Instagram Basics for Beginners

August 13, 2019
instagram 101

Friends! Last week I posted about an Instagram giveaway (which is open until Thursday 11/8/18) and realized that some of my good friends and family were still pretty new to Instagram and weren’t sure how to enter.

I know learning a new platform can be challenging, but Instagram is by far my favorite social media platform. You get to scroll through beautiful photos and engage with an amazing community every day that is often outside of your inner circle. I follow tons of design accounts, small businesses and all of my favorite brands.

SO…if you are new to this Instagram game, have no fear! I have created this post to help you learn the basics to become a pro in no time.

Basic Terms To Know:

These are the basic terms that are useful to know when starting out using the app. I will follow up with a more advanced post that highlights additional fun features within Instagram, but for now, lets start with the terms below.


Your Instagram handle is your account name. This begins with the @ symbol. For example, my instagram handle is @buildingbluebird

Instagram handle


When you add a photo, that is your post. All photos within your feed are posts.


This term is used in a few different ways. When you open Instagram, you can look at posts from people you follow on your feed.

Someone may also send you to their “feed” which are the posts within their profile. For example, I would say “head over to my feed and find the ‘holiday giveaway’ post to enter”.

Instagram posts on my feed


Stories are found at the top of your Instagram feed. The circular profile pictures accompanied with each post are also clickable and will take you to that users stories.

This is my favorite feature of the app – You can add images and videos (there are a few other features but we will leave it at that for now) that are only visible for 24 hours. I would definitely suggest you check these out!

Instagram stories


Instagram came up with a newer feature called highlights that allows users to save stories in their profile. You can create categories within each highlight circle and save stories that your followers may want to see again after they disappear after 24 hours.

Instagram 101: Story highlights and profile bio


An influencer is someone whose account is known and trusted by its followers (they usually have 10K+ followers). Brands will often work with influencers to reach their large online audience as a form of online marketing. Its an inexpensive way to reach lots of eyeballs and can be really effective if the influencer is really popular with its following.

For example, I often highlight accounts that I love every Friday. I would consider these users to be influencers because they have thousands of followers and when they promote a product, I trust that they use it and love it. I have purchased products based on recommendations from people that I follow on Instagram.


Hashtags are utilized to curate images from various users that fall within a specific category. For example, this is utilized all the time with weddings. When you create a custom hashtag, everyone at the wedding can use it for their photos from the night and it creates a photo gallery of your guests pictures.

This can be used in other ways too. For example, if I am posting an image with a product I bought from Home Goods, I can add the Home Goods hashtag, #gofinding, into my post and they could see my photo and potentially re-post it for all of their followers to see. Many brands will call out a hashtag for followers to use so they can see how their products are being utilized in real life. This is pretty genius for brands because they get influencers sending them beautiful images of their product for free and are therefore are able to reach all of that influencers followers. This is also beneficial for the influencer since they will have more people visiting their account if a brand decides to repost their photo.

Clickable hashtags


You can follow someone by going to their profile (either by searching their name or clicking on their Instagram handle in a post). In my holiday giveaway post I ask my followers to follow @bowinklesohio. You can easily follow @bowinklesohio by clicking on the handle and clicking “follow” on their profile

Instagram 101: Following accounts


You will hear people use the phrase “DM me” which just means “direct message me”. The paper airplane at the top right of your feed is your Instagram mailbox. This is where you can send direct messages through there or by clicking “message” in a users profile.

Instagram 101: Message box


You can tag people by typing out their instagram handle. For example, in my holiday giveaway with Bowinkles, I asked you to “tag 3 friends” in the comments below. This means you will type in three instagram handles in the comments. Once you tag your friends, they will receive a DM alerting them that you sent them a post to look at.

Instagram 101: Tagging friends

Differences between Instagram and Facebook:

I know I have some major Facebook fans who follow me so I wanted to highlight a few of the differences between the two platforms so you understand how you can interact on Instagram.

  • Instagram only allows clickable links to be added to your profile – when I highlight a blog post, I always direct you to my profile to get the clickable link.
  • You can only post on your phone. You can look at your Instagram feed on your desktop, but you are not able to post from anywhere but your phone.
  • Instagram also only allows up to 10 images per post, so you have to really think through which photos are the most “Instagram-worthy” – this keep the content fresh instead of a photo dump.
  • Re-posting is not as easy as Facebook. I think this is a benefit because it encourages people to post original content and not repost content that could be controversial and not their own.

I hope you found this helpful and it gets you over to Instagram more frequently. If you haven’t tried it out in a while, head on over to my Holiday Giveaway post and test out your knowledge by signing up to win the $50 Bowinkles gift card!

Lastly, Are there any features that I didn’t cover that you want to learn more about? Please share and I will respond to all of your questions!

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