Instagram basics – Your complete guide to using Insta

There are numerous social media apps available for download on our phones, tablets and computers to help users connect seamlessly. Among the usual culprits, Facebook and Twitter, there is the ever-popular Instagram.

This article aims to set out the basics of what Instagram is, what it is used for and the many features available to users.

Continue reading if you have just entered the 21st Century and need a refresh course on the world of Instagram!

What is Instagram?


Instagram, or more commonly known by the youth as just ‘Insta’ or ‘Gram’, is a social media app. Unlike other social apps, Instagram is unique as it centres around photo sharing as its basic premise.


Instagram Mr Marketer


On the other hand, Facebook and Twitter allow users to post photos and videos as well as text posts. But Instagram focuses on photos and videos where users are able to write a caption underneath.

Similar to other social apps, Instagram has a plethora of features that encourage its users to like, share, comment on posts and direct message (DM) one another.



Instagram Mr Marketer


However, a key difference between Instagram and other apps, is that it is only possible to fully use the platform through the app. This means that the desktop version is almost useless when it comes to the gram.

Users are only able to search and view profiles, like and comment on a desktop and unable to post media, or view stories and DM’s. By restricting users, it makes the app much more popular.

Instagram Mr Marketer

The App


The Instagram app is far more convenient for the purpose the platform serves.

Here is a list of the main reasons why the app is a good idea:

  1. Instagram was created for users to share real-time images and videos and this is easily executed through a phone camera

      2. The app allows users to create exciting videos with features such as:

  • slow motion
  • zoom
  • boomerang

      3. Images added to stories can be personalised with filters, time and location information



Previously mentioned, users are able to post images and videos to their profile and stories. An individual profile is made up of all the media that has been shared over time. Accounts are able to see the comments and likes on their images through a profile.

Instagram Mr Marketer

To create an Instagram account, a working email address is needed, and the user must be over age 13.


Followers vs Following


Once an account has been created, users are prompted to follow some accounts.

There are millions of accounts to follow on Instagram that cover multiple areas of interest.

Some of the most popular accounts usually fall into the following categories:

Instagram Mr Marketer

  • Fashion
  • Food
  • Travel
  • Fitness
  • Nature

Unfollowing vs Blocking


Users can unfollow accounts as well as block ones they do not want to share their profile with.

Blocked accounts are not informed that they have been blocked by a user but will no longer have access to those profiles.

Instagram Mr Marketer

The accounts users follow do not automatically follow them back. It is every user’s choice to follow and unfollow accounts as they please.

Once users decide who to follow, these accounts are shown on the ‘Timeline’ and ‘Explore Page’.

Timeline vs Explore Page


The explore page is based on accounts followed and likes given on images. The explore page provides a window of opportunity to find new pages. Here, users can like, share and “explore” Instagram accounts.


Instagram Mr Marketer


On the other hand, a timeline is completely based on content that individuals follow. There are no new accounts here that are suggested by Instagram based on activity. Rather, users can only view pages they follow.

Recent posts and stories are shown on a user’s timeline. The stories appear at the top of the page and new posts are underneath in an endless stream.

Users can easily ‘like’ a post by double tapping it and leave a comment under it too.

By swiping right, users can see their direct messages (DMs) sent by their friends.

Direct Messaging: The DM


Direct messaging has been an original feature on Instagram. It allows users to interact and communicate through private messaging or group messaging.


Instagram Mr Marketer


As Instagram rose in popularity the development of the DM’s was inevitable. Users saw post sharing and the use of emoji’s aid Instagram’s likelihood as a must have app.

Users can receive DMs from anyone, even if they do not actively follow them. However, profiles that are blocked will not be able to DM the user who blocked them. In fact, blocked profiles cannot search users that have blocked them.

The DMs are used for sharing content found within Instagram. Users can create groups with friends or send to individuals. Instagram Mr Marketer

Recently, Instagram updated the app to allow users to share timed photos and videos much like its competitor, Snapchat.

These images disappear after a certain time limit. Images and videos can also be sent from the camera roll directly to the chat which do not expire.

The ‘like’ feature now applies to chats within DMs too. This means that users can double-tap replies, and images sent to the chat to like it.

Not just bedtime Stories anymore


Recently, Instagram updated the app, featuring stories. This allowed users to post ‘Insta Stories’. A 24-hour post that allows followers to see images and videos posted.

However, if the user’s profile is on public setting then their stories can be seen by all.

Users can also opt to archive their stories by making them ‘highlights’. This gives followers who hadn’t seen the story, an opportunity to see what they missed via the highlight.

The highlight stays permanently on the user’s profile unless deleted.


Everyone is a Photographer


Instagram Mr MarketerAside from liking, sharing and following users can also post their own photos by uploading onto their profile.

Users choose to post a single or multiple photo on one post.

This can be in a slideshow format or as a single image.

Filter’s aren’t just for coffee these days


Users also have the option to place filters on their photographs as Instagram now offers a wide range of shades and formats to the suit the setting of your photo.

Locations can be added, and this can also be added to regional stories posted in the area.


Instagram Mr Marketer


Lastly, if you have other people in the photograph they can be tagged in the picture as well. This boosts likelihood of more likes and follows.

What’s your Instagram Story?

So now you know more about Instagram and how to use it, do you have what it takes to be a top Instagrammer?

It’s simple to maintain Instagram for personal use. Users can easily stay connected with family and friends through a series of photographs and stories. But Instagram is also a powerful business tool used by many companies.

Read this guide on how to start an Instagram page for your business today!


Instagram Mr Marketer



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