How Does Instagram Work? The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide Explained

If you are not one of Instagram’s one billion users, you may want to reconsider. The app provides an excellent opportunity to engage with leading companies while still remaining a part of your friends’ lives. When I want to see how my college classmates are doing, I check Instagram rather than Facebook. You can also follow your favorite celebrities or politicians to see candid images from their daily lives. You’ve probably heard all of the reasons why Instagram is an excellent tool for small businesses. Perhaps you’ve already signed up for Instagram for personal usage.
But how does Instagram work, and do you know what it takes to set up an account for your business? Here I’ll go in details over how Instagram works.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo and video-sharing application. This social networking platform allows you to create, edit, and post any type of visual content. Your followers interact with your content by liking, commenting, sharing, and saving.

Key Takeaways

  1. Instagram is a visually-focused social media platform where users can create, edit, and share photos and videos, engaging with others through likes, comments, shares, and saves.
  2. The main features of Instagram include a home feed for viewing content from followed accounts, a search function for exploring new content, the ability to post new content, reels for short-form videos, and a personal profile section.
  3. Setting up an Instagram account involves downloading the app, creating an account with a username, personalizing the profile with a picture and bio, choosing the type of account (personal, business, or creator), and customizing notification preferences.
  4. Interaction with Instagram content includes following accounts, liking and commenting on posts, and using the platform’s various features like saved posts, close friends lists, and marking posts as ‘Not Interested’.
  5. Growing a business or personal brand on Instagram involves posting high-quality content regularly, using direct messages to connect with followers, and employing relevant keywords and hashtags for better visibility and engagement.

How Does Instagram Work?

Instagram is a visual social media network, so if you’re using it for business, you’ll want to make sure you’re continuously publishing engaging material. So, how do you utilize Instagram? To put it simply, you follow accounts that interest you, and others will do the same.

Instagram users can “like” a post by clicking the heart icon in the bottom left corner, or leave a comment by clicking the comment icon.
Each time you open the app, you will get a feed of material from the accounts you follow. The primary menu bar is located at the bottom of your screen. Here’s what each icon represents and how to use it.

  • Home: The home button navigates to your main feed. It’s on the far left, and you can click it from anywhere in the app.

Instagram main menu bar example

  • Search: Pressing the magnifying glass button takes you to Instagram’s Explore page, where you can search for accounts and hashtags. You can also browse stuff from accounts that you don’t follow but were recommended based on your current preferences and similar content you’ve browsed.
  • New Post: Use the ” + ” icon in the center of the menu to make a new post, story, reel, or go live.
  • Reels: This clapperboard symbol represents the reel icon. When you click it, you will be directed to the reels website, where you may view short-form content.
  • Profile: The symbol on the far right should be a little circle containing your profile photo. Hitting this button takes you to your main profile page, where you can view all of your posts, follower information, and reels.

Now that you’ve gained a better knowledge of the app’s design, let’s go over how to create an Instagram account.

How To Create an Instagram Account in 5 Steps

To post content on Instagram, you must first establish an account. Many Instagram functions, such as seeing all comments on a post, viewing anyone’s Instagram Story, or browsing through an Instagram feed, are also unavailable without a signed-up account.
Here are five basic steps for creating an Instagram account:

Step #1: Download the mobile app.

Instagram is available on Android and iOS through the Google Play Store and App Store, respectively. Type “Instagram” into the search bar, look for the Instagram logo, then click “Download.” Alternatively, you can use these URLs to download the Instagram app to your phone:

If you wish to sign up on a PC, go to this Instagram page and begin inputting your information.

Step #2: Create an account and select a username.

When you open the app, you will see the login screen. To create a new account, click the “Create new account” button at the bottom of the screen.
Instagram will prompt you to:

  • Enter your name, or your business name if you’re starting an Instagram account for your business.
  • Create a password with at least six letters, a number, and a special character.
  • Select your date of birth—because you must be at least 13 years old to sign up for Instagram.
  • Create a username—enter your business name or complete name to be identifiable in searches.
  • Verify your identification by entering the code obtained from your phone number or email.
  • Accept its terms and policies.

