Instagram For Dummies book cover

Instagram For Dummies

Authors:
Jenn Herman ,
Corey Walker ,
Eric Butow
Published: October 15, 2019

Overview

Go from Instagram newbie to star! 

Instagram is the fastest-growing social network in the world, soaring from 500 million to 1 billion active users in just two years. Users flock to the site thanks to its simplicity and use of the most popular social media features—image and video sharing, community, and personal insight.

Instagram For Dummies is here if you're ready to get acquainted with the platform or want to find ways to do more with your Instagram account. Written by an team led by top Instagram trainer Jenn Herman, this book gives you tips for creating great Instagram images, personalizing your posts, connecting with the Instagram community, and working with Stories and IGTV. 

  • Access Instagram on a computer or mobile device
  • Set up your profile
  • Connect with others
  • Share your stories
  • Shoot better Instagram images

From handling core functions to connecting with the Instagram community, this book shares the secrets you need to shine on social media like no other!  

Go from Instagram newbie to star! 

Instagram is the fastest-growing social network in the world, soaring from 500 million to 1 billion active users in just two years. Users flock to the site thanks to its simplicity and use of the most popular social media features—image and video sharing, community, and personal insight.

Instagram For Dummies is here if you're ready to get acquainted with the platform or want to find ways to do more with your Instagram account. Written by an team led by top Instagram

trainer Jenn Herman, this book gives you tips for creating great Instagram images, personalizing your posts, connecting with the Instagram community, and working with Stories and IGTV. 

  • Access Instagram on a computer or mobile device
  • Set up your profile
  • Connect with others
  • Share your stories
  • Shoot better Instagram images

From handling core functions to connecting with the Instagram community, this book shares the secrets you need to shine on social media like no other!  

Instagram For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Before you start using Instagram, 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. When you follow other Instagram profiles, you can share posts, videos, and even entire profiles in a direct message to another Instagram user. [caption id="attachment_265464" align="alignnone" width="400"] ©GingerArt/Shutterstock.com[/caption]

Articles From The Book

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Instagram Articles

How to Find and Interact with Instagram Stories

Instagram has a popular feature for users called stories. Instagram stories are located in a bar at the top of your newsfeed and are represented by a multicolored ring around the profile picture of the story’s creator. Tap the profile picture, and the story opens full screen for you to watch.

How to find stories to watch on Instagram

New stories (personalized for you) are shown first. By scrolling left, you can see all stories that the people you follow have published in the last 24 hours. The story vanishes 24 hours after it was posted.

When you view a person’s story, they can see that you’ve watched it. There is currently no way to block this feature. So, be aware if you’re looking at an ex's story. They know!

Instagram stories are also accessible from the top left of a person’s profile page. If the person has an active story, their profile picture has a multicolored ring around it. You don’t need to be following the person to see their stories, as long as their account isn’t private. Tap the profile picture, and the story opens full-screen for you to watch. After that person’s stories have finished, the stories page closes and you’re returned to their profile page. If you want to watch a continuing sequence of stories from people you follow, you must access the stories from the top of your Home feed. Instagram always takes you to the content you haven’t seen in that person’s story. For instance, if you watched two out of five stories by someone, Instagram would play the third story in the sequence when you came back within the 24-hour window of the post. Each person’s story has white dashes at the top that indicate the number of stories for that person that day. Instagram stories continue to play through each person’s entire sequence, and then go directly to the next person you’re following who has a current story, until you tap the X to exit (iPhone) or swipe down (Android) from Instagram Stories. (You’ll see some ads interspersed with stories from the people you follow.)

How to interact with Instagram stories

Instagram stories aren’t just for watching; you can interact with them too. You can skip the stories you’re not interested in, rewatch things you want to see again, pause a story, and react to a story.

Forwarding through Instagram stories you don’t like

With so many Instagram stories out there, there are bound to be some you’d rather not watch. Lucky for you, it’s easy to skip through individual stories from one person, or a complete story sequence from a person. To forward through one story within a person’s full story sequence, simply tap on the right side of the screen. You’ll skip to that person’s next story, unless it’s their last or only story; in that case, you’ll be taken to the next person’s story. To forward through a person’s entire sequence of stories, swipe left from the right side of the screen. You’ll skip that person’s full set of stories and move on to the next person’s stories.

If you’re searching for a particular person’s story, it may be easier to go directly to their profile and watch, or you can scroll through the profile circles at the top of your Home page to find the person whose story you want to watch. Tap that person’s circle to see their story.

When you’re finished watching, tap the X at the top right of the screen or swipe down to be returned to your Home screen.

