The Instagram Starter Manual

Introduction

Instagram is a social network that is essential when you want to share pictures or videos that are owned by Facebook.  It was started in October 2010. The word Instagram was derived to mean instant telegram.  If you set up an account, you will have a profile and a news feed, similar to Facebook.  You follow people, and people will follow you.  Once you have posted a picture or video, your followers will be allowed to see it.  Just as on Facebook, you can like, comment, private message, and tag.

Before you set up your account on Instagram, there are a few tidbits to know.  You must have an Android or iOS mobile device.  You will need to download the app in order to create your account.  While you can access Instagram on the internet on your computer, you will only have limited access to it.  You can use any browser to access Instagram on a computer.  However, it is best to use up to date versions of Opera, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Safari.  You will only be able to do anything if you have one of these devices, such as adding a filter.  It is said that soon a version for Windows Phone is coming, but time will tell.

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Starting an Instagram Profile

Starting an Instagram profile may seem intimidating at first.  But trust me, it is not in the least.  You will need to make your profile with your email, and select a username. The username should be one that clearly represents you and your brand.  You can also register with your Facebook account if you desire.   You will also need a strong password that no one knows. Pick a profile picture, and write a bio that will target individuals that will be interested in the same things that you are.   Your bio can be up to 150 characters.  Your profile picture can be imported from your phone, Facebook, or Twitter.  Do take note that you may change your profile picture, as well as your username, whenever you desire.

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Finding People To  Follow

Finding people to follow is a simple task.  Instagram will help you find your Facebook friends who also have an account with Instagram.  They can also suggest people to follow.  To see this on an Android phone, go to your profile page and select the three dots that are at the top right.  Tap on “find friends”,  and then select those that are of interest to you.  On an iOS phone, you will do similar steps,  but will tap on “find people to follow”.

You can also find people to follow by searching for their username.  Hashtags can be searched for as well.

How To Post Photos And Videos

One of the first things you will need to know when you start your Instagram account is how to post photos.  If you want to take a picture with your phone, you will tap the icon at the bottom of the screen with the camera on it.  Or you can also upload an image from your phone.  After you have taken or selected the photo, you can add stickers, captions, filters, hashtags, and @mentions.  You will also be able to tag your friends in any photos by tapping on “tag people”.  Enter their username, then select them from the drop-down menu.  If your profile is public, the person you tagged will get a notification that you have tagged them.  Everyone will be allowed to see this image.  However, if your account is private, only your followers will be able to see this image.

To post a video, you can tap on the camera icon, then switch it to video.  To start recording, press the video icon.  Taking your finger off the icon will stop the video recording.  Tap “next” to use a filter, and then you can share your video.   If you have a video on your phone that you want to upload to Instagram, you will need to click on the camera icon.  Switch from camera to video, then tap the box that is in the right-hand bottom corner.  Select your video, then select “next”.  You will need to determine what section of the video you would want to be uploaded, as you will only be allowed 15 seconds.  Tap “add”, and then select your filters, then “next” to add your video.  You will not be able to tag anyone, but you can do @mentions in videos.

Basic Instagram Lingo

There are some basic terms that Instagram users should know.  The following is a cheat sheet so you know exactly what people are talking about when referring to Instagram.

Profile–  Your profile tells people about you.  Here you will be able to let your followers know what you like to post about.  If you desire, you can let people know what your name is.  You will be able to write a little biography about yourself, as well as link to other social media sites like Twitter or Facebook.  Here you will also be able to add a picture that will be seen on every post you make, or whenever you comment on others’ posts.

Username- Just as you have on other social media sites, you will need to decide on a username.  This may also be referred to as your Instagram Handle or IG Handle.   You may wish to incorporate your real name into the username or use a nickname.  You may use letters, numbers, and underscores.  You may wish to use a name that goes along with what you will be posting about.  An example of this would be if you will be posting about computers and technology, you could use “computertechgeek”.  In front of your username, you will have the @ symbol, so your full username would be “@computertechgeek”.  Your username will be seen on top of your profile, as well as on top of your pictures and videos you post.  You will also have an online Instagram address, which is composed of the Instagram URL and your username.  In this case, the online Instagram address would be www.instagram.com/computertechgeek.

Story- A story is a post that lasts less than 15 seconds.  It is only visible on your profile for 24 hours, then is deleted.  You are allowed to do more than one story per day.  Many find this is a great way to add to their Instagram account instead of uploading pictures.

Followers- People on Instagram that follow your profile. These are basically like your friends on Facebook.

@Mentions- Get the attention of other users by using this feature.  A notification will be sent to their account when they are mentioned in a post.

Photo Map- A photo map will allow you to set your location when you upload videos or photos.  You may also pick the name of your location.  This makes it very handy for your followers to see where you were when you posted a specific image or video.

News Feed- Your news feed is the posts that those you follow recently posted.

