Lately, Instagram seems to have become the app that everybody LOVES to hate on but in my honest opinion they’re probably just not doing it right!
The last two or three years has seen a major shift in the way most people use the social media app. What originally started as a platform to share super personal (and sometimes boring) instant updates with friends and family has morphed into a tool used by many to connect, share, and influence others. But some people, myself included, use Instagram to enhance their life experiences.
Face the facts and let go of the days of just being random and sporadic with the way you use Instagram and focus on how you can make it work for you, not against you. Keep reading if you want to learn how to make the app work for you as a solo traveler.
Putting the Social back in social media
Early last year I realised something quite interesting about Instagram. Even though it falls into the category of a social network, I wasn’t using it to socialise – and neither were many other people in my social circles. When I would log in, I was bombarded by ads, ‘influencers’ desperately trying to sell things and people trying to look like their lives were actually interesting.
None of it was adding any value to my life.
If this sounds anything at all like your feed, it probably feels like every time you open up your app you’re walking into the world’s largest live auction house where everyone is constantly trying to get as many likes on their generic photos as possible.
How To Tailor Your Instagram
Instagram is a give and take. Don’t expect to just show up and receive life changing travel tips. Okay, you’ll find one or two “instagrammable spots” and learn how to save some coins here or there but trust me, if you really want to get the most out of your travels by using Instagram you should keep reading.
Find Your Niche
The first thing I had to do was find my niche. And no, travel is too broad of a niche to begin with. I’m a Caribbean woman of colour teaching English in Madrid. That means SO many things when it comes to travel. So for me I started to follow and interact with accounts that were similar to mine.
- Other young black (Caribbean) women traveling around the world.
- Other young women teaching English abroad (in Madrid).
- Or just young black women in general.
- As an Auxiliar de Conversación in Spain you don’t make bank, so other budget travellers were also on my radar.
Following similar accounts to yours, or accounts in your niche, is extremely important because chances are they’ve travelled to where you want to go and have a wealth of resources, tips and tricks that can help you save so much time planning the perfect trip.
The thing about life changing travel is this – it is is unique to you. What changes my perspective won’t shift yours in the same way. So start thinking about what kinds of things you want to do or see on your trip and connect with people with similar interests and that’s sure to take your trip from being just another weekend in Paris to a life changing experience.
Getting likes on Instagram is extremely overrated. It means so much more when there is genuine interaction and conversation going on, whether it be on the photos you post or in your DMs.
This doesn’t mean you need to leave random comments on every single person’s posts. Au contraire! I usually leave comments on posts that resonate with me and it’s hard to do that if you skipped past curating your feed to follow people who post content that’s remotely meaningful.
I have to say, the community of young melanin queens slaying the travel game that I have curated on my feed is filled with some of the most uplifting women I’ve come across. Interacting with their accounts through the content they share has resulted in some genuine connections that have resulted in some wonderful travel moments for me over the last year and you can get the same value out of your Instagram too.
Share. Share. Share.
If you’re not actively using Instagram yourself then benefiting from the app is going to be tough. I enjoy documenting my travels using the Stories feature so people always know where I am and what I’m doing. This generates a lot of conversation in my DMs because people genuinely want to help me (especially after I’ve left such sweet comments on their posts).
When I post to my feed I talk about past trips, where I’m at in my life, or where I’m going next so people also have a chance to connect with me on a deeper level. That may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it does make communication less one sided. When you create much more authentic Instagram posts, I’ve noticed that people are just that much more willing to help.
Optimise Your Account
First of all, having a private Instagram is such a weird flex. I kind of get it though, especially as an aux in Madrid. When I taught high school almost everyday my students would ask if I had Instagram and if they could follow me there. A few did find me even though I didn’t tell them my @ and they still follow me to this day.
Open your account up to the endless travel possibilities that await you! Hashtagging your posts WORK! Location tagging your posts WORK! BUT they only work if your profile is PUBLIC!
So many people visit my profile after I drop a photo and decide to stick around because they like my content.
I usually include in my bio where I’m off to next not so people can see that I’m always going somewhere but so that they can hop in my DMs and let me in on anything I should know about heading off there!
Trust me, I’ve used all of these tips and tricks to curate an Instagram presence that allows me to reach out to people and get advice, and even meet fellow travellers in their hometowns. In my next post, I’ll show you exactly how this has helped me in the past so you can start putting it to use too!
Stay tuned for the follow up blog post! Until then, feel free to show The Caribbean Millennial some love by following us on Instagram, sharing our pins on Pinterest, and liking our page on Facebook!