It is one of the fastest-growing social networks, but are you building the most of its photo and video features? Get some handy hints

When Instagram was launched in October 2010, it was an app for applying stylish filters to your photos and sharing them with pals. Six and a half times( and a$ 1bn acquisition by Facebook) on, it has 700 m active consumers and a host of advanced features.

Its still simple to share a photo or a video now with a few taps. Nonetheless, if you talk to some of the people who have tens or even hundreds of thousands of adherents on the service, youll realise theres a lot to be informed about mastering it.

From getting to grips with Instagrams recently introduced stories feature to building the most of hashtags and smoothing your hits utilizing other apps, here are some tips that could help, including advice from some of those popular consumers on how they manage their Insta-lives.

Get to grips with the editing tools

The most basic level of sharing on Instagram is to choose one of its filters: Clarendon, Hudson, Lo-Fi and so on. Nonetheless, for photos you should also try the manual editing option, provide access to tapping the edit button at the bottom of the screen. You can tweak the brightness, contrast, warmth and other aspects of your photo, as well as sharpening it; utilize a tilt-shift effect to blur out certain parts; play with an option called arrangement that they are able look striking. That said, should be considered how the results fit in with your overall feed.

Aim to develop a signature style of photography that attains your feed memorable and an image instantaneously recognisable as one of yours, suggests Estelle Puleston, who works at social-marketing agency CollectivEdge.

Dont switch from a bright Clarendon filter on one photo to a dark and moody Hefe on the next. Continue a topic going with the props and backgrounds within your photos too.

Try some other apps that work with Instagram

Most popular Instagrammers use other apps to smooth their photos before sharing them.

I really like use Facetuneto add details and whiten areas in my photos, mentions manner and beauty blogger Teral Atilan( @teralatilan) who has 122,000 followers on Instagram.

I then like to use VSCOto add a filter. VSCO is great because you can create a customised filter, then facsimile and paste to all your images.

VSCO is cited by many of her peers on the service. It helps to do simple edits and also has a really good selection of filters, says London photographer Elena Shamis (@ elensham ), who has 128,000 followers.

SKRWTis the best app for photo straightening. Another useful app is TouchRetouch its like a smaller version of Photoshop and helps get rid of unnecessary objects on your photo.

If youre actually keen, style and travel blogger Scarlett London( @scarlettlondon) recommends Um Un. It allows you to plan your feed in advance, way which of your posts are most popular and also hold pre-edited photos to post immediately to the app.

Dont forget Instagrams own apps

Instagram has launched three standalone apps to help its users get more creative: Layout, Boomerang and Hyperlapse. All three are worth experimenting with.

Layout is a simple way to turn a number of photos into collages with a variety of layouts, but all fitting in the traditional square format.

Boomerang takes a quick explosion of 10 photographs and turns them into a video that loops back and forth and has become a popular tool for the stars of Instagram.

Hyperlapse lets you hit a video for as long as you like, then condenses it into a time-lapse clip while stabilising wobbly footage. Layout and Boomerang are available for iOS and Android, while Hyperlapse is iOS-only.

Use hashtags to reach more people

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But should the hashtag by #cake or #bakinglife? Photograph: Tarik Kizilkaya/ Getty Images

Lots of people know how to use a hashtag to label their portrait, whether its #sunset, #cats_of_instagram or #tbt( Throwback Thursday for vintage pics ). But most of us dont truly think hard about how we use them.

If you are not applying hashtags, that intends merely your adherents will see your photo. Hashtags help to get exposure to the audience you wouldnt be able to reach otherwise, says Shamis.

If you want your post to reach a wider audience, use five to 10 relevant hashtags, avoiding the more common or anything too niche. Be specific, but not too specific, tells Puleston. #Cake? Too generic. #BakingLife? Great choice. #CakeWithIcing? No ones searching for that.

Rather than posting it in the caption itself, try to post them in the first statement instead, adds London. This doesnt seem quite so intrusive.

