Instagram For Business For Dummies
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Before you start using Instagram to promote your business, you may want to learn the lingo that Instagrammers use. Instagram doesn't like accounts that act spammy or over-engage in certain behaviors, so you need to become familiar with a number of restrictions as well as the appropriate image or video size to showcase your products and services. When you follow other Instagram profiles, you can share posts and even entire profiles in a direct message to another Instagram user.

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Mastering Instagram lingo

Getting familiar with Instagram is a whole lot easier when you understand the language. A few funny phrases or words may confuse you at first. This list of common Instagram terms will have you sounding like a pro in no time!

  • App: Short for The Instagram app is downloaded to a mobile device to provide access.
  • Archive: A feature you can use to hide but not delete an Instagram post as well as access previous stories. Tap the three-dot button on any of your posts to access the Archive option. Review and revive archived posts by tapping the three-line button on your profile and choosing Archive from the menu options.
  • Bio: The description in your profile that details who you are.
  • Caption: The description of the post that appears directly beneath the image or video.
  • DM: Short for direct message. A DM is a private messaging function in Instagram.
  • Explore: The search function in Instagram. You access the Explore tab by tapping the magnifying glass in the bottom navigation panel.
  • Feed: The collection of current posts shared by those you follow, designated by the house icon on the bottom navigation panel. The feed may also be referred to as the home feed.
  • Filter: An editing feature that you can apply to your post to enhance features and colors.
  • Followers: The people who follow an Instagram user.
  • Following: The people whom an Instagram user follows.
  • Gallery: On Android devices, the tab in the camera feature where images from your phone’s Gallery are located.
  • Geo-tag: A location tag that allows a post to appear on a map that users can search.
  • Handle: An alternative term for the username that users use to define their profile address.
  • Hashtag: The # symbol placed in front of a key word or phrase that is used to categorize the post. Hashtags are searchable on Instagram.
  • Home: The screen denoted by the house icon in the bottom navigation panel that shows the posts of everyone you’re following.
  • IGTV: The video tool that allows videos from 15 seconds to 60 minutes to be uploaded to your own channel. If you have an Instagram account, you have IGTV.
  • Instagrammers: Instagram users. A collective term used to refer to people who use Instagram.
  • Instameet: A gathering or meeting of Instagrammers whose purpose is to take Instagram photos.
  • Latergram: Something shared to Instagram after the image was taken. This term is old and less relevant now that Instagram is commonly used to share content taken from various sources and over periods of time rather than in real time.
  • Library: In iOS, the tab in the camera feature where images from your phone’s Camera Roll are located.
  • Like: The measure of appreciation of a post documented. A like is represented by a heart icon. You can like a post by double-tapping the image or tapping the heart icon below the image.
  • Mention: When an account mentions another account on Instagram. The @ symbol along with the username of the account is used to hyperlink to that account. You can do this in post captions or comments.
  • Newsfeed: These are posts Instagram includes for you based on the likelihood you will be interested in the subject matter.
  • Notification: An alert you receive when someone interacts with your content or profile. A red pop-up screen appears at the bottom of your Instagram account when you log in, showing how many and what types of notifications you’ve received.
  • Post: Any visual content uploaded to Instagram.
  • Profile: Your account information, consisting of your name, username, profile photo, bio description, and gallery. You can view the profile of any Instagram account by tapping the account’s profile photo in the feed. You can view your own profile by tapping your profile photo in the bottom navigation toolbar.
  • Reel: A short-form video content format that allows you to create and share videos from 3 to 30 seconds long. Upload content via the Reels platform by swiping right from the home page screen and then taking your video from Instagram or uploading the Camera Roll on your mobile device.
  • Story: Short-form content (photos or videos) that remains on a user’s profile for only 24 hours. The content is uploaded via the story platform (swipe right from the home feed screen) or by tapping on your image with the + symbol in the top banner of the home feed. Your current stories and the stories created by those you follow appear in circles across the top banner of the home feed.
  • Tag: A way to indicate the subject of a photo or communicate with an Instagram user or both in a post. An account should be tagged only if it’s included in the post content, such as a person in the image, a location where the photo was taken, or a product from a brand shown in the photo. When uploading a post to Instagram, you can tag another user in the post by choosing the Tag People option and selecting the account to tag. A post that includes tagged accounts will include a notification on your post that accounts are referenced; tapping the photo will display the tagged accounts. The tagged accounts will also receive a notification.
  • Username: The name an account uses on Instagram to define its profile address. The Instagram URL for any user is All comments, engagement, and profile interactions are documented as being conducted by the account’s username (not the name or other profile component). Instagram generates the username with an @ symbol in front when typing the person’s username on Instagram.

Knowing your limits on Instagram

For all the fun you can have on Instagram, you need to be aware of a number of restrictions. Instagram doesn’t approve of accounts that act spammy or that over engage in certain behaviors that appear to have motives other than natural interactions. While you have good intentions and you, or someone in your business, will personally interact with others on Instagram, believe it or not, there are many people out there who don’t. People who use automated software to rapidly follow other accounts, comment on posts, or like other account posts are violating Instagram’s terms of use. The following limits are meant to help reduce that automated activity and ensure more authentic engagement from users on Instagram.

