How to use Instagram: A Beginner’s Guide [2023 Latest]

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A lot has happened since Instagram first came out in 2010. Back then, it had one million users, which was not bad by most standards.

This year, well over one billion people across the globe are doing one of the following at any given time:

  • Sharing Instagram stories to friends and family
  • Posting original content for their followers
  • Using the visual platform as a marketing tool

They are making a good amount of money while they’re at it, too. In fact, Instagram’s annual advertising revenue has been steadily increasing over the years, from $12.4 billion in 2019 to $17.4 billion in 2020 to $26.46 billion in 2021. And that is just in the US!

This year, the projected ad revenue is $33.25.

It’s safe to say that Instagram is here to stay and that it will continue to offer unlimited income opportunities, which is probably why you decided to create your own account.

We’ve got you covered with this step-by-step guide if you are not yet sure how to use Instagram. However, before we get to it, you need to understand what is Instagram.

What Is Instagram?

Instagram is, first and foremost, a social network. What sets it apart from Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms is that it is far more visual.

Its identity is built on sharing photos and videos instead of words, and this approach works really well.

Today, people describe beautiful scenery as “Instagrammable,” which means that it is worthy of being posted on social media.

“Instagramming” is also a universally accepted verb now, much like “Googling” something online.

Another thing that people like about Instagram is that it is highly interactive. Once you publish visual content for your followers (or even non-followers, if you are using a public account), they can tell you how they feel about it through comments, likes, shares, or saves.

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The Different Types of Instagram Accounts

There are three types of Instagram accounts, each one with its unique characteristics:

  • Personal account
  • Business account
  • Creator account

It is quite easy to see what each account type is for.

The personal account is the default account for every user, and it is designed mostly for personal use. If you want to access additional features like the swipe up link option or contact buttons, you have to switch to a business or creator profile.

The business account is designed for, well, businesses. People can use it to promote their brand through Instagram marketing. For instance, if you see Nike Instagram stories, that is an example of this type of account.

The creator account is for personalities or public figures who want to monetize their popularity on Instagram. Many businesses are willing to pay good money for influential brand ambassadors who can help them generate more sales.

Influencer marketing has been an effective marketing strategy for many businesses in the last few years. In 2019, 55.4% of marketers leveraged the reach of influencers to help brands grow. This year, experts predict that this figure can go as high as 72.5%.

Here’s another look at the differences between the three types of Instagram accounts:

FeaturePersonal AccountCreator AccountBusiness Account
Growth AnalyticsX
Flexible Profile DisplayX
Creator StudioX
Third-Party App Integration XX
Message Filtering

How to Use Instagram: Getting Started

So now that we have gotten the nitty-gritty out of the way, it’s time to discuss how to set up your Instagram account.

First, you need to download the app on your phone. You can get it for free from either Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store on Android.

The Instagram icon looks like a multi-colored camera, and it should appear on your screen once you have downloaded it on your device.

Setting Up an Account

After downloading the app, you can start to set up your account. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Tap on the Instagram icon to launch the app and tap on the Sign Up button. You will find it at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Provide your email address or phone number. Alternatively, you can sign up using your Facebook account. Tap Next once you are done.
  3. Come up with a unique user name and create a password.
  4. Build your profile info and upload a profile photo if you want. You could also add some personal information in the About Section.
  5. If you opt to register with your Facebook account, you have to log into it, too, to complete the process.

Once your account is up and running, tap the Sign In button the next time you visit the login page. You will find it at the bottom of the page as well.

Things to Remember

Setting up an Instagram account is pretty straightforward, but there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.

  • Aside from coming up with a unique user name, make sure that it has great recall value and is relevant to your niche.
  • Optimize your Instagram bio profile to maximize engagement.
  • For your profile picture, choose a photo with a closer shot.
  • If you have a website, YouTube channel, or affiliate marketing link, add it to your description.
  • While your user name should be unique, it should not be too complicated.
  • Do not use generic passwords like name1234 to avoid hacking.
  • Do not use random images for your profile photo.

