Instagram For Dummies book cover

Instagram For Dummies

By: and Corey Walker Published: 10-15-2019

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!  

Articles From Instagram For Dummies

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10 results
How to Find and Interact with Instagram Stories

Article / Updated 01-14-2022

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: Tap the Send Message area at the bottom of the screen. Quick Reactions (emojis) and a keyboard appears. Type a message or use one of the Quick Reaction emojis above the keyboard. When your message is complete, tap Send. To send a photo or video message in response to a story, follow these steps: 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. 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. Add any text, emojis, or GIFs you’d like to add to your photo or video. Use the slider at the bottom of the screen to allow the person to View Once or Allow Replay. 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.

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How to Write a Dazzling Instagram Bio

Article / Updated 08-06-2021

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.

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Instagram For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-14-2021

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.

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How to Send a Direct Message on Instagram

Article / Updated 12-12-2019

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: 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. Tap or click the pencil in a square icon. The New Message screen appears. 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. 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. Start typing in the message box at the bottom of the page, and tap Send when you have completed your message. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Tap Send To > at the lower right. 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. 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: Tap or click the Instagram Direct icon, which appears in the upper-right corner of your home screen. 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. Tap the blue camera icon at the bottom of the screen to go to the camera. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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How to Make Instagram Video Edits

Article / Updated 12-12-2019

Instagram isn’t just for photos. You can share video too! You can improve your Instagram video in several ways: by adding a filter, changing the cover frame, and trimming the video. Applying a filter to your Instagram video Below the viewer is a row of filters. The thumbnail image below each filter shows you the filter’s effect on your video. Swipe in the row of thumbnails to view all 23 filters. (Normal is the default, so it isn’t considered a filter.) Tap a filter’s thumbnail, and the video with the applied filter plays in the viewer. You can change the intensity of any filter by tapping the filter’s thumbnail, and then moving the slider to the left or right. (The default intensity is 100.) As you move the slider, the video reflects the change. When you’ve finished selecting an intensity, tap Done. The video continues to play when you apply a new filter or change the intensity of a filter. If you want to return the video to its original state, tap the Normal thumbnail. Changing the cover frame of your Instagram video Instagram uses the first frame from your video to produce a cover frame, which is the frame that appears at the start of your video. You can change the cover frame as follows: On the Filter screen, tap Cover. The default cover frame appears in the viewer and also below the viewer in a white focus box. The other frames appear next to the focus box and are dimmed. Tap and hold down on the frame in the focus box, and then drag the frame within the row. As you drag, the focus box moves to another frame in your video and you see this new cover frame in the viewer. When you find a cover frame you like, release your finger. Tap Next. The cover frame will appear in your Instagram feed, so be sure that the frame you select isn’t blurry. Adding details to your Instagram video In the screen that displays your video, tap Next. The New Post screen appears. On this screen, you can add a caption, include a location where the video was recorded, share the video on other social media networks, and turn commenting on and off. Posting your video to Instagram When you’re ready to post your video, tap Share in the upper-right corner of the New Post screen. After a few seconds, your video appears on the Instagram home screen. The video starts playing as soon as you view it and will play continuously every time you view the post. The video plays without sound, but you can turn on the sound by tapping the video icon in the lower-left corner of the video. Once you’ve made your edits, share your video with your Insta-tribe! Need help modifying your photos? Check out this guide for help editing your Instagram photos.

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How to Use Instagram Filters

