You’re probably here because of one simple question: “How does Instagram work?” The answer, however, is a bit more complicated.
The Fast-Growing Instagram
Hosting over 1 billion active users online, Instagram has become the fastest-growing social media platform by far. It is home to different kinds of people from all walks of life – royalty, celebrities, politicians, game changers, activists, advocates, business owners, influencers, and regular people who simply seek fun and entertainment.
However, even with more and more people joining the app, many still find themselves lost in the process. It is undeniable that a majority of the population owns a mobile device, which enables them to have access to Instagram, but there are some who would rather not be a part of this social movement.
Surprisingly, there’s a lot the average user doesn’t know about Instagram and how it works. Still, this mobile app has become a household name and will probably continue to do so as long as it keeps reinventing itself.
Before jumping on the bandwagon, perhaps it won’t hurt to know at least a thing or two about the history of Instagram and how it exactly works.
Getting Started: What Is Instagram?
Instagram is a social networking app developed by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. Systrom created a prototype app called Burbn, which allowed people to register their location using their mobile phones. After agreeing to work together, Kevin and Mike realized that Burbn was somewhat similar to other already established mobile apps, so they decided to focus on images alone. They got rid of all preexisting features except uploading photos, commenting, and liking. It was then renamed to Instagram.
The app was first launched on October 6, 2010. Many considered it a hit right from the beginning with over a million users only 2 months after it was launched. It was made available on iOS first and later on Android. Due to its massive success, it went on to be bought by social media network giant Facebook for $1 billion in 2012.
How Does Instagram Work?
Like most social media apps that have come before it, an Instagram account basically has a profile and news feed. You can follow other users that you know or share the same interests as yours, and they can follow you back too. You can post photos and videos on your timeline and even add filters to them. The app allows you to “Like” and “Comment” on posts from the people you follow and vice versa.
Instagram also has a direct messaging feature, aptly called Direct Message or DM, which allows you to connect with your friends on a more personal level by sending short, sweet messages or simply sharing private photos and videos as well.
Recently, Instagram added the Stories and Live video features to its already compact interface. Although relatively new, these two have become an increasingly popular choice among users because these features let them share more organic, less filtered posts and allow them to genuinely connect with their users by interacting with them in real time.
How Does Signing Up For Instagram Work?
Instagram is available for both iOS and Android. Users may also access it from a computer. However, that option is fairly limited. After all, Instagram is first and foremost a smartphone app.
To begin your journey, you will need to sign up for an Instagram account. Don’t worry, this one is totally free of charge. You can use your existing Facebook account or email address. You just need to provide your chosen username and password.
What’s In An Instagram Name?
Remember, coming up with a username can be quite overwhelming but always keep in mind that whatever you decide on will form part of your online identity and should speak about who you are and what you do.
Once you’re in, you will be asked to follow some of your friends who are already on Instagram. If you’re excited to connect with your friends in an instant and let them know that you’re officially an Instagrammer, you may do so. Otherwise, you can skip this process and come back to it later.
Since you’re new on the app, you might want to share some important information that should be readily available on your profile. This means adding your name, preferably your full name to avoid confusion and to let your friends and other people easily search for you.
You should also include your most recent photo or any decent portrait shot of yourself to let people see the face behind your name. You also have to option to write a short bio on your profile, which could be a brief description of yourself, your hobbies, and interests.
Instagram accounts are public by default, which means anyone can view your profile together with all of the photos and videos you posted on your feed. If this makes you a little uncomfortable, you have the option to make your account private. This setting will require other users to send you a follow request. Only those you approve will be able to follow you and see your posts.
How Does Posting On Instagram Work?
Instagram is a highly visual app. The concept behind it revolves around coming up with refreshing, relatable, and relevant content through photos and videos. The idea of sharing what food we eat, what clothes we wear, and what places we go to has become a social norm.
Posting on Instagram is a pretty straightforward process. On the app, tap the Plus icon at the bottom toolbar. You can either take a new photo or video, or choose a previously saved one from your Library. Keep in mind that Instagram photos can be uploaded in two sizes: they are either automatically cropped into squares or you may resize the photo based on the guideline set by the app.