And voilà! You’ve now got an Instagram account.

⚡ Use your name or username to include keywords on your profile page. For example, if you’re a fitness coach, your username may be “your name | fitness coach.” This will boost your profile’s discoverability while also providing everyone with a fast overview of what your Instagram material is about.
Next, Instagram helps you locate your community by asking you to:

  • Sync your phone contacts: This allows you to simply find and follow individuals you already know.
  • Connect your Facebook account: Because Instagram is a Facebook app, you can sync your Facebook and Instagram accounts by signing in and combining the Account Center. Both accounts will share the same login information, including name, username, and avatar.

You can utilize either option or skip it, depending on your desire. For example, if you’re creating an Instagram account for business purposes rather than personal usage, syncing your phone contacts may be unnecessary.

The two procedures outlined above will create your Instagram account. However, you must set up your profile using to ensure that your audience finds you:

  • Adding a profile photo: If you have an Instagram account for your business, use your logo as the profile photo. If you are a creator, please use your image. Remember to keep the photograph high-quality; if it’s your face, zoom in so it’s visible.
  • Crafting your Instagram bio: Your bio informs anyone who visits your Instagram profile about who you are and what you do. Instagram biographies have a restriction of 150 characters. Instead of attempting to make your Instagram bio smart, define your product or service in the most straightforward way possible. Using keywords in your bio will increase your discoverability and offer people a better understanding of you.
  • Adding links to your Instagram profile: Instagram allows you to include up to five links on your profile. However, the four links are drowned out by “xyzlink and 4 other links,” which is not ideal if you want to reduce friction for your visitors. Instead, utilize Buffer’s Start Page to host all of your links while also making them visually appealing, on-brand, and trackable.

To add all of the above to your Instagram profile, go to the bottom-right corner of the app and click the profile symbol. On the page, tap “Edit profile.” From there, you can add or change your profile photo, bio, and links.

You may also create and upload an avatar (a customizable 3D persona of your face) from this page to use in your Instagram Stories later.

Step #4: Select the appropriate type of Instagram account.

Instagram offers two types of accounts: personal and professional. Professional accounts are further separated into business and creative accounts.

  • Personal account: This is the best sort of account for you if you just use Instagram to communicate with friends and family. Your profile is locked, so someone must request to follow you to view what you post. You can accept or decline follow-up requests in notifications.
  • Business account: This is Instagram for Business, the best solution for all businesses on Instagram. To attract visitors to buy, an Instagram business account includes additional call-to-action buttons (CTAs) such as “Shop Now.”

Creator accounts are best suited for Instagram content creators. You don’t receive the extra CTA button, but this profile type is designed to help you develop a community with features such as a label name beneath your display name.

My Instagram experience has revolved around the community. From partnering with other photographers to engaging in discussions with followers, the connections I’ve built are my most prized accomplishment. Each comment, message, or share serves as a reminder that real individuals, not numbers, share my interest.

By default, your Instagram profile is personal. To switch between account types:

  • Go to your profile and tap the three horizontal lines in the upper-right corner.
  • Scroll down to “Account type and tools” after selecting “Settings and Privacy.”
  • You’ll discover the option to “Switch to a professional account.”

Once you tap it, you’ll be prompted to select a category that best represents your account, such as writer, entrepreneur, or shopping & retail. Finally, you can select either a creator or business account.

The distinction between business and creative accounts is no longer so clear. Previously, only business accounts had access to key post insights and capabilities; however, all of those tools are now available to Instagram Creator accounts.

Step #5: Customize which notifications you wish to receive

Instagram sends you several notifications, including when someone tags you, sends you a message, likes your posts, follows you, and so on.
It might get overpowering very quickly. To change the alerts you receive, go to your profile’s settings. Click “Notifications” and start to choose which alerts you want to receive and which you don’t.