Article / Updated 12-12-2019

Instagram has a ton of filters to help improve your photos. Start by taking a shot for an Instagram post. The photo you take appears in the Instagram viewer of the Filter screen. The screen contains the following four sections, from top to bottom: The top menu bar, with a < (back) icon on the left, the Lux icon in the center, and the Next link on the right The viewer, which displays your photo A row of filter thumbnail images so you can see what your photo will look like with a filter applied The bottom menu bar, with a Filter menu option (selected by default) and the Edit option Not interested in editing your photo in Instagram? Simply tap the back icon in the upper-left corner to save your photo. Instagram saves your photo automatically and displays the camera screen so you can take a new photo if you want. Applying an Instagram filter Below your Instagram photo in the viewer is a row of filters. Each filter includes a thumbnail image so you can see the filter’s effect on your photo. Swipe from right to left in the row of thumbnail images to view all 23 of Instagram’s filters, from Clarendon to Nashville. (Normal is the default image, without a filter.) Tap a filter thumbnail image, and the photo in the viewer changes to show you the photo with that filter applied. To return to the original photo, tap the Normal thumbnail. To continue processing the photo with a filter, either tap Edit at the lower-right corner of the screen to edit your photo further, or tap Next in the upper-right corner of the screen to add a description to your photo. What happens when a filter is not quite to your liking and you’d like to tweak it? You can change the intensity of any Instagram filter (except Normal) by tapping the filter thumbnail image again. A slider appears; move it to the left and right to change the intensity. The photo in the viewer changes to reflect the selected intensity. The default intensity for each filter is 100. In iOS, a white box appears to the right of the slider. Tap this box to add a white frame around the photo. If you don’t like having the white frame, tap the box again. When you’ve set the intensity to just the right amount, tap Done (iOS) or the check mark (Android). If you’re still not satisfied and want to return the photo to its original intensity, tap Cancel (iOS) or the X (Android). Keep in mind that any Instagram filter settings will revert to the default after you leave this screen. If you want to see how the photo with a filter compares to the original photo, tap and hold down on the viewer to view the original photo. Release your finger to see the photo with the applied Instagram filter. Managing Instagram filters Are there too many filters or are your favorite ones are too far down in the list? No problem. Swipe to the end of Instagram’s filter list, and you’ll see a Manage icon. Tap the icon to open the Manage Filters screen where you can perform three tasks: Change the order of filters in the row, add filters, and disable filters. The filters on the Manage Filters screen appear in the same order as they do in the Filter screen. You can change the order of Instagram’s filters as follows: Tap and hold down on a filter name in the list. The filter name gets larger after you hold down on the name for about a second. Move the name in the list. As you move the filter name, other filter names helpfully move out of the way so you can see where your selected filter will appear in the list. When the filter is where you want it, release your finger. The filter name appears in your desired location in the list. That’s all there is to it! To return to the Filter screen, tap Done (iOS) or the check mark in the upper right (Android). When you swipe up and down in the list of filters on the Manage Filters screen, you may see several names that don’t have check marks to the right of the filter name. These filters are disabled, but it’s easy to add any of them to the Filter screen: Simply tap a filter name that doesn’t have a check mark to the right of the name. A check mark is added, which means the filter is active. Tap Done, and you return to the Filter screen, where you see your new filter in the row of filters. If you decide that you don’t want to include one or more filters in the Filter screen, you can disable it by tapping the filter name in the list on the Manage Filters screen. The check mark to the right of the name disappears. (To add it back, just tap the disabled filter name again.) When you’re finished, tap Done (iOS) or the check mark in the upper right (Android). Tweaking your Instagram photos with the editing tools When you’ve finished experimenting with filters, view Instagram’s editing tools by tapping Edit (iOS) or Edit/Filter (Android) at the bottom of the screen. (Some Android users may see a wrench icon instead.) A row of editing tools appears below Instagram’s viewer. Swipe from right to left in the row of editing tools to see all 13 tools. Tap a tool to open it below the viewer. What you see below the viewer depends on the tool you tapped. For example, when you tap the Brightness tool, a slider appears so you can increase or decrease the photo’s brightness. No matter what tool you use, the photo in the viewer reflects the changes you make and a gray dot appears below the tool icon. Here’s what you can do with each of Instagram’s editing tools: Adjust: You can adjust your photo in several ways by using the Adjust tool. Instagram automatically adjusts your photo to center it before you make any adjustments. A row of three icons and an associated slider bar appear below the photo so you can make the following changes: Change the vertical or horizontal perspective of the photo by tapping the left or right icon, respectively, below the photo. After you tap the icon, it’s highlighted in black. The slider bar is a series of vertical lines. Swipe left and right in the slider bar to see the change reflected in the photo. As you slide, the highlighted icon above the slider bar is replaced with a box that shows you the change amount measured in degrees. If the object in your photo appears tilted, tap the straighten icon in the middle of the icon row. Then swipe left and right in the slider bar to tilt the photo so that the object appears straight. As you swipe in the slider bar, a box appears in place of the