Instagram works wonderfully as a photo posting portal where I can upload one picture through the app, share it on multiple sites and email it to relatives not on any social networks. But like many options in life, just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
Instagram is one part photo journal, one part micro blog, one part community. When I first started using Instagram back in May 2011, I used it to capture experiences. It served as a digital photo journal. Over the last two years, I've taken pictures of my kids, and of course my dog, places we went and yes, I'm embarrassed to say, my food. Most of those I shared on Facebook as well.
Two recent observations:
1. Different audiences, value different content.
I only have a handful of close friends and family members on Instagram. Most of them are on Facebook. My connections on Instagram are mainly people that have liked my photos or I've liked theirs - that is, our common interest is cool looking photographs. They don't necessarily care about my kids cutting down a Christmas tree, but they might like the last bit of fall foliage from the stroll in the fields at the Christmas tree farm.
2. The same overlapping audience on different platforms also values different content.
Rarely will friends of mine on both Facebook and Instagram like the same photo in both places. In fact, I have a friend I used to follow on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. He consistently posts the same pictures on all three. I had to quit following him on two, because he posts a lot, and it's all the same stuff. There was no value add to follow him on all three.
So to keep a strong community on Instagram, I'm focusing less on the photo journal aspect of Instagram and more on the micro blog element. And if that's the case, then content is king, and it's time to raise the quality. That's why I'm reducing the amount of overlap in my Venn Diagram of photo sharing with the goal to increase my artistic creativity and improve the quality of content everywhere I share photos.
In refining my Instagram approach, I'm no longer using it as my one-stop for posting square pics online. I'll be more targeted. It's getting promoted to only my coolest, most striking photos. Personal sharing will go to Facebook and email, and records of great food will go to Evernote (I'm the only one that cares about those things). And photos I think others could use for slide images or other creative projects will go to Flickr. Of course there will still be a little overlap, but that will many be on Google+, after all, that place is a ghost town.