What is Instagram, How does it work and How to use it?

Since its inception, Instagram has attracted a large number of users thanks to its easy handling and attractive design. This platform also allows the user to share images and other files in a dynamic and easy way, but this is not all because with the multiple updates of Instagram, it now has multiple functions.

It is for these reasons that many communication experts agree that Instagram is a perfect medium to convey any message, this is due to the great ability to present all kinds of visual content that this application has, being at the same time a very versatile tool.

Thanks to its rapid growth, Instagram is one of the most popular and widely used applications in the world, but a large percentage of its users do not fully understand its functions. Most users are also unaware of the great benefits that this social network brings to any company to make themselves known in any market.

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So, it is important to know a little about this system if you want to get the most out of it, as it is a very versatile platform, so it is necessary to talk about all its functions to understand how they can be used as a very effective digital marketing tool.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is an application for smartphones and other mobile devices that was originally designed for the iOS operating system, however, thanks to its popularity, a version compatible with the Android operating system was soon released.

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It is currently available for a large number of systems, including a web version. Instagram users can share photos, gifs and short videos through this platform.

One of the most striking features of the application are the filters, which are effects that serve to improve the appearance of the image or give it a more original touch. Note that there is a wide variety of filters.

At the same time, Instagram users can view the images and videos shared by other users, and can also comment on or “like” the publication, allowing for more interaction. Thanks to this simple operation, Instagram has attracted hundreds of millions of users in just under eight years.

One of the main reasons why this application is so appealing to most people is that the text is in the background because its design makes the images and visual content stand out, making it more user-friendly, since the brain processes the images much better than the text.

Images are easier to digest and remember because they do not require a high level of attention. Instagram is an ideal medium for any type of non-intrusive advertising, which is capable of obtaining better results in a much shorter time.

Origins of Instagram

Although at first this application received some unfavourable criticism, as many people called themselves professional photographers for the simple fact of being able to apply filters to their photographs to make them look like real artistic photographs, this has now changed greatly due to the wide reach of this platform.

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At the same time it is interesting to note that the first three years of the application, the period where Instagram received the most criticism, was also the most important and dizzying growth moment of this social network, which was developed during 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

This app achieved such rapid recognition that before it was one year old it already had more than a million users, the most impressive thing of all is that Instagram was only available on the Apple App Store and was only compatible with iOS devices, being a fairly exclusive social network.

During its second year, this social network was able to greatly increase its number of users, by mid-2011 it already had more than five million users, and some four months later its number had already doubled. One of the main reasons this application became so popular during 2011 was its multiple updates.

The new version of Instagram had new features, including the ability to add tags or hashtags to photos and other published files; this feature attracted so much attention that in just one year the application was able to attract nearly fifteen million users.

However, the year Instagram achieved worldwide fame was in 2012 thanks to a filter called “Lux”, which was added in February, this filter was very successful because in July of that year the application already had more than eighty million users from all over the world.

Another important fact to have reached this great figure in addition to the Lux filter, was the launch of the version for Android devices, which achieved several million downloads during the first week, because many users of this operating system wanted to feel the experience of knowing this social network so recommended.

In 2013, Instagram gave people the possibility to use this platform through any computer, thanks to its web version, although this service has attracted many followers, which is quite limited, so it basically serves to view and comment on the content published by other users.

During 2013, Instagram also reached 100 million users and would almost double that number when its developers within months of launching the web version added the ability to publish fifteen-second videos and tag friends in the photos. Finally, in December of this year a chat will be added to the application.

Throughout the year 2014, Instagram began to be seen as a very effective digital marketing tool, as it began to become more present and noticeable the advertising of multiple companies in sponsored publications, which were not very well received by the public, but made the real potential of this service to entrepreneurs.

At the same time, new tools and complementary applications began to emerge that allowed people to see the impact and results achieved by the content they added to the platform, making Instagram a more user-friendly medium for those who wanted to use it as an advertising tool.

