Note to pros: This Instagram guide is designed for moms who are finally deciding to give Instagram a go. It is not for marketers, influencers, anyone with a business account, or kids who don’t need an Instagram guide because they can probably write one in their sleep.
For all of you moms who need an Instagram guide because you signed up and were like, wait, whuuuuu?! I am so here for you.
I have been an Instagram mom for many, many, MANY years.
More years than my kid-does-math-for-me brain can even calculate in fact.
I can’t pinpoint when my first post was and I am way too lazy to scroll back to the beginning, but what I can tell you for sure is that I’ve been a member of the social network long enough to have posted over 6,700 images to the platform.
Six thousand seven hundred images!
When I write it out like that even I find it hard to believe.
Despite the whopping number that would lead you to believe otherwise, most of the time I spend on Instagram is not devoted to posting pictures to my own feed. I spend most of my time in platform looking at and engaging with those of others.
Because as much as I love the DudeMom Facebook page and all of the amazing conversations me and my mom friends have over there, I’d give it all up if someone tried to take my Insta away.
Because it’s the best, and I love it.
I like to blame the photographer in me, but I kinda think it’s really
Noah Centineo that I’d miss checking in on the people I follow.
It is my happy place where I go to look at pretty pictures of cute outfits, and delicious food, and beach vacations, and Noah Centineo who, incidentally, also enjoys clothing, food, and vacations (we’re basically soul mates, obviously).
I can easily spend an hour on the platform
checking in on my blog buds, looking at Noah’s stories, shopping (most of my holiday gift ideas came from Instagram ads last year), laughing, looking at Noah’s feed, finding recipe ideas, or home decor ideas, or outfit ideas, looking at Lana’s feed to see if she’s hanging out with Noah (she hasn’t been, for the record), and even crying over photos and videos people I don’t know and will probably never meet have posted.
And yes, being a part of a celebrity’s Instagram fam makes you call them by their first names when you talk about them, because online friends are real friends, everyone knows that.
When you break it down, it really is as weird as it sounds, but I’ve decided that’s what living in 2018 is all about.
I was recently chatting with a mom friend about the platform and she admit to me that she “isn’t really on Instagram.”
Needless to say, I was as confused as I was horrified and I immediately sought to get to the bottom of the situation, immediately.
Turns out, she just didn’t know what she was missing!
She didn’t realize that Instagram is all of the happy things Facebook used to be but with pictures and without having to deal with people tagging you in farm animal games.
It’s about telling stories and sharing moments with photos as your focus.
Which means those ugly, annoying, ranty political posts that keep popping up in your Facebook feed reminding you why you haven’t spoken to your uncle in 23 years are just not a thing on Instagram.
Because, thankfully, your uncle’s poor grammar, and bad spelling, and terrible flip phone photos have no place in the rainbow colored happy space known as Instagram.
Instagram is not here for that. Instagram is here to give you the perfect mix of entertainment and utilitarianism to make it the perfect platform for busy moms who like pretty things, but don’t want to be shamed into DIYing them (yes, Pinterest, I’m talking to you).
I know how awkward and time consuming it can be to learn how to use a new platform, which is why I am coming to you, my friends, and giving you life with guide to Instagram.
This super quick Insta-torial is the perfect Instagram guide for all of you newbs out there still struggling to make sense of the platform.
Step into my office sister girl, I’m here for you.
Instagram Guide for Moms: 10 Questions Every Newb is Too Afraid to Ask
I am already on Facebook, do I even need Instagram?
Yes. They aren’t even a little the same.
Is Instagram going to confuse me like Snapchat?
Nah, girl, you’re good.
Instagram is not intentionally designed to be challenging so as to keep all the old people away like Snapchat. It’s not the same old Facebook feed with changes so slow and subtle your grandma can deal with them (yes, my grandmother is totally on Facebook). It’s not the tech speak and politics riddled nightmare that is Twitter. It’s not there to shame you with it’s beautiful recipes and craft ideas like Pinterest. And, it doesn’t rely on weird hashtags and vote up threads like Tumblr or Reddit.
It is, quite simply, a stream of photos that you scroll through while happily double tapping on the ones that bring you joy.
So it’s not gonna take an ebook and 20 YouTube tutorials to get the hang of it?
My Instagram guide will get you Instagramming like a pro innnnn *checks watch*, however long it takes you to read the rest of this post.
