8 Things I’ve Learned from Instagram Over the Last Three Years

3 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

When I got my first iPhone in 2012, the very first app I downloaded was Instagram. Instagram launched in October of 2010, and quickly grew in popularity. By the time I joined in 2012, it already had over 100 million active users.

For someone like me who was forever filling up their phones with images, this was an app I knew I would never be without. Sure, I posted most of them to Facebook, but now I could have an app that was dedicated to my love of images.

Image: Anna Bieniek via Flickr

Throughout the last three years, my own insta-style has changed. I went from heavy filters and frames, to edited in a program like VSCOcam or Adobe Lightroom Mobile and uploading with PicTapGo, an app that adds white space to your images.

During those times my style changed, it was usually due to inspiration from another account, or trying to venture in a different direction. But what I always learned was the most important was being you. At least, for your personal account. Below are eight things I've learned in the last three years of using Instagram.

Stop worrying about the users who just follow you for the follow back.

While I use @itseryne for personal, I also use it to promote this blog. And in order to help new visitors find me, I need followers. I used to get so hung up on who was following me, and would get really upset when someone unfollowed my account.

As I learned more, I realized that there were so many accounts out there that will follow you, simply for the follow back. They don't care what you're posting, or what you have to say. They just want you to follow them.

When I stopped focusing on that and focusing more on following those who I was interested in, I started to see my accounts grow and those that were following me were actually interested in what was there.

Avoid any food-related hashtags when hungry.

I've made the mistake in the past of looking up #foodporn before lunchtime. Let's just say I was immediately inspired to go home and cook ALL.THE.FOOD because of the beautiful images in front of me. I also realized how hungry I was, and how not fulfilling my salad was about it be.

There is a such a thing as Instagram life vs. Real life

I didn't believe it at first either. But then I realized I was starting to do it. You know, that thing where you stage photos and take a million of them until you think you've gotten just the right one. Yeah, that's instagram-life.

Real life is just that. Real images that you snap once (maybe twice) and post. No crazy staging. No crazy editing. Just real life. I try not to do the instagram life thing too often, but it happens. And I'm not ashamed. But my goal is real life images on my Instagram account, as often as possible.

Check out this great piece about this phenomenon.

When you're trying to get in shape, Instagram has one of the best fitness communities around

Seriously. If you need inspiration or you're having a down day, search #weightloss, #weightlossinspiration and so on. In fact, when you need a little support, simply use some of the fitness hashtags out there and you'll find a whole slew of people who will become instant cheerleaders.

It happened to me a few years ago. After completing nearly 50 days of Insanity, I posted a before and after photo. I had only lost 10 lbs, but several inches, and it was the first time I had ever posted anything like that before.

I hated doing it, but you know what happened? I had nearly 50 people and 30 comments basically high-fiving me through my iPhone. That, my friends, is what that community is all about.

Check out a few of my favorite fitness accounts:

If you have a serious case of wanderlust, there are some incredible accounts that will help to ease it.

Or in my case, make it ten times worse. But at least it gives a sense of traveling without leaving home. I love traveling. If I had the time and the funds, I would be jetsetting all over the world. Instead, I get my fill of wanderlust by checking out some great travel blogs and Instagram accounts. And daydream of all of the places I want to visit.

A few of my favorites:

I want all white everything; white desk, white walls, white comforter, purely so my Instagram photos look cleaner.

This is purely so whatever I'm taking a photo of will instantly look cleaner and pop more. putting on top of them, in front of, and so on, looks better. It seems like every popular Instagram account out there has something white, whether it's white walls, a white desk, a white rug, etc. to take their photos on.

I know most of them are staged, but I love the clean look it provides. Needless to say, my inspiration for my office is white. White everything. Except white walls. We've already decided on a light turquoise (which I'm really excited about), but I'm definitely on the hunt for the perfect white desk and white accessories now!

#TransformationTuesday made me realize that I've already had my own personal transformation. At least in terms of happiness.

Everyone knows this popular hashtag. If you google it, you'll see plenty of weight loss transformations. But last year, I realized that despite gaining quite a bit of weight, I had a different kind of transformation. I realized that I was happy. Truly happy.

And that particular hashtag made me realize it's not always about the outside transformation. Sometimes the inner transformation needs to happen first.

You can read that particular post here: http://www.blogher.com/transformationtuesday

I have the best photo album around, at least in my mind.

I've filled my feed with my favorite moments at the barn, my own engagement, friends, weddings, vacations, family memories, weight loss successes and failures, and so much more. It's a perfect look at my life in pictures.

In the last three years, I've documented the good, the bad and the ugly. And learned a lot about Instagram, and myself, in the process. And I'm so thankful for that.

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Eryn Carter
It's Eryn E
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