Juliet Macleod, who exhibited her ceramics during NEOS 2017 has put together a useful guide to using Instagram. It follows on from her guide to Facebook and was written originally for @scottishpotters. NEOS uses the hashtag #NEOS2018, and you’ll find us here on Instagram.


In the last issue I covered why using social media is a valuable tool for us all, and how to get going on Facebook. Instagram is another platform that is made for sharing images and videos from a smartphone or tablet, which makes it particularly popular with artists and craftspeople. Being image led it offers an opportunity to keep a chronological visual diary or sketchbook, however, it is much more than this… people find it an incredibly supportive network, a huge visual resource, and a fascinating insight into other people’s working practices.
As before here are a few tips on getting going. Instagram.com has a comprehensive online support centre that offers help with more specific problems.

Getting started
Setting up an account is straightforward…
  • First, download the Instagram app to your phone. If you have an iPhone this will be from the App Store; if you have an Android phone, the Google Play Store; and if you have a Windows Phone from the Windows Phone Store.
  • Once the app is installed, tap the icon to open it.
  • Tap Sign Up and then follow the prompts.
  • You will need your email address, a unique username and password.
  • If you already have a Facebook account you can also log in through that.
  • It is possible to sign up to Instagram from a computer, and view your profile and other people’s, but bear in mind that you can only share images and videos from a phone or tablet using the app.

Example profile screen

Public or private account

By default anyone can see your profile and posts on Instagram. If you want to keep your posts private so that only your approved followers can view them you will need to alter your account to private by going to the Settings on your profile screen. Do this by clicking on the ‘cog wheel’ or ‘three dots’ depending on what type of phone you are using.
Once you make your posts private people will have to send you a follow request for you to approve before they can see your posts. If you want to increase your following and as a result the opportunity of being seen by galleries and new customers then I recommend keeping your account public.


By clicking on the Profile button it will take you to your own page and your feed. By clicking on the blank circle you can import a profile image, logo or portrait to go there. You can also add a short biography and a link to your website by clicking on Edit Profile. Remember that if you have a private account your images will not be visible but your biography and profile image are visible to anyone.

Interacting with others

To choose people to follow you can find people that you already know via Facebook and your phone’s contact list. Tap the Settings button. Below Follow People tap on either Facebook Friends or Contacts and a list of those who use Instagram will come up. Click on the ones you’d like to follow.
To find new people to follow click on the Search button. Tap the search bar to type in and look for specific people, hashtags, places and events that interest you. Scroll down to explore to see posts from accounts that you might like but are not already following.
This is as simple or complex as you chose to make it. Essentially to add a post click on the central Post button at the bottom of your screen. From here you can upload or take a photo, edit it, write a caption, add a location, tag people and then share it.
Imagery is key with Instagram, and as a result integral to the app are a huge number of editing features to help improve your photos. You can crop, rotate, adjust colours, improve sharpness, add multiple images and so on. The best way to discover these is to experiment with images before posting. You can try out all sorts of effects before you upload an image… but don’t get carried away. If you are posting images of your pots then keeping things simple works best. Let your work speak for itself. Start by following some other potters to see what they do, and search the Instagram Help Centre for more specific instructions.


You can share short movies on Instagram – anything between 3 and 60 seconds long. These can be great for showing your process. Videos of people throwing pots can be incredibly popular.


Some people chose to let their images speak for themselves, others choose to write lengthy captions. Neither is wrong, check out what other people do, and work out what suits you best. If you would like to mention someone in a post (perhaps you are sharing an image of another potter’s work) then type @ and their username within your caption eg @scottishpotters. When someone else is viewing your post they can then tap on the name and it will link the viewer to the mentioned Instagram profile.


Hashtags were discussed in the previous article. If you have a public profile on Instagram, hashtags are particularly important as this is the way to increase engagement with your feed, and attract new followers. Some people choose to include their hashtags at the end of their caption, others prefer to include them in a separate comment below the caption to keep things less cluttered. Don’t forget to add #scottishpotters to any posts you might want us to find and share!

Stories and Live

At the top of the Home screen you will see a row of circles from people you are following that have chosen to share a live video or story. Live video is only visible for the time that it is being filmed, and stories stay up for only 24 hours. These features allow more interaction with your followers, particularly to show more personal imagery that you might not want to stay on your feed long term.

Privacy and Security

Security and privacy are very important online. As always, think carefully about the information you share – some personal detail can be fine, but don’t tell the world you’re going on holiday for two weeks. If you want to share images of your time away it might be best to post them on your return.
If you would like to block someone for any reason tap their username to go to their profile. Tap on the three circles top right and the find and tap Block. Once you do this that person will not be able to find you on Instagram. You can unblock them at any time. You can also report inappropriate content in the same way.

Liking and Commenting

Instagram is an incredibly supportive community and it is common practice to interact with the people you follow by liking and commenting on their posts. If you like a post either give the image a double tap, or click on the heart icon on the left just below their image. If you would like to make a comment, click on the speech bubble below the image and write something. You can also view, like and reply to other people’s comments.
If you would like to share a post with a friend, mention them in the comments. To do this write @ followed by their username and they will receive a notification in their Activity feed letting them know. In the same way whenever anyone likes or comments on one of your posts, or mentions you, you will receive a notification in your Activity feed.

Altering mistakes

After you have shared a post it is possible to alter the caption if a mistake has been made, or delete the entire post if you change your mind. Click on the post and then on the three dots in the top right-hand corner. Click on Edit and alter the text, then click on the tick in the top right corner once you are happy; or click on Delete. It is not possible to alter text in a comment you have made once you have posted it, however you can delete it. This is done by clicking or swiping left on your comment (depending on if you are using a phone or tablet), then click on the dustbin and your comment will be deleted. In the same way, you can delete or report an inappropriate comment made by someone else on one of your posts if you wish.


If you would like to send a private message to someone you follow click on the Instagram Direct button, top right of the Home page – it looks like a paper plane. Click on the plus sign and type the username of the person you would like to message. Type the message, and/or add an image and press send. To message someone you follow, you can also go to their profile and tap Message. If someone you follow sends you a message, your black Instagram Direct button will turn red. It is worth checking this every now and then, because if someone you don’t follow sends you a message it will appear as a request in your inbox, but you will receive no notification.

I hope the above helps you get going on Instagram.
For much more detailed information please go to the Help Centre at help.instagram.com.