There is a temporary pause option for all notifications, as well as a “quiet mode” that pauses all notifications for 12 hours.
The difference is that anyone who wants to message you will notice you’ve turned off all notifications in quiet mode because your online status and auto-replies (if enabled) will show it. However, if you momentarily suspend all alerts outside of quiet mode, no one will know except you.

Is Instagram Free?

Instagram is free for everyone; the only criterion is that you are at least 13 years old. There are no fees for creating an account, posting material, interacting with others, or promoting your business.
You are only paid if you run Instagram ads or enhance an Instagram post (which also functions as an ad).

Is Instagram Accessible for Desktop?

Nonetheless, Instagram is constantly enhancing the desktop experience. For example, you may now post to Instagram from a PC.
If you prefer to work on a desktop, use Instagram on your laptop. However, I advocate utilizing it in conjunction with the smartphone app, as Instagram provides a far better user experience (with more features).

How To Use Instagram: Navigating the App’s Features

Despite the short learning curve, Instagram might be overwhelming to comprehend all at once. There are several content types, interaction options, and features to optimize.
Instagram has changed significantly during the last three years. The introduction of reels added a new layer to content development. Initially resistant, I accepted the adjustment and experimented with a short, engaging video. My first reel, a whimsical 15-second instruction on nature photography, unexpectedly went viral, teaching me the value of adaptability and the possibilities of new features.

Let’s take a step-by-step approach to getting everything done without feeling overwhelmed.

How to Share Content on Instagram

To share Instagram Stories, Reels, single-image posts, Live, and carousels, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Instagram app and click the + icon in the center.
  2. Choose the type of content you want to share: post, story, reel, or live. You have the option of selecting existing material from your camera roll or using Instagram’s camera for recording or snapping. If you’re sharing a carousel, utilize the “multiple photo button” next to the camera to choose numerous photographs.
  3. If you choose, you can apply filters to your posts and add text or interactive stickers to your stories.
  4. Create a caption for your post. You can also tag people if appropriate.
  5. Share and your post goes live! ????

To create a new Instagram note, follow these steps:

  1. Click the message icon in the Instagram app’s top-right corner.
  2. To add a comment, tap the plus (+) icon next to your profile picture.
  3. You can type your notes and add music if you want.
  4. To post your note, click the “Share” button.

Also, to start your own broadcast channel, follow these steps:

  1. Click the message symbol in your feed.
  2. Tap the pencil button in the upper-right corner.
  3. Click “Create Broadcast Channel.”
  4. Give your broadcast channel a name and specify whether it should be visible on your profile.
  5. Select “Create Broadcast Channel” once more, and you’re done.

You now know how to post material on Instagram. However, creating a community on social networks is not a one-way street. You need to raise your hand and participate in the discourse.

How To Engage With Instagram Content.

You can interact with Instagram material by liking, commenting, sharing, saving, and reposting. To see stuff in your feed, you must follow people or brands on Instagram.

If you’ve linked your contacts or Facebook account to Instagram, the platform will suggest people to follow. If not, simply tap the magnifying glass at the bottom to get to the Explore page. You can type in the search field or scroll through Instagram’s recommended content.

Interacting with Instagram content by liking, commenting, sharing, and saving is the most effective approach to helping Instagram understand your preferences. The Instagram algorithm will eventually recognize the type of content you want and display more of it in your feed, Explore Pages, and Reels.

You may need this social media calendar template below;

How To Improve Your Instagram Experience

Instagram allows you to post and interact in relatively simple ways. But how can you make Instagram scrolling more enjoyable?
Here are four of my favorite tips:

#1. Categorize and collaborate on your saved content

  • You may organize and collaborate on the Instagram content you save.
  • Go to your profile and click on the three horizontal lines.
  • Choose “Saved,” and you’ll see a plus (+) icon at the top of the screen.