By 2015, Instagram was no longer just a popular social network, it was an advertising tool offering multiple options to businesses, such as the ability to display 30-second ads, while regular users could only add 15-second videos.

In addition, people who paid for advertising also had the ability to create formats compatible with other applications and subscribe to an email newsletter. During this year, Instagram also introduced the complementary Boomerang application, with which users could record short videos consisting of five repeated photographs.

The year where Instagram underwent the most changes was 2016, as this app gave its users the ability to link several accounts from the same device, making it a much more convenient system since there was no need to close one profile to review another, but that was not all, since that same year the developers also incorporated an algorithm to the platform.

This is responsible for showing images, content and user suggestions to people according to their tastes, thus presenting more attractive alternatives. During this year, Instagram also incorporated the ability to automatically translate the titles of the images regardless of the language they were in.

During 2016, Instagram also added a Snapchat-inspired feature known as Instagram Stories, which gave users the ability to add content to their profile and share it with other users for a limited time of 24 hours. This feature also attracted a large number of users.

How to use Instagram?

Most people know a little about how this application works, even if they don’t use it constantly. Instagram has a very practical and user-friendly design and interface, which is why people enjoy this app so much, using it to share multiple moments of their lives.

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The first thing you should know about this application is that even though many people think that this platform only serves to publish trendy clothes and coffee photos, the truth is that it is much more than that, otherwise Instagram would not have been able to become one of the most used social networks on the planet.

Another very interesting aspect of this app acquired by Facebook a few years ago is that every day new people continue to register to its platform, so the number of Instagram users continues to grow until today, which at the same time allows for a global community of users.

First-time users of Instagram often don’t notice the wide range of features the system integrates and offers its users, so it’s normal for many of the features of Instagram to start being seen after they’ve used the social network several times; many of the frequent users don’t even know all the options it offers.

How to download Instagram and register?

It is important to remember that Instagram is a completely free social network, which is available for a large number of intelligent mobile devices of different brands; at the same time, it is also possible to use this application via the web. However, the registration process cannot be carried out by this means.

Downloading this app is very simple, since you only have to enter the virtual store of the operating system corresponding to the device where you want to install the application, then click on the option “download”, accept the terms of the application, and wait a few minutes until it is installed.

When opening the application on the device, it will show two options, register or login; in case you do not have an Instagram user account, you must choose the first option to create your own account. This process is very quick and easy; the first step is to choose a user name and enter a password.

A very common advice for new users is to use the same profile name used for other social networks such as Twitter, as this will save more time and there will be less chance of the name being forgotten. On the other hand, the password must meet certain security parameters.

There is also a way to make this process easier and faster by allowing your users to link their Instagram account and their Facebook account, so the platform will automatically take the information from Facebook, so the profile picture and email used on both platforms will be the same.

When adding the profile picture, users also have the ability to use the same one they have on their Twitter profile, or take a photo directly from their phone’s camera; in addition, it is possible to add any photo that is stored in the phone’s image gallery.

The last step to create a user account on this social network is to specify the email address you want to use, and enter the full name; then, you only have to wait a few minutes until the application finishes processing all the data.

How to navigate Instagram?

You can then start enjoying all the functions of this system. You will find several basic options in the menu below:

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  • Home

This is the main section of Instagram, it is identified with a house icon. In this section you will find the photos that are published from the accounts followed by the users, offering them the possibility of giving likes, commenting on this content or sending private messages to the users who make the publications.

During the early years of the app, the photos that appeared in the startup section were presented in chronological order as Twitter does; however, this feature changed after the developers added an algorithm that shows users the posts according to their most pronounced tastes.

But that’s not all, because it’s also possible to notice a mailbox icon located in the upper left of the home screen, this function is known as Instagram Direct, and it’s a messaging system exclusive to Instagram, which allows users to send and receive text messages as well as various types of files.

There are two ways to send a picture via Instagram Direct, the first is to take it directly from the device’s camera; you can also choose a picture from the device’s gallery and send it. It is even possible to create images that only have text, making communication more fluid.