Following is a list of the most common and current restrictions on Instagram:

  • Number of characters you can use in a username: 30
  • Number of characters you can use in your bio: 150
  • Number of characters you can use in a caption: 2200
  • Number of accounts you can follow: 7500
  • Number of accounts that can follow you: unlimited
  • Number of posts you can like per hour: 350
  • Number of posts you can share: unlimited
  • Number of recent likes you can view: 300
  • Number of notifications that can appear in the activity log of the Notifications tab: 100
  • Number of hashtags you can include per post: 30
  • Number of people you can tag in a post: 20

Image and video sizes on Instagram

When using Instagram for business, it’s important that you use the appropriate image or video size to showcase your products and services. Nothing looks worse than a photo cut off on one side or pixelated. Read on for the current recommended image sizes for Instagram.

Instagram Profile Picture

Remember that your profile picture will be placed in a circle when displayed. You may need to adjust the image if it is square or rectangular.

  • Recommended size: 110 x 110 pixels
  • Maximum size: 180 x 180 pixels
  • Image format: .jpg or .png

Instagram Newsfeed

Single image or carousel

  • Recommended size: 1080 x 1080 pixels (square), 1080 x 566 pixels (landscape), or 1080 x 1350 pixels (portrait)
  • Image format: .jpg or .png
  • Maximum file size: 30MB


  • Recommended size: 600 x 600 pixels (square), 600 x 315 pixels (landscape), or 1020 x 1920 pixels (IGTV portrait video)
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1 (square) or 1.91:1 (rectangle)
  • Minimum resolution: 600 x 600 pixels
  • Maximum resolution: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Minimum length: 3 seconds
  • Maximum length: 60 seconds
  • File type: .MP4 or .mov
  • Maximum file size: 4GB

Instagram Stories

Single image

  • Recommended size: 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Aspect ratio: 9:16
  • Image format: .jpg or .png


  • Recommended size: 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Aspect ratio: 9:16
  • Minimum resolution: 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Minimum length: 3 seconds
  • Maximum length: 15 seconds
  • File type: .MP4 or .mov
  • Maximum file size: 4GB

Sharing posts and profiles directly

As you follow the Instagram feeds of your business partners and competitors (you are, aren’t you?), you can share a post from a feed in a private, direct message with someone else in your company (say, your sales director) along with your own note. Or if you think a business partner should start following another Instagram user, you can send a link to that user’s profile in a direct message to your partner.

When you find a post you like and want to share, do the following:

  1. Below the photo or video, tap the direct message (DM) icon directly below the post, next to the heart and comment bubble icons.
    The icon looks like a bifurcated arrow.
  2. In the row of contacts in the Send To box, swipe up and down.
  3. Tap the profile photos of your recipients (iOS) or tap Send (Android).
    • Android: If you want to include a message with your shared post, you must add that message in the Write a Message box before selecting a person.
    • iOS device: A check mark replaces the profile photo.
      If you need to search for a recipient, tap or click the Search icon and type the username or the name of the recipient in the Search box. The usernames that match your search terms appear below the Search box. Tap the username when you see it below the Search box.
      The selected name has a check mark to the right of the profile photo and the cursor appears in the Write a Message box.
  4. If necessary, tap or click in the Write a Message box.
  5. Type your message, and then tap Send.

The Sent notification appears at the top of the screen for a few seconds. The recipients receive a notification that they have a new direct message.

The message that your recipients see on the Instagram Direct screen contains the post photo, the username and profile person of the poster, any comment from the poster, and any message you included.

It’s also easy to share profile information directly with recipients so they can decide if they want to follow that user. Here’s how:

  1. In the feed screen, tap the username directly above the photo or video.
  2. On the user’s profile page, tap the menu icon (three dots) in the upper-right corner of the screen.
  3. Tap or click Share This Profile (iOS or Windows).
  4. Follow Step 3 in the preceding list.
  5. Return to the feed screen by tapping the Home icon in the lower-left corner of the screen.

The message that your recipients see contains the person’s name, profile username, and photo, as well as the six most recent photos or videos in the profile. Any message you sent with the profile link appears below the profile message. The recipient can view the profile on the screen by tapping or clicking the message.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Jenn Herman, a social media consultant and world-renowned Instagram expert, pens a top-rated social media blog, Jenn's Trends.

Corey Walker offers social media strategy, content, ad management, and analytics focused on Instagram and Facebook.

Eric Butow provides website design, online marketing, and technical documentation services to businesses.

John Sonmez is a software developer and the author of two best-selling books, The Complete Software Developer's Career Guide and Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual. He is also the founder of the Simple Programmer blog and YouTube channel. Eric Butow is the owner of Butow Communications Group (BCG), which offers website design, online marketing, and technical documentation services for businesses. He is the author of 32 computer and user experience books.

Jenn Herman, a social media consultant and world-renowned Instagram expert, pens a top-rated social media blog, Jenn's Trends.

Corey Walker offers social media strategy, content, ad management, and analytics focused on Instagram and Facebook.

Eric Butow provides website design, online marketing, and technical documentation services to businesses.

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