The definitive guide to getting started with Instagram
If you’re wondering "how to do ig" then you’re by no means on your own. With over 1,393 billion monthly active users, and over 25 million business profiles using Instagram to grow and gain brand awareness, many are looking to leverage the power of Instagram and market their brand online.
Instagram is an incredibly visual platform that offers a lot of content formats and with that, a lot of creative scope. After all, you can post to the feed to share your latest photos, create Reels or IGTV to share video content, go live, or even create Stories to share some temporary content with your followers. Use Instagram to stay up to date with your favorite brand, follow the lives of your friends, or keep up with popular influencers (who are all over the platform, by the way).
Diving in: Creating your profile.
The first step to getting started with Instagram is to create your account. You can do so via the desktop or by downloading the mobile app and getting started from there. If you wish, you can sign up using your Facebook account (as Instagram and Facebook are both Meta-owned networks) or by entering your email and then creating a username and password.
Once your account has been created, the first thing you’ll need to do is to upload a profile picture. Keep in mind that this image will crop to a circle, and appear relatively small in-app. In other words, if you’re a business it would be better to add a logo as your profile picture rather than any images featuring text. The second thing you’ll need to do is to fill in your profile information. You can do so by heading to your profile (select your profile picture in the bottom right-hand menu from the mobile app) and then selecting the ‘Edit Profile’ button. Fill in the fields to add your name, username, bio, links, and more. The fields that are available will vary depending on whether your account is a Business account, a Personal account, or a Creator account…
Types of Instagram accounts.
To change your account type, you can head to your profile, select the hamburger menu at the top right corner > Settings > Account > and then scroll down to the find the option to switch to a different profile type. If you are a Personal account currently looking to switch to either a Business or Creator account, you’ll see the option to ‘Switch to a Professional Account’. You can then follow the on-screen instructions to set up your profile. Those converting to a professional account will be given the option to choose between a Business account or a Creator account within the following stages.
The difference between each Instagram account type.
Personal account: Personal accounts are for the everyday user who is not a business or aiming to get a high amount of reach. With a Personal account, you have more control over your privacy and may choose to keep a low profile if you wish (pun intended). You cannot, however, view any analytics for your Instagram content.
Business account: A Business account is best for retailers, local businesses, brands, organizations, and service providers. Business accounts have access to analytics as well as additional features such as the ability to add more contact info, select a category of business, add a link to your website, use the Creator Studio, and add a shop to your profile.
Creator account: Creator profiles are best suited to public figures, content producers, artists, or influencers. The functionality of the Creator account falls somewhere between the Personal account and the Business account with the ability to add more information to your profile, make use of analytics, and access to the Creator Studio.
Building your audience.
Once your profile is set up, it’s time to follow some other accounts whether they be brands, businesses, and people. Nobody wants to follow an Instagram account that has 0 followers and 0 following so it’s time to up those numbers and make your profile look active. Following other Instagram accounts that are similar to yours will help you to fill your Instagram feed with content and give you inspiration for what to post yourself. It’s also likely that some of the accounts you follow will return the favor and follow you back either out of politeness or curiosity which will help to grow your page. Do note, the liklihood of any ‘follow backs’ will increase with the more content you have on your Instagram page.
It’s not just people you can follow on Instagram though! Instagram also allows you to search and follow specific hashtags. Following a hashtag will mean that any content using that hashtag will appear in your feed alongside the posts of the accounts that you follow.
Types of engagement.
There are lots of ways to start engaging with the content on other pages such as liking or commenting, as commonly seen across other social networks. However, Instagram also offers the ability to ‘save’ content that you enjoy (which will be noted by the algorithm) as well as the ability to send content (feed posts, Stories, Reels, etc.) to other users via DM. You can also share content to your own Story from pages open to the public. A tactic that lots of influencers do to get more engagement, is to share their latest post or Reel to their Instagram Story to make sure that people are aware of their content in case it doesn’t appear in their feed.
When you’re just getting started with ig, it’s a good idea to start engaging with other pages (we recommend by liking and commenting) in order to start making connections and bring attention to your page. It is, however, very useful to be familiar with all engagement types in order to understand the engagement that you will later receive yourself.
How to do ig: Starting to post content.