Another Instagram function that can be accessed from the main screen is Instagram Stories, known as Instagram Stories; they appear at the top of the screen and are circular in shape. If you want to see an Instagram story, just click on the icon, if you want to publish a story, click on the camera icon in the upper left corner.

  • Searches

This option appears right next to the start icon, which has the shape of a magnifying glass. It shows users the most outstanding or likeliest pictures.

At the same time, it also gives users the ability to search for other users to follow and stay informed about all posts made by those users.

  • Camera

This option is located in the central part of the app menu, when this function is used, users have four different possibilities; these are: choose a photo from the gallery or take a photo, in addition to the same options but with videos. Today, Instagram users can add videos of up to 60 seconds.

After choosing or taking the image to be published, you can apply any filters you wish and perform certain edits such as changing the brightness, improving the contrast and adjusting some additional details before adding the title of the publication, tagging the people you want, and indicating the geolocation point where the image was taken.

Images can be added to users’ biographies, Instagram stories or sent as a message through the application’s chat. In turn, there is an option to simultaneously share the publication from the user account of other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Tumblr; however, accounts must be linked first.

  • Activity

This icon is very easy to recognize as it has a heart shape; this function serves to inform users about their interaction with other users of the platform, regardless of whether they are followers or not. It is good to remember that, at the same time, the system notifies about these interactions through the device’s notification tray.

This section has two different options for users, the option of “followed” and “you” in “followed” is possible to know the activity of the followed accounts to know which photos they have given me like or the comments they have made in other publications, so it is possible to see the most outstanding actions taken by the followed ones.

The “Your” option allows users to see all the interactions related to the posts made from their profile account, so they can easily find out which users have “liked” them or commented on their posts. Through this option, you can also find out if there are any requests for followers in case the account is private.

  • Profile

This section of the application shows how the profile account looks like for other users, giving the option to modify it as desired; this section has five different options, the first one is to edit the profile, which allows you to change the user name, change the content of the biography or the email, you can also add a short description.

If it is a professional or business account, then users are advised to add the URL of the company’s official website directly to the Instagram profile, as this is a very effective way to provide direct access to the company’s main portal, which will increase the chances of finding new customers.

Another of the options available in this section is the advanced configuration of the profile, this is located in the upper right corner of the screen and has a nut-shaped icon; this function allows users to change data of great importance added to their profile, as well as change different security and privacy parameters.

Above the photos added by the user, there are three different icons to view the publications, the first one appears in a grid to easily view all the publications; there is also an icon to view the publications in a list and another option to view the publications where it has been tagged by other users.

Configuration

This section shows much more detailed options than those that appear from the Instagram profile directly; most of these options are very useful. These are some of the most outstanding:

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  • Invite friends: This option increases the number of followers by allowing users to search for friends you have on your Facebook profile, or any contacts you have added to your phone’s directory to invite them to join Instagram and follow your profile account.
  • Edit profile: Using this option, you can change any aspect of the information or content available in the profile to other users, regardless of when it has been published.
  • Change Password: This feature is ideal for increasing the security level of your profile account by allowing you to change your login key; you only need to enter your current password and replace it with a new one. Note that these must be added twice so that the system can check them.
  • Publications you liked: With this feature, you can see a summary of all the publications that users have given “like” or commented on in a given time, allowing you to keep a much more detailed log of activity.
  • Account authentication: This is one of the most sophisticated security measures of this social network, as it serves to confirm that no other person has used the user’s profile account.
  • Blocked users: Sometimes some Instagram users can become a real nuisance, that is why the system incorporates the block option, which restricts their access to the profile account, with the option “Blocked users” it is possible to see the users who have been blocked previously.
  • Switch to company profile: This option is ideal for any company or brand that has an Instagram profile, as it allows you to present your products in a very effective way; however, to use this feature the brand must have a Facebook user account.
  • Private account: If you want to increase the security and privacy of the user account, then converting it into a private account is a great option, since anyone who wants to follow it must make a request which will be rejected or authorized by the user.
  • Linked accounts: This is one of the ways to make Instagram a more interactive platform, since this option allows your users to synchronize their accounts from other social networks.
  • Notification settings: With this function you can choose the notifications you wish to receive on your phone or mobile device, choosing the users you wish to receive notifications from.
  • Add Account: If you want to link another Instagram account to use it from the same device without having to log out and log in each time you use it, then you should use this feature, this option is ideal for people who have a personal and professional profile.
  • Comments: It is not only possible to make changes to the photos and posts that are made through the user profile, since you can also manage the comments that are received, so it is very easy to filter all kinds of negative, offensive or inappropriate comments.

