If you’re one of the millions of Americans that possess a smart phone or tablet, you’ve already completed the first step to getting on Instagram. Now, should you get an Instagram account? Here are 6 great reasons that you should. (If you’re a camera buff, number six could make you famous!)  OR  (If you already have Instagram – check out number 6 to learn about our great contest.)

1)  Share Your Photos

One of the biggest benefits of cell phone technology came in the form of cameras. Sure… digital cameras are everywhere, but why carry another device when smartphones come with cameras capable of taking beautiful pictures that would make Monet jealous. While you’re driving home from work, you can stop and take a quick snap of the beautiful Flint Hills sunset. You might want to take a panoramic photograph of your garden. The possibilities are endless, and all you have to do is select the camera app on your phone.

You took your gorgeous pictures. What now? Share them! Of course, you can share your photos to social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, but Instagram will do that for you, too. Instagram was created for people who love sharing their photos with other people who love sharing their photos. You might even get your photos re-shared by popular sites and businesses (like TCT), and if you still want your picture to post to Facebook and Twitter, you can set that up on your Instagram account.

2)  Take Your Photos to a New Level

Instagram not only lets its users share their photos with anybody and everybody, but it will help you create art out of your photos. Instagram sports nearly 20 different image filters that can dramatically (or minimally) alter your photos. Give each picture its own feel by adding filters that bring out colors, go black and white to give your photo that old-timey feel, or experiment with them all to find the perfect filter to make your image pop.

Every time you get ready to upload a photo (or when you take one using the Instagram app) you will receive the option to give your picture a filter. So what filter will you use to impress your followers?

3)  Join a Community

Instagram is one of the most popular applications for smartphone and tablet users. Over 300 million people use Instagram around the world, and with a population that large and diverse, you’re bound to find a community that appreciates the same types and styles of photography. But with a population of that many people, how in the world will you find YOUR people?

Hashtags. You may have heard that buzzword before. Essentially, a hashtag is a pound sign “#” followed by a word, or words, that describe some part of the picture. For example, if you took a photo of a flower garden and didn’t use a filter on your photo, you might use hashtags like this: #flowers #garden #nofilter. By utilizing those hashtags, you let everyone know that your picture contains flowers, a garden, and that you didn’t use a filter on your photo.

If you’re looking for something you’re interested in, try searching for it with a hashtag. If you’re after sunrises, search “#sunrise.” Looking for adorable babies? Search “#cute #baby.” It’s that simple.

4)  Use It as Your Private Digital Gallery

Not everyone hops onto the internet in an attempt to connect with everybody in the world. Many Instagram users don’t want random people viewing their photos, either. Thankfully, Instagram has long been praised for making their privacy settings straightforward and simple. That means you can use Instagram as your own personal gallery of photographs. Alternatively, you can make sure that only people who you know can see your photographs. Think of it as having a photo album on the internet instead of on your coffee table. Trust us when we say that your long distance relatives will appreciate the opportunity to see the beauty in your life via photograph.

5)  It Really is Beautiful

In the end, Instagram is one of the best photo depositories on the internet. It’s great practice for aspiring photographers and refined photographers alike. With a wide array of talent and vision like that, you are bound to receive some of the most beautiful, amazing, and random photography that the world has to offer. It’s easier than we’d like to admit to spend hours on Instagram just browsing, getting ideas, or finding photos to “love” (Instagram’s version of the Facebook “like”).

In the end, you won’t find a photography site as simple, easy, and incredible as Instagram. We’re already there, and we can’t wait to follow you and your amazing pics!

6)  The TCT Monthly Photo Contest

Being the forward-thinking company we are, NTCA recognized us as a Smart Rural Community, we wanted to try something new for this year’s TCT Monthly Photo Contest on Instagram. If you want to participate as a entrant or a voter, you need to download the Instagram app from your app store and follow @tctks. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to enter, vote, and enjoy the beautiful pictures.

Entrants: Submit your picture by tagging TCT (enter “@tctks” as part of your caption) and by using the hashtag #TCTKSPhotoContest2016!

Voters: Once you’ve followed us, look through our picture feed and “love” the pictures you enjoy the most. Votes will be tallied on the last Wednesday of the month, and post winners to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. The 11 monthly winners will then advance to be considered for our 2017 phone directory cover.

We can’t wait to see you on Instagram!

[written by DJ Souza, Inside Sales Representative]