Going back to Instagram stories you want to see again

The process of going back to see a story is the opposite of forwarding through a story (makes sense, right?). If you’ve already watched a few stories from one person, and you want to rewatch one or more stories from them, tap the left side of the screen until you reach the story you’re seeking. To go back to a different person’s sequence of stories, swipe right from the left side of the screen until you get back to that person’s story. Similar to forwarding, if you’re seeking a certain person’s story, it’s easier to go directly to their profile to watch, or scroll through the circles at the top of your Home screen to find that person. When you’re finished watching, tap the X at the top right of the screen or swipe down to be returned to your Home screen.

Pausing an Instagram story

Instagram stories tend to whip by pretty fast, and sometimes people add lots of text, or talk really fast to squeeze a lot of info in before getting cut off. Lucky for you, there is a way to pause a story so you can take it all in. To pause a story, just tap and hold anywhere on the screen, and the story remains frozen until you let go.

Reacting to an Instagram story

Reactions to stories are more limited than posts in the regular Instagram feed. You can’t “like” a story; you can only send a direct message or send a photo or video message back. To send a direct message in response to a story, follow these steps:
  1. Tap the Send Message area at the bottom of the screen. Quick Reactions (emojis) and a keyboard appears.
  2. Type a message or use one of the Quick Reaction emojis above the keyboard.
  3. When your message is complete, tap Send.
To send a photo or video message in response to a story, follow these steps:
  1. Tap the camera icon at the lower-left side of the screen. The photo/video screen appears with all the capabilities to add text, emojis, GIFs, and so on.
  2. To take a photo, tap the white circle. To take a video, tap and hold the white button for up to 15 seconds. You can turn the camera for selfie mode by tapping the circle arrows at the bottom right.
  3. Add any text, emojis, or GIFs you’d like to add to your photo or video.
  4. Use the slider at the bottom of the screen to allow the person to View Once or Allow Replay.
  5. Tap the profile picture above Send to send your message.

Instagram story limitations

If you’ve watched a few Instagram stories by now, you’ve probably noticed that they’re all in vertical or portrait mode, and videos are in short sequences. Following, are the exact criteria for your Instagram photos, videos, and graphics in stories.

Upload criteria limitations

All photos, graphics, and videos are best in the following formats:
  • Image ratio: 4:5 (vertical only) or 9:16 for photos
  • Image size minimum: 600 x 1,067 pixels
  • Image size maximum: 1,080 x 1,920 pixels
  • File type: PNG or JPG for photos/graphics or MP4 or MOV for videos
  • File size max: 30MB for photos, 4GB for videos

If you take a photo or video within Instagram stories in portrait mode, you won’t have to worry about these size ranges — it will automatically fit. If you import photos, graphics or videos from other sources, you need to pay closer attention to sizing.

You can upload photos, graphics, and videos that are not in these image size ranges, but the Stories editor will likely either cut off part of your image or zoom in to wherever it likes, causing poor image quality.

Playing-time limitations for Instagram stories

Currently, you can only record or upload in 15-second increments. If you’re filming within the app, the camera will stop recording at the 15-second mark, and longer videos will not load from your camera if they’re over 15 seconds. This can be very challenging if you’re trying to explain something or tell a story.

If you need to record for longer amounts of time, there are several apps available to help you. Try CutStory, Continual, StoryCutter, or Storeo. They all work in a similar manner, allowing you to record a single longer video on your smartphone outside of Instagram, and then splitting it up into 15-second segments that are placed on your camera roll so you can upload them one-by-one. The app also makes the transition between stories more seamless than when you film them within the Instagram app.

Instagram Articles

How to Write a Dazzling Instagram Bio

Your Instagram bio is a short description on your profile that tells people about you. This description is the Instagram equivalent to a 30-second elevator pitch — it’s how you convince new visitors to follow your account. Most people will read your bio only the first time they visit your Instagram profile. Your bio is the first impression you give to new viewers and should accurately convey the message you want to share.

Deciding what information to include in your Instagram bio

Before you start writing your Instagram bio, choose at least two or three key aspects of your life to highlight. These should be traits that will connect emotionally, in some way, with your those you want to attract, such as the example shown below. You need to determine the voice and style of your bio. If you’re the next Amy Schumer, your Instagram bio should reflect that irreverent, hilarious style through words and relevant emojis. In contrast, if your identity is more straight laced and serious, your bio shouldn’t be silly and humorous.

Even if your profile is meant to connect with friends and family, sharing your personality and purpose in the bio will help clarify that to people who may find you.

The Instagram bio is limited to 150 characters, including spaces. The bio is designed to be one single paragraph of information, but you can use formatting techniques to add spaces and line breaks.