You create your profile, add a pic so you don’t look spammy, tell people a bit about yourself in the bio section, and then feel free to upload your first photo.
In addition to your feed (where you post photos with captions), there will be a stories section.
This is the element that is most Snapchat-ish for those who care. It has fun filters in it and you can upload videos and images that you can share with everyone who follows you, just a few people, or just a special someone (this is where hit me in the DMs came from).
You are ready to Instagram.
Do the Stories disappear like Snapchat?
Well, sort of. But only after 24hrs, not right after you look at them.
And, if you really want to hang on to one of your stories, you can add them to your highlights.
Highlights are where you put stories you want to save to your profile indefinitely. They can be found right beneath your profile pic, following info, and bio on your profile page. They’re the circle thingy that says highlights, duh.
Is it a safe space for those of us who are lurkers?
Lurking is completely acceptable behavior on Instagram.
Instagram doesn’t share who has seen something you posted (unless it’s a story-Instagram does tell you who watched your stories.). And, the average user isn’t making notes about who likes a post. We just like, likes and love comments and the fact that 1,000 people saw your photo and only 300 of them liked it isn’t that concerning.
Contrary to popular belief, you liking me is not what keeps me on Instagram all day. I’m on Instagram to like all of you! And Noah. I’m not sure if you can tell but, I spend a decent amount of time with Noah.
No matter what you decide to put out there yourself, you never have to feel awkward about looking at everything other people post.
If you find an IGer you love, feel free to spend as much time interacting with their profile as you want. They won’t know you look at their profile to see if they posted something new 67 times a day. In fact, if you never click like, they will probably never have a clue you exist, let alone that the entirety of that existence on rainy Sundays involves you analyzing the photos they posted over the last week.
You can pull it up and look at it a thousand times, send it to your friends so they can see it too (use the little paper airplane shaped thingy under the photo you want to share and then find the friend you want to share it with –easy!), scroll all the way back to the beginning of their feed and look at all of those pictures too.
It’s not weird (it will feel weird at first, but push through, you’ll get used to it), and no one will ever know.
Unless you double tap on one of those early feed pics.
And under no circumstances are you to double tap on any of those early feed pics -you don’t get to make this weird for the rest of us.
What about hashtags? Are they just funny fodder for Saturday Night Live skits or do they have an actual purpose?
Sure, hashtags can be funny, but more than anything they are really quite useful!
Whatever it is you’re interested in, hashtags can help you find it.
Say calligraphy is your jam and you want to look at awesome pictures of beautifully done calligraphy art. All you have to do is click on the search button (the tiny magnifying glass at the bottom of your screen) and type #calligraphy. It will pull up a bunch of pictures that use that hashtag which will allow you to find other people who also love calligraphy to follow.
As long as what you’re interested in isn’t something super creepy like alien baby hat knitting, it’s usually pretty easy to find like minded folk and the images they share by simply searching and then following the hashtag. And, there is something for everyone. In fact, I bet even #alienbabyhats are a thing on Instagram (never mind, they’re not).
Are you sure it’s not weird to just follow a bunch of total strangers?
Not at all.
In fact, it’s encouraged!
And I refuse to have my relationship with Noah questioned in this manner.
Instagram is about sharing interests and images.
Find people you’re interested in, or people who are interested in what you’re interested in, with images you find interesting, and follow them.
Then, be sure to double tap on a few of their images so Insta gets to know what it is you like.
DO NOT double tap on all of them. Only a few of them.
Because, unless you know a person extremely well (as in, you used to live in their womb or they in yours), liking a slew of someone’s pics all at once is generally considered thirsty behavior. And we all know hydration is key to a healthy, happy life.
Added bonus: letting IG know who you like will also help them recommend similar people and posts to you when you’re scrolling through Explore.
Speaking of Explore, what exactly is that?
It’s basically a curated feed of people and things Insta thinks you’ll like.
It’s basically never wrong.
I feel like everyone on Instagram is so pretty, and so are their husbands, their houses, and their kids. Even their messes are beautiful. How? How do they live this way?!
They are magical.
And, social media.
It is fake.
Like every other social platform, Instagram allows you to be exactly who you want to be.
Personally, I’ve always thought it makes sense in a way because who wants to look at terrible photos?
Who wants to see Kim K. hunched over the toilet thanks to a stomach bug?