straighten icon and shows you the number of degrees you’re tilting the photo. Rotate the photo 90 degrees counterclockwise by tapping the rotate icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. Keep tapping the rotate icon to continue to rotate the photo in the viewer. Crop the photo to a specific area by first zooming in (touch the photo and spread your thumb and index finger apart) in the viewer. Then hold down on the photo and drag it in the viewer until you see the part of the photo you want to post on your Instagram feed. If you decide you don’t want to crop the photo, zoom back out to the photo’s original size by pinching your thumb and index finger together in the viewer. You can overlay a grid on the photo to help you center it. On the iPhone and iPad, the grid icon appears at the upper-left corner of the screen. Tap the grid icon to change the size of the grid. On an Android device, tap the photo until you see the size of the grid you want. If you tap the grid icon or photo often enough, you’ll remove the grid entirely. Brightness: In the slider bar below the viewer, slide the dot to the left to darken the photo or to the right to make the photo brighter. As you move the slider bar, the photo in the viewer darkens or brightens accordingly. Contrast: In the slider bar, make the light areas of your photo even lighter by sliding the dot to the left. Make the dark areas even darker so the focus is on the lighter areas of your photo by sliding the dot to the right. Lux tool: At the top center of the Filter and Edit screens is an icon that looks like a magic wand. Tap it to open the Lux tool, which you can use to quickly change the exposure level and brightness instead of using the separate Brightness and Contrast editing tools. Move the slider to change the exposure level and brightness. When you’re finished, tap Done to save your changes, or tap Cancel to discard them. If you want to undo any edits you’ve made, tap the Lux icon and then move the slider to its default location, 50. (The default setting for the Brightness and Contrast editing tools, however, is 0.) When you’re done, tap Done. Structure: This tool enhances the details in the photo, such as adding color in an area that appears washed out in the original. In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right to see how the tool increases the details of the photo in the viewer. If you think the photo is too detailed, slide to the left to make the photo fuzzier. Warmth: In the slider bar below the viewer, slide the dot to the right to make the colors warmer by adding orange tones or to the left to make the colors cooler by adding blue tones. Saturation: In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right or left to increase or decrease, respectively, the intensity of all colors in your photo. Color: You can change the color of your photo’s shadows or highlights or both, as well as change the intensity of the tint. Eight colors are available: yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, blue, cyan, or green. To change the color of shadows in your photo: Tap Shadows, if necessary (it’s the default), and then tap one of the color dots. To change the highlight color: Tap Highlights, and then tap one of the eight color dots, which are the same colors as those used for shadows. To change the tint intensity for the shadow or highlight color: Tap the color dot twice. In the slider bar that appears below the viewer, slide the dot to the left or right to decrease or increase the intensity, respectively. When the intensity looks good to you, release your finger from the dot and then tap Done (iPhone or iPad) or tap the check mark (Android) to return to the Color page. Fade: Do you want your photo to look like it’s been sitting in a shoebox for years . . . or decades? In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right to fade the color from your photo or to the left to add color. Highlights: In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right to increase the brightness in bright areas of the photo. Slide to the left to darken the bright areas in the photo. Shadows: In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right to lighten the dark areas in your photo. Slide to the left to darken the dark areas. Vignette: This tool allows you to darken the edges of the photo so people will focus on the center of the photo. In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right to darken the photo edges. Tilt Shift: You can blur the outer edges of your photo and keep the center in clear focus so people will automatically look at the focused area. Tap Radial below the viewer to blur all four edges of the photo and keep the center focused in a circular shape. Tap Linear to blur just the top and bottom edges of the photo. You can change the size of the “unblurred” area of the picture by tapping the center of the photo with your thumb and forefinger. Then spread them apart to make the area larger or together to make the area smaller. Tap Off if you don’t like the changes and want to keep your entire photo in focus. Sharpen: This tool sharpens features that aren’t visible in the original photo, such as the texture on a wall. In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right and left to make the photo less and more fuzzy, respectively. After you finish making changes to your photo, apply your effect by tapping Done (iOS) or the check mark (Android). Or discard the effect by tapping Cancel (iOS) or the X (Android). Saving the changes (or not) to your Instagram photos When you’ve finished using Instagram’s editing tools and filters, you can do one of three things: Discard your changes and return to the Photo screen by tapping the left arrow icon in the upper-left corner and then tapping Discard in the pop-up menu. Save your changes and continue editing by tapping the left arrow icon and then tapping Save Draft in the pop-up menu. Then Instagram takes you back to the camera screen, not your photo, so you’ll have to select the photo in your library to continue editing it. Add a description to the photo by tapping Next in the upper-right corner. The New Post screen appears, where you can add a caption and location, tag friends, and decide if you want to share the photo on other social networks. Now, go show the Instagram world all of your best shots!