Gallery- A collection of an Instagram user’s posts.

Like- Just as on Facebook, you can like a person’s post.  Maybe you thought their video was funny, or you like the background of the image they posted.  Anyone will be able to like your image if your account is set to public.  You can block a person from liking your content if you desire to do so.  If you have your account set to private, only the followers you have approved will be allowed to like your content. 

Filter- An editing tool that is used to enhance colors and features of images.  Instagram has 20 filters that are pre-set.

AMA- Abbreviation for “ask me anything”.

Caption-  A description of your post that can contain emojis, tags, symbols, or hashtags.  There is a maximum of 2200 characters in a caption but only the first 240 will be seen. 

Hashtags- Hashtags are when the # symbol is placed in front of a keyword that your image is about.  These tags are searchable on Instagram.  If your image is of you and your significant other, your hashtags might be #truelove, #heisthebest, or #Iamlucky.  Many individuals will pick a series of hashtags to place on their images.  Hashtags have become so popular that many have started using them on other social media sites, such as Facebook.

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Block- If there are individuals that you do not want seeing your posts, you may block them by going to their profile page.  Here you will tap on the menu button, then select block user.

Verification Symbol- This symbol is added next to the name in the bio of the person.  Many times celebrities will have Instagram pages, but there are also individuals that have fan pages.  To make sure it is not a fan page, look for the verification symbol.

Impressions- The number of times your content has been seen or viewed. 

IRL- Stands for “in real life”.

Comments- A comment can be written about a post from those that follow you.  These comments will be seen by anyone who followers your account.  They can also be reported if they are offensive or in bad taste.

Viral- Content such as an image that is making its way through the internet in a fast manner. 

Linking to Social Media Accounts

Through Instagram, you are allowed to link to other social media accounts. This will allow you to share a post from Instagram to Facebook directly.  To set this up, you will want to go to your profile and tap on the button that has the three horizontal lines.  Next, click on the circle setting button.  From there, click the account, then linked accounts.  And finally, you will hit Facebook and then enter your Facebook login information.  

By linking your accounts together, you will have the option to share a post from Instagram to your Facebook when adding your caption.  

If there is a time that you decide you do not want the two accounts linked together, you can easily unlink them.  To do so, you will go to your profile page and click on the three horizontal lines.  From there, you will tap on the circle settings button, then click on “account”, then tap on the linked accounts button.  From there, you will want to select Facebook, then tap on Unlink Account for iPhone or Unlink for Android. 

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Private and Public Settings 

You may set your account to either public or private settings.  If you choose private settings, your followers will be the only ones to see what you post.  Your profile will still be able to be seen by anyone, but none of your posts, photos, or photo maps will be available for the person to see.  If you have a public setting on your account, anyone will be allowed to see your photos and videos.  If others have tagged you in photos, anyone regardless if they are following you or not will be able to see will be able to view these posts.

Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are pictures or videos that are posted by a user, then removed after 24 hours.  It is very similar to SnapChat Stories.  These stories will be seen at the top of your feed.   To create your own story, you will need to tap on the + icon at the top of the left-hand corner.  You can then take a photo or video like normal.  You may even add the filters if you desire.  There are even stickers that can be added to your stories.  After you have taken your photo or video, you will click the smiley face in the upper right-hand side of the screen.  Here you will be able to add a multitude of stickers, such as candy canes, suns, the time, and more.

To view another person’s story, tap on their profile photo, and their story will appear.  Content from the past 24 hours will be displayed from oldest to newest. You will not be allowed to like or comment on these stories.

Editing Tools 

There are many different tools that can be used by Instagram users in order to change the photos that are uploaded.  Some of these can make images look like they are vintage, while others lighten shadows.  You can adjust your image, so it is rotated, cropped, zoomed in or out, or straighten it.  Horizontal and vertical perspectives can also be adjusted.  The brightness of the image, as well as the contrast, can be adjusted to suit your needs.

If you have an image that is out of focus, you can use the structure tool.  This can help with both the texture and the focus of the image.  It works best on landscape images.

If you happen to like a photo that has a lot of warmth to it, you can add some sepia tones to it by simply sliding the warmth bar to the right.  But if you happen to like an image that has blue tones to it, slide it to the left.  You will also be able to edit your photo with saturation.  This means all your colors become more intense.  This is a great way to amp up an image, but it can also make an image look fake if too much saturation is added to the photo.  If you do negative saturation, your image will lose color.  If you decide upon negative 100 saturation, your image will lose all color, becoming black and white.

Summary

Instagram is a fun platform to be a part of.  You can share images and videos, like and comment just as you can on Facebook.  It is great to use for personal use, but businesses can also have success with it.  It is a wonderful way to connect to others around you, or even in a different part of the world.  This social media platform is one that keeps growing day in and day out and is well worth the time invested in it.