More than 150 million photos have now been shared to Instagram, so it’s safe to say that although the filters can seem a bit gimmicky at times, the quick and easy photo sharing app and its dedicated community are here to stay.
But, if you find yourself just uploading photos, applying a quick filter and moving on (the way I tend to use the app) then you’re missing out on A LOT of interesting stuff.
Here are some of our top ways to get more from the app, helping you to explore more of the Instagram community and get better images in the long run.
Try new filters with 100 Cameras in 1
When we published our Instagram photo app rivals feature last week, one of the main contenders was photo editing app 100 Cameras in 1.
The app gives you a choice of 100 different filters for your photos and although some can look a bit ‘samey’, the great thing about 100 Cameras in 1 is that you can edit a photo and then share it directly through to Instagram, so it’s ideal if you want more choice but like to keep up to speed with the Instagram community.
Explore the app
I tend to quickly flick through the photo Feed which just displays the images my friends have shared. Although this is ideal if you don’t have enough time to aimlessly browse photos, the Popular section is really worth checking out during boring commutes. Not only will it introduce you to cool new Instagrammers, it’ll give you plenty of photo inspiration.
The News section gives you a rundown of what your Friends have been uploading and liking and who they’ve started following. Again, this is a good way to find new photos and users, making it seem like you’re involved in a much wider network, so you get that warm fuzzy feeling of being part of a community, or maybe that’s just me.
Connect with your other networks
In the Find Friends option within the Profile tab, you can add friends from your other networks, so it’s worth making sure you’ve got everyone from Facebook and Twitter added (assuming you want them to see your photos of course). You can also have a look through the Suggested users section, which displays some of the most popular users.
Read the Instagram blog
The Instagram blog is easy to read because it’s super simple and stripped bare of unnecessary clutter. Posts range from company news, new app features, as well as posts which are a collection of different images.
These are usually really interesting and we love the most recent gallery-like post about street art. It’s also fascinating to see the posts the Instagram team have put together which focus on particular events or current affairs issues, like the London Riots and Hurricane Irene.
Use hash tags
Earlier in the year, Instagram introduced hash tags so that users can tag their images, making it easier to search for the things that interest you.
Obviously you don’t have to use hash tags, but it will make it easier for people to find your stuff.
The Search tool is hidden away a little, you can find it in the Profile tab.
Link up your other online accounts
I imagine sharing ALL of your Instagram photos to ALL of your networks every time you upload something could get a little tedious.
But, Instagram has now added even more services, enabling you to share to Twitter, Facebook, Email, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare AND Posterous. I tend to send most of mine to Flickr so I know they’re all stored somewhere with the rest of my images.
If you’re secretive, make your photos private
Although Instagram seems like a very open and public network, there is an option to make all of your photos private. It’s located in the Profile tab and will mean that you have to approve people before they start following you.
Use a service on your computer
There’s no web interface for Instagram, so although the app is very easy to use, if you prefer to look at photos on a larger screen, try downloading something else to fill that void.
Here are some of our favourites:
Inkstagram is a web based interface which allows you to view photos from your friends, comment or like them AND find new, exciting people to follow too.
Webstagram is really the same as Inkstagram, but has a few more search tools, as well as a Photo of the Day section.
Gramfeed is another web-based interface with an added map to show where specific photos have been taken.
There are many, many more web-based interfaces and apps, so have a shop around until you find one that suits you.
Turn your photos into stickers, books or magnets…
Every day there’s another company promising to turn your Instagram images into special little keepsakes printed onto all kinds of different things.
Keepsy lets you create books and photo albums.
StickyGram has fridge magnets covered.
Printstagram gives you mini photos, posters, stickers, a mini book and our favourite, a tiny book.