Start use stories

If you use Instagram, youll have noticed the row of bubble-shaped pals profile photos among the priorities of your feed, including one for your tale. This feature, facsimile from Snapchat, is about posting regular photos and videos that can be more raw and unedited, safe in the knowledge that theyll simply be seen for 24 hours. Its a more throwaway use for Instagram, although thats not to say there cant be some strategy to how “youre using” it.

From my experience, the first shared tale is always the most viewed one, so I would recommend not to post too many. Id say not more than 10 per day, mentions Shamis.

Stories are meant to be more raw, so the key is not to get too hung up on their quality, in contrast to the agonising that can go into a regular Instagram post.

The most organic Insta narratives garner the most participation, mentions Rod Alvarenga from marketing corporation BzzAgent. People dont expect a perfectly curated image or video; instead, they are looking for snippets[ of] my daily life. Scarlett London agrees: It allows for a little more realism.

Make your posts stickier with stickers

One useful feature in narratives is the ability to augment your snaps with digital stickers, reached with the sticker icon at the top of the screen, once youve taken a photo. From hats and specs to slogans and emojis, theyre a fun way to jazz up your images.

Theres also a route you are able to become your own face into a sticker: simply open the stickers menus and tap the circle with a camera to create a mini-selfie for pasting into your shot. You can also add a flag with your current place, date and/ or temperature.

These features arent available for purposes of regular shots posted to Instagram, just for tales, reinforcing the more casual nature of this kind of sharing.

Broadcast live video to the world

Instagrams narratives feature isnt just for uploading photographs and videos: it can also be used to broadcast live video to your best friend and followers. Launching a broadcast is as easy as tapping the button to create a new narrative, then swiping right to the live alternative and tapping the beginning live video button.

Some pals will get a notification to say youre broadcasting and you are able to decide whether statements should be on or off while youre live. One important level: your broadcast wont be viewable once you finish, although you can save it to your phone for posterity.

Use a proper camera

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Would your vacation kills be more appropriate with a bigger lens? Photograph: Kyle Monk/ Getty Images/ Blend Images

You may sometimes have wondered why some popular Instagrammers photos seem so much better than yours. The unclean secret: many of them are using proper cameras, editing their shoots on personal computers and then transferring them to a smartphone for posting.

If you can take the time to use a camera, that will stimulate your photos stand out from the crowd, tells photographer Edward Barnieh( @edwardkb ), who has 188,000 Instagram followers.

Depth of field, being able to shoot in low sunlight and using wider/ narrower angle lenses all give you an advantage over a phone user.

Some go even further: Meghan and Dom Loneragan, who run the Citizens of the Worldtravel profile, say they use drones to shoot some Instagram posts, as well as DSLR cameras.

Stay on top of privacy and moderation

Like every social network, Instagram has its share of trolls. Mastering the app doesnt just intend being good at creating photographs and videos: it also signifies getting on top of its privacy and moderation features.

At its most basic, you can choose whether to build your account private or public: if its private, anyone wanting to follow you will need your approval. Tapping the gear( fixes) icon on your profile offers some more alternatives, though. Under comments, you can choose to hide comments that include words or phrases often reported as offensive, as well as adding your own keywords to screen out.

You can even turn off statements wholly on individual posts, via the advanced defines option that appears on the final screen before you post.

Also, you are able to( and should) turn on two-factor authentication from the specifies menu, to add an extra layer of security against hackers.

Finally, a new feature enables you to archive individual posts: tap on the three-dots icon at the top right to hide them from other Instagram customers, although they wont removed from your account.

Get yourself a second account

In February 2016, Instagram added specific features to make it easier to switch between two different reports in its app, without having to sign in and out every time.

That has in turn spawned a growing trend for people to keep two Instagram accounts on the go: one that can be viewed by everyone and the other thats purely for close friends.

A recent New York Post article defined this as Finstagram( private) and Rinstagram( public ). The hypothesi is that the former can be a less pressured route to share photos, avoiding the need to care whether the editing is top notch or about how many likes and statements they get.

For popular Instagrammers, that means they can let off steam, but for the rest of us, a Finstagram might be a good way to practise the tips-off from this article, before posting the best shots that ensue on our Rinstagrams.

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ engineering/ 2017/ jul/ 15/ ten-ways-to-master-instagram