In addition to the functions mentioned above, there is also a small section which provides information about this platform to its users, thus answering the most frequently asked questions about the use and handling of this application, in addition to other topics related to the platform.

Interaction

The first thing any Instagram user should know is all the features and options Instagram offers, as there are many shortcuts and advanced options available to achieve maximum performance and a better user experience. One of the main attractions of this service is its simplicity, allowing excellent interaction.

The interaction of Instagram users is largely determined by the number of followers and followers they have, as the more people who follow a profile account, the more likely they are to receive “like” or “comments” in their posts. There are three different ways to find users through this platform.

  • Import contacts

When you enter the settings section, you can find a button called “Invite friends”, this option offers a list of friends from the linked Facebook account, you can follow these users directly from their profile or using the button located to the right of their profile picture.

This option also suggests to users profiles which they might be interested in following, usually these are recommended accounts according to the tastes and location of the user, so they are mainly about artist profiles that also have a large number of followers and high visibility.

  • Scan button

This is the most effective way to get new Instagram accounts to track and interact, as this section shows a wide range of popular profiles or publications. The system also includes a search bar to locate profiles by their names, hashtags or geolocation.

  • Followers of other users

Instagram also allows its users to view the accounts followed by the people they follow; this option is ideal for those who are interested in the latest trends, so it is possible to find common interests with other users and get a wide variety of products.

Interact with other users

When viewing a publication made by any other user, it is easy to notice four options around it, the first option which is located on the left side is to give “like” or “like”; it has a heart shape and when pressed it turns red. If you want to delete an “like”, just press the heart-shaped icon again.

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But clicking on the heart icon is not the only way for users to add a like to a post and indicate that they like it, since this procedure can also be done by double-clicking directly on the photo, you can also remove the like by double-clicking the image.

Right next to the heart-shaped icon, there is a text cloud icon, this is the “comment” button, by pressing this icon it is possible to add any comment to a particular image. When commenting on a photo, you can tag other users or reply directly through this option.

To tag other users through a comment it is only necessary to add an at (@) before the user’s profile name, this way the person will see through the activity option, since it will be automatically notified, no matter if the tagged users are followed or not.

There is a simpler way to tag a person in a comment, however, they should have commented on the photo or post before, since only the user’s name should be left pressed and will automatically be added along with an arroba in a new comment, now alone you must enter the text you want.

The option of tagging people through a comment arose because before it was normal for people not to respond to the comments of other users, they never noticed that these were directed to them, unless they were made in their own publications. For this reason, this option has greatly improved user interaction.

The third icon that appears with each post is a small arrow that points to the right side; this function is used to share any post via Instagram Direct to a separate contact or any group, so it is possible to send any content to followers in a discreet way.

Finally, there is an icon that has the form of suspension points, pressing it displays a menu with two different options “activate notifications” to follow the desired publication, and the option “report” to notify the system if you notice an inappropriate or offensive image in any way.

Instagram Web

Although this complementary service is very useful, it is important to know that if you want to use it, you must have an Instagram account, as well as a mobile smart device if you want to add some content to your profile account, since it is not possible to do this through the web version.

To access Instagram through its web version, you need to access its home page through any browser, then add your username and password profile.

One of the most notable differences in the design of the original application and its web version is that the photographs are presented with a greater presentation to each other.