Tap it to create a new collection name. You may now save posts to a certain category and even collaborate on them if you want.

#2. Add folks to your Close Friends list to share special material.

If you want to upload content on Instagram just for a specific set of people, add them to your Close Friends list.

  • Navigate to your profile and choose “Settings and Privacy” from the three horizontal lines.
  • Click “Close Friends” under “Who can see your content.”
  • Alternatively, you can choose “Hide story and live” to conceal your Instagram Stories and Live from a pre-selected list.

Currently, the Close Friends feature is only available on Instagram Stories and Notes. According to TechCrunch, Instagram may be planning to integrate the Close Friends function into in-feed postings as well.

#3. Control who you interact with by adding them to your Favorites List (or Muted List).

What if you appreciate someone’s material and want it to be at the top of your feed every time they post? Add them to your favorite list.

  1. Go to their profile and select the “Following” button.
  2. Choose “Add to Favorites” to add them to your list. You can include up to 50 accounts in your Favorites list.
  3. Favorited accounts are indicated at the top of your feed with a star icon. You may also narrow down your favorites by touching the Instagram text on your home feed and selecting “Favorites.”

On the other hand, what if you don’t want to engage with someone’s content? You can do:

  • Mute them: To mute them, go to their profile and tap the “Following” option. You will have the option to Mute them. You can opt to mute their Stories, posts, or Notes. They will no longer appear in your feed, but you will continue to follow them. They won’t even know you’ve silenced them.

  • Restrict them: The distinction between muting and restricting is that the latter is slightly stronger than the former. When you restrict someone, they have no idea that you have restricted them, and you will continue to follow them, much like when you silence someone. When you limit someone, they cannot know if you have received their messages, and their comments on your posts will only appear if you approve them. To restrict someone on Instagram, go to their profile and press the three dots in the upper right. Choose “Restrict.”
  • Block them: When you block someone, you are unable to see their content, and they are unable to see yours. You can block someone’s current account or their existing account, as well as any future Instagram accounts they may create. The option to block someone is directly underneath the option to restrict someone.

???? Instagram allows you to unmute, unrestrict, and unblock accounts at any time. Don’t be concerned about anything being set in stone.

#4. Mark posts as “Not Interested” if you don’t want them on your feed

There are several ways to tell Instagram what you want to see less of in your feed.

  • If a post on your Explore page does not interest you, long-press it and select “Not Interested” to remove it from your Instagram feed.
  • Mark “Not Interested” in bulk on the Explore page. Once you’ve hidden one post on your Explore page, you’ll have the option to “Hide more”.
  • If you notice a “Suggested for you” post, you can click the three dots next to it and select “Not Interested” while browsing.

When you mark posts as Not Interested, Instagram learns what you like and dislike and improves its recommendations, resulting in a more enjoyable scrolling experience.

3 Tips For Using Instagram To Grow Your Business or Personal Brand

Learning about a platform from scratch and feeling pressure to grow on it as quickly as possible is intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be as frightening. Here are three simple tips you may utilize to expand faster on Instagram:

#1. Share high-quality material on Instagram every day

I don’t blame you if you rolled your eyes when reading that.
Consistently posting high-quality material is one of the most effective strategies to develop on Instagram and other social media platforms. But simply expressing that isn’t actionable, is it?

  • What kinds of posts should you share, given the variety of content types?
  • Where do you get new content ideas for postings every week?
  • How do you keep up with so many posts?
  • When should you share each post?

Let us solve one difficulty at a time.

What kinds of posts should you share, given the variety of content types?

A combination of trial and error will reveal which types of posts your audience appreciates the most. Begin by posting at least two feed posts and two Instagram stories every day, as advised by Instagram’s Head of Content, Adam Mosseri.

Once you’ve established a rhythm, determine which types of postings are receiving the most attention. Engagement is more than just the quantity of likes or comments. It should also consider how many shares and saves you receive.