Because Instagram was designed to be used on a mobile device, it’s best to format your bio on a mobile device so that you retain the correct alignment. No matter what formatting you create, your bio on a desktop or computer device will always be one long paragraph spanning the width of the browser, unlike the vertical alignment seen on mobile devices.

Make use of emojis and symbols from your mobile device’s keyboard to create visual appeal in your Instagram bio. To add emojis, open the emoji keyboard on your mobile device — just tap the smiley-face icon at the bottom of your keyboard. Instagram is a visual platform, and having emojis in the bio helps yours stand out from other users. You have many emojis to choose from. If the traditional funny face and cartoonish emojis don’t translate to your style, use simple emoji symbols such as squares, diamonds, triangles, and arrows to add color and visual content without detracting from your professional style.

To hashtag or not to hashtag in your Instagram bio

Generally, hashtags are not a good idea in Instagram bios. Although they are clickable, if someone clicks the hashtag in your bio, he’ll leave your profile and explore the hashtag gallery results instead. Using a hashtag like #photographer will send visitors from your profile to millions of other posts using that hashtag. Using hashtags in your Instagram bio is not a viable way to get more followers or showcase your own content. You should only include hashtags in your bio if they’re specific to you, your content, or your business. For example, if you recently got married and you had a hashtag for your wedding, you can include that hashtag in your bio so that anyone tapping on it will find all the other content created at your wedding.

Formatting your Instagram bio

You can edit or create your bio by tapping the Edit Profile button in your Instagram profile. On the Edit Profile screen, go to the Bio field and insert the text for your bio. Save any changes when you’re finished. Android users can format a bio completely in Instagram. If you want to include line breaks and spacing, tap the Return or Enter key (on the keyboard of your mobile device) at the end of the line. Make sure that you don’t have an extra space after the final character on the line and that the last character on the line is not an emoji. If you have an extra space or an emoji as the final character, the space breaks you inserted with the Return or Enter key will not appear in your published text. iOS users can format a bio in Instagram, but line breaks will not be retained. Instead, it’s best to open the Notes app on your device and use it to craft your bio description, including all formatting. Then copy the bio, open Instagram again, select Edit Profile, and paste the description in the Bio field. As with Android users, you must ensure that no extra space appears after the final character on the line and that the last character on the line is not an emoji.

You can edit and rewrite your bio as often as you want. It’s a good idea to review your Instagram bio every six months to verify that the information is still accurate and relevant.

Considering layouts for your Instagram bio

Instagram has traditionally had the profile photo on the left side of the profile and the bio directly beneath it. As Instagram has added more features, like IGTV and Story Highlights, the profile section has gotten longer and taken up more space. To alleviate this problem, Instagram began truncating the bios with a “. . . more” link. Tapping the “. . . more” link will open the full bio. Additionally, Instagram started rolling out new profile layouts with the profile on the right side of the profile and a more condensed spacing to allow for better positioning of the bio content. You may see any variation of the bio formats above.

Adding a web address to your Instagram bio

Most people use web addresses in their bios when they’re using their Instagram profiles for business purposes. But there may be occasions where you want to share a website link even on your personal profile. Perhaps you want to send people to your YouTube videos, or to your personal gallery of photos on Flickr, or to a reservation link for an upcoming party. In any of these situations, or others, you can include the URL for that destination in the link location in your Instagram bio. The only place that you can place a clickable link on Instagram, as a personal profile, is in the bio. You can’t include clickable links in regular posts or stories. If you have any reason to send people to a website link, you’ll need to place that link here in the bio. From the Edit Profile button on your Instagram profile, there is the option to list a URL link. Simply copy and paste or type in the link address in this field. Your URL can be updated or changed as frequently as you like. You may have a default web page for your profile but change it to coincide with a promotion or campaign you’re running on Instagram. After that campaign is complete, you can change the link back to your default or simply delete it if you don’t have anything to drive traffic to. On a personal profile, you won’t get Instagram analytics regarding how many people clicked the link in your bio. If you wanted to use this feature for business and drive traffic for your business, you would want to upgrade to a business profile on Instagram.

Instagram Articles

How to Send a Direct Message on Instagram

Instagram offers so many options for interacting with others. One way you can do with is with direct messaging. Sending direct messages on Instagram lets you engage with others without laying out everything for public eyes. Keep reading to discover how to send a direct message on Instagram. If you want to start your conversation with a text message, Instagram makes it easy for you. Follow these steps:

