Monday, 14 November 2011

How to use Instagram and Ink361 to find other cool parents

In my welcome post I wrote about how I turned to the web to find other mothers like me- a little bit left of centre, a little bit alternative, a little bit crazy. I should have just browsed the News and Popular sections of Instagram until I found them. Never mind, I've done it now, and as a result every time I check my feed I get to admire new photographic uploads by cool mums from all over this amazing planet! I've also discovered some great blogs and Tumblr accounts by the same people, which is further proof that images say what a million words can only ever hope.

Have you noticed that more and more of your iPhone friends are using Instagram too? You know, those extraordinary photos popping up all over your Twitter or Facebook stream with the caption (your friends name)'s photo on And I do mean photos- they couldn't possibly have been taken with a mobile phone camera, right?

It really is a tops app. You take a photo with your iPhone (yep, with your iPhone, not a real camera!)- or chose one from your library, apply a filter (or don't- its up to you) and share it with the Instagram community. You can also choose to share your pics on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, and Foursquare. It is an iPhone/iPad only app at the moment, but the Instagram team assure us that they are working on a droid version. Here is just a taste of what some of the filters can do:

If you want to really immerse yourself in the Instagram experience, you can follow your friends posts from within the app itself. Go to "Profile" then "Find friends" or "Invite friends." From there you can find or invite friends from your iPhone contacts, Facebook friends or Twitter friends. 

You also can find friends by searching for their name or username; or if you are really tricky you can find strangers with cool pictures by opening the "Popular" tab; or by opening the "News" tab and changing the view from "you" to 'Following' to see who your friends are diggin'. Simply tap a user name to go to their profile and click "Follow" to add them to your stream. Another way is to search hashtags (a hashtag is a word or phrase written in the caption section of the photos. Phrases are written with no spaces between each word, and all hashtags are preceded by a #, i.e.: #ilovehim #milkeyesbabyblogisthebest #cheekylittlemonkey etc). I have found heaps and schneaps of cool mums and dads from all over the world just by clicking through images and hashtags- the same way I hop from cool image to cool image on Tumblr.

You can also comment on pictures, 'like' pictures, add multiple hashtags or tag people in comments by using the @ symbol in front of their user name. It works both ways too- you can have conversations with people, or direct them to your pictures by tagging them, and follow up on the activity by opening the "News" tab and changing the view to "You". If you use Emoji emoticons as part of your text you can add them to your comments and profile too. But my favorite things to do on Instagram are participate in photo challenges and competitions. Basically, by labeling your photo with the hashtag of a competition (for example #curiouscuties) you are in the running to be selected by the competition host. The winner is chosen by popular vote. And you win, well, nothing, but it is fun and can often gain you new followers or be a great way to 'meet' other cool people.

While Instagram is currently only available on the iPhone or iPad, you can view your pics and those of your friends online through Ink361 (formerly Inkstagram). And as if that isn't enough Instagram tips for you, the friendly people over at Photojojo have rounded up ten useful, fun, and amazing new ways to use Instagram.

I know you are thinking "great, another must have iAccessory to keep up with" but Instagram is really special. It takes mere seconds to scroll through a stream of pictures that tell you what your mates are up to, and the pictures all look so good its always a delight. And better yet, you can use the app to connect with inspirational people from all over the world. My user name is consumeconformobey if you want to follow me- I'll add you right back.

Following the white rabbit to Instagram wonderland,
Sandi D

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