Where do you get new content ideas for postings every week?

Do you have trouble deciding what to post on Instagram? You are not alone. I recommend looking at these three places for ideas:

  • Your audience: You don’t yet have an Instagram audience built in. But you have a decent notion of what they’re dealing with. Write these thoughts down and generate content around them. If you already have a following on another social media platform, ask them about their challenges there and develop content for Instagram.
  • Hop on trends: After a while on Instagram, you’ll understand some “trends,” whether it’s an act or a sound. Repurpose these trends for your niche and generate content around them. Because Instagram itself promotes trends, they are popular and will increase your Instagram reach. To remain up-to-date on the hottest trends, visit the @creators Instagram account. To keep you informed, they produce a trend report regularly. Instagram has also included several options to assist you in the Professional Dashboard. Go to your profile and select “Professional Dashboard.” There is a “Tips and Resources” area to help you get inspired.

  • Remix a Reel: Instagram now allows you to contribute your clip to another user’s reel or post. To add your video, simply hit the three dots in the right corner of a reel or post and click “Remix.” Instead of beating yourself up for coming up with an idea, you may extend someone else’s. Remix posts with a high number of likes, comments, and shares to broaden your audience.
Read Also: HOW TO CREATE A REEL ON INSTAGRAM: Easy to Follow Guide

How do you keep up with so many posts?

Simply schedule it ahead of time. It will relieve you of the burden of remembering to post something you developed, allowing you to focus on deeper work.

Instagram now offers native scheduling; however, the metrics are restricted, and you can’t see a calendar of all your posts. Instead, utilize social media scheduling tools to schedule your posts and view them at a glance, as well as other relevant metrics.

When should you share each post?

You cannot upload all of your Instagram stuff for the day at the same time, correct? However, there is no universally accepted time to distribute your posts. The optimal timing is precisely when your target audience is online.

Read Also: Crafting the Perfect Social Media Calendar: 2024’s Essential Guide With Free Template

#2. Use Instagram DMs to connect with your followers

Instagram Stories are an underutilized resource for communicating with your audience. What’s the most underdog feature? Saved responses and frequently asked questions (FAQs). It’s a pre-written response to your audience’s most often-asked queries, or you can send a similar message to all of your followers.

Assume your target audience frequently inquires about the shipment timelines for your products. The normal response is two to six working days, depending on the location.
You can store it and use it without having to copy and paste it from the Notes app or retype it.
You may also save it in your Frequently Asked Questions section so that your audience can get a response without you having to enter the conversation.

To begin saving your quick replies and frequently asked questions, navigate to “Settings and Privacy.” Under “Creator tools and controls,” you’ll see the option to add “Saved Reply” and “Frequently Asked Questions.”

The only difference between a saved reply and a FAQ is that your FAQs are shown immediately whenever someone attempts to DM you. To send saved replies, manually type the shortcut you’ve set and push the send button.

#3. Use relevant phrases and hashtags to get in front of the right audience.

Instagram is constantly upgrading its search capabilities. It ranks material by pulling terms from carousel posts, reels, captions, and hashtags. What is the best part? Instagram’s search engine is still in its early stages, so mastering the fundamentals might help you advance quickly.
Here are three simple steps you can take to master Instagram SEO:

  • Use relevant keywords in each post’s text, subtitle, and caption.
  • To categorize your material, add three to five relevant hashtags to every post.
  • Add your industry and niche keywords in your Instagram profile, such as the username and bio.
Read Also: Best HashTags For Instagram In 2024: My Hashtag Strategy That Grew My Instagram 10x


If you want to advance professionally and personally, using Instagram is more vital than ever. You can begin by monitoring and learning about Instagram’s algorithm, then gradually begin posting as you become more familiar with the user interface. With over one billion members, Instagram is an immensely beneficial social media network to join, and it’s just going to get bigger as time goes on.


Originally posted 2024-01-19 10:30:53.