Insta rules

Here is a crib sheet of all things insta.

There is this mysterious thing called the algorithm, no one has ever seen it or knows what it does but we need to obey it at all times and we must keep it happy. Just when you think you understand it it changes.

You must post at regular intervals. There is a legend that the best time to post is 7am or 7pm. The most prized time of all is Sunday evening, when people are laying comatose and scrolling through their phones with antiques roadshow on in the back ground. If you don’t post the insta gods will put you in the naughty step and not show your subsequent posts to very many people at all.

I have been told that the first hour, half an hour or ten minutes are crucial (depending on who I’m listening to). You must get lots of likes and at least eight comments within this time period. If you get a comment you must reply with a comment of longer than four words (emojis don’t count) if you get this just right then the insta gods will show your picture to more people. This is only if the insta gods are in a good mood, they could quite easily just leave it under a pile of kitten videos.

We like to get lots of likes, this is called engagement. Ideally we would like 10% engagement, this means that you get 10 likes for every 100 followers. However, there is no rhyme or reason to the number of likes you will get. You may as well shake a dice or pick a number out of the air. If your post makes it on to explore this is exciting, it means more people will see it. No one is quite sure how to get there though.

The pictures which do best are full room shots. You can do close up detailed shots, featuring a seasonal accessory such as a daffodil, pine cone or hot cross bun, or a flat lay. These involve laying your items flat on either some rough wood or crumpled fabric with flowers and or fairy lights sprinkled around them. It must also contain a mythical thing called blank space. I am rubbish at flat lays.

Do not used the filters which are available on Instagram. You must download another app, snapseed is my favourite. You must learn to filter, just enough but not too much. Too much makes your pictures look shit, like you’ve tried too hard. You must also lean to filter out all electrical wires and plug sockets, these are not insta worthy.

Do not edit your post after you have posted. This will mean that you go right back of the queue and need to get your likes and eight comments all over again, it also means that your post will show up in the notifications of anyone you’ve tagged, every bloody time you edit it. It also means that if you’ve made a typo or a grammatical error it is there for the whole of insta to see. A way to avoid this is to have your post ready and save it in drafts, you can then post it at your optimum posting time.

You are allowed to use thirty hashtags. If you use just one more insta will gobble up your caption. This will only ever happen once, and then you will learn to copy the caption before you post it. There is an insta law that says you must change your hashtags often and never put them the same order. (I break this law all the time, I have two lists which I copy and paste, if you look closely more often than not it will say #kitcheninspo on a bathroom post and always #blackcatsofinstgram)

Talking of hashtags, there are various ones;

a) Competitions, for these you need to follow the hosts, if you can’t find them don’t worry because they will remind you at every available opportunity. There may or may not be a theme or prompt. This could be monthly, weekly or daily. There may be prizes, like actual things, or the prize may be the glory of becoming a co host. If you become a co host you can ‘remind’ people that they need to follow you too.

@sophiecsophiedo has written such a good list of them all this month, this is the back page.

b) Trendy hashtags, these are really big pages with lots of followers. They often sound like nonsense words or can be in a different language. Some may just be words made up by big accounts for a laugh. We like to use them because the ‘success of your post is down to the hashtags you use’, Apparently. (#sodomino, #abmathime #interieur)

c) Words that actually relate to your post. We never use these. (#bath, #kitchen, #plant) these are for losers.

Some people run giveaways. You have to follow that person and the prize giver. Giveaways are sometimes to celebrate a milestone, but are usually to gain more followers.

Sometimes, if you have lots of followers, a brand may ask you to collab (orate). They will send you something to take a picture of, when you post the picture you must use #gift or the world will implode. Your followers may be able to win the product, there may be a discount code or we might just hope they go and buy it for themselves.

Events or insta meets are gatherings of insta people. We all wear bright clothes, usually leopard print, and take pictures of our food and drink. We all love meeting each other IRL (in real life). There is always a party bag, this will include lots of typography prints, possibly a towel and hopefully something good to eat. The people there will be middle aged ladies and gay men.

(Two Middle Aged ladies and a gay man)

Insta gold, this is a shot you pull out of the hat when your posts haven’t been getting many likes, we all have one. I like to make sure that mine is always visible in my last nine posts.

(Insta gold)

Props can be used to enhance a picture. We like sheepskin rugs (sheepies) cacti, neon signs, stings of fairy light and in between September and the beginning of December ALL the pumpkins, especially little white ones.

If you want to look at lots of statistics about your profile then switch to a business account. There are lots of graphs, pie charts and lists to confuse and bewilder you here. You don’t have to have a business to have a business account. You can also download an app which tells you who has unfollowed you, but this can make you anxious.

If you like too many pictures too quickly then you will get blocked and put into insta jail. We do not know where this is or how to get out of. There is an option to report it but it’s just a case of sitting it out, as I said earlier we have no idea who is in charge. Sometimes you can get put in insta jail for no reason at all. This is very annoying.

Once you reach 10, 000 followers you get the ‘swipe up’ function. This is good, because it means you can put a link in your story and do a swipey action with your finger to direct people elsewhere on the interweb. You can also apply to get affiliated links, this means that you will get commission if your swipe up leads to somebody buying something. The commission is usually 0.0001 pence.

Sometimes your post will bomb, we like to think this is because we posted at the wrong time of day, or used the wrong hashtags. Usually though it’s simply because our picture was shit.

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