Life after instafame: on making Instagram’s Suggested Users list

Earlier this year I thought I was the victim of a major spam attack. It was on a wintry January morning while I was on holiday in Prague when I logged on to Instagram and noticed an unusual amount of likes/follows on my notifications tab.  Then I really woke up…. How did my follower base triple overnight?! I must have been spammed! Someone must have accessed my login details and …. got me more followers … then I realized the logic didn’t make sense.

InstafameOnce I checked my email and saw one from Instagram It finally dawned on me that I’ve made the coveted Suggested Users list.  I whooped so loud that I startled the still sleepy Brit.

In a matter of two weeks, I went from 1,500 followers to gaining a reach of over 100k. While it’s incredibly exciting to have such a large audience it was also a good dose of feeling overwhelmed (managing the influx of spam comments & creepy tags of random topless guys and making sure I’m replying to legitimate comments/questions from real people) and a bit of second guessing (is this photo good/consistent enough) not to mention having to deal with the new abundance of hater comments and being accused of buying followers (little do they know how tightfisted I am).  Over the last few months I’ve learned to laugh at the stupid and even mean things and more importantly to lighten up on questioning my own style and vision, Instagram is supposed to be fun after all!Georgetown cupcakes Boston

It’s been a whirlwind of activity for me since January.  The support, access and opportunities I’ve received has been tremendous and I’m grateful for every bit of it. I’ve been able to work with Vogue, Time Out London and collaborate with specialty brands that I love.  What has not changed is the consistent inspiration from and my awe of the people who use it. I’m so drawn (read: addicted) to this community of creatives, travelers, makers and well … eaters! It’s been great fuel for the right side of my brain and I imagine that will continue.  I’ve also probably met more likeminded people in London these last four months than I have in the last four years I’ve been living here!

So by now you’re probably wondering how one gets to become Instagram Suggested. At last weekend’s Hive Conference in Berlin, the community manager from Instagram Germany offered a few suggestions:

– take good photos
– be active on the platform and engage (like/comment/respond)
– participate in events such as local instameets 

I can’t help much with the last two tips but for those looking to improve their mobile photography I’ll be teaching a few workshops in London. I’ve teamed up with Sarka Babicka to co-teach a food & lifestyle photography workshop in May that includes a session on mobile photography, you can find details here.

Source: Sarka Babicka

Source: Sarka Babicka

In June, Ceri Jones will be teaching a blogging masterclass at Made In Hackney and I will be offering a 1 hr mobile food photography session within it.  More information on this course can be found here.

For those who like to learn on their own pace and time, here are two resourceful posts on tips to take better Instagram photos and how to edit them by my fellow expat friends and bloggers, A Lady in London and Urban Pixxels.  Happy ‘gramming!

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