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Instagram: How to go viral with your filtered photos/videos

The phrase goes: a photo is worth a thousand words. Throw a filter on it, a few hashtags, share it across a variety of networks, and it’ll do more than just that.

Launched in 2010, Instagram has been telling people’s stories through varied means. Amateur photographers and their smart phones photos have been transformed into works with art with a help of a filter. Go figure. In 2012, the company was acquired by Facebook and has just recently added a new layer of media sharing – filtered 15 second videos. Hooray! Within the first 24 hours of its launch, users had uploaded a total of 5 million videos further proving that Instagram was a force to be reckoned with and that there’s something here of value. So how does a user like you win at this thing? You’ve got skills, photos to share – how do you make them viral?

Start with the basics: pick a photo for your profile that best represents you, don’t use one your artistic Instagram photos of your food or cat as a profile photo. Save that for your stream. People want to engage with the real you, not an image. So make sure it’s a photo of you.

Create a bio that says something about you, your interests, and what people will find in your stream. Think of it like a Twitter bio. How will your bio sell you to your audience and get them to follow and engage with you?

Take good photos and know what filters to use: sounds simple enough but it’s actually not. If you look at most Instagram feeds, it seems to be a haphazard mix of whatever people could find that day, mixed in with a filter, and an absolute mess and waste of the creative space that is Instagram. Instagram can improve your photos (to a certain extent) but you really need to put some effort in first. Take some time to learn how your smart phone camera settings work, focus on the subject of your photo, edit in another app (Snapseed, Camera+) if you need to, and then actually take some time going through the filters to make sure they work with the photo.

Hashtag it up: Ever see all those hashtags on Instagram photos and think they’re crazy? Well, they’re not. Think of hashtags like SEO for your photos. If you want it seen, if you want it to go viral, you need to use hashtags wisely. Is that a photo of a deer in the forest? Hashtags it with #nature, #deer, #forest, #outdoors, etc. You get the point. What else is in that photo? Trees, shrubbery, a stream? Think of other ways it could be found. Note: don’t use all your hashtags in the main description, this will annoy your followers on other networks. Only use one or two hashtags in the description and then use the rest in the comments section.

Interact and be real: Just like you would on any other network, make sure you respond to commenters and thank them if they compliment you, etc. Also be real. Make sure the pictures you’re sharing were actually shot by you and don’t share something shot by someone else. After all, you’re trying to promote yourself as brand, as an entity – not some knock off fake. Don’t let your followers down.

Are you an Instagram superstar? Share your tips for success in the comments below.

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