With a high-end user interface that is simple and minimal but very elegant and functional, Instagram has become a sought-after social media platform used by all ages all over the world. This article will give you a walk-through of what Instagram is and how it is used by over five hundred million people worldwide daily.
Brief History of Instagram
Instagram launched originally in 2010 as a photo-sharing app developed by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. In its early development stage (years prior to its official release), this app started out as a competitor to Foursquare (an app developed by Foursquare Labs, Inc.) as a local ‘search-and-discovery’ application.
Systrom called it ‘Burbn‘ then (derived from ‘Bourbon’) because they were only focused on sharing photos and locations of wines. When the project didn’t succeed, they reached out to investors and re-developed the app but focused more on its photo-sharing feature (this time, with a wider sense of concept and shareability).
Quick Trivia: The term ‘Instagram‘ came as a frankenword (portmanteau) of the words ‘Instant camera’ and ‘Telegram‘. In other words, an instant capturing of moments (as photos taken from a camera) sent as an e-message to people all across the globe transmitted through an electronic device (mobile phones, etc.) ONLINE.
Since its official release, Instagram has taken the world by storm and gained over one million registered users in no time. Not only that, but it also hit over one hundred fifty million active users in just a short time.
It was really remarkable that Instagram made Facebook, Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg take an interest in them. By the last quarter of 2012, Zuckerberg successfully acquired Instagram for $1 billion in money and stocks.
With a merger between two apps (Facebook & Instagram), it became easier for people to manage both social media accounts simultaneously with just one tap of a finger.
As of mid-2022, Instagram has about 1.4 billion users worldwide: with more than 500 million DAU (Daily Active Users) and approximately 1.2 billion active users every month (MAU).
What’s the Instagram app for?
When Instagram launched in 2010, it wasn’t yet a powerhouse of a social media platform as it is today. By that time, the basic feature of sharing photos and videos was already available on Facebook.
When it became available on iOS and other Android mobile devices, Facebook was still way over the top. However, what made Instagram unique is its focus on only photos and videos and nothing more (compared to other social media platforms with games and too many ads, etc.).
With its simplified functions, many people noticed how hassle-free Instagram is compared to other social networking sites.
Instagram introduced multiple features over time. From functions that let you post photos and videos to functions allowing users to go live online and in real time, Instagram has been revolutionary in its own way. For more than a decade since its launch in 2010, Instagram has added more and more functions and editing features up to date.
Here are some of the most used functions of Instagram:
The app offers a ‘stories’ feature called Instagram Story (better known today as Instagram Stories), which are short clips that display a photo or video (that can be a series stacked or a collection of both) that is less than a minute long. You can upload photos and videos from your phone’s gallery and post them on your ‘Instagram Stories. When posting a new Instagram Story, you can also select multiple images to upload or ‘make a story of.’
You can do a lot of things from the Instagram Stories feature alone. You can opt to ‘repost’ a friend’s story and make it your own by modifying it through text captions. Moreover, you can tag your friends or any public figure (e.g. politicians, public pages, celebrities) in your Instagram Story. To know more about the fun things you can do with them, you may skip to the ‘How Does Instagram Work?’ section.
Instagram Direct was added three years after its official release. In 2013, the function that supports video chat and direct messages became available for desktop and pc and then added as one of the main functions in the mobile app, which was released in public in 2016.
With Instagram Direct, you can send private messages to your followers, contacts, mutual friends, and anyone whom you give access. With this function added, it has become easier for people to communicate through the app privately instead of making threaded comments for public viewing and/or utilizing a separate messaging app (which is kind of a hassle).
Instagram Direct messages recently added a ‘Vanishing Mode’ feature where people can send messages, photos, and videos that vanish at a certain time. When ‘Vanish Mode’ is turned on, you can opt to send disappearing direct messages to your contacts.
Much like the Facebook live mode in Meta, Inc.’s Facebook app (sister app to Instagram), Instagram Live is a video coverage module that allows you to stream happenings online and in real-time. This feature was expanded in late 2016, where best-featured live videos were highlighted and promoted by Instagram on its ‘Explore page.’
Going live on Instagram is an entertaining experience. Whether you go live using your personal or business account, you can get the most out of this feature using the Instagram filters and other screen buttons available on a live stream.
