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Here's the 411 on Using Instagram

Smart tips for older adults who want to embrace this social media trend

By Karen Ritz

(This story was originally published on Grandycamp)

Using Instagram
Credit: Adobe Stock

Yes, social media can be overwhelming. What data should I be worried about? What is the best privacy setting for me? Why would I want to think about one more thing?

I always have too many spinning plates, but I feel like social media's Instagram is like a little picture book or magazine of inspiration designed just for me. So start there — do it just for your own joy, not to communicate with family and friends.

In fact, you don’t have to post a thing. You can set up an account and make it full of things that make you happy, pop in there now and then and fill up your soul. And you can make it completely private, so if you do decide to post, it only goes to folks that have your permission to follow you.

Accounts look for follows, hearts (likes) and comments, and would like you to dig further and check out their website and who they are using information from their profile page. My Insta @GrandyCamp is fairly new, and full of cute and creative things I hope you’d be interested in seeing, and hope will send you to the website.

Who To Follow on Instagram

I am a designer at heart, so my “feed” (accounts I follow) is full of color and pretty images from sites like @dominomag, @abeautifulmess, @joannagaines, @riflepaperco, @designsponge, @leannefordcreative, @designmom, @designcrush, @rsadventures, @sweetpaulmagazine, @smittenonpaper — you get the idea. It is like a fine design magazine with no ads. From a search, go to a profile page of someone you might be interested in, check out their "mantra" and samples of their posts and push "follow."

There may be folks you look to for a quick inspiring quote, like @annelamott, @supersoul or @brenebrown. Add @fortheinterested to your list!

If you like to cook, follow your favorites just to see their pretty staging or table settings with no pressure to actually make something (but you can click the bookmark tab to save it). Many have created landing pages on their profile page with the recipe or a link to the recipe. Examples include @pinchofyum and @smittenkitchen.

Follow some brands if you'd  like to see their latest products or one of their new ideas, but I would keep that list slim. Unfollow if they only have a “meh” approach on Insta. You probably already get email notifications from those anyway. I follow @stitchfix just because I like to see how they put outfits together, but I don’t have a stitchfix account.

There aren’t very many grandparent sites; I follow to keep track of the market, not as inspiration per se. Use the search button to check some out. Do the same to find favorite crafting sites, too. Don’t be afraid to “unfollow” as you curate your perfect feed.


Certainly, you can follow friends and family, but I mostly keep that to Facebook, unless they are good photographers or if they make things. Remember, I am not keeping in touch on Instagram. I am feeding my soul.

What Are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories are short videos or photos to give you a little more “story” behind someone you follow. They are popular, but so far, I haven’t been entertained much when I click on one. It may be my age, or the artist in me, but I think I want to just see visual inspiration on my Instagram — like, stop talking to me and let me just look. (I don't like Facebook Live either, for any reason. Well, maybe for the weather report when we are in the middle of a blizzard.)

#Hashtags and Instagram

Don’t worry about hashtags; they are just a way of organizing subjects and connecting and there are thousands of versions. You don’t have to use them in your Instagram post at all unless you want folks to see it who might be interested in the subject.

You can now follow a hashtag you are interested in — just put it in the search and see what comes up. So, if you like knitting, you can look for something as general as #knitting, #knittingbaby, #knittinghat, #knittingisfun or #grandmaskills (who is actually a young mom doing "grandma skills").

Following a subject will help you curate your feed to follow just your favorite sites from the general hashtag. If your Instagram is about family, you could create a hashtag for your next family reunion, and be able to see all the photos from everyone at the event in one spot.

And don’t forget to follow @grandycamp or tag #grandycamp to post a picture you think we might be interested in so that we can find it!

Karen Ritz is the creator of Grandycamp, a website  for active, busy grandparents. She has a B.S. in Children’s Literature and Illustration, University of Minnesota, is the illustrator of 46 children’s books, and “Gumma” to Jack and Grace. Read More
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