  1. If the Direct screen isn’t open, tap or click the Instagram Direct icon (it looks like a paper airplane) in the upper-right corner of your home screen. This is also where you receive new messages. A red circle with the number of messages waiting for you is shown on top of the Direct icon. Your new messages are revealed when you tap the number.
  2. Tap or click the pencil in a square icon. The New Message screen appears.
  3. Search for a name in the Search box or scroll in the Suggested list to find the recipients, and then tap or click their usernames. A blue check mark appears to the right of each recipient name after you tap or click it. You can also search for one or more recipients.
  4. On iPhone, tap or click Next. On Android, the message box appears at the bottom of the screen after you select one or more recipients.
  5. Start typing in the message box at the bottom of the page, and tap Send when you have completed your message.
  6. Return to the Direct screen by tapping or clicking the < icon. The message you just sent appears at the top of the list. Each message entry in the list shows you the recipient’s or group’s name, followed by whether the recipient is active now, or when they were last active. View your message on the screen by tapping the message entry.
  7. Return to the Instagram home screen by tapping or clicking the < icon. You can unsend a message by holding down on the message. Then tap Unsend (iPhone) or Unsend Message (Android) to unsend it. The message has now been erased from the conversation (but it may have been seen if the contact is quick to read messages!).

Sharing photos and videos via direct message on Instagram

If sending a text message is too boring for you, you can take a photo or video (or use one from your camera roll) and send it to the other person. You can even customize the photo with text, filters, GIFs, and more.
  1. In the main Direct screen, tap or click the blue Camera link. If you need to get to the Direct screen, first tap or click the Direct icon from the Instagram home screen or window.
  2. Take a photo by tapping or clicking the white button or hold the white button down to film a video. Alternatively, you can choose a photo or video from your camera roll by tapping the small square at the lower left of the camera screen and choosing the photo/video by tapping it. The switch cameras icon appears to the right of the white button so you can switch between the front and rear cameras, if necessary. If you’re unhappy with what you shot, tap the X to delete the photo or video and try again.
  3. If you want to layer text on top of your photo or video, tap or click the text (Aa) icon. Type your message and then tap Done. Photos and videos here have all the same custom capabilities as they do in Instagram stories.
  4. Tap Send To > at the lower right.
  5. Select your recipients by scrolling through the recipient list and then tapping Send next to one or more usernames. The photo is sent right away and a blue bar that says Done appears at the bottom of the screen. You can also send your photo to be shown on your Instagram story or to your Close Friends Only list. You can search for a recipient by tapping the Search box above the list and typing your search terms. As you type, the usernames that most closely match your terms appear in the results list. When you find the name of the recipients you’re looking for, tap or click their names in the list.
  6. Tap Done. The Direct screen appears and contains the message you sent to the recipient at the top of the conversation list.
Direct messages are private, and Instagram means it — you can’t do several things with a direct message that you can do with a public message:
  • You can’t share photos or videos sent with Instagram Direct to other social networking websites.
  • Any hashtags or locations you add to your private message aren’t searchable in Instagram.
  • Your messages won’t appear in the feed screen or in your profile. You can, however, send a photo or video filmed within Instagram Direct to your Instagram Story.
Do photos and videos last forever or do they disappear? The answer is: It depends. If you send a photo or video using the method outlined earlier, the photo or video remains viewable in the recipient’s message indefinitely. However, if you would like to send a disappearing photo or video, follow these instructions:
  1. Tap or click the Instagram Direct icon, which appears in the upper-right corner of your home screen.
  2. Type in the Search feature to locate the contact you want and tap their name once you find the correct person, or scroll through your existing messages to find the person. If you had a previous conversation with the contact, the old message thread appears. Otherwise, you’ll see a blank screen with the contact’s name at the top and a message bar at the bottom.
  3. Tap the blue camera icon at the bottom of the screen to go to the camera.
  4. Take a photo by tapping or clicking the white button, or hold the white button down to film a video. The switch cameras icon appears to the right of the white button so you can switch between the front and rear cameras, if necessary. If you’re unhappy with what you shot, tap the X to delete the photo or video and try again. If you’d rather use a photo or video you took previously, you can choose one from your camera roll by tapping the small square at the lower left of the camera screen and choosing the photo/video by tapping it. You can also choose multiple photos/videos at once by tapping Select Multiple, tapping each thumbnail you want, and tapping Next at the bottom of the screen.
  5. If you want to layer text on top of your photo or video, tap or click the text (Aa) icon. Type your message, and then tap Done. Photos and videos here have all the same custom capabilities as they do in Instagram stories.
  6. After any customizing is complete, you can decide how you want the photo to be viewed by scrolling left or right directly over the words to choose View Once, Allow Replay, or Keep in Chat. View Once allows one view and then it disappears. Allow Replay allows one view and one replay, then it disappears. Keep In Chat keeps the photo or video in the message thread indefinitely.
  7. After a method of viewing is selected, tap the Send button. You can also choose the Send to Others button if you want to send to your Instagram story, close friends only, or other contacts.