After finishing an Instagram Live coverage, one can opt to upload an edited version of the live stream and post it in the user’s story; or save a copy of the live stream in the ‘Archive’ folder for future use.
Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to go live on Instagram.
Instagram Video is a general feature on Instagram where you can create videos to upload as stories or reels. Simple video editing tools are available on Instagram but you can also opt to use a separate editing app for a wider variety of filters and enhancements.
Here are some free video editing tools you can use:
- Kine Master
- Viva Video
- Adobe Lightworks
- HitFilm Express
Add music and text captions to your video clips to make your story more alive.
You can find the Videos tab at the bottom of your mobile app screen between the ‘Search’ and ‘Activity’ tabs. In this tab, you can watch other users’ photos and videos created and uploaded as Instagram reels.
Instagram Reels are a lot like Instagram videos but they vary in functionality. Reels are short video clips that are displayed either in the user’s story or in the Instagram Videos tab.
Featured reels are found in the top-most stack in the Videos tab. The featured ones range from their popularity in terms of views, comments, or heart reactions. Additionally, boosted reels (or paid promoted videos) are also found in the same tab.
Updated in 2021, users can now put closed captions in reels–making it more interactive and highly entertaining. Add text captions and emojis to your reels and change them up.
Instagram doesn’t have a specific shop tab at the moment. But, if you want to check out businesses and virtual ‘stalls’ in the app, you may search for the keywords ‘Instagram Shop’ at the search and discover tab (represented by a magnifying glass icon) at the bottom corner of your mobile screen.
Instagram Shop lets you have a virtual glimpse of the best products from legitimate and verified stores worldwide. It’s like an immersive storefront (in the virtual sense) for people to discover and explore the products and services of both small-scale and big-time businesses.
All settings of your Instagram account can be found on the profile page. On the right side of your top corner, you will find a hamburger icon (represented by three horizontal lines). Tap that icon, and a pop-up window will emerge. You will see ‘Settings’ as the first option on the pop-up list. Instagram Settings cover everything you need to maximize your Instagram experience. Change your settings as much as you like according to your personal preference. Here’s what your settings include:
- Follow and invite friends.
- Account settings
- Help Center
- About Instagram
- Account Center (where adding and switching of accounts are also found)
Instagram for Business
Instagram is not only for personal usage but is also available for business. If you want to market your business online, you can always choose to go with Instagram.
In order not to mix your personal life with business, you can opt to create an Instagram account specifically to your business needs or switch to a business account with the same user profile.
How to use Instagram for Business?
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to open an Instagram Business account.
Open your Instagram account.
Go to your profile page by tapping your profile icon on the right-most corner of your bottom screen buttons.
Tap the ‘hamburger icon’ (three horizontal lines) on the upper right-most corner of your mobile screen.
An options box will then pop-up on your screen. Choose ‘Settings.’
On the Settings menu, tap ‘Account.’
On the Account menu, scroll down up to the last option you see on the bottom of your screen.
On the last portion of the Account menu, tap ‘Add new professional account.’ If you already have a business account, choose ‘Switch to professional account.’
One of the main reasons why you need to manage an Instagram Business account instead of using your personal account to do business online is to avoid the hassles of mixing multiple contact information and catering to customers beyond your business hours.
So, what can you do with Instagram for Business?
Get your brand out in the open with Instagram for Business. This is very efficient especially for startups looking for a low-cost way of getting your brand out in the market. With Instagram, you can be able to let people get a grasp of your brand without spending too much money on tele-marketing. You can even have prospective clients with your existing pool of followers and mutual contacts in Instagram to help you get a head-start.
Once your brand is getting the attention that you project it to have, you can then begin to advertise your brand to create more exposure. This is where your marketing will start. By this time, you will need to boost your reels to reach more people and create a better lasting impression around your brand and business enterprise.
Have the right strategy in doing your advertisements because they represent the kind of brand you’re putting out on the market. Be concise but on-point.
Instagram is also a great app to channel out your campaign ideas. You can even do polls on Instagram or do survey questions posted as an Instagram Story or Reel. This way, you will be able to track what your customers (or clients) think about your brand or products and services offered in the market.
For your campaign, you can also utilize your profile bio and insert links for external sites like your Facebook page, YouTube channel, or your campaign ad’s official webpage.
