In recent years, Instagram has seen exponential growth- from one million users in December 2010 to over one billion active users at the beginning of 2019. You heard that right, there are one billion Instagram users as of 2019. It has become the top social media platform for photo-sharing- no other app comes close. Initially only available on the iOs for iPhone users, it has also become available for Android users in 2012. In April of that year, social media giant Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion.
Instagram has become so popular that it has become a cultural icon spawning phrases like, “Do it for the ‘gram” which means, “Do something so we can take a picture and post it on Instagram.”
If you still are not part of the one billion-strong community on Instagram, you might want to reconsider. Instagram is an excellent way to stay updated on your loved ones everyday activities. Moreover, you can follow your favorite celebrities to see candid photos of their everyday lives- see Justin Bieber’s latest vacation photos or watch backstage footage from Selena Gomez’s latest music video in her Instagram Stories. In addition, Instagram is also the go-to platform for brands to give consumers updates on their latest products and advocacies.
If by now we have convinced you to sign up on Instagram, but you are not too sure on how to go about it, we are more than happy to show you the ropes! This “Instagram for Dummies” article will cover the basics of using Instagram, and before you know it, you have already become a pro user!
Instagram For Dummies: Setting Up Your Account
Naturally, before you can do pretty much anything on the platform, you have to create an Instagram account first. Frankly, you don’t really need a guide to tell you how to accomplish this crucial first step. If you’ve ever used any kind of social media whatsoever in the last, oh, five, ten years or so, then you already know how this goes. For the sake of thoroughness, though, we’ll cover this section quickly.
Using your smartphone, tablet, or any other mobile device, download the free Instagram app from either the Apple Store or Google Play. Once the app is downloaded and installed on your Android or iOS device, open it and follow these steps:
- If you are on desktop, click “Log in with Facebook”, or fill out the form with your mobile number or email, name, username, and password.
- Click “Sign up”.
- On Android, click “Sign Up With Email or Phone Number”, if you are using an iPhone, select “Create New Account”.
- Enter your email address and phone number, then click “Next”. You can also sign up with your Facebook account on the app.
- Once you have filled out your username and password, you will be instructed to fill out your profile info. Then, tap “Done”. Make sure the username you choose is recognizable and is as close to your business or organization’s name as possible.
- If you register with Facebook, you will need to log into your Facebook account if you are currently logged out.
Instagram For Dummies: Customizing Notifications
Why Customize Your Notifications?
Once you have successfully set up your Instagram account, you might want to customize your notifications so you only receive the information you want. For example, you can choose to receive notifications when you get likes from everyone, but, alternatively, you can opt to only receive notifications when you get a like from someone you follow. You may even turn off notifications for likes altogether.
You can adjust notifications to “Off”, “From People I Follow”, or “From Everyone”, for the following: Comments, Comment Likes, Likes and Comments on Photos of You, Follower Requests, Accepted Follow Requests, Friends on Instagram, Instagram Direct, Photos of You, Reminders, First Posts and Stories, Product Announcements, View Counts, Support Requests, Live Videos, Mentions in Bio, IGTV Video Updates, and Video Chats.
If you are unsure of which notifications you want to receive or not, you might start with your notifications on “From Everyone”, and if certain notifications begin to annoy you, you can choose to turn them off later.
Customizing Your Notifications
To customize which notifications you receive, follow these quick and easy steps:
- Go to your personal account by tapping on the person icon at the bottom right of your screen.
- Then, click the “Settings” icon (the gear icon beside “Edit Profile”)
- Scroll down to “Push Notification Settings”
- Check off the notifications you want to receive.
How To Connect to Other Social Accounts
Now, let us look into how you can connect your other social media accounts to your Instagram, so when you post an image, you can share it with your other online audiences, as well, like on Facebook and Twitter for instance.
To link your other social media accounts to your Instagram, follow these steps:
- Go to “Settings”.
- Click “Linked Accounts”.
- Select which social media channels you would like to link your Instagram account to.
Instagram For Dummies: Uploading Content
Uploading and Posting an Image
It is now time for the most important part- uploading and posting photos on Instagram.
Instagram is a highly visual platform. Facebook relies on both text and pictures, whereas Twitter relies mostly on text alone. Instagram, on the other hand, shines the spotlight on photos (or videos).
