Instagram rocks. I’m still not sure if it’s worth the $1 billion Facebook spent, but I’m definitely crushing on its capabilities. The smartphone app provides amazing ways to interact with various audiences through a visual medium.

Like any social platform, users can get lost in the hype and push best practices to the wayside. Whether you’re new to Instagram (available via iPhone and Android, by the way) or a seasoned pro, check out these commandments to avoid pitfalls:

Thou shalt offer variety.

It’s totally cliche, but it’s true: Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Want to show off your drool-worthy lunch, throwing your Instagram followers into a pit of jealousy? Fine. Want your followers to squeal over pictures of your miniature schnauzer? Awesome. Just make sure you offer followers variety. 

Instagram is all about giving users a glimpse at your life and the sights that catch your eye. Your day-to-day life is multidimensional, so reflect that in what you choose to post! Sharing too much of the same thing (food photos, pet photos, etc) may bore your audience. Let’s keep it fresh by switching things up.

Thou shalt not take copious amounts of self portraits.

I don’t see anything wrong with Instagramming (is that a word?) a self portrait or two, but seriously: Keep your headshots to a minimum. If you’re snapping these shots to highlight something particular (a new outfit, a new lip color, an updated hairdo,  your new eyebrow piercing, etc,) that’s ideal. But if you’re taking photos of yourself just because you’re bored, you should reevaluate your Instagram usage. (Think about it. Do you really believe followers want to see what you look like while driving in your car or laying in your bed?)

Thou shalt not abuse hashtags.

In the social media realm, hashtags serve as powerful little tools. They help us track conversation threads on Twitter, identify keywords and categorize messages.

The “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing” rule applies here, too. Hashtags are most useful when associated with a particular contest or topic (such as #ootd) that requires them.

If you’re tagging a food photo with “#steak #yummy #foodinmytummy #delish #food #latergram,” you’re probably doing it wrong.

Thou shalt not overshare via other social networks. 

I’m a cross-pollination advocate (aka sharing content from one social network on another social network,) but some users take this concept to the extreme. Be selective about the Instagram photos you share via Facebook, Twitter or other social networks. Keep your audience in mind each time you post.

What commandments would you add to the list?