How To Use Instagram Positively To Organise Your Life
Over the last year and a half I’ve totally changed the way I use Instagram. What was initially a platform for sharing snaps has undoubtedly changed into a much bigger network and resource. We can now buy, sell, get creative, learn, research and communicate with people in totally new ways. Gone are the days of just sharing holiday snaps and family photos – although that’s still fine if you prefer! In this post I’m going to share how you can use Instagram positively – to organise your life, make your usage more efficient, and how it can add value rather than just be a time passing, thumb scrolling mindless experience.
I’m sure you’re bored of hearing me say it by now, but being the Social Media manger/fan/advocate I am I will say it again – social media is what you make of it. There are many studies that show the negative side, and a lot of work has been done to try make it a safer and more enjoyable place for people, especially those that are vulnerable and I think that’s great.
But I’m here to focus on the positives, and for the purposes of this post that is how to use it to organise, to make life a little bit easier, and to avoid the negative aspects where possible. Organisation centres around the ‘save function’ and ‘collections’, but I’m also going to touch on using influencers to your advantage, and ad management.
Accepting that Instagram isn’t going to be a filing system or a project management tool, it’s more around wish lists, or if you are undertaking a project like moving house, updating your wardrobe, or planning a wedding it’s a great source of inspiration. Essentially it’s about organising or planning life’s luxuries, that you spend disposable income on, but aren’t exactly absolute necessities or going to move the earth, so keep that perspective here.
A relatively new feature to Instagram, saves are my favourite tool. How often do you scroll through social media then can’t find again something you wanted to go back to? Saves are a really quick way of literally saving something to go back to later, and you just need to tap the tab on the bottom right under the picture.
You can save any picture like this, whether it’s a product, item of clothing, something referenced in the caption, interior styling inspiration, a hotel…the list goes on. Your saved photos can be found by going to your own profile, clicking the 3 lines top right, then clicking the ‘Saved’ tab. Any photos you’ve saved will be under a collection called ‘All Posts‘, which if you go into will basically be a feed of all the photos you’ve saved.
I found I was saving so many things scrolling through my feed and my discover feed, I had so many saved photos to go through to find everything again. This is where collections come into it.
When you’re in the Saved tab, and can see the ‘All Posts‘ collection, you can create your own collection by clicking the plus sign + in the top right corner, and give it a name. Click ‘next’ then it will automatically take you through to your Saved posts where you can select the photos you want to add to that collection, and then click ‘done’.
This has become my new place for lists. As well as the hand written ones in my planner, and the typed ones in my notes, I use instagram saves and collections as basically visual lists, for everything.
I have a collection for bucket list hotels I want to stay in, collections for cities I visit frequently where I add new restaurants I find, fashion collections where I add the items I really want to buy, interior collections full of home styling shots, it’s literally my life wishlist all in instagram. Except better because visually you can really see what it is you’re after, where you want to go, or how to style something.
I’m bridesmaid twice next year and I have a collection for planning ideas for hen do’s, inspiration and ideas to send to the brides, and while I’m not a motivational quote sharer too often, I have a bunch of sayings saved under quotes in case I need a reminder to get my shit together. I’ll go into a bit more detail for specific categories and how I use them below, but in general saves and collections can be so useful.
To avoid wasting time, which is so easy to do on instagram and is something that triggers a lot of conversation now you can actively see your in app time, but also to make sure you get the best use of your collections it’s best to frequently tidy them up. If you have a board dedicated to a room redecoration, or a specific holiday, or even just things you want to buy, once you’re done – delete them.
I frequently delete things like clothing or household items once I’ve bought them or decided not to, but I always keep the destination or travel ones, as it’s likely I’ll go back or refer to them in future.
Having collections in itself will reduce your time just scrolling through all your saves and stop you getting distracted. Personally I never look at how much time I spend on Instagram, because I think my stats are distorted.
I work in social media for one so naturally it’s high, secondly I run my own blog so this just adds to it, but also I know I use social media to benefit me in a positive way for things like shopping inspiration, home ideas etc. There’s such a negative perception associated with how much time you spend on instagram and I’m just not having it for me personally. The more I can do in one place the better for me and at the moment that’s Instagram.
Shopping on Instagram
Shopping for actual products, whether that’s homeware, fashion, beauty or whatever else is now so integrated on instagram, you can actually buy directly from the platform. Personally I still prefer to buy on site, as I’m a bit less wary about who gets my payment data that way.
I choose to give my data to brands I buy from, and you might not know that if you buy directly on instagram, the brand doesn’t own that data at all, instagram does. Just something to consider. I’m happy for a brand I like to have my data, as I’ll then be likely to get similar products I might like in future sent to me, enhancing my whole experience.
For example let’s use a pair of trainers. I’ve been browsing some recently but I’m just not sure between a few pairs. I first saw them on an influencer (more on this later), but I then went through to the brands page, and rather than look at their images, I go to tagged photos, or the specific hashtag for the make. Both were helpfully tagged in the original post I saw from the blogger. If there are any fashion bloggers reading this I can’t tell you how helpful I find this, even if you’re not a fashion blogger actually – please do it more!
By going to the brand tagged photos and the hashtags, you can see how lots of people style them, and often what they think about them. It’s more genuine than the brand advertising, and there’s nothing to stop you commenting or messaging any questions you have, although personally I would usually message the person where I originally saw them. I’m finding this very useful at the moment when you can’t go into shops to try on.