What can be done through Instagram Web?

Through this online service, users of this platform can view the photographs of the accounts that follow, it is also possible to give “like” and add comments to any publication.

At the same time, it is possible to track users whether they have a private or public account and view lists of users who follow these profiles.

What can’t be done through Instagram Web?

People who use Instagram from a computer do not have some primary application functions, as they do not have the ability to publish via the Web version; another function that is also not available through this medium is Instagram Direct, so you cannot send or receive private messages or content.

It is also not possible to delete posts from the user profile or to search for other users using the “browse” option. Another option that is not possible through the Web version of Instagram, is to view the photos that the user has been tagged in, so this service is still quite limited.

Despite all these drawbacks, this tool is an ideal way to review the general aspects of this platform, however, if you want to keep the essence of this app then you must download it through App Store or Google Play to get the full service.

Companies and brands in Instagram

There are several reasons why this platform is used by various companies and brands as a digital marketing tool, one of them is that Instagram has over 300 million active users today, making it an ideal medium for any company to showcase its products.

But Instagram is not only an ideal platform for digital marketing campaigns because of its high number of users, but also because of their behavior, as most users like to stay in touch with their favorite brands. This feature is also present in networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

At the same time, this platform offers multiple advantages for the brands that use it, as they are able to achieve an average engagement of 4% in their total followers, other social networks such as Facebook or Twitter are only able to achieve a 0.1% engagement to date.

On the other hand, more than 70% of Instagram users say that they have searched the accounts of brands or companies on their own because they felt identified with them, for this you should use the “Browse” option, which offers multiple possibilities to search for the accounts you want.

Another favorable aspect of this application for any company is that more than 60% of users follow at least one brand through this platform, since Instagram allows companies to present any advertising in a more pleasant and attractive way for users.

In addition, only 36% of existing brands and companies use this platform to make themselves known and offer their products to people, since most of them use Facebook as a social network, so there is not as much competition for companies in this application.

How to achieve success at Instagram?

One of the most common sayings used by people who use social networks to drive any brand is: “Content is the most important thing”. However, this saying goes far beyond publishing some eye-catching photographs and some other elements through this app, so the following aspects should be taken into account.

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Indeed, to achieve this you have to go beyond publishing a couple of photos that look good, because they must also have these elements:

  • Vision and strategy: If you want to reach the maximum potential of this application you must have a well-developed plan, since it is not only about making a large number of publications and following as many users as possible.
  • Graphic style set: One of the most notable features of Instagram’s most popular beads is that they have a certain style, so all its publications have a very similar concept; this element is known as consistency and adds an identity to every profile.
  • Consistent frequency: The time between each publication is a very important factor in increasing the visibility of an Instagram account, it is generally recommended to make publications with a time difference of about six hours.

By combining all these factors effectively, it is possible to achieve excellent results through this platform; however, there is another very important issue when using this platform as a digital marketing tool; this is the audience, or the followers that every Instagram account has.

The audience can serve as a reference to select the content they wish to publish through this social network to achieve greater popularity through the Internet, since by observing their behavior with respect to publications it is possible to find some clues as to what time of content attracts their attention.

Through this method, many of the most popular accounts have been able to perfect the style of their publications; some of them have set the trend on this platform thanks to their style, as is the case of the “Follow Me To” profile, which consists of a couple who travel the world by the hand.

This style of photography is currently used by a wide variety of travel and tourism companies to advertise, as it is a very new and popular style which is able to attract the attention of users, which ensures better results in a shorter time.

Tips for success at Instagram

The first step is to determine if Instagram is the ideal platform to promote the brand you want to promote, since there are companies that can get better results using other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. However, Instagram is highly recommended for businesses involved in fashion and graphic design.

Other fields that also have a strong influence on this social network, in addition to those mentioned above, are the businesses related to technical support technology, real estate business, legal consultants and even bankers are also very popular in this application.

