Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Indie Tuesday—A Ten Step Crash Course on Instagram

Charity here. Jessica and I are thrilled that Rajdeep Paulus kicks off our social media series with a guest post on Instagram. Rajdeep is an indie YA author who writes "Marsala-Marinated YA Fiction." (Which is a great tagline, am I right?) So buckle up, hold on, and get ready for a ten step crash course on Instagram. I promise, it won't hurt a bit.

by Rajdeep Paulus @RajdeepPaulus

Picture it. Edit it. Frame it. Meme it. Hashtag it. Tag it. Heart it. Witty Comment it. Share it. Repeat. 

It really is that simple. In a day and age where social media, love or hate, isn't going anywhere, might as well jump on the Instagram wagon with your GPS set to keep it simple. Keep it fun. And keep it real.

1. Picture it: Take an original picture and upload it to the free Instagram app available for your smartphone. And if you have a product to share, be creative. Don’t always make it about the item you want people to invest in. Find ways to share yourself and what you value. A sunrise. A kiss. A frothy latte topped with whipped cream with a dash of cinnamon.

2. Edit it: You can crop your pic, filter it to pre-set lighting (black and white it for variety,) angle it, and even remove red-eye for those of us who are not professional photographers. And that’s most of us.
Instaframe Collage

3. Frame it: Instagram has some pre-made frames, but if you want to add some funky choices, download a framing app. Instaframe is the one I use, but there are a lot of them out there. Some are free, but most are pretty cheap and worth investing in so you can collage a few pics at a time.

4. Meme it: Memes are fancy quotes or captions on or under the picture. Beautiful Mess is great app with quite a few fonts, but new apps are coming out all the time to meme pics up the zingity-zang.

5. Hashtag it: the reason we hashtag is to connect with others who are posting pics on the same topic, event, or trend. Hashtags are what make Instagram social since people can find your pics by searching hashtags. As a writer, I like to make up hashtags for fun, like #nevergonnatellmymomaboutthisone and #dontyoudaretellmymomaboutthisone, but the way to be found on Instagram is to keep it simple and trendy, just like Twitter.

Example of an Instagram Tag
and Comment.
6. Tag it: Using the @ sign, tag users that are in the pic, might have something to say about the pic, or if you want to give them a shout-outtag an author if you post a pic of their book cover or a favorite quote from their book. 

7. Heart it: This is the equivalent of the Facebook “Like” or the Twitter “Favorite” but so much easier. All you have to do it double tap your smartphone over a picture to show some love, and a heart pops up. You can always tell when someone’s on Instagram vs. Twitter or Facebook when you see their hands moving in the pattern of scroll, tap tap, scroll, tap tap, scroll, scroll, scroll, oh wait, backscroll, tap tap. :)

8. Witty Comment it:The writer in me loves to caption a picture, but a lot of people stop at #1 and that’s totally okay. That’s why Instagram is so easy. It’s mostly a visual experience, and you never have to read a thing if you don’t want to. But a witty caption or question can add to the fun and lead to subsequent comments, inviting the social experience of social media.

9. Share it: This is by far my favorite feature of Instagram, because before you hit the SHARE button, you can actually choose to share this one post on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Flikr. One stop, multiple social media venues hit. I don’t always share a picture all around, but when I do, I do it like the most interesting man in the world. Hoping fans, followers, and friends will stay thirsty. And come back for more.

10. REPEAT: But not all day long. And not all the time. And not of the same thing a bunch of times. Keep it fresh and surely, they’ll come back for more.

A note on vids:
The fifteen second video option is the best. That’s about the attention span of the average human these days. So if you have something to say, sing, or showcase like a Mary Poppins Umbrella leap from the great heights of your curb to … umm, the street (it’s all about the CGI and camera angle that makes it Hollywood stunt-worthy,) here’s your chance to be a falling star. In the most endearing way.

A note on selfies:
Finally, don’t forget to follow peeps, repost (you need an app for this), and please, for the life of Pie, change up the selfie. On #SelfieSunday, post just a partial pic, say of your neon, nail polished right hand, the band-aid on your left knee from the fall you took off the curb in that Mary Poppins stunt gone wrong, or a shot of your forehead with a shimmery bindi on it, and no one will know you’re wearing sweats and staying in for the night to watch an entire season of #OUAT on Netflix. It’s all good. Okay, mostly all. And mostly good. Now, go forth and Instagram. And may the social media odds be ever in your favor.


On the fence about @instagram? Check out @rajdeeppaulus' 10-step crash course. #IndieTuesday #IndiePub #SocialMedia (Click to Tweet)

A 10-step crash course on @instagram by @rajdeeppaulus. #IndieTuesday #IndiePub #SocialMedia (Click to Tweet)

Rajdeep Paulus, author of Swimming Through Clouds and Seeing Through Stones, is mommy to four princesses, wife of Sunshine, a coffee-addict and a chocoholic. As of June 2013, she’s also a Tough Mudder. To find out more, visit her website or connect with her via FacebookTwitterPinterest, Tumblr, or Instagram.


  1. Rajdeep this is an excellent post AND you might be my new favorite person *goes to Instagram to look up Mary Poppins leaps*

    I have been (shamefully) terrified/reluctant to join Instagram -- which is deplorable because I'm a YA author. But you make it sound easy...and dare I say, fun to do. So by the end of the week I'm making myself join.

    1. Ha! Happy to meetcha! And the only leaps I've ever done worth mentioning were sadly never captured on film. But someday, I'll tell you the my long jump track meet story. It was so bad, they debated renaming the event short jump.

      Anyshway, jump on to Instagram and I'll follow you. And maybe we can trend the #MaryPoppinsLeap hashtag before the week is over!