We all know about Instagram. It’s the phone app where you can find endless pictures of food, holidays, selfies and food, right? Well it can be, but if used smartly it’s the platform where you share your interests and finds, and connect with likeminded hobbyists, plane-spotters, cyclists, stamp-collectors or wherever it is that your fancy takes you to.

You can explore for others’ posts using the ubiquitous hashtag function, and you can use it to inform the Insta world of your own services and the activities of those people you hang out with.

It allows users to upload photos and videos, which can be edited with various filters, and organized with tags and location information. A user’s posts can be shared publicly or with pre-approved followers. You can browse other users’ content by tags and locations, and view trending content.

Top 5 tips to get the most out of Instagram:
• When you open your account you’ll be given the option to provide a brief bio – use this as an opportunity to highlight any particular interests that will influence your content.
• When posting a photo or video clip you’ll find that you have the choice to post as “feed” or as a story. Feed will remain as a permanent record that you or others (depending on your security/privacy settings) can go back to. Stories are time-limited and disappear after 24 hours.
• When making a post to your feed provide a brief description of the content and perhaps comment on why you thought it of interest/relevance.
• Use the crop function and clever filters to maximise the impact of your photos. The cropping tool is great for removing the extraneous and outright annoying e.g. the dog that wandered into the background when you weren’t looking.
• Provide search terms (#widget #bluesky …) which will allow your post to be grouped and searched for. The hashtag (#) is a wonderful way of bringing your content to the attention of other users. As you start typing your hashtag, the app will provide popular choices and show how many occurrences each has. Use the most popular ones and use more than one – remember these are the search terms that other users may use – so think which search terms might you use.

If you’ve never tried it give it a go and join the reportedly one billion other users. You may be surprised how it can enrich your hobbies and interests and maybe help reconnect with distant friends and family. And by the way, its free!