Instagram Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts

By Blazenka Harvey

When I first started on Instagram in 2013 there was no manual, or set of guidelines on how to post, what to post and when to post. (Well, if there was, I certainly didn't read them as I was having too much fun posting content)! They also had 500 million fewer users in 2013 than in 2017 ... crazy, huh!

However, if you want friends (not enemies) and real business prospects on Instagram, there are some written, and unwritten rules, we can follow. It’s what we would call basic Instagram etiquette.

If you are going to use someone else's image, please ask them for permission or at the very least, be sure to tag the person / brand so that they know you are using their shot. Don't claim it as your own. Instagram even promote's this point in their Community Guidelines: "Share only photos and videos that you’ve taken or have the right to share." Besides it being illegal, it's just polite to ask someone to use his or her image.

Be careful with using third-party apps too unless you have permission from the user to repost their images. These apps make it easy to violate the Instagram Terms of Use and Community Guidelines, as well as infringe the copyright of another user.

Don’t fake your comments. You've probably heard about various apps that people use to automate their comments. There are many downsides to this. One, it's very easy to put yourself into a socially awkward situation. I've read numerous posts on social media where the comment does not match the image, and sometimes it can even be offensive. For example, someone may be posting about his / her sad news and the automated comment was “That’s totally awesome!” Um, not cool.

The second downside is that using these automated Instagram bots to comment or follow goes against Instagram's Terms of Service. So there's a good chance you could get your account suspended. If you are a business, it's not worth the risk.

Do leave genuine comments. If you want to increase engagement, tell people why you like their shot, respond to their question, or ask a question yourself.

Don't use the follow/unfollow method to build your brand. This is probably the most contentious of the lot as there are many who use this method, and at the same time, many who abhor this method.

If you're not familiar with the follow/unfollow method, it basically involves following people on Instagram and then unfollowing them a couple of days later if they haven't followed you back. You do this in the hope that the person won't notice that they have been unfollowed.

I am not an advocate of this tactic for growing an audience and I believe that genuine engagement will pay off far greater dividends than purely focusing on growing an audience that may or may not be interested in your brand.

Do visit hashtags that your target audience uses and then view the posts that come up under that hashtag. For example, if you are an Etsy shop owner, your target audience may like to peruse hashtags like "handmade" or "pursuepretty”. Go to those tags and spend a few minutes scrolling through liking and/or commenting on images. 

Don't post numerous shots in one go. It's one of the easiest ways to get an unfollow – it’s kind of like spamming people’s feeds. People don't like to be bombarded by shots.

Do post consistently and spread out your posts. If you are posting a few shots per day then space these out so that your followers do not get bombarded. If you post once a day then try once you have worked out your optimal time, post at this same time every day. That way your audience can look forward to your post at that time.

Hopefully, with these basic tips on Instagram etiquette you can grow your account in an effective and genuine way.

Blazenka Harvey is the founder of Mama Bear Communications, which specialises in Instagram Marketing + Stock Photography for personal and business brands. Blazenka’s aim is to educate and nurture other bloggers, creative entrepreneurs and small business owners with all the tips and tricks of growing your brand on Instagram. She has a wealth of marketing experience with over 13 years in the retail marketing space, plus a huge passion in photography. If you want to receive FREE stock photography each month and have access to her Resource Library head over to her blog and subscribe to the mailing list. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Link Love // The Monday Files


Taking a slight detour from our regular scheduling to bring you The Monday Files – because well things just got a bit too busy for me to write my regular The Friday Files post so I thought a few days late wouldn’t hurt anyone – done is better than perfect right? Plus I’ve got lots of great links to share to kick start your week.

Admittedly I’ve been spending way too much time online this past weekend, I typically try and power down on Saturday and Sunday but with our new home and office needing a lot of love I’ve fallen deep into the rabbit hole of interior blogs, decoration pins – and suddenly 8 hours go by, you know how it is.  Rather than feeling drained (which is how I was feeling last week) the time online pouring over gorgeous images, clever content and discovering new blogs actually left me really inspired. I’ve been feeling sluggish these past few weeks and I haven’t really been able to pin point where this lack of energy or motivation was coming from but I feel the fog is lifting and that my #bizboss mojo is returning – so here’s to a productive week ahead and hoping the links below help cure any of the Monday blues…x Jac

  • LOVE this new #girlpower campaign from Instagram
  • Need a bit of guidance? We’re opening up a few  coaching/mentor slots before the end of the year!
  • My pumpkin obsession continues, this is one recipe I’ll be trying for Sunday brunch
  • I’ll be putting on my DIY hat and giving this project a go this month
  • Seriously missing fall weather – and Erin makes it look sooo good.
  • Cool job alert – total creative envy with this role!