One of the cool things you can do with Instagram business is the promotional videos you can upload in the app. From promo vids to raffle bonanzas, Instagram is a great app to spread the word throughout. People are actually getting more engaged in Instagram than most social network platforms combined. Use that to your business’ advantage.
There are at least two ways to effectively use Instagram business in terms of organizing interactive conferences:
1) For small group discussions among partners or small-time investors using the Instagram Live Room (because Instagram doesn’t usually take up too much data compared to other telecommunication apps like Zoom, Telegram, Microsoft Teams, etc.); and
2) For using Instagram Live with your customers in the audience for interactive discussions like new brand logo unveiling, the introduction of a new product line, or anything you’d want to share with your loyal customers first-hand. It can be a small group like a beta-testing event where you would be able to ask your customers for suggestions or feedback on the incoming products or services you’d want to put up in the market.
Another common but effective way to promote your business via Instagram is to conduct interviews and make testimonial videos from customers who have been using your products or services for quite some time. Although this strategy is very common, it still exemplifies the human side of your business and creates opportunities for real people to get involved in promoting and marketing your enterprise.
The good thing about testimonials is how real people get to connect with real people. Because many people all over the globe are becoming too confined in the virtual world, having this kind of intervention helps how people will see your brand differently.
What you put up in the market and how you present your brand will create a lasting impression and a better reach depending on your marketing strategies employed. When your brand becomes successful in the market, you will do what it takes for your name to remain intact and ready for the next generation to take over.
Because Instagram also uses cloud computing, you will be assured that whatever you put up using the app will be there as long as you like, unless you take it down deliberately.
Quick Trivia: Instagram Insights is a built-in tool that you can utilize to keep track of your demographic data, followers’ engagement, analytics trends, posts reach, and impressions.
How Does Instagram Work?
To access Instagram, create a free account, and log in to your Instagram account. Set location and hashtag pages in your posts, and don’t forget to tag people
Now a social network powerhouse in just a matter of ten years since Meta acquired Instagram, this section will give you a quick need-to-know walkthrough and just a little bit of a general guide to the icons and buttons in the Instagram app.
Here’s a quick overview of how Instagram works:
Instagram Bottom Screen Buttons
HOME AND FEED
The Home Page (Instagram feed) is where most of your interactions happen. When you log in to Instagram, you will land on the Home page immediately. It is where you see the news feed of your followed accounts (e.g., photos posted), the Instagram stories feature reels, and promoted videos. This is also where the primary menu bar is found.
The [+] icon located in the upper-right corner of your home feed allows you to create a new post. Besides, the Direct Messages icon (Instagram private messaging) allows you to interact with your contacts privately.
Here’s a sample post that you will see on the Home feed. See how the buttons work.
There are four buttons present in each post. These are:
- Heart icon – when you like or love a post you see, you may tap this button to show your appreciation to the one posting the content. Unlike the Facebook app with seven reaction emojis, Instagram only has one. It’s minimal but still gets the message across.
- Speech bubble icon – tap this button to post a comment or see comments in the post.
- Paper plane icon – tap this button if you want to share a post and send it as a DM (direct message) to your contact. In Instagram, you can’t repost photos and videos just like how Facebook works. However, you can repost them as a story or as a reel.
- Bookmark icon – if you want to keep a post you like, you can tap this button to save that post to your collections. You can access your saved collection at Profile > Hamburger icon > Saved. You can also group your collections and rename them as you like.
Search and discover
Next to Home is the Search and Discover tab (represented by a magnifying glass icon), which is also known as the ‘Explore Page’. This is where you do your searches of people or pages in Instagram. Apart from that, suggested posts are also displayed in this tab in thumbnails. You can also search for businesses in the Search tab (e.g. Instagram shop).
VIDEOS AND REELS
The middle button in your bottom screen is the Videos tab (represented by a movie play button icon). This is where videos and reels are found. When you tap this button, you will see suggested posts (reels in thumbnails) just like in the search and discover tab.
The Activity tab (represented by a heart icon) covers your activities and notifications. Here, you will see your invites and follower requests, as well as your recent interactions and a summary of your entire month’s activities inside Instagram. You will also see suggestions on who to follow, and Instagram accounts to check out.
VIEW PROFILE PICTURE
The last icon on the bottom right corner is the ‘Me’ icon where your Instagram profile picture is found. What you will see on your Profile page are the following:
- Username – if you tap your username with a drop-down arrow next to it, you can switch between accounts.