The reason why this app is recommended for different types of companies is that a large number of people are connected to this platform, so it is very easy to stay informed about the most important industries, and the most influential celebrities in the world of sports, politics and entertainment.

Another way to become popular at Instagram is to build connections through feedback, this is the easiest way to join the company’s market audience, so it is recommended to follow accounts from other similar companies with different levels, who have multiple interests in common.

Comments are a form of interaction widely used by Instagram users, it is also possible to approach users and generate greater visibility through this feature. A fairly effective strategy is to add positive comments in the followers’ publications, as these will serve to get their attention.

It is important that the photos that are added to the profile account, rather than a brand name, promote a specific lifestyle, because in this way users can really identify with the content added to the profile; thus there will be greater possibilities of making loyal customers.

Another recommendation for people who use Instagram to promote their company is to show some of the daily activities of the company or business, so that other users can keep abreast of all the activities that take place in the company, which generates a greater sense of closeness between the customer and the company.

The organization is also another factor of great importance when using this social network as a marketing tool, since order helps to make the information and content added to this platform much easier to digest for most users.

Instagram Stories

Some time ago Instagram Stories was introduced, a new functionality that since then has played a fundamental role in the world of social networks, even though its existence period is relatively short. This feature available in the application is similar to the Snapchat account, another social network that has gained notoriety.

The idea behind Instagram’s stories is to give users a space to share publications more often. Just as Instagram photos are almost reserved for perfectly composed images, Instagram Stories gives us the option to share those little moments that may not be aesthetically perfect, but are still worth showing our followers.

Instagram is offering this option as a solution to the abuse of publications. It is an independent space that we can use to upload as many videos and images as we want without having to worry about whether we are going to fill the home page of our friends or even our own profile.

If you want to learn how to build a story with Instagram Stories, and what this can mean for your business strategy, read on and we’ll explain it all to you.

How do I use Instagram Stories?

Now, we will provide you with the basic steps to create an Instagram story and to use all the options it brings with it.

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  1. Click on the positive sign icon in the upper left corner of the home screen.
  2. Take your picture by pressing the round button or take a video by holding it down for 10 seconds. The icon in the form of a beam activates the flash and the two arrows that make a circle will allow you to switch to the front camera. If you also want to upload something from your video and photo gallery, you can do so. Just slide your finger down and you’ll have the content that’s been saved for the last 24 hours available. This also includes what you created using Boomerang.
  3. Choose the options for writing and drawing on the screen in the upper corner. You can add emoticons and resize them any way you like. If you want to use filters, just slide your finger to the right and you will have different colors, which are not the same as the ones you have available when you post a photo on your profile, but they are still very good.
  4. When you are ready, click the check icon to share.
  5. The story will appear at the top of your contacts’ main screen. It will appear on your profile if a follower clicks on your profile picture. When your new Instagram Story is published, you can save it by opening it and choosing the option in the bottom corner that will take you to where it says “Save photo”.
  6. If you want to know who saw your story, you can do so by sliding your finger upwards, and the list of people who opened it will be displayed to see what you posted. If there is someone on that list you don’t want to see any of your stories, you can press the “X” next to their name and they won’t be able to see it.

If you want your things to be kept private, you can set your privacy settings to the nut-shaped icon on your profile screen to allow you to select specific users for restrictions.

In this new era, the digital age, the way it affects our lives and the way we function, there is more effectiveness with visual content, and you can have a professional advantage.

It’s clear that using images to expand your personal or professional image is only part of it. Just like any other social network like Twitter or Facebook, Instagram is a powerful way to connect people who have the same thoughts, the same passions and the same tastes. The union between content and constant and effective interaction will allow you to use this medium as a professional.

And we’ve finally come to the end! It’s gotten a little long, hasn’t it? We apologize, but we thought it necessary to explain in detail everything about Instagram, how it was created, how it really works, its advantages, how to get the most out of it…

We hope that you have found all this information very useful, and that it will give you an overview of what Instagram is and its enormous potential… See you very soon!

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