6 Instagram Photography Tips

By Sally O'Neil

Instagramming is the sole reason I have been able to quit my office job. To follow my passion. To blog full-time AND successfully launch my own line of DIY Protein Balls nationwide. Goodbye boring office meetings, hello freedom and creativity.

But how is that possible? How can a simple set of images snapped on an iPhone launch a blog, let alone a successful business?

The answer is simple: Beautiful pictures. 

…not the answer you were hoping for right? But before you move onto your next impending email, let me tell you with these 6 simple tips, your images will go from zero to hero. 

1. Shoot in natural light

It’s most likely that the perfect picture will come to you at the most inconvenient time #sodslaw. Whether you’re out and about with friends, feeding your children, or shopping for a new dress, it’s guaranteed you won’t have that lovely DSLR strapped around your neck. Without the ability to control ISO and all those other (rather complicated) settings, the best thing you can do for a great image is to shoot in natural light. Your images will sharper and bursting with colour to draw more followers in.

Accounts that do it well: 



2. Shoot in ‘square’ mode

Have your pics Instagram-ready by setting your phone camera to ‘square’ mode. That way you can ensure everything you want in the shot is right there, without any post-crop dramas. 

3. Take time to get the best angle

While your pizza may look delicious at eye height on that stand, your phone just won’t do it justice. Try to the capture every beautiful detail. Celebrate those olives and anchovies. Scale the table if you must - it likely everyone around you will be doing the same. 

4. Develop a theme

As creatures of habit, it’s no secret we like consistency. Be it consistency in image colour, content or message, find your theme, and stick to it. Not only will people understand what you are about in just a few short seconds, but they can be assured they’ll be getting more of that same great content when they click the all-important ‘follow’ button.

No dog snaps when you sell jewellery (unless your dog is modelling some, of course) and no baby pics in your food reel. If you just have to share these special moments, set up another account for personal use.

Accounts that do it well: 



5. Get appy

Editing apps are your best friend. They can transform one very average looking photo into a piece of art. I personally love PicTapGo and VSCO cam, as I lean more towards images with minimal shadow and vibrant whites (my theme). Once you find a filter that you love, you can return to it time and time again for consistency. 

6. Consider the bigger picture

Sure, that bright pink smoothie image might look great on it’s own, but how does it look next to that pair of red Nikes you just posted? Your most recent images will be viewed side-by-side, so it’s important to consider the ‘flow’ of images and how they will look to others overall. Try alternating textures and colours to keep it fresh. 

Final note: Optimize

There are lots of websites which look at the vital stats of your posts to Instagram. You might be thinking *arghhh data*, but it’s all laid out in simple infographics that are really user-friendly. Once you have a few images published, have a look at a these sites (I personally like Iconosquare) and use the information to your advantage. Find out when your community is most active, and schedule your images (try the ‘Latergram’ app) to be published at that time. You’ll get much more engagement and visibility.

Meet Sally, a UK born Sydneysider, known in the Insta world as TheFitFoodieBlog. She began a New Years Resolution to clean up her diet in 2013, and has since lost 14 kilos, gained heaps of energy, and never looked back. She began taking snaps of her dinner and recording her recipes on a basic Wordpress site, with no knowledge that it was the humble beginnings of a health blog. Now she’s a freelance food photographer, recipe developer, magazine columnist and full time blogger at She is also the proud author of Chocolate Everyday and owner of a popular range of vegan and fructose-free DIY Protein Balls. Check out her out on InstagramFacebook Twitter or Pinterest.

Instagram for Business

By Stephanie Joanne

With over 300 million users and growing, like it or not, Instagram is one of the most powerful tools to get your messages in front of your target audience.

