." Just click that and posts from that hashtag will start showing up in your feed.
To follow a person, just go to that person's profile and click the blue follow button.
Instagram is not designed as a reciprocal following platform. What I mean by that is on something like Facebook, if you friend someone that means not only will you see that person's posts but they'll also see yours. On Instagram, when you follow someone it just means you see their posts. In order for them to see your posts, the other person has to click that blue Follow button as well.
Do not feel like you need to follow everyone who follows you. Just follow those people who are posting things you'd like to see show up in your feed.
Public vs. Private
Should your profile be public or private? That depends on what you plan to post on your account. If you're posting pictures of your family, especially young children, you may want to make your account private (meaning you have to approve each person who wants to follow you).
If you're posting pictures of your knitting projects and not anything personal, go ahead and make your account public. That way you can be found by other crafters and be part of the conversation (the "social" part of social media).
If you want to post both personal pictures and knitting/crocheting pictures, I actually suggest that you create two separate Instagram accounts. It's easy to switch back and forth between profiles (you don't have to do any logging out/logging back in; just make the switch from your profile page) and that way you can have a private personal account and a public crafting account. Because we want to see pictures of your projects!
Concerned about "weird" people following you if you have a public account? If you see someone has followed you that you're unsure of, you can block that person. That means the person will no longer be able to follow you and won't even see your posts when they look at the hashtags you've used.
Likes and Comments
Part of the fun of Instagram is taking part in the conversation. If you want to see who has liked and/or commented on your posts, click the heart down at the bottom of the screen to get a list. When you do that, if you see a comment, you can click on it and Instagram will take you to your post with that comment so you can reply.
I find this the easiest way to keep track of the conversation so you don't miss out on anything. (Though if you don't check fairly frequently, because Instagram only lists a limited number of likes/comments, you might miss ones that have dropped off the list that you haven't seen yet.)
Not sure which hashtags to use? Some, such as #knittersofinstagram, have hundreds of thousands or even millions of posts. That can be great if you're looking through the hashtag as there are lots of posts to look through, but if you want to have your post found and commented upon (to participate in the community aspects), it's better to use a hashtag that has around 100k posts . Also, when you're looking at a hashtag, Instagram will give you some other related hashtag suggestions.
Here are some of my favorite hashtags to use/follow:
#operationsockdrawer #imarealknitter #knitoholic #knittersofravelry #everydayknitter #knitlife #shareyourknits #knitlikeyoumeanit #knitallthethings #knittingismyyoga #crochetgeek
If you're going to be at an event, or want to follow an event from afar, there's usually a related hashtag. For example, DFW Fiber Fest uses #dfwfiberfest or #dfwff and you can also add the year, such as #dfwff2019. Follow the event hashtag(s) and keep up with what's going on.
And of course, there's #roundtableyarns #karendawndesigns and #tshirtsandshawls ;)
I could go on and on with Instagram tips, but this should at least get you started with some ideas of how to use Instagram. If you're not yet following me, you can find me there as karendawnknits.* Click the blue Follow button so my posts (a mix of things I'm knitting and what I am doing with Round Table Yarns) show up in your feed.
*I've wanted to change my Instagram name to roundtableyarns, but even though no profile pops up for roundtableyarns, Instagram says that name is unavailable whenever I've tried to change it. So if you want to tag me in something, make sure you use @karendawnknits as I'll never get notified if you use @roundtableyarns. (You can, of course, use the hashtag #roundtableyarns.)
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