Hi there! It's me! On Instagram! I've been getting lots and lots of questions about Instagram lately, and no wonder, because it's got at least 100 million users, and even amongst my circle of friends it's used by a few people who otherwise don't have much involvement with social media. So there must be something good about it, right? It is definitely fun. I've been using Instagram since December 2010 (and only just realised that it only started in October that year - for once I was right on the money!) and I know that if I had a few more minutes in each day, it's something I'd use a lot more, mostly because of the fun aspect. So, to answer all those people who've been asking me: What on earth is Instagram?
Instagram is an app - which means you need to have a smartphone to use it (iPhone or Android). It's an app that helps you turn normal looking photos into something either more fun or more beautiful or both. You can take a picture while you're in the Instagram app, or you can use it (on your phone) to edit a photo you've got stored there.
Once you've either taken or chosen your photo, you can apply (just by tapping) different kinds of filters. They alter the colours, shades and style of your photo, and often add different borders too. I found it especially useful with my old iPhone since the photo quality wasn't that great, but I could make a pretty bad photo look a whole lot better using Instagram filters. And not just better, but funkier! There are a few other editing tricks you can use like hitting the "tilt-shift" button (it looks like a raindrop) and making just one part of the picture remain in focus - like my cat's eye, below. The other special thing about Instagram is that its images are all square - think back to the Polaroid days.
After that you can publish your photo to your Instagram stream (so other Instagram users can see it), you can email it to people, and you can share it on other social media like Facebook and Twitter (it's a pretty simple matter to connect your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts to your Instagram account).
Once you've shared your photo, then that's where the "social media" bit of Instagram comes into play. Other people can "like" your photo, or leave a comment, and you can "follow" other users whose images you like, as well. Just like any old social media, really!
The big news last week was that Instagram has finally released profile pages that you can see on the internet, not just through the app on your smartphone. It'll be interesting to see where that leads. Oh, and you should know that although Instagram was started up by some clever Californians it was acquired by Facebook this year although they say they'll allow it to "operate independently", whatever that means.
If you're on Instagram, or you download it to have a play after reading this, then connect with me so I can see the beautiful pictures you make - my username is the fairly predictable amandakendle. Happy Instagramming!