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Personal Profile Tips for Instagram

Article / Updated 12-12-2019

Your Instagram profile is not only your first impression to potential followers and new visitors but also your consistent message to your existing audience. Your Instagram profile should be recognizable as your style and representative of what you want people to see about you. The image below shows you what a standard personal profile looks like on Instagram. Instagram profiles are composed of the following five components: username, name, profile photo, bio, and web address. Choosing a username and name for your Instagram profile Your username and name are two of the most important components of your Instagram profile because they’re the only two searchable criteria of your profile. When users type a keyword or name in the Search field on Instagram, the app looks at only the username and name fields of accounts to determine if an account is relevant to that search query. The username is the string of characters at the top of an Instagram profile. The name is the bold text below the profile photo. If you want your account to be found by a keyword or phrase, be sure to include it in either the name or username for your account. Choosing the best Instagram username When you set up a new Instagram account, you’re required to choose a username. Your Instagram username is how you’re recognized on Instagram: All activity, from the content you post to how you engage with others, is associated with your username. The username is at the top of the profile. Your username is delineated with the at (@) symbol when referring to you as a user. The web address (technically known as the URL, short for Uniform Resource Locator) for your Instagram account is http://instagram.com/yourusername When you interact on Instagram, the username appears as yourusername An Instagram username is limited to 30 characters and must contain only letters, numbers, periods, and underscores. You can’t include symbols or other punctuation marks as a part of your username. Choose a username that represents you or your name, is recognizable, and, if possible, distinguishes what you do. Your username may be simply your name or nickname. If you’re already established on other social media, like Twitter, you might want to choose the same username on Instagram as you use on other sites, so that your current audience can easily find you. During the registration portion of your Instagram account, you’re prompted to select your username. If the username you selected is available, a check mark will appear. If someone is using the username you entered, an X will appear in the username field. Keep selecting alternatives until you find an available username. If the username you want to use is unavailable, you can use alternative options by adding periods or underscores to the username, by using abbreviations, or by adding another word. If you’re signing up for a new Instagram account using the website, Instagram will populate an available username for you. You’re welcome to use this suggested name, but it’s not recommended because it’s generic and it won’t represent you or be nearly as creative as one you come up with yourself. Always check what your username looks like as one long word. If you wanted your username to be “christoper u”, it would read as “christopheru” which may get misread as “chris to pheru” or “christophe ru” or other versions. Instead, include an underscore or a a period to separate words, like “christopher_u”. There is little you can do to have an existing username transferred to your account if it’s in use or was previously registered by another user. If another account is using your registered trademark as its username, visit https://help.instagram.com/101826856646059 for information on how to file a claim of trademark violation. After you select a username, all content linking to your profile is associated with the username’s URL. If you want to change the username at some point, your URL would change and you would need to update all backlinks and links to that profile accordingly. This is why it’s best to choose the right username when setting up your Instagram profile. If you want to change your Instagram username, follow these steps: Go to your profile on Instagram on either your mobile device or your computer. Tap or click Edit Profile. In the Username field, type the new username. Save your changes. To do so, tap the check mark, Done, Save, or Submit button (depending on the device you’re using). Choosing the best name for Instagram Your Instagram name is visible only when someone visits your profile directly. The name appears in bold below the profile photo. You can use your actual name or a nickname as your name on Instagram. Your profile will perform better in searches and look less amateurish if the name and username are different. Having a name that’s different from your username provides double the opportunity for keywords and searchable criteria in the Instagram app. Power users on Instagram take the time to craft good username and name components. Unlike your username, which is one word, your name should be in proper sentence structure with capital letters and spacing. Your name (like your username) is limited to 30 characters, including spaces. You can be found in more searches on Instagram if you include a keyword or phrase in your name or username or both. If you didn’t put a defining keyword in your username, you should include one in your name field, in addition to your actual name. The name on your profile is not tied to your URL or other defining aspects of Instagram, so you can change it without your username being affected. Consider adding or changing keywords, as necessary, to appeal to your target audience on Instagram. If you want to change your name on Instagram, do the following: Go to your Instagram profile, and tap or click Edit Profile. In the Name field, type the new name. Save your changes. To do so, tap the check mark, Done, Save, or Submit button (depending on the device you’re using). Deciding on an Instagram profile photo The profile photo on your account, as well as your username, is associated with all your activity. When you post any photos to Instagram or engage with other users in any way, your profile photo is visible. Your profile photo should represent you and be recognizable to others. If you actively use other social media platforms, you may want to use the same photograph for your Instagram profile as you already use on other platforms. That way, you create cohesion across your online media and assure your followers that they found the correct account when searching for you. The account of @lorettagavin is a good example of having a profile photo that stands out, is easy to recognize, and represents her as a person. Profile photos on Instagram are cropped to a circle, so your photo should fit properly within that crop. Don’t use a logo or an image that loses valuable content when cropped to a circle. The profile photo on your profile page appears larger than anywhere else on Instagram. When interacting with others, the profile photo is a thumbnail (small) version. Choose an image that isn’t too busy, overwhelming, or cluttered with text, because the image will become difficult to decipher as a thumbnail. The best profile photos have a clear object of focus, contain a simple background, and are sized at least 550 x 550 pixels. The ideal image size is 1,080 by 1,080 pixels for a square image. (If you upload a photo that’s too small, it may appear pixelated, which is what happens when a low-resolution image is enlarged too much and the individual square pixels become obvious, making the image blurry.) Your Instagram profile is what the world will see so don’t be afraid to be yourself!

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Taking Advantage of Instagram Hashtags

