instagram symbol sketch

Guide to Instagram Symbols

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When you're new to Instagram, it can be a little intimidating to know how the app works and what you should do. Knowing what each symbol on the app means will help you maximize your potential on the platform.

This guide will go over each symbol on Instagram and what you can do or access with them.

instagram bio

Instagram Navigation Symbols

To navigate around Instagram, you will need to use the buttons on the bottom of the app. Each will take you to a different area of Instagram where you can enjoy the content you want. Here’s what each one does:

  • home


    On the far left of the navigation symbols, you will see a home button. When tapping it, you will be redirected to your Instagram feed, where recent posts by the people you follow will appear (sprinkled with ads of course). When launching the Instagram app, you will start off in this area.

  • Search

    The symbol with the magnifying glass will redirect you to the search page. You can type in any keywords related to the content you love to find new images and videos that have been uploaded about that topic. This is a great way to find new creators to follow.

  • video


    The button that looks as though it has a video player will take you to the Reels section. Instagram Reels is similar to how TikTok works. People can create and upload 15-second videos to the platform which will be shared in this section.

  • briefcase


    The symbol that looks like a case will take you to the shopping section of Instagram. Here you can browse products or search for things you want to purchase. You can order them directly from the app. Items recommended to you will often be related to the people you follow or what their followers tend to find interesting in general.

  • profile-male


    The profile button (and image of a head and shoulder) will take you to your profile. Here, you will be able to view your posts, edit your profile, and see how many followers you have (as well as how many people you are following). You can also see if anyone has tagged you in one of their posts.

Home Icons on Instagram

When you are on your home screen, you will three icons on the top right-hand side of the screen. Here are their functions:

  • plus

    Create Post

    The first icon is a square with a plus sign on it. Clicking this will allow you to create a post. You can also create a story, reel, or go live by tapping on your choice on the lower right-hand side of the screen (after you have clicked the “create post” icon).

  • heart


    Clicking on the heart on the top-right-hand side of your screen will let you know what activity has been done. You may see that people you frequently check out have posted since you have been away. The activity feed will also tell you if people have engaged with your content. A little red circle will sit on the heart when the activity feed is in play.

  • plane


    Clicking on the paper airplane icon will allow you to check your messages and respond to anyone who has messaged you.

person holding smartphone on instagram page

Instagram Engagment Symbols

When scrolling through your feed, you will notice that there are four different symbols under each post. Three sit on the left of the post and one sits on the right. Each of these symbols serves a different purpose. Here is how you can use them:

  • heart


    If you want to show the creator of a post that you appreciate, click the heart button under the post. Many influencers will track the number of likes they get so that they know how to create better content for their viewers in the future.

  • comment


    If you want to comment on an Instagram post, click the comment symbol. This symbol will allow you to add a message to the post that the poster (and anyone else looking at the post) can see.

  • plane


    The icon that looks like a paper airplane is what you need to press if you want to send a message on Instagram. When sending these messages, you will type in the recipient’s name, then decide how long the message can sit in the message box.

  • bookmark


    When clicking the post that looks like a banner or a bookmark, you can tap this button. That way it will show up when you visit your feed or their profile in the future.

Once you understand Instagram icons, you will be able to use the app much more efficiently. You will also be able to find the content you want to see, increasing your enjoyment of the app overall. Don’t forget to engage with your favorite influencers to help them create better content in the future.