Once you’ve chosen your photo with the corresponding size, you can now edit it on the app itself and add filters if you please. Instagram currently has 23 filters available for you to choose from. If you want to veer away from presets, you can also manually edit your photos by adjusting a few things including, but not limited to, the brightness, contrast, structure, warmth, saturation, and color of the photo.
If you wish to upload a video, Instagram only allows one full minute in length per post. Similar to photos, you can also edit your videos on the app itself. You can trim them and select a thumbnail or cover frame.
More Options For Posting
Recently, Instagram added more options when uploading photos or videos. You can upload mini videos, more or less like GIFs, via Boomerang. It also has a handy Layout app that can put together all your favorite photos in a collage. Lastly, you can now upload two or more photos in one post using the multiple or carousel post feature on Instagram.
Once you’re done editing, you can write a caption. You may also tag people in the photo or video, or add a location. You can even share your post on your other social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
By hitting Share, your post will automatically appear on your profile and in your followers’ feeds. You and your followers can “Like”, “Comment”, or “Share” your posts. You can always edit the details of your post or delete it altogether even after you publish it. If you wish to do so, you can tap the three dots on top of your post and choose which action to perform from the options provided.
Instagram Stories and Live Video
Perhaps, one of the hottest trends on social media nowadays is the newest addition to the Instagram world: Stories. Everyday, millions of active users post snippets of their lives on a daily basis – from brunch photos to short clips of their day’s activities – no one misses out!
Unlike actual posts, Instagram Stories only last for 24 hours. Some opt to still curate their stories to make them more presentable and consistent with their feed and personal branding. Others, of course, are more chill and unfiltered.
Instagram Stories is a secondary feed that appears at the top of your main feed. You can see it marked by little photo bubbles of the Instagram users you follow. If you press the bubble long enough, a few options will pop up. You can either Mute the story or view the user’s profile.
By simply tapping on a bubble, you will be able to see that user’s story or stories published within the last 24 hours. If you’re familiar with Snapchat, Instagram Stories’ features are quite similar.
If you wish to publish your own story, swipe right from your main feed or tap on your own bubble. This will open a new panel that features a variety of options. These include Create (text-based entry), Boomerang (a short video that loops), Superzoom (instantly zooms in on a subject), and the basic ones such as Normal and Hands-Free. You will also find the Live option, which lets you broadcast from your phone in real-time.
Is Instagram Still Relevant Nowadays?
Now that we’ve answered the question “How does Instagram work?”, the next thing to ponder is this: “Does Instagram still matter?”
With so many existing social media platforms, many may wonder what Instagram really brings to the table. Some might even question its purpose and relevance in today’s tech-savvy world. The reason behind Instagram’s success is plain and simple. It’s a convenient tool to help us keep up with the times.
Instagram mainly deals with photos and was created specifically with smartphones in mind. Thus, pretty much anyone can upload their content, regardless if they’re an amateur or a professional. Instagram doesn’t really require users to be particularly good when it comes to photography.
All you need is a pair of good eyes that appreciate beauty even in the simplest of things, some pretty basic editing skills, a little hint of creativity, and you’re a champ! Perhaps one of Instagram’s purposes is to encourage you to share a bit of yourself with the people around you. Or simply to help you appreciate the good things in life.
Perhaps you’re not into photography, or you’re not one to post so much on social media. If that’s the case, then maybe Instagram is a way for you to stay in touch with your friends. You can also use the platform to make connections with new people. The Internet has created a global village. In doing so, it made it possible for us to reach out to other people even from across the world. Instagram even allows us to check on our favorite celebrities or the people we look up to and inspire us the most.
How Does Instagram Work… For Marketing?
Lastly, Instagram has become one of the most effective marketing strategies used by people and businesses alike. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make yourself known, share great content, and speak about important causes that you believe in.
Businesses, on the other hand, utilize this app to promote brand awareness, foster customer loyalty, and increase follower engagement with the hopes of translating these to sales and revenues.
You are, of course, free to use Instagram however you want to. Just remember that being on Instagram or any social media network involves a certain level of maturity and responsibility. It is also important to note that your online identity is as important as your real identity. After all, what people see online directly reflects their perception of you. If you’re ready, join Instagram and make some noise!