Article / Updated 12-11-2019

One way you can engage followers or bring attention to a particular topic on Instagram is through the use of hashtags. Hashtags are the single best way to achieve growth and exposure on Instagram. Hashtags always start with the # sign (found on the bottom right of your mobile phone keyboard when typing, or by pressing Shift+3 on a desktop computer keyboard) followed by a word, a phrase, a number, or an emoji with no spaces, such as #sundayvibes or #instamood. On an iPhone, the # sign is on the lower right of the mobile keyboard only when using the Instagram app (and some other social media apps like Twitter). If you’re writing your captions in the Notes app on your phone, you’ll need to tap 123 on your keyboard and then #+= to access the # sign in the special characters keyboard. After you add a hashtag to your Instagram caption or comment, the hashtag becomes a searchable link that takes you to a page of all the posts using that hashtag (a hashtag hub) when tapped. Below, you see the hashtag hub for #bicyclebuiltfortwo. Hashtags are added to a hashtag hub chronologically, based on when the photo was posted to Instagram, not when the hashtag posts. Going back days later and adding hashtags to a post will not bump your post back up in the hashtag hub. People search hashtags to find content for a variety of reasons, such as to find a product, to learn how to do something, to follow a brand, or even to watch videos of a certain theme. If you have a private account, only users who are your approved followers will see your posts, even with a hashtag. If you’re trying to get a wider audience, set your account to public so anyone can search for your content via Instagram hashtags. Knowing where to place hashtags in your Instagram post Hashtags can be added to the caption itself before you upload the post to Instagram. Or you can upload your post and add the hashtags to a comment on the post. There is no functional difference between placing your hashtags in the caption or in the comments. The method you should use is a matter of personal preference. Both options allow your content to appear in hashtag hubs. All hashtag results pages on Instagram are algorithmically sorted. This means that not everyone will see the same results when they look at a hashtag gallery or hub. One user may see slightly different results and you may not even see your own post in a hashtag hub that you used on your post. This doesn’t mean others won’t see your content! But it’s not a guarantee that everyone looking at that gallery will see your post. Identifying how many hashtags is ideal for Instagram posts If you’re familiar with using hashtags on Facebook or Twitter, you’re probably used to putting a couple of hashtags directly in your post. On Instagram, however, you can use up to 30 hashtags in a caption or in a comment. You can use up to 30 hashtags for viable search. But you can use more than that in your content — they simply won’t be searchable after the 30th hashtag. For example, you may post 25 hashtags in your post caption and one of your friends may come and post 7 hashtags in a comment on your post. Your post would appear in your 25 listed hashtags and the first 5 of your friend’s, but not in the remaining 2 hashtags your friend posted in your comment. Instagram hashtags are a use-them-or-lose-them mentality. If you don’t use them, there’s no way you’ll appear in those searches. If you do use them, you have a good chance of appearing in those searches. If you’re looking to expand your reach and have more people find your content, then you’ll want to use as many hashtags as possible, up to that limit of 30. Finding the right Instagram hashtags for you There are endless hashtags available to use or create! So, how do you know which ones are right for you? It’s important that you find the right ones for you and the ones that are relevant to your content. If you have a theme or style for your content, you can use hashtags related to that. For example, if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you may want to use hashtags related to #MomLife and #MomSoHard. You can also use hashtags related to your Instagram content itself. For example, if the image is of a pool at the hotel you’re staying at, you can use hashtags like #Pool or #SummerVacation or #Poolside or #HotelLiving. Additionally, when it comes to picking your hashtags, just like students in high school, some hashtags can be popular and some not so popular. You can view any hashtag by searching it in Instagram to see how many posts are associated with it. Follow these steps: Tap the Search menu (the magnifying glass icon at the bottom navigation bar). Tap on the Search bar Tap the Tags tab. Start typing the hashtag topic. Select the topic to review the results. You’re taken to the hashtag hub. In addition to the hashtag you searched for, Instagram will show you a list of other hashtags related to that one you chose. You can tap through to any of those to see that content. And you can use these recommendations to find new hashtags to use, related to the content you’re sharing. The Instagram hashtag results are