How To: Instagram Basics

Instagram is one of those fast-growing, relatively fresh-faced social media, and there are plenty of reasons to join in with the fun! Most of all, Instagram is a visual medium, which means you can show off the best parts of your handmade or vintage items and reach a huge audience.

There are 300 million active users on Instagram, 70 million pictures posted daily and 2.5 billion likes per day! (Source: Instagram) With that kind of stats, who wouldn’t want to be part of it?

However, as with all social media, there is a bit of a learning curve. This post is to help you get started.

Initial view

Once you’ve registered an account, logged in and followed a few people, your home feed should look roughly like this:

Instagram Home

At the bottom of the screen there are a bunch of icons, which provide most of the functionality of the app.

App Icons

Home/feed: This is the main part of Instagram. This is where you’ll see the photos posted by the people you have followed. Your own photos will also show up here. It’s organised chronologically, newest first, so it’s easy to scroll down until you recognise pictures from last time.

Search: This is another important part. This is where you find pictures by others, and new people to follow. You can search by hashtags or usernames. I’ll expand on this later in the post.

Take picture: This icon is placed right in the middle, as it should be! When you press this, a new screen will pop up using your camera. You can then take a picture right then and there, or you can press the little square in the bottom right and choose a picture from your camera roll. Then go through a couple of screens (I’ll expand on that later as well!) to post the picture so everyone can see.

Favourites: I marked this entirely wrong! This isn’t favourites at all, it’s your notifications. 🙂 This is where you go to see who has liked your photos, commented on them, or followed you.

Me: This is the screen that will let you change account settings, profile settings and so on. Have a play around here, and make sure your profile section looks inviting. This is also the only place you can put a clickable link, so make it a good one!

Home feed

Ok, back to the home feed. When you scroll down a little bit, you will see the whole description, including hashtags, as well as any comments people have left. And you see these buttons:

Home Feed

These are fairly straight forward – if you press the heart button the person who posted the picture gets a notification that someone liked their picture, and the picture gets stored in your Favourites section. This is an easy way to find your favourite pictures later. If you press the comment button you get a screen where you can type in a comment. Easy-peasy. 🙂

Posting photos

So, back to taking your own photos. Once you’ve taken a photo using the camera function or selected a picture from you camera roll, you get this screen:

Sharing Photo

First, type in a short description or comment on the photo you’re posting. It doesn’t have to be terribly articulate, the photo is the main part after all. Include some hashtags. You want enough of them to be found, but not so many that people roll their eyes at them. 3-5 tags is usually a good amount.

Next, you can tag people in the photo. Don’t worry too much about this if you’re using it as a business account. It’s more for the social aspect, similar to tagging people in pictures on Facebook.

Third, you have the option of cross-sharing on other social media. This is something you set up in your account settings. I recommend cross-posting to Twitter, but the others are at your own discretion.

Finally, once you’re happy with everything, press Share, and you’re done! You’ll end up back on your home feed, with your latest picture at the top.


When you press the Search button at the bottom of the screen, you first get a view similar to this:

Search Photos

At the top you have a search bar, where you can type in anything, like “cats” if you want to see pictures of cats. Anything that’s tagged with #cats will then show up.

There is also a function where you can search for people. Just press the People button directly under the search bar, and you’ll get a new screen. The people immediately suggested are based on things like friends of people you follow, friends on Facebook (if you have connected Facebook), people you follow on Twitter (if you have that connected) and so on. It’s worth a browse, first of all.

Then, once you’re ready to search for people, press the search bar. You’ll get a screen similar to this:

Search People

The people who show up are your recent searches. Now just type in the username of the person you want to follow, and Hey Presto! There they are! Select the name to go to their profile, where there’s a nice big Follow button to press.

Other things to know

Those are the basics of how to make your app work. Of course there is a lot more to be said about Instagram, but I suspect this post is already getting quite long! However, there are a few points I’d like to emphasise:

1. Always, always use #hashtags. This is the only way new people will find you. Make them relevant and put both broad and specific ones in there. If you have a target market, use tags that they’ll search for.

2. Make your account public. If it’s private, people won’t see your pictures no matter how many hashtags you put on them.

3. Fill out every part of your profile. Make sure you put a link in there, either to your website or your Etsy shop. Choose a profile picture. You want it to look inviting and well thought through. If you’re not sure what you want in there, just put something as a placeholder. Anything is better than an empty profile.

4. The more you connect with other people on Instagram, the more interaction you’ll get back. If you comment on other people’s photos, they’re more likely to comment on yours. If you follow new people, they’re more likely to follow you. Don’t go overboard, but do put yourself out there a bit.

5. Do post daily, but don’t post excessively. 1-3 photos a day is about right, according to the experts. You don’t want to overwhelm your followers, but you also don’t want to let them forget about you.

Questions and comments

So there you have it. That’s everything you should need to get your Instagram up and running. I realise I’ve left a lot out, though, and this is where you come in. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, or get clarification on, or would like me to expand on, leave a comment. I will be writing another post about more advanced use of Instagram later, and will try to answer all your questions then. 🙂

In the meantime, tag your photos with #teamcb or #craftychats and the Team Leaders will have the occasional browse.

This entry was posted by Victoria Sol.
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