- Create new post [+]
- More Options (hamburger icon)
- Posts, Followers, and Following count
- Bio and Status
- Edit profile button
- Discover people
- Photos and videos posted – you can go through your entire posts (from the most recent all the way to the first post you ever did) in thumbnail or in timeline view.
Instagram stories feature
Here are the ways you can utilize the Instagram Stories feature:
- Create a new story – tap your Instagram profile picture with a plus to make a new ‘story’.
- Watch live stream – when a profile icon of your followed user has a ‘live’ on it, it means that person is currently on Instagram Live. Tap that icon to watch his/her live stream.
- View Stories – watch stories from your followed users.
- Direct Messaging – go to Instagram direct messages by tapping the messenger-like icon.
- Create new post – by tapping the [+] icon, you will be directed to
Did you know? When you tap the ‘Instagram‘ word in the top left corner of your mobile device, you will see the ‘Followers‘ and ‘Favorites‘ shortcuts.
Who Uses Instagram?
A lot of people from all across the globe have been using Instagram for years, and new accounts are added daily too. As of June 2022, Instagram accounts have reached approximately 1.4 billion users worldwide. How Instagram grew so fast was contributed by people recommending the app to their common Facebook friends, and the chain continues.
Instagram accounts are available for 13 years old and beyond.
Why do people use instagram?
Most Instagram users choose this app over other social network services because of its user engagement. People on Instagram don’t need to interact too often to be able to let other users know you’re active on social media. Moreover, the video chat feature doesn’t consume too much data compared to other voice communication tools. Photos and videos posted on Instagram stories are lively and entertaining. Instagram is just so easy to navigate and manipulate.
Why Do Businesses Use an Instagram Account?
Because Instagram has billions of users worldwide, businesses get a better shot at being seen and promoted through Instagram reels. Short video clips that function as sneak-peeks to products and services offered by a business front have better reach than merely posting photos. And Instagram posts have better user engagement than other social media platforms.
Most people spend more time on social media platforms than national television and radio broadcasts. Since Instagram is very accessible (it is available as an iOS and Android app), businesses get a wider social network coverage; and, take note, your business scope will be not only limit to a local reach but international and worldwide.
In other words, Instagram works well with businesses.
Instagram Tips for New Instagram Users
Like any other social media platform, there will always be newbies who don’t know much about how to efficiently use a certain app; Instagram is no exception. Here are some tips for new Instagram users:
After creating your free account on Instagram, you will need to upload your Instagram photo. Choose one photo from your gallery for this. Afterward, set your status and add a description in your bio. You can also put links to your other social media accounts there.
Add your Facebook friends.
The best way to easily catch on the Instagram hype is to link your Facebook and Instagram accounts. This way, you can see your FB friends who are also on Instagram. Then you can add or import them.
Post photos and videos regularly.
You don’t have to post every trivial matter or nearly everything online but, more importantly, those with lifetime memories. It can be anything, so it doesn’t have to be trending (although you can also do that, dive in with the trend), but it should be personal. After all, you’re trying to share yourself with the world through Instagram.
Music always gives life to what feelings or emotions you want to convey. So don’t forget to add music to your posts when appropriate.
Utilize Instagram stories feature.
Most people open their Instagram stories before scrolling down to their news feeds. Stories help you share your day without clattering your timeline with photos and videos you’d want to take down anytime. With Instagram stories, you will have 24 hours to let people have a peek at how your day went.
Sharing photos and videos you relate to is also good content for your Insta stories.
What makes it fun to share photos and videos is the people you want to share it with. Catch your friends’ attention around related trends by tagging them.
Follow OFFICIAL ACCOUNTS.
You can also opt to follow the official Instagram account of celebrities or your favorite sports icons to have the latest updates on their life and happenings through your news feed. You will know they are legit accounts by looking at the blue check mark beside their username. It indicates that they have been verified and recognized by Instagram as public personalities.
Search and discover people.
You can find it on the explore page using that magnifying glass icon at the bottom of your app screen. Expand your circle by adding other users or searching for celebrities or businesses and following them.
Don’t keep a private account so other users can see you.
If you want to use Instagram to its fullest potential, don’t make your account private, especially if you’re still new to Instagram. However, you can do that later on whenever you feel like it.