divided into two tabs — one for top posts and one for recent posts. The top posts are sorted algorithmically for your preference, whereas the recent posts are sorted chronologically with the most recent post at the top of the feed. Even though this content is chronological, there is still some algorithmic determination of what will appear in this hub. Using really popular hashtags on Instagram — those with over a million posts associated with them — can be perceived as great exposure, but in reality they don’t usually yield quality results. This content gets replaced incredibly fast by millions of other posts being uploaded as well. You may see some additional likes on your post by using these hashtags, but they aren’t often your ideal audience, and they’re often automated tools that are scouring that hashtag, rather than real people looking to connect with your content. You should also be wary of some “blocked” or “banned” hashtags. Any hashtags that reference sexual activity or body parts are generally blocked and don’t normally belong on a post anyway. Using hashtags like this may get your account flagged for inappropriate activity. However, you may also come across generic hashtags like #iphone that don’t produce any results. And during heavy peak post times like #July4th, you often won’t see any content on those hashtags either. Instagram will put a block on these hashtags simply because they’re too popular and they have too much content associated with them. Using these hashtags won’t get you flagged or punished. Your content just won’t appear in those searches — nor will anyone else’s! Saving hashtags for repeated use on Instagram When you’ve figured out which hashtags you want to use on your content, you may find that there are some you’ll want to use on more posts in the future. Typing those same hashtags over and over again can get cumbersome! Android users can take advantage of predictive text, which recalls the series of hashtags you used if you previously listed a number of hashtags. As you begin typing one hashtag, the Android predictive text will show you the next one you commonly use. If you don’t want to rely on predictive text, or if you use an Apple device, there are a few other options you can utilize to easily store and access your common hashtags: Notes: The Notes app is preloaded on iPhones, and similar apps like ColorNote or Evernote are available for download on Android phones. Create a new note for different categories or themes, and then list up to 30 hashtags. Before you tap Share on your post, go over to your note and copy the desired hashtags. Tap Share and open a comment to paste the hashtags. Email: Another easy solution is to email yourself lists of hashtags. Simply open a new email, use the hashtag category in the Subject line, and then type up to 30 hashtags. Create several emails with different hashtag lists, and then store them in a special email folder to retrieve and cut and paste quickly and easily. Tailwind: A complete all-in-one solution, the Tailwind app offers hashtag saving, plus content management for Instagram and Pinterest. You can upload your content, schedule it, get hashtag suggestions, save hashtag lists for later, and measure analytics. Unlike the Notes app or email, Tailwind is not free and you’ll have to pay a monthly fee for the service. Creating a new hashtag for Instagram Anyone can use any hashtag! No one owns any one hashtag, and anyone can create any hashtag phrase they want. You’ll commonly see popular hashtags on Instagram like #VacationMode or #tbt (throwback Thursday) or #Love or #TheStruggleIsReal. But you may also see a brand or a person use a hashtag like #IWouldntDoItIfIDidntWantTo. This is just a phrase that they would normally use in a sentence, but they turn it into a hashtag. Similarly, you can create any hashtag you want! You can have one for your wedding guests to use, incorporating your names or the date of the wedding. You can create a hashtag related to your company name or nickname from college. Simply string those words together, and — boom! — you’ve got a hashtag. You don’t own the hashtags you create, so if you’re creating a hashtag for, say, your wedding, you may want to start by searching for the hashtag you have in mind to see if anyone else is using it already. Instead of #JoniLovesChachi, you might want to go with something more specific like #JoniChachiWedding2020. Does that mean someone won’t come along and use your more specific hashtag? Nope. But it will reduce the chances. If your hashtag is something really long, you may want to consider an acronym. For example, instead of #OutfitOfTheDay, you’ll often see #ootd on fashion posts. And, finally, be careful to see how your hashtag reads as one long run on phrase. Just because you know what it’s supposed to say, doesn’t mean others will know what it says. Take this one for example: It should read Susan Album Party, but as a hashtag #susanalbumparty, you may read “Su’s anal bum party” — and yes, this is a REAL example that happened to Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent. So, be careful when you’re creating new hashtags for Instagram!

