Instagram 101 – The Basics

I had a request from a reader for a basic tutorial for Instagram. We started last week by learning how to download and install the popular social media app on your smartphone or create an account using a browser. Click here if you’d like to read that article. 

Today, we’ll take a tour of the popular app. Start by opening the Instagram app on your phone.


Instagram differs from services like Facebook and Twitter in that you must post a photo or a video to make a post. Also, you cannot include active links to other sites in your posts. It is designed for sharing original photo content and video, though some people do share memes or other content. The first time you use Instagram, you’ll see this screen.


Instagram will make some suggestions of people and companies for you to follow. When you follow someone on Instagram, you see their posts in your feed. Once you start following other users, their posts will appear in your feed. The feed will take up the middle of your screen. Each post will fill up your entire phone screen.  Just scroll up and down by swiping the screen.


Let’s look at what the various icons at the top of the screen mean. The one that looks like a TV is for IGTV (Instagram TV, which is a place for long-form videos.)


I won’t get into how to post to it yet. Just tap on a video you want to watch. Search for videos by tapping the magnifying glass icon. Scroll through by swiping your fingers up and down. Tap on a video to watch. To return to the home page tap the back arrow.


The next icon, you’ll probably get more use out of. Tap the little arrow to send or view a private Instagram message. If you have unread private messages, you’ll see a number where that arrow is. If you have something to say to someone on Instagram that you don’t feel like sharing with everyone, you can tap here to send a text message, image, or video.


Once you start following people on Instagram, you’ll see their stories at the top of your feed. Scroll left or right or tap on their photos to view stories. Stories may be videos or photos. Unlike the ordinary Instagram post, posts in stories only stay up for 24 hours.


The story will play a series of photos or videos that you can watch. Here’s what an Instagram story looks like.


Now, let’s move down to checking out your feed. Underneath each post, you’ll see several options. Tap the heart icon to indicate that you like the photo. Tap the speech bubble icon to leave a comment. Tap the arrow to send that post to someone in the form of a direct message.


Tap the bookmark icon on the right to save a post to your collection.


Once an item is saved, you can tap on View Saved.


And see your entire collection.


In the next part of our article, we’ll learn how to find people to follow on Instagram.










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