Instagram Pro Tips and Trivia
Want to look cool? Trying to get more followers? Thinking of getting flood hearts? Maybe you want to create a startup? Projecting a business expansion? Need more ideas to change it up? Whatever it is you want to do with Instagram, you can best utilize it with a couple of things below that you might want to try doing.
Here are some trivia and Instagram pro tips for you:
Have a catchy name tag
Create a lasting impression by having a catchy username. Don’t get stuck with the status quo; make it unique or humorous. Puns, parodies, and wordplays are some things you can do to make your username cool, catchy, witty, or funny.
For example, if you’re a Taylor Swift fan and a dressmaker simultaneously, you can use ‘@TailorSweep‘ as a pun username for your business page. If you love BTS and mathematics, you can use ‘@BTSandYs‘ as a catchy username. Here are some suggestions:
Optimize your profile picture and bio
Let people know more about you by optimizing your profile picture and bio description. Steer clear away from misrepresentations and be more like yourself. You can’t please everybody, so don’t try to do that. People have got to love you for you and not for who you’re not.
Don’t be afraid to build from scratch!
Comments, hearts, and shares from your Instagram posts don’t get stacked overnight. You’ve got to start somewhere at some point. Don’t be afraid to build from scratch, especially if you’re planning to open a professional account. Do your homework and plan right. Make necessary adjustments and take projected measures. Afterward, put up your business front in the Instagram open market. Don’t underestimate what you can do because most large-scale and successful businesses start from great minds with small garages.
Post photos and videos that are impressive and attractive. The use of filters will help you achieve that. Instagram lets you play with your content and gives you a lot of freedom regarding themes and filters on your photo montages.
You can also opt to tap into other video and photo editing tools outside Instagram to enhance your photos and videos before posting them.
Produce original and out-of-the-box contents
People will always look for something new. That is how #trending posts work. Think of content ideas that are not common and are out-of-the-box. Don’t confine yourself with people’s general views but make an original of your own; then, let people flock into it. Don’t just jump into the trend, but make people jump into the trend you make.
Choose your demographics
If you’re a business account, you will need to choose which specific group of people will be your targeted demographics. This is important in order to reach the right people for your business enterprise. If you’re selling products for women in their teens, choose the 13-20 age group and not the 31-60 age group. After choosing your group, produce content or post photos and videos that provoke engagement with your demographics because they can actually relate to the topics you are discussing.
“Less is more”
Excessiveness and extravagance don’t always work. Too much vibrance will make you look more like an attention-seeker than a lively Instagram enthusiast. A single photo or video that expresses well what you think about or feel is so much better than posting a stack of 10 with no meaning but are randomly posted (just for the sake of posting something).
This also applies to business accounts. If a single photo or video already conveys the message you want to put across to your customers, then you don’t have to add more to it. Sometimes, incorporating too many elements in your post will get you scrolled over than being double-tapped for appreciation.
Use hashtags wisely and appropriately
Hashtags are like signposts that get you recognized or located. They also function as cross-references to topics or themes you’re using them for. Hashtags filter out what kind of information you’re putting up on Instagram and accumulate them with other users who also use the same hashtags.
When topics become trending, they are usually identified through the search of hashtags. Hashtags are user-generated; therefore, you must be wise and careful when making one. Offensive and foul words should not be tolerated or encouraged. As an Instagram user, you also need to be prudent and appropriate.
Be more human
Most people prefer to post the aesthetic side of themselves. This kind of mindset will get you and your followers a depressing feeling over time. Truth be told, there is no such thing as a happy life 24/7. When you present yourself that way, you will be exhausted from keeping that facade for a long period of time. Always remember that life comes in a package: the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. That’s what makes people human. And human you are.
Don’t go buying followers and likes
Some people stoop low for fame. There have been instances where users buy followers and likes from computer-generated bots. While this trick is tempting, it poses a high risk of getting banned from Instagram should you be found guilty of doing so. Another thing, you may be paying for empty following and likes. Some sites offering these promises will only give you false hopes. It’s like you’re paying bucks for no buckets.
Go beyond Instagram
As mentioned above, Instagram was acquired by Meta Platforms in 2012. This merger created more open doors for both Instagram and its users because many applications under Meta, Inc. can be interlinked with Instagram. Moreover, most social media services let you connect to other apps to expand your scope and extend your limits. Maximize your potential reach by going beyond Instagram.