Instagram has many options when it comes to the type of content you can create. The most common types currently are the feed post (this can be one or more images or videos that will permanently live on your profile), and Reels (TikTok-like short video clips). Other options include Stories (ephemeral content), IGTV (for longer video content), and livestreaming (for broadcasting live video content). Our advice would be to begin by publishing feed posts and gradually begin to dabble with Stories and Reels while you build your confidence and your audience over time.
Posting to the feed
From within the mobile app, select the plus icon from the top right navigation. If needed, you may need to grant Instagram permission to access your photos. From here you can select the photo(s) or video(s) from your camera roll that you wish to publish to the feed. Once all media is selected, press ‘Next’ from the top right of your mobile screen. You will now be able to apply filters and edit your media before posting. Once done, you will be able to write your caption (remember to include hashtags if you want to increase your reach, but keep it to under 30), tag anyone in the media, add a location, and more. Click ‘Share’ when you’re ready.
How to post to Stories
Story content is generally, content that is taken in the moment and immediately posted but you can pre-plan your Story content if you’d prefer. To post to your Story, you can either select your profile picture from the Story menu at the top of your Instagram app, or you can take the same steps that you did to post to the feed by selecting the plus icon from the top right navigation and then selecting ‘Story’. When creating your Story you can swipe to add filters, tap the screen to add text, or swipe up to make use of stickers, @ mention people, location tag, and more. From here, you’ll notice options at the bottom of your screen to add to Your Story (where all of your followers will be able to view your Story), or add to your ‘Close friends’ list (whereby only those who you have added to a close friends list will be able to view this particular Story). Alternatively, you can also send your Story as a DM to any individuals you wish.
How to post an IGTV
To publish an IGTV, head to the plus icon form the top right navigation within the Instagram mobile app, and select your chosen video as if you intend to publish to the feed. Videos that are longer will automatically be published as an IGTV.
How to post a Reel
To create a Reel, you can head to the plus icon from the top right navigation within the Instagram mobile app, and select ‘Reel’. From here you’ll be able to record and publish a Reel. If you already have a Reel that you are ready to post (this could be any video and doesn’t necessarily have to have been created within Instagram), instead of selecting ‘Reel’ you can simply select your video file as if you intend to publish a feed post. This will publish as a Reel.
How to go live
To go live on Instagram, head to the plus icon from the top right of your Instagram navigation and select ‘Live’. You’ll be able to go live for an hour and you will be able to see when people join.
How to do ig: Using Instagram Analytics
Available only to Professional accounts (Creator or Business accounts), Instagram analytics can provide valuable insights into who your audience is in terms of demographic, and give you a clearer oversight over how your content has performed.
To view your analytics, head to the ‘Insights’ option available from your Instagram profile. Within this area, you can toggle the date range, and get an overview of the number of accounts reached, the number of accounts that engaged, and your follower count. If you aren’t sure what anything means, clicking the ‘i’ information icon in the top right corner will provide a little more explanation. The ‘Content You Shared’ area will show all content that your page has published within the selected date range.
Now, let’s dive into the detail. Within the Insights area, you can click on ‘Accounts reached’, ‘Accounts engaged’, and ‘Total followers’ to see more detail behind the activity on your account.
Accounts reached: Within this area you can discover how many accounts viewed your content. You can also see how many followers versus non-followers saw your content, and see more specific audience demographics. On top of that, this area will also show you your top-performing content in terms of reach, impressions, and other profile activity such as website taps, profile visits, business address taps, email button taps, and call button taps.
Accounts engaged: Similarly, to the ‘Accounts reached’ section, within this area you can view your total engagement for the selected time period, as well as compare Instagram engagement levels from followers versus non-followers. Audience demographics are also available within this area, in regards to engagement. This area gives a clear picture of your best-performing and most engaging content.
Total followers: This area provides insight into your followers in terms of gender, age, and location. You’ll also be able to see how your follower numbers are increasing or decreasing over time. The ‘Most Active Times’ area is particularly useful in finding out when your audience is online - we recommend using this area to work out what times are best for publishing your content to get the maximum reach and engagement in the future.
Instagram is a whole big social network dedicated to visual content in a variety of formats, and it’s to feel intimidated when you’re just getting started. We hope our guide on how to do ig has answered your burning questions and given you the tools to get set up and ready to get stuck in. Remember, the hardest part is simply getting started so don’t overthink it, start posting content, and refine your approach over time. Rome wasn’t built in a day.