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10 Types of Instagram Photos Followers Love

Article / Updated 12-11-2019

There are so many things you can do with Instagram and so many things you can photograph! But what works best for Instagram photos? What types of images typically get more engagement? Check out these ten examples of content that will generally perform better on Instagram. Using the human element in your Instagram photos People connect with people and Instagram is no exception to that rule. If you can include a person, or a part of a person, in your Instagram post, chances are, it will perform better with your audience. The photo doesn’t always have to be a full-body shot or even include the face of the person. Simply including a hand holding a product, or the back of a person’s head reading something, or a shot from the knees down to show a pair of shoes is enough to convey the human component and connect with your Instagram audience. Look for creative ways to incorporate yourself or other people into your Instagram photos. Adorable animals on Instagram Everyone loves puppies, right? We’re all suckers for a cute baby animal. But all animals typically perform well in Instagram photos. Including a pet or animal in your photos can generate more likes for your posts. Even if your post isn’t specifically about the animal itself, just their presence in the image can boost your like counts. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to make the post about the cutie pie, does it? Lots of people even create Instagram accounts exclusively for their pets! Bold colors to make your Instagram photos pop You may want to find unique ways to stand out on Instagram. Instagram has a lot of content, and people are scrolling fast. One way to catch people’s attention can be with the use of bold colors in your Instagram pictures. You can rely on well-staged scenes with bold colors, but don’t forget to take advantage of photo-editing tools within Instagram to add more saturation and boldness to your images. Us white space in your Instagram pictures An alternative way to stand out in the feed, is to focus on plenty of white space in your Instagram photo. With lots of white space, the object of focus will stand out more in the feed and better attract people’s attention. A recent study by AdEspresso showed that photos with good white space performed 29 percent better than those images without white space. Including lots of white space isn’t always easy to achieve and it can make your images much more muted in general contrast. If you choose to go this route, make sure it aligns with your style of photography. Make your Instagram photo blue According to that same study by AdEspresso, images with the color blue as a dominant color perform 24 percent better than images where the dominant color is red. Fortunately for you, there’s plenty of blue in the world! From the sky, to the water, to clothing, and plenty of other everyday objects, there are lots of creative ways you can bring more blue into your Instagram pictures. Flat lays for Instagram Flat lays are formatted when the image is taken from directly above the objects. A camera is usually mounted above a table or flat surface and the objects are laid out on the table. This is very common for food photos, as well as accessories and even clothing. These images provide a fun way to showcase an object from a different viewpoint than straight in front of the camera. Use some long angles Unique angles and long lines are very appealing visually and can stimulate more engagement on your Instagram posts. A great way to find these long angles in your everyday world is to look at roads, bridges, buildings, architecture, and even flooring! When taking this type of Instagram photo, position yourself to maximize the length of the object across your plane of focus to make the lines look more accentuated or longer. Below, the photo has the building at the full height of the image on the left side of the screen and it’s elongated across the image to a vanishing point on the right. Let your lifestyle show There’s a whole lifestyle component on Instagram. The rise of the influencer came from the perceived lifestyle images and styling that many people used to create content on Instagram. You can tap into this with well-staged photos that show you at home, at work, on vacation, or wherever your lifestyle takes you. The following image, from @joselynmartinez, hits the high notes on lifestyle as she stands in her New York apartment with the city in the background. She also incorporates the pop of bold color in her dress, and there is a dominant blue hue to maximize her image performance. Don’t forget about the rule of thirds The Rule of Thirds is a classic photography technique that breaks your field of vision into thirds, creating nine squares in the image. You can turn on the grid on your mobile device in your camera settings so that this grid is easily aligned for your photos. The idea is to put objects of focus at the intersection points of the lines or in one of the major third quadrants: left or right, or top or bottom. This creates visual appeal and removes the standard placement of putting the object of focus in the center. Organic environments make good Instagram photos One of the keys to success on Instagram is to put things in their “organic” environments. Simply putting a product on an empty shelf or in a box won’t appeal to many people because the context of the item is removed. Instead, place items in the environment in which you would find them. Put a coffee cup on a counter or cute table. Put a book on a desk or a bed or a chair with a comfy blanket. This makes the object more relatable and will usually result in more engagement for you.