Navigating the Tabs

Now that you have set up your account, how does Instagram work?

You will begin your Instagram journey on the Home pages where you see your feed and posts. At the page’s bottom, you’ll find five icons that let you do different things.

At the extreme left is the Home tab, which lets you get back to the Home page from wherever inside the app. Next to it is the Search bar, which looks like a magnifying glass. It lets you search for accounts or keywords.

In the middle is the Instagram Reels tab, which looks like a reel with a play button in the middle. It lets you access short-form videos.

Beside the Post tab is a shopping bag icon that will show different Instagram shopping options like personalized recommendations and curated picks.

The Profile tab is at the extreme right. It lets you do things like add friends from your contact list or Facebook friends list. It also has the Edit Profile function and Menu button, where you will find additional options.

At the upper right are the Post tab (plus sign), the Like tab (heart), and the Instagram Direct tab (paper plane).

The plus icon lets you add photos or videos, while the heart icon lets you Like photos in other users’ profiles. The paper plane icon allows you to send a direct message.

how to use instagram

Adding Photos on Instagram

Now for the fun part of Instagram: posting photos.

How to Post an Image

Sharing your amazing photos on Instagram is as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Tap on the plus icon and choose your image files. You can browse from your library or take a new photo.
  2. Add filters or edit the photos as desired. You will find the action buttons at the bottom of the page.
  3. Finally, write a caption, tag people, add a location, and select the share settings.

After going through these steps, you can publish your photos by tapping the Share button.

How to Upload Images or Videos to Your Stories

Aside from posting photos, Instagram lets you share images and videos that disappear after 24 hours. This feature is called Instagram Stories.

In this section, you can upload more casual content to give people glimpses of your personal life. If your normal feed is full of carefully chosen and highly edited photos, your Story is a bit more candid.

Here’s how you can upload the type of content that you want in your Story:

  1. Tap on the post button or the Your Story button at the top left corner.
  2. Select the file inside your phone or take a new photo or video.
  3. Edit the picture as desired or add details like location, hashtag, time, date, or emojis.

Once you are satisfied with your content, you can publish your story for close friends or everyone to see.

Managing the Notifications

Instagram can send you notifications every time something comes up, like when you get likes, comments, or follower requests. It can be a bit annoying if your phone makes a noise and you have to look at it every few minutes.

The good thing is that you can turn off the alert for any of the categories that you want. Alternatively, you can switch from “From Everyone” to “From People I Follow” for some of the notifications.

Here’s a list of the Instagram notification categories that you can adjust:

  • Posts
  • Stories and Comments
  • Following and Followers
  • Direct Messages
  • Live and IGTV
  • From Instagram

Connecting Your Instagram to Other Social Media Platforms

If you have other social media profiles, you can connect Instagram to them as well. However, you have to do it for every post except for Facebook (but more on that later).

To share your posts to Tumblr, Twitter, and your Facebook page, look for the pop-up menu in the upper right corner. It looks like three dots, so you should not miss it.

Tap on the Share button and toggle the accounts that you like. Be careful not the tap the Share To button, which Airdrops the post to your contacts.

Linking Your Instagram to Your Facebook Account

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for a hefty sum of $1 billion. Instagram only had 13 employees at the time, which makes the amount even more staggering to imagine.

Both platforms now belong to the same company called Meta, and you have the option to connect them for a seamless experience.

Doing this lets you:

  • Share stories on both platforms
  • Log into Instagram using Facebook
  • Sync both profiles
  • Use Facebook Pay on the Instagram Shop

If you are using both social media platforms frequently, linking them opens up many possibilities. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Tap on your profile at the bottom right corner of the default page.
  2. Open the menu in the upper right corner and tap on Settings.
  3. Open the Accounts Center under the company logo.
  4. Tap on Set up Accounts Center and follow the instructions.
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Following Someone on Instagram

One of the first things you would probably ask is, how do I follow someone on Instagram?