It is safe to say that virtually every business both products based and service based is on Instagram, but not many are using the platform to its full potential.

Instagram can not only increase your brands visibility but it can also serve as a conduit for your current clientele to network and feel a part of something, which can have incredible impact on your customers’ retention.

Here is how best to use Instagram for your fitness business:

1) Profile

As a business your profile image should be your business logo and the information in the bio should state clearly what you do and where you are located. It should also have your phone number and website. If you are your business and you are selling services, your profile picture should be a picture of you and your description should clearly state what it is that you offer.

2) Content

The purpose is to promote your business and showcase the energy your business offers to potential prospects. Followers will land on your Instagram account for one of two reasons.

First, the visit to be entertained and second to be informed.

With this in mind, be sure to provide an equal amount of each type of post for your audience. Also include your calls to action (which is covered in number 4) and promotion, but this should not exceed the amount of free value added entertainment. 

3) Do not ignore Hashtags

Put yourself in the mindset of your ideal clientele and consider which hashtags they are likely adding to their posts. 

For example, blog society makes great use of the hashtags #dreambig #blogger and #entrepreneur. This way, when others are searching for these particular hashtags, the @blogsociety profile will show up.

When we think about the logic behind this, it makes sense. People love to connect with others whom have like-minded interests. Hashtags are very effective to populate such an audience for you in literally seconds!

4) Calls to Action

It is not likely that you will see your engagement improve unless you specifically ask your following to take a specific action. Always leave each post with a question or a call to action. Examples could be “tell us what your favorite post workout meal is by commenting below” or “click the link in our bio for you free 3 day pass."

Stephanie Joanne is a serial entrepreneur. Her passion for peak performance is realised as a renowned Personal Branding Expert and Business Consultant. Stephanie’s portfolio includes guiding several companies with collaborative initiatives. She has built a global presence through her robust social media platforms and offline media presence. Her entrepreneurial leadership approach speaks to a wide range of individual including students, aspiring entrepreneur, lost leaders as well as established brands. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. 

Photo Credit: Picjumbo

Blog Biz // Top 5 Instagram Apps For Business


I'm an Instagram addict.

I'm that person that needs to snap a photo of breakfast before I allow anyone to touch their food. I check my Instagram feed first thing in the morning and the last thing before I go to bed. I use it for business and blogging. To connect and escape. Yes, it's a sick (and probably unhealthy) addiction but I love the visual feast that I get to consume everyday and the amazing people I've met - and it seems I'm not the only one.

There are over 1.5 million Instagram users in Australia and as more and more bloggers and brands hop on the Instagram bandwagon, this platform is only going to continue to grow and evolve. Changes are already happening - have you noticed? Go on and take a look at the 'Explore' tab and you'll notice that the selection of images is no longer random but instead carefully curated to reflect your habits and preferences.  With Facebook pulling the strings behind the scenes I expect to see a lot more changes like this in the coming months including the introduction of advertising and sponsored posts that are launching this year here in Australia. 

With all this change in the air, it's more important than ever to make sure your images stand out and stay true to your brand. I couldn't think of a better time to share my Top 5 Instagram Apps For Business or bloggers. These apps will absolutely change your snap happy moments for the better...

  • Snapseed - My absolute favourite photo editing tool. I don't post a photo before I clean it up in this app first, it's amazing and easy to use.
  • WordSwag: Hands down the best typography & text overlay program I've found - thanks The Daily Guru for the heads up!
  • VSCO - I'm pretty sure I fell hook line and sinker for VSCO after checking out their gorgeous website and tagline, 'let's build something beautiful together'. I mean any app that can produce such stunning images and encourages users to create with reckless abandon all for the love of craft and community is okay in my book. Trust me your photos will never look the same.  
  • Little Moments by Fat Mum Slim - A true testament to the power of blogging, this brand new app from blogger Chantelle Ellem is a dual photo editor and A Photo A Day companion. Brilliant.
  • Iconosquare - This app is an absolute must if your brand is on Instagram. Easy to digest analytics and at a glance monitoring makes this metrics app one of my go to blog biz tools.

Want to meet other Instagrammers? We're teaming up with Williams-Sonoma and Little Paper Lane on 23 July to host our Christmas In July Instameet. RSVP now!