And who wants to see Beyonce with a mean case of conjunctivitis courtesy of the twins’ first month of preschool?
No one still.
Or Noah Centineo, chilling in his robe, just before bed, psht, who is into that sort of thing?
Point is, Instagram allows you to share your most photographable moments.
Sometimes those are raunchy and raw, but for some people they just won’t be, and I’m totally fine with that.
I know Insta has a way of making people question every single thing about their own lives and why it’s not more awesome. And, I know this often hits hardest for moms who are second guessing everything they do moment to moment anyway.
So what’s your advice? How do you love it without letting it get to you?
If at all possible, maintain perspective.
Social media –Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, all of it—is not the same as real life.
It is a place where you can omit what you’re not comfortable with and highlight what you’re proud of. You can control it in a way you can’t control your reality and, while some of us attempt to keep it more aligned with the truths we are actually living, we all hold things back from the public in order to protect ourselves and those we care about.
For me, it means telling my story as authentically as possible, while also respecting my loved ones, our safety, and our relationships. I don’t always make my bed before I snap a mirror pic of what I’m wearing. I might post a picture without a filter so you can see the grit in an image or the lines of exhaustion on my face. You can look into the background of my images and see the truth that is our life. But, I don’t give you all of it -I keep parts, lots of parts actually, just for us.
It’s creative nonfiction—our life’s truth with a bit of storytelling flair.
And, while my chosen genre is the one I appreciate and enjoy the most, I sometimes like other geneses too –romance, fiction, historical fiction, autobiographies, fables—there’s room on the shelf for all of them and I’m happy to see them in my feed too.
We are all able to write our own stories and tell them however we want. That’s the best part about being the author, right? You get to choose how the story is told.
I look at Instagram (and Facebook, and YouTube, and all of it) as a form of entertainment. I don’t expect what I watch on TV to be 100% true to life at all times and I don’t expect what I see on Instagram to be either.
Sometimes I want to watch The Kardashians, sometimes I want to watch This Is Us, and sometimes I’m in the mood for a little Dateline. I can get it all on Instagram and all it takes is a scroll.
Fine, I’m in, do you have recommendations for who I should follow first?
There are so many Instagram moms I enjoy following and no Instagram guide would be complete without giving you a list of people to get you started.
The 16 Best People to Follow On Instagram Right Now
First, me. I’m @thedudemom over there and my feed is about everything I love including my DudeMom Life.
View this post on Instagram
Then, all of these, in no particular order…
@lashawnwiltz -Awesome feed for photo lovers.
@happy.loud.life -A family living in an RV and traveling all over the place.
@mywifestyles -mom of 3 sharing pics of her life
@blogaboutitall -DudeMom of 4
@modernsportsmom -DudeMom with sports loving and playing dudes
@syreenab -homeschooling mom of 3 with a great YouTube channel too
@anuncomplicatedlifeblog -current DudeMom to twins pregnant with, wait for it…TWINS
@boys_run_free -it’s more about beautiful photos than it is about anything else
@allfortheboys -Allison is a friend in the blogging world and I’ve always loved her site and her feed because her dudes are similar in age to mine and they’re a Disney loving family too. She’s just WAY craftier than I am.
@shellthings -Another DudeMom blogging bud I have always loved. Her feed is full of real life moments of her life with her sons.
@kristenanniebell -Yep, the celebrity one. For a mom celeb she is super down to earth, open, and cool. She throws in a little activism and a lot of funny too.
@chrissyteigen -You know her, you love her, her clapbacks are as impressive as her snapbacks, you might as well follow her on Instagram too.
@vanessa_james_sk8 -Listen, sometimes you find people you like and you don’t even mean to. She’s one half of my favorite ice skating pairs team and I love following her ice-ventures (the other half is @morgan2477 and you should totally follow him too).
@noahcentineo -If you still haven’t watched Sierra Burgess is a Loser and/or To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, then just never mind.
@amusingfoodie -The only food feed I follow religiously because a) Liza is a real life friend, and b) she doesn’t make me feel like a kitchen loser because while all her food looks amazing and her photos are lovely, her recipes seem like something I could actually pull off if I had the time, desire, and energy to try.
Looking for more people to follow? I have lists!
If you like DudeMoms: Instagram Guide: DudeMoms to Follow
And, if you like to be inspired: Instagram Guide: 10 Inspiring Women to Follow