Welcome to our newest #holdersnotfolders challenge. A couple of weeks ago,  Beth & I announced that we were bringing back our Holders Not Folders challenges! So many of you participated in our Summer 2014 series, and we had a blast cultivating a creative Instagram community with you all.

For this quick, six week series, we want to focus on teaching you something new (or reminding you of something you already know) to integrate into your phone photography. Each week we will announce the new challenge, share a quick tutorial and/ or tips, and then encourage you to practice that skill in your Instagrams! Make sure you hashtag #holdersnotfolders and interact with the others participating!

Are you in? We want to encourage you that you can create fun and inspiring photos with your phone and have a beautiful instagram that reflects YOU! Join the challenge and get creative.

Written by Elizabeth of Oak + Oats

Building, creating, attaining, and nurturing a community can be overwhelming but it is the heart of this social media. With Instagram you are sharing bits of your everyday life with others and you are entering into the worlds of those you follow. You do this by posting a picture and writing a little blurb. Some Instagramers will post in the moment while others save up for the perfect shot, either way, they are sharing a visual story of their brand, blog, or life. 

Community is defined as "a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals." It is not a number, it is not a filter, and it is not the perfect picture - it is the people that can relate and are inspired by you.

Each Instagram feed is different and different feeds are going to cultivate different communities. The best way to find the community you thrive in best is to be yourself, whether that is perfectly matched photos, handwriting only, real life family shots, wedding photography, or everyday life. Be yourself, your brand, your style. Here are some things to think about when you post and when you read! 

Share a piece of your life! Think about what you are posting and why you are posting it. If you are sharing something pretty that you will hope inspires people, add a little comment explaining that! Or maybe you wanted to share one of your favorite quotes with a picture you took that morning. Or maybe you are at your favorite coffee shop and it is filled with so many memories - let your followers know! Instagram is all about sharing! Open up in a way you feel comfortable that fits your brand. Use the social media to share your world, dreams, hopes, passions, talents, skills, and words with others!

One other thing to think about when you post is connecting. Some of the main ways to do this are by tagging other Instagram accounts and using hashtags. These help your Instagram get in front of new eyes and organized in other categories than your own. Whenever I post a brand who I know has an Instagram, I always tag them! They may even reshare your photo on their feed if they love it! Also, if you heard of a recipe or idea from someone else, tag them too! They also may regram you and it is great at forming those relationships with others.

Using hashtags is another popular way to branch out to new community. Some people believe that the more hashtags you use, the more you grow but I think less is more. I believe over hashtagged posts look messy and almost like a try-hard.  I recommend only using ones you feel like you need or would benefit you. If I use #cute on a photo of a card from Happy Mail, I doubt people will be searching the hastag and be so excited to find me but if I use #happymail or #abmhappymail on that photo, the chance of someone searching that hashtag and liking my photo is much greater. Also, think about your brand before you post, some hashtags may already be taken over by a different feel than you were going for. Be familiar with the types of photos in those hashtags.

Lastly, invite your follows to engage somehow with your content. What do you want your followers to do after they see your post? Do you want them to comment about their favorite latte? Do you want to hear how they were inspired by your post? Or do you want to encourage them to share their favorite quote too? Add a call to action at the bottom of your post! Be creative about it!

Poor Example:  Leave a comment
Better Example: Which latte would have your name on it?

Community building does not just take place when you post, but also when you are reading through your feed. When you see something you like, like it! There is no need to second guess or hold back to save your likes. That double tap is made for you. Also, follow Instagram accounts you truly like and don't feel bad not following those you don't enjoy. You don't need to follow everyone back unless you want to.

This goes a little farther than a like. This requires engaging with a post. Engage with posts! If you think something or answer a question while scrolling your feed, take a second and share it! Comments stand out a lot more than likes do and increases the opportunity for interaction with others in the post and with the author of the post!

To branch out and find new accounts to follow, browse hashtags, brand accounts, and maybe even the "picked for you" browse section on Instagram. This will help you find other shops and bloggers that fit with your brand and may be the beginning of a collaboration or a new client!

HOMEWORK: It is your turn now! As you go into this week taking photos for your Instagram, think about community! See if you notice a difference in your community when you think of these three things when posting and when reading. Look at some of your favorite Instagrams or Instagramers - do they do some of these things? Share with us any photo you are proud of by using #holdersnotfolder and share some love on the other grams you see in the feed! 

Make sure to follow @oakandoats & @megmcilvaine on Instagram. To see the rest of this challenge and our others, click here. 
Stacia said...

I really love how you two are going about this series! So much fun!

Samantha@Elah Tree said...

Wahoo! You go girl(s)! :)

Meg McIlvaine said...

Woohoo. Thanks for being part of our community, Sam :)

Meg McIlvaine said...

Thanks Stacia! That means a lot :)