And lastly, if you can’t decide for a while, or if you’re waiting for payday then you can always just save for later.
You might find that many brands and creatives have a shopping tab on their profiles, in the same place you’ll find the view options for their feed, IGTV if they have it, and tagged photos. The icon is a shopping bag. Items in here are specifically aimed at shoppers, and have been labelled up with the price too – also useful. By clicking them you will be taken through to the site page directly, or if you prefer to save then you can do that.
These saved items however, go into an automatically created collection called ‘wish list’. Every saved item in there is a product post that will link through to an option to buy – which is the main difference.
On Being ‘Influenced’
So I mentioned influencers above, and I know they’re a talking point for many especially around authenticity. My advice is to follow ones that make you feel good about yourself, are relatable to you whether that’s their fashion sense, their lifestyle, their decorating skills, or ones that make you strive to be better in any capacity. Unfollow any that don’t add something positive to your life.
Personally I love following bloggers, I consume so much content all the time and if I’m after something specific I know exactly who I go to for most things. It takes a while to build this up but I’ve got to a point where I like and trust the ones I go to.
I’m more likely to buy a pair of jeans recommended off a specific blogger on Instagram that is the same shape and size as me, than I am from just browsing a brand site with a 6ft model that looks nothing like me. I find Instagram is like a better review site and results in less disappointment especially for online retailers.
I bought the jeans in the pic below after watching her review of them on IGTV…
After buying a few things and realising certain bloggers were right in their description, sizing etc then you naturally build up trust. And you can actually message and speak to people directly especially if you want to try a new brand and aren’t sure on sizing.
I will happily be ‘influenced’ by certain bloggers I’ve built up a trust in, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. Not all bloggers are fake, #ad ridden or in it for free stuff. I save all my favourites in a collection too, so it’s easy to go straight to them rather than scrolling or searching through feeds. Maybe I’ll do a more in depth post on how to find and use good bloggers to your advantage, as you can easily find the genuine ones.
While I’m interested in fashion, beauty and general shopping day to day even though they’re not really things I share, travel for me is obviously the big genre on Instagram that thrives and appeals to me the most. I think it’s an area you can really use to your advantage.
Choosing hotels for example can really be helped by Instagram, especially if you’re going somewhere new. I use other apps and websites to choose a general location, but once I’ve narrowed down to a couple of hotels I always resort to instagram to help make the final decision.
Go to the brand profile where you probably find more photos rather than just the staged shoot ones on site, also definitely 100% check out the tagged photos, which are from people who have actually stayed there and see what those are like, and what they say about them. While TripAdvisor is usually where people go, I find you often only get people who want to complain, whereas on instagram you find the positives. There is a silver lining in instagram being a highlight reel after all.
You can see real life photos, and again contact people if you have any questions. You might find blogger reviews – remember not all stays are #gifted, and it’s also worth looking on geo location too for any that haven’t tagged the brand.
Instagram is also the place that I find new hotel recommendations. I have a collections board purely for dream hotels I want to stay in, so when I visit certain locations I’ve done some of the work already.
The geo location feature, tourist board hashtags, and local bloggers are all really useful Instagram resources when planning a trip anywhere. You can often get a much better insight into a place, the dos and don’ts, restaurant recommendations and things to do from these types of posts than you do from a travel agent or operator trying to sell you a booking.
Which brings me onto ads. How often are you scrolling through when an ad pops up? As annoying as they can be sometimes, I actually find instagram ads slightly less invasive. Yes they interrupt my feed, but usually they’re for things I’ve already been looking at online and I’m just being retargeted. By seeing ads on instagram, you can often link through to the retailer’s profile directly, which opens up the whole area of research I went into under ‘shopping’. You can also save ads on instagram!
Occasionally you might notice mini questionnaires pop up on instagram, asking you about your ad preferences. It’s actually really useful to fill these in, as then your ads will be tailored much more specifically to you. We have to put up with them, they may as well be the type we want to see.
Other ways to use Instagram
I’ve focused on shopping and travel here specifically, but the list is endless. The topics and communities that can be found really do stretch out to cover any amount of interest or need, you just have to know where to look for them. I find instagram collections more useful than Pinterest boards because they’re so much more specific.
Recipes, workouts, tips for parents, sports etc, and this isn’t just a shameless plug promoting bloggers either. The biggest asset on instagram is real people, doing the things you’re interested in and sharing about them. If they have a blog to go with that don’t immediately roll your eyes and dismiss them.
Coming back to quotes, while I’m not the biggest fan of sharing quotes that provoke a ‘oh my god babe are you ok?’ response, I am a fan of the type that really motivate or give a kick up the arse. They don’t even need to be shared. I combine the quote posts with really funny memes and honestly a scroll through that collection every once in a while really makes me laugh. I’d really recommend it as a pick me up.
If like me you follow so many people, which combined with the annoying algorithm means you don’t actually see all the things you want to in your feed then collections are a great way to organise people too. A bit like old Twitter lists, I save categories of people into collections. It’s a small but effective way to cut down on the scrolling and Instagram procrastination that it’s become known for.
Hopefully this has given a few tips on how to use Instagram positively, and more effectively in general. It’s not for everyone but if you spend a lot of time on it then it should at least be worthwhile.
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