Instagram is a free social media platform for sharing photos and videos.
Since its launch, Instagram has become a popular way to connect with brands, celebrities, thought leaders, friends, family, and more.
From short-form videos to live streaming, Instagram has a vast array of features that I will explain.
Instagram is a social media network like no other. Instead of words, the platform is built almost entirely around sharing images and videos. This visual twist is why Instagram is the cultural powerhouse it is today
With over a billion registered accounts, Instagram, which was bought by Facebook in 2012, has become a part of daily life. It seems like everyone is on Instagram nowadays, from small businesses to big ones, news organisations to cultural institutions, celebrities, photographers, and musicians, and not to mention the cottage industry of influencers that have come in its wake.
How to get it
To start using Instagram, you’ll need to download the app and sign up for an account. It’s available for free on iOS,Android, and Windows devices.
Upon opening the app for the first time, you’ll be prompted to create a new account, or log in with your Facebook account. If you choose to make a new account, the process is straightforward: You’ll be asked for your phone number or email address, full name, desired username, and password.
Once you create an account, it’s worth noting that you can create and switch between multiple Instagram accounts without logging out,” a very useful feature if you wish to, say, run separate accounts for personal and professional use. Even though Instagram is designed primarily for smartphones, the desktop experience, once very limited, has steadily improved over the years. Today, you can get on Instagram from your computer and use a web browser to edit your profile, view your feed, like and comment on posts, and send and receive direct messages.
When you first set up your Instagram account, you’re going to want to set up your profile. Your profile page is a hub for all your photos and videos, where you can keep track of who you’re following and who’s following you. It’s also where you can access your settings.
Keeping up with others on Instagram means making sure you’re getting the right notifications, when you want them. The platform gives you the power to choose what push notifications it sends to your device. For example, perhaps you want to receive a notification when you get a new follower, or when someone comments on your post. Or maybe you’re feeling inundated with pings, and you want them to turn notifications off completely.
So how does Instagram work?
At its core, Instagram is a social network, and a highly visual one at that. Every time you open the app, you’ll be met with a main feed of recent posts from the accounts you follow. At the bottom is a menu bar, which is accessible anywhere you are in the app.
There are five buttons:
Home:Your main feed where you can scroll through photos and videos posted by your friends.
Search and explore:The magnifying glass icon takes you to the Explore page, where you can search and browse content from accounts you don’t follow yet but might be interested in.
Upload:The large plus button is how you can upload and edit photos and videos, either by choosing from your phone’s camera roll, or opening the camera within the app.
Activity:The heart icon takes you to a page that displays like and comments on your posts, among other activity updates.
Profile:This icon navigates to your profile page that shows your bio and posts. It’s also where you can access your settings.
Like other social media networks, Instagram is what you make it. For most people, checking Instagram is equal parts voyeurism and self-expression. For the entrepreneurial set, like business owners, brands, and influencers, Instagram is an indispensable marketing tool with unmatched reach. But going back to basics, Instagram works off a simple premise: You follow accounts that interest you. In turn, people follow you. People can “like” and comment on your posts, and you can do the same to their posts. Whether you maintain a low profile or amass a following, how active you are is entirely up to you.
Uploading, editing, and posting photos
To share a photo or video on Instagram, tap the large plus button, where you can select photos or videos from your phone’s camera roll to post. Instagram allows you to to select up to 10 photos and videos to post at once. For every post, you can choose to apply a filter, which, depending on who you ask, is essential to the Instagram experience. Filters make it easy to edit shots with different visual pre-set overlays. For example, some filters, like “Mayfair,” give everything a pink hue; others, like “Willow,” turn everything black-and-white.
Once your post is to your liking and ready to go, there are a few more optional things you can do before you hit the “share” button:
Add a caption: Captions are always a good idea. You can use words, emojis, or hashtags. Just like in comments, you can also “mention” friends by placing “@” in front of their username. Keep in mind you can edit captions at any time â€” or delete them, if need be in the future.
Also post to other social accounts: Instagram also gives you the ability to publish a post to other social accounts at the same time. By linking accounts, you can cross-post to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Exploring and finding people to follow
The best way to find people to follow is by tapping the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the app. This will open the Explore page, where you’ll find a feed of suggested posts based on what Instagram thinks you’re interested in. The Explore page can also be organised by topic â€” another great way for discovering content. Additionally, the page is where you can search for users by name.
When it comes to interacting with others, Instagram works less like Facebook, and more like Twitter. In most cases, you don’t have to send a friend request and wait for the other person to accept it.