The Unwritten Rules Of Instagram: Do’s and Don’ts

rules of instagram
The H Hub

Instagram is meant to be fun and entertaining, but it’s important to remember, if you are growing your brand or business, there are some rules of Instagram to keep in mind.

We’ve created a list of dos and don’ts for proper online behavior.

To help you get started, take 3-5 ideas that work for you and implement them into your business/brand plan, then come back later and try some more.

Do’s and Dont’s of Instagram

Rules of Instagram – THE DO’S

Post Vertically

When shooting for Instagram and posting on Instagram, vertical is always better (shoot horizontally and vertically if you are selling prints and want variety). Vertical photos take up more room on the mobile screen and show off that beautiful work of yours!

Be consistent

Be consistent in your style, theme, editing, colors, subject matter

Edit your photos before posting

In high school, one of my photo mentors told me, “NOTHING goes out to the public without at least a quick edit.”

Be mindful of posting times

It’s important to post 2-3 times a day when growing your Instagram. The Hub tells you the perfect time to post on your dashboard. Experiment with these times and see if it boosts your engagement.

Use Analytics

If you are using a business account, you can check the analytics on every post. There are also apps for this.  See what times are bringing the most likes, which posts do better, and continue to experiment with these until you hit on something that works!

Quality over quantity

If you don’t have anything to post, sometimes it’s better to wait instead of posting just for the sake of posting.

Get creative and even a little weird

Experiment and play with your style to figure out what you like. Have fun with it and experience those happy mistakes!

Ask questions in your comments

Engage with your audience. Asking questions encourages people to comment and talk to you instead of just scrolling past.

Be funny, get people thinking, get people to genuinely care

A caption that resonates with your audience can sometimes bring more likes than the actual photo!

Use your story

Instagram stories are an excellent way to tell your audience that you posted a new photo, share a quick announcement, show your personal side, and have fun with your account. Now you can tag people in your story-  Game changer!!

Use account management apps

Use apps when you need to speed up the process, schedule posts, track analytics, etc.

Stick with a theme and color scheme

Be an authority 

Consistency and quality photos leads to recognition which leads to authority in the field

Try to get featured

Tag #hcollective and @h_collective to get featured.

Engage with people

Comment back, reach out to ‘grammers that you admire, comment and like photos, follow pages that you enjoy, anything that you can do to connect with your audience.

Attend Meetups

Check out some The Hub meet-ups in your area. These are an excellent way to meet other photographers, make new friends, and connect with models for future shoots. @H_collective shares meet up info on their IG stories.


Shoot with other photographers as much as possible! Reach out to photographers in your area on The Hub and ask if they would like to shoot. This goes along with attending meet ups. Another way to collaborate is doing a photo/edit exchange.  For example, ask if you can post a photo with your edit and tag/credit the photographer.

Think about your target audience and research often

Even after you are established on Instagram, continue researching new hashtags, check out what others are doing, stay up on the trends (to and extent), and don’t stop researching!

Find Inspiration

Stuck for an idea? Check out The Hub, Pinterest, Google image search, Behance, Flickr, take a walk and look around, talk to a friend and bounce ideas, check out the Explore page, inspiration is everywhere.


A quick way to schedule Instagram posts and preview the overall look of your page before you post. This is a perfect way to stay on brand with your color scheme and theme posts!

Add a Location

A proven way to get more engagement

Consider filing official Copyright

People will steal your photos and it will suck BIG TIME! Some photographers don’t seem to mind. It drives me insane, so I filed an official copyright with  If you see your work on someone else’s page, tell them to give you credit or take it down. If you see your work on a company page or website, send a cease and desist letter.

Keep at it and don’t give up

This is huge! It can be discouraging in the beginning when your page is growing at a snail’s pace.  This happened to me and it was tempting to stop caring.  If you enjoy photography and it doesn’t feel like a chore, then KEEP GOING! Keep shooting, keep posting, keep engaging and do not give up!

Rules of Instagram – THE DON’TS

Don’t set account to private

I know a lot of people do this for security purposes, but if you are growing your Instagram and want people to see your work, then don’t set your account as private!

Don’t abuse hashtags

Make sure you are using targeted and popular hashtags and not hashtagging what is obviously in the photo. #hcollective

Don’t post low-quality Photos

Again, quality over quantity. Think about what you are posting.

Don’t Feel like you have to use a DSLR

While I recommend shooting on a DSLR, it’s not necessary. There are some very successful phone only or point and shoot accounts.

Don’t use borders! Keep it clean

There was a time when this was cool.  I’ve seen a few account that use all horizontal photos with a white border where it actually works but in most cases, this looks messy. Especially when the photos change sizes and orientation.  And please don’t add patterned borders around your photos! It looks extremely amateur.

Don’t overuse filters

Don’t pay for followers or likes

It can seem tempting in the beginning to get that follower and like count up, but it will only hurt your account.  Not only does Instagram shut down accounts that do this but you’ll also end up with ghost/bot followers.

Ghost followers are fake accounts that won’t ever engage with your work resulting in an uneven ratio of followers to likes. It’s always obvious when someone has thousands of followers and only gets 50 likes on a photo.

Don’t allow bots to follow you

If you see that you have ghost/bot followers (sometimes they slip through the cracks even without paying for followers) make sure that you block them! Half of them are fake and the other half will steal your work without credit!

Don’t Spam or be spammy

Please don’t go around commenting on other photographers accounts asking for them to follow you. It seems desperate and unauthentic. It’s one thing to genuinely interact with other accounts but it’s just spam when you comment asking for followers.

Don’t DM everyone

Use DM with discretion. Messaging on The Hub is better.

Don’t post a bunch of photos in a row

Unless you are building your foundation, don’t post a bunch of photos in a row!

Don’t forget to try, test, experiment

See what works on your account. I’m always trying new things and posting something out of the normal. Sometimes it really works and sometimes it doesn’t go over so well but the only way to know is to try.

Finally, perform an Instagram “check up” now and then. Make sure that you are still on track towards your goals. Check for consistency, performance and engagement.

Do you have any tips for Instagram rules to follow? Connect with us on social @h_collective

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