If on Facebook you could put as many photos as you want in an album or on your wall. On Instagram, you need to be choosier about which photos you post. Instagram is a whole different ball game compared to Facebook.
On IG, it would be wiser to avoid posting more than once a day and too many similar photos. It would be quite strange for you to post ten photos from the same beach vacation on your Instagram. Instead, you might choose just one or two. This is also because a diverse overall profile aesthetic is preferable on Instagram.
So now, you are ready to upload, edit, and post an image on your Instagram account:
- Click the “+” icon at the bottom center of your screen.
- Here, you have three options. You can look through the photo library on your phone, you can take a new picture from right within Instagram using your phone’s camera, or you can take a new video.
- You can also choose to upload multiple photos by tapping on the three-frame icon and selecting the photos that you want to upload from your cameral roll.
- Then click “Next” on the top right.
- There are two categories you can use to edit your image: “Filter” and “Edit”. Instagram shows you the filters first. You can scroll through the carousel and click any of the filters. If you want to use a filter but you want to tone it down, double tap on it.
- Next, click “Edit”. Here, you can adjust contrast, brightness, structure, warmth, and more.
- When you are satisfied with your edited image, or if you do not want to edit it at all, click “Next” on the top right.
- Now, you can add a caption, tag people (you can only tag someone if they also have an Instagram account), or add a location. Click the button beside Facebook or another linked social media account to share your image on that platform, too.
- When you are ready to post, click “Share” on the top right.
Uploading an Image or Video to Your Stories
Since 2016 when Instagram launched “Stories”, this feature has become a mega-hit. Similar to Snapchat, Instagram Stories is a feature that allows you to post videos or images that disappear after 24 hours. On IG Stories, users often post more casual and candid videos and images, offering other users a sneak peek into their everyday lives.
To upload an image or video to your Stories, follow these steps:
- Click the camera icon on the top left.
- Once you are already within the Stories feature, you can take a picture or video right from within the app. Alternatively, if you have an image saved to your phone that you would like to use, click the small square in the bottom left corner.
- Click on a photo you would like to use in your Stories.
- On the top right corner, you have a selection of different editing tools. The smiley face lets you add a location, hashtag, time, date, and other fun images or emojis to your picture. The pencil icon lets you handwrite or draw on your image. The “Aa” icon is your text button so you can type a caption. Once you click “Aa”, you have the option to change your font by clicking “Classic” at the top. You have a total of five fonts to choose from on Instagram Stories.
- If you click the smiley face icon, tap on one of the icons to add them to your image. If you do not like what you chose, drag it to the bottom and a trash can will appear so you can delete it.
- You can also swipe to the left or right to add filters to your photo or video.
- Once you are happy with your content, you can either click the “+ Your Story” icon on the bottom left, which shares your Story with everyone who follows you, or you can select “Send To” to send the post to a specific user.
Instagram for Dummies: Expanding Your Network
Of course, you can’t spend the rest of your Instagram existence liking and commenting on your own pictures. (Quite honestly, that’s just sad, isn’t it?)
Following Other Users
Now that you already know how to post photos, videos, and Instagram Stories, it is time to follow other users! It is actually quite easy to find and follow users. Instagram’s search feature allows you to find celebrities, brands, family, and friends.
You can search “Tags” or “Places”. “Tags” is particularly useful if you know what type of content you want to find, and you would like to discover more information or valuable content related to it.
To follow an account, just perform these three easy steps.
- Click on the search icon at the bottom of your screen (the magnifying glass icon).
- Next, key in a person or brand. Alternatively, you could click “Tags” or “Places” to search those categories.
- Once you are on someone else’s account, you will see a blue “Follow” button at the top. For public profiles, you can click and immediately begin following that account. However, if the profile is private, you may need to wait for them to accept you first.
Instagram For Dummies: One Final Tip
For more choices on whom you can follow, you can tap the Explore tab at the bottom of your app (the star icon). The photos that show up here are images that the Instagram people deem the most interesting recent photos from the people they think are most worthy of following. The photos that show up at Explore come from all over the world and not just from your immediate social network.
Phew! That was fast! Now you are all set! See, it is incredibly easy to get started on using Instagram. Now you are on your way to becoming an expert in navigating the wonderful world of Instagram. You can now stay updated on what family, friends, and your favorite celebrities are doing; and in turn you can update them on the latest happenings in your life. Thanks for reading our “Instagram for dummies” guide, and have fun!