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10 Things Not to Do on Instagram

Article / Updated 12-10-2019

There are a ton of techniques that will help you do well on Instagram. Sometimes, however, it helps to understand what not to do to ensure you create better content or build a better community with your Instagram followers. If you want to make sure you make the best of Instagram, it can help to learn what doesn’t work or what will annoy other people so you can avoid those mistakes. Using the same name as your Instagram username Nothing says “amateur” on Instagram faster than when your name and username are the same exact thing. The username is designed to be all lowercase and a string of words, names, or numbers perhaps separated by a period (.) or an underscore (_). The name of the account, however, should be in sentence format, utilizing capital letters, spacing, and even emojis. If you want your username and your name to both be your actual name, your username might be @barackobama while your name would be “Barack Obama.” (No pressure or anything.) You could include emojis in your name, to add more personality to it. Because the only searchable criteria on Instagram are your name and username, if you want to be potentially found for something in particular (like your career), you might want that keyword to be part of your name. So, while you may keep your username as @barackobama, your name might read “Barack Obama, Former President.” Just note that you’re limited to 30 characters for your name, so your name can’t be, “Barack Obama, Former President, Husband to Michelle, Father to Malia and Sasha.” That kind of info is what your bio is for. Picking an irrelevant Instagram handle Your username is how you’re recognized on Instagram. From posting to liking other content and more, you are your username. Therefore, it should appropriately reflect who you are. A random series of letters and numbers will make you hard to recognize. It will also make you look untrustworthy, and more people will be skeptical that your account is spam or fake, making them less likely to interact with you. An awkward or random username can also make it hard for people to find you if they’re trying to spell out your username to find you in search. You can avoid these issues by picking a username that’s easy to recognize and share! The exception to this rule would be if you wanted to keep your account more private and not have it easily found in search. In this case, you might actually want to consider a username that is irrelevant to your actual name. Using a bad profile photo One of the downsides to Instagram profile photos is that they get reduced to a very small size in the feed. Even a great full-size photo can look bad or poorly formatted when shrunk down to a circle one-half inch in diameter. In some cases, a perfectly normal photo looks inappropriate or resembles a completely different object when the size is dramatically reduced. Images with a lot of text also tend to look bad on Instagram — the text becomes illegible. Choose an image that has good resolution, a clear object of focus, and a simple background. Avoid using a really busy image for your profile photo. If there are lots of people in the photo, or if it has a messy background, the context of the image will get lost when it’s shrunk down. Not including a bio for your Instagram profile The description in your bio is an easy place to tell new people on Instagram who you are. Leaving this field blank is the equivalent of walking up to someone at a party, telling them your name, and then saying nothing else about yourself. Your bio can say anything you want about who you are, what you do, what you’re known for, and so on. Take the time to write something that will help you to connect with new people who find you on Instagram. Ignoring Instagram stories Instagram stories are currently used by more than 500 million people every single day. With such a large audience and opportunity to connect with new people, you don’t want to ignore this part of the app. Instagram has put a big focus on story-formatted content, and it’s expected that this type of content will only continue to grow in its creation and consumption. Ignoring stories means that you won’t attract as many followers. Plus, if your existing followers prefer to consume story content and you’re not creating that type of content, you’ll miss out on the opportunities to connect with those followers. Not using captions Instagram is a visual platform, designed around photos and videos, both in the feed and in stories. It wasn’t designed for lots of text or long blocks to read through. And although a photo may say a thousand words, a good Instagram caption can actually drive interactions with your followers. A photo or video on Instagram without a caption often lacks context. The caption is the opportunity to further convey your message or purpose of the post and connect with your followers. It’s a place where you can ask questions, offer a call to action, or simply provide a story and background to the post. These types of interactions are critical to building relationships and driving conversations on Instagram. Don’t leave a blank, empty caption on your posts! Hashjacking Hashjacking is the act of using trending hashtags on your posts to show up in front of new people. If you’re attending New York Fashion Week and use the #nyfw hashtag in your posts, that’s okay, because your content is actually related to the #nyfw hashtag. But if your post has nothing to do with New York Fashion Week, then using the #nyfw hashtag would be hashjacking because you’re using a popular hashtag just to try to get your image or video in front of a popular audience. Hashjacking is heavily frowned upon. The content that shows up in trending tags but is completely irrelevant is usually ignored at best. If you’re hoping to find new people, chances are, these people aren’t going to follow you — plus, now they have a bad impression of you, so using this method can actually hurt your reputation. You may even find your content getting reported for spam by people who don’t think your content belongs. And getting flagged for spam content will punish your account for at least 24 hours because you won’t show up in other hashtag searches. With the consequences of hashjacking, it’s not worth using these hashtags unless, you actually have content related to the topic. Tagging Instagram users who are not in the photo You can easily tag other accounts in your Instagram posts. Tagging people is so easy, in fact, that people often take advantage of it! You should only tag people or brands that actually appear in the post itself. For example, if you share a photo of you and your friends at a local restaurant, you could tag each of the people in the photo. You could also tag the restaurant’s Instagram account because you’re eating there. And you could even tag the brands for the clothing you’re wearing in the photo. All of that would be acceptable because those accounts are in the photo you uploaded. What you don’t want to do is tag a bunch of other accounts of famous people, or influencers you want to connect with, or brands that aren’t in the photo, or people you follow. Some people do this to try to grab the attention of these other accounts, but the kind of attention you’ll get is negative at best. Another common tactic some people use is to post a motivational quote or similar content and then tag a bunch of people they want to “inspire.” Unless these people are your friends, most people don’t want to be tagged in your photos. These tagging tactics can often be viewed as spam and may get your account flagged for bad behavior. If you’re regularly tagging people inappropriately, they may also unfollow you or block you. So, avoid these tactics and only tag the people or accounts who actually appear in the post. Following everyone who follows you on Instagram Instagram is a heavily engaged platform, and you’ll see a lot of reciprocity where people follow you back if you follow them. But there is no expectation of reciprocal following. You don’t need to follow everyone who follows you. Instagram is meant to be fun. But it will only be fun if the content you see in your feed is content that you want to see. If it’s full of your friends, family, favorite celebrities, brands you love, and accounts that inspire you, then you’ll enjoy it, which means you’ll log in more often, interact with more content, and enjoy the whole experience. In contrast, if you follow hundreds of people you don’t know simply because they followed you, your feed will include those people’s posts, with their families, musings, random content, and whatever else they choose to post. Chances are, this content won’t be relevant to you and you won’t want to see it or interact it with it. There’s no need to fill your feed with things that don’t matter to you! If someone follows you and you like her content, follow her back. But don’t feel any obligation to follow everyone who follows you. Using automated tools to follow or like others As you get deeper into the Instagram experience, you’ll likely discover a variety of tools that offer services to augment your Instagram experience. Many of these apps or websites are legitimate tools that properly integrate with Instagram and will help you get more value out of Instagram. Tools that offer to automate the process of liking posts, leaving comments, or following people for you are not these approved tools. In fact, any tool that does this is violating the Instagram application programming interface (API) and violating the terms of use you agreed to when you signed up for Instagram. Using any of these tools can put your account at risk of various penalties, up to and including your account being shut down. So, don’t rely on any tool that automates the interactions on Instagram for you! You can, however, use a tool or app that helps you manage your Instagram account. Tools like Hootsuite allow you to connect your Instagram account so that you can post to it from a desktop and manage your comments and other notifications. Most of these dashboard tools, like Agorapulse, Sprout Social, and Tailwind, only integrate with Instagram Business profiles though. Again, this is due to the way the Instagram API is set up. If you’re using a personal profile on Instagram, you’ll find most tools limited in their ability to integrate with your account.

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