If you want to keep tabs on a friend, a celebrity, or even a brand, Instagram lets you do this with the Follow feature.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Tap on the Search icon and type in the name of the person or brand you want to follow.
  2. Select the account that you are interested in from the results.
  3. Tap on the Follow button.

Commenting on Posts

Instagram is not just about posting photos; it is highly interactive and users can engage each other in many ways.

One is by commenting on posts. You can say something about a photo or respond to an existing comment.

For businesses, answering comments is an excellent way to encourage people to consider their products or services.

So how do you do it? It’s easy: simply follow these steps:

  1. Tap the speech bubble icon below the photo or video.
  2. Leave a new comment or a reply.

That’s it!

Converting to a Business Profile

There’s a lot that you can do with a personal account. However, if you want all the bells and whistles, you might want to switch to the business profile.

Instagram for business will let you add more information to your account and even promote your Instagram posts. You would need a Facebook account to convert your profile.

Here’s how:

  1. First, go to your Instagram and launch the settings.
  2. Tap the Switch to Business Profile button.
  3. Select the Facebook profile you want to connect with your Instagram account.
  4. Provide your email address, contact numbers, and postal address.
  5. Press the Done button

Using Instagram Highlights

Once you make the big switch to a business profile, you can access all the other Instagram features. One is the free analytics tool.

Also known as Instagram Insights, this tool can help you keep track of key metrics like impressions, reach, sales, engagement rate, shares, and saves.

With this information, you can come up with more high-quality content to target the right audience and reach new ones.

To access insights, open the Menu tab at the top right corner of your profile. You can launch the analytics from there.

Using Hashtags

A hashtag is the symbol # followed by a collection of letters, numbers, and emojis. It helps categorize your photos or videos and makes them easier to find.

To illustrate, if you post a picture using a particular hashtag, it will appear on the page for that hashtag. Whenever someone clicks on that hashtag, they will be able to see your post as well.

Here are some helpful tips when using hashtags:

  • Use the Instagram Highlights when looking for hashtags to post.
  • Avoid spammy, banned, or repetitive hashtags.
  • Make sure that your hashtag is relevant to your content.
tips on how to use instagram

It’s hard to stand out from over a billion users. Fortunately, Instagram has plenty of tools that can make it easier for other people to find you.

Aside from hashtags, another way to be discovered more easily is by optimizing your post for the search bar. You can do this by using relevant keywords in your caption.

Using Instagram Live

Instagram Live is a feature that lets you broadcast your video in real-time. If any of your followers miss it, you can access it in your Live Archive and share it with them.

Starting a live broadcast is easy:

  1. Swipe right on your feed the scroll to the Live option.
  2. Add a title or a comment.
  3. Put a pin on a comment if you want your viewers to see it easily.
  4. Tap End once you are done.

Get the Most Out of Instagram

To get the most out of Instagram, you need to understand its key features. This is true whether you want to connect with friends, followers, or potential customers. Hopefully, this guide can help you grow your account and achieve your personal or business goal in no time.

FAQs About How to Use Instagram

1. Can I make money from Instagram?

Yes, you can. Once you have built a decent following using an array of content ideas, you can sell your photos or promote products.

2. Who can see the photos and videos that I post?

Your photos are visible only to those you allow if you have a private account. With a public account, anyone can view your posts unless you block them.

3. How do I start a video chat on Instagram?

To start a video chat, tap on the paper plane or Facebook messenger icon in the upper right corner.

Next, tap on the video icon, search for people you want to chat with, then press Start. Tap on the X button to end the conversation. 

4. How do I mention other users when posting a story?

Once you have chosen a photo or video to post, tap on the Aa button and type the @ symbol. Next, select the user you want to mention, tap Done, then share the content.

5. Can I schedule a live broadcast?

Yes, you can do this by swiping right on your feed, selecting the Live button at the bottom, and tapping the Schedule icon. After adding a title, tap the Share live video button, then choose between Share as post and Share later.

Uday Tank is a serial entrepreneur and content marketing leader. He has a wide variety of interests and enjoys writing, including marketing, productivity, business, health, diversity, and management.