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#StayInYourLane: The Official 40+ Guide to Instagram

Someone had to say it. So we did, with love. We don't want to see our friends failing on Instagram anymore.

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#StayInYourLane: The Official 40+ Guide to Instagram

Instagram @theellenshow

Let me just start by saying, I recognize that Instagram was not designed with my demographic in mind.  After all, I came of age at a time when pictures were tangible objects and the only way to gather likes and comments on said pictures was to pull out a photo album. Remember those? They were grandma's pride and joy. She would keep treasured photos of her children, and grandchildren and your great, great Uncle Willie whom you never met...but, I digress. Where was I? These photo albums contained lovely snapshots of moments and memories to be displayed and shown off. And who might these pictures be shown off too? Glad you asked. Guests. Actual physically present people. People that you knew on a personal level would sit in her home and flip through those vinyl pages in real time as she provided verbal captions to explain the people, places and things depicted.

As a 40-something approaching the center of the GenX spectrum, I am sufficiently seasoned to appreciate the old and youthful enough to welcoming the new. I embrace social media. With the busyness of our daily lives, it is the most efficient way to keep tabs on friends, loved ones, and casual associates.  It provides a convenient means of networking, occasional entertainment, and even staying up on the latest trends. I'm here for the timeline scroll, but that does not preclude me from the occasional "head scratch moment" where online etiquette is concerned. I have questions... After polling some friends (via Facebook), I quickly learned that many of you have similar queries, especially when it comes to Instagram. For our collective benefit, I've compiled them into the following,

7 questions for expert Instagramers from the 40 and up crowd:

7 questions for expert Instagramers from the 40 and up crowd:

1. Is it rude not to follow people back?  I feel like I’m endorsing the people that I follow so I review their posts carefully to see if there is any questionable material.  That might be setting the bar to high, right? This isn’t LinkedIn.

2. How do you get followers? I don't know how I’m supposed to do get people to follow me!  Is it two likes and a comment on their post or is one like enough? What is the code?

3. Who looks like this every day? How do you to find glorious spots for pictures and have camera ready hair and makeup. This feels like a lot of pre-planning.

4. Why is everyone so brooding and sexy? I like pictures of happy people, doing fun stuff, in pretty places.  These duck lips, seductive poses, and performances are too much. Some of this is lowkey porn.

5. Is there any room for loving feedback? I commented on a few photos posted by young ladies in my family. Now, I’m blocked! Why? Oh well, I’m sure they’ll understand why transfers from my bank account are now blocked too. #savingmemoney

6. Who is this lil’ boy who keeps liking my pictures? I don’t know him like that. Should I be concerned?

7. Instagram stories? I want to use Instagram stories but it feels like I need a college course to understand how to use this part. Why record it if it’s going to disappear? I'm puzzled.

On second thought, should we even be aiming to become fluent in IG? 40 somethings, I say we unite, and vow, henceforth and forever more to adopt the following rules as...

The Official 40+ Guide to Instagram:

3. Hasthag 101

So long pound sign…this symbol can be your best friend or your worst enemy. You choose. Hashtags are used to categorize pictures HOWEVER, check the hashtags because some of them are associate with questionable material. No one our age should ever use #turnup or #turntup. Search it and see what you find…foolishness. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my picture coming up with that mess.

4. Pose Accordingly

Instagram/ @jlo

When it comes to poses, it takes lots of practice to have a strong selfie game. While some of us have mastered the casual selfie pose, it’s usually more flattering to have someone else take your picture. Please keep the it classy. Anytime you are squatting down, lifting a leg, or poking anything out, it’s a bad idea. Don’t do it.

5. Explore


Use the explore function to find new interesting content and people to follow. I’m amazed at the cool stuff that folks are posting. It ranges from inspirational, to funny, to informative, to just plain beautiful. Venture out a bit.

6. Keep it classy


People in your personal and professional life Google you, so it’s nice to have a counter balance to the strictly professional view on LinkedIn. Use Instagram to show a more well-rounded view of who you are. Don’t go crazy, it should still be aligned with your personal brand and what you stand for. #stayinyourlane

You’re welcome

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