The What, Why, and How of Instagram for Beginners

What is Instagram and why should you use it? This post covers the what, why, and most importantly, how to interact on this popular media-sharing app.

What is Instagram?

Instagram was initially a photo-sharing app to share photos instantly- and only instantly. It now allows for curated content, and with a few skills, you can curate a beautiful Instagram feed to enjoy. 

Why use Instagram?

Do you really need another social media app?

Instagram is especially enjoyable for a few reasons.

First, it is easy to interact with people you don’t know in person. You don’t have to have a friend connection with them first. This is a great way to “meet” people with similar interests.

Second, you don’t have to interact with people at all. You can follow content only by searching hashtags for your hobbies and interests.

A downfall of Instagram for many is that users only can share one clickable url at a time on their profile. This can be a perk, however, because it makes it hard to share the inflammatory posts that make Facebook so frustrating.

You can certainly enjoy Instagram as just a spectator, but you would be missing out. This post puts together the basics to get you interacting on Instagram.

How to Use Instagram

Setting up your profile

Start of course by downloading the app on a phone or tablet.

When opening the app for the first time you will be prompted to choose a username and password. Just using your name is always a good choice. You may consider adding a word that describes what you will mostly post about: quilterkayla instead of kayla4231 for example. This can help people with similar interests find you easily.

Should your account be public or private? To have the most fun on Instagram, I recommend having a public account. This will include your content in searches so you can connect with new friends.

Upload a picture of yourself (or not… but a face is most relatable and gets more follows) and enter a few sentences about yourself and your interests. 

You only get one clickable url on Instagram, so use it wisely! This is a great place to share your personal blog.

Navigating Instagram

You have five options for navigating the app at the bottom of the screen.

Home

Go here to view what other people post. You can like or comment on other content.

Search

Going to the search screen will suggest content you might be interested in. This is a great way to find new, inspiring accounts to follow. You can also search for something specific. Search hashtags to find content about a certain topic. Example: #quilts. If you know someone’s username, you can search for them here.

Add your content

This is where you go to add your own content. More on that below.

Likes, comments, follows

Here is where you will be notified if someone else likes your content, leaves a comment, or follows you.

Profile

This is your profile where you can look back on all of the content you have posted. You can also see posts you have been tagged in.

Posting

When you click the + button, your camera roll will load. Choose the image you would like to share. 

To share a series of images, hold down on the image you would like to share. A blue number one will show in the corner. Then select the images you would like for the series in order.

Touch “Next” in the upper right-hand corner.

Now you have the option to edit or filter your images at the bottom of the screen. Experiment with filters if you would like. Editing allows for cropping and more nit-picky adjustments like brightness, contrast, and structure.

Touch “Next” again in the upper right-hand corner.

Type a description in the box provided. 

To mention other people, type @ before their Instagram username. If you follow them, their name will pop up as you type a few characters.

To help people find your content, add a few hashtags. Remember how you can search to find content you are interested in? You need to add hashtags to include your content in that search.

Examples: #quilt #quilting #patchwork and #sew.

Do not use commas or spaces in your hashtags. For example, use #patchworkquilting or Instagram will read it as #patchwork and then just the word “quilting.”

You have the option to tag other accounts and add a location.

You can also add your content to Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. You can connect either a personal profile or a business page.

Finally, touch share, and your content will be posted.

Interacting

You can find content to follow in the search area. You can also just stick to accounts you know by scrolling your homepage.

When you see an image you like, you have a few options.

Above the image, you can touch the username to see all of the pictures they have posted. You also have the option to follow them if you do not already. You have more options by clicking the ellipsis, including sharing the image to a different platform. If you follow the user who posted the content, you have a few more options including to unfollow them or to turn on notifications to be updated as more likes and comments come in.

Below the image, you can click the heart icon to show you like the content. You can also comment on the image or video. Tapping the paper airplane gives you the option to send the image to other Instagram users. 

If you see something inspiring to keep for later, tap the bookmark ribbon. Bookmarks can be accessed by clicking your profile and then tapping the three lines in the upper right-hand corner.


Instagram also has a Stories feature, but that is a story for another post. Hopefully this one has been informative and encouraged you to get started on the Instagram platform.

Still have questions? Continue the conversation in the comments below.

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