How to get started on Instagram

Instagram is another fantastic social media platform that can allow users to connect with their friends, family, and keeping up to date on current events. What sets aside Instagram from other social media platforms is the primary focus on communicating through pictures instead of only through text. Your newsfeed will be filled with posts from the accounts you follow, and there are various ways to interact with different users. Instagram also gives the option of inserting a caption underneath which usually provides more context to the photos uploaded.

There are two ways users can use Instagram:

  1. Mobile app – can be found in the smartphone app store and is available for both Apple and Android smartphones
  2. Online website

Creating an Account

To use Instagram, you will have to create an account by following these steps:

  1. Entering your mobile number or email address
  2. Add your full name
  3. Selecting a unique username (which will be linked to your account)
  4. Creating a password for your account
  5. Providing your date of birth including the year, month and date

After you have completed the previous steps, you will have to enter the confirmation code sent to your email to verify your identity. Once you have finished signing up, you can now start using Instagram! Here are some tips for utilizing it effectively:

Following Friends and Family

Finding a friend or family member on Instagram will work a little differently than Facebook. Since Instagram has +1 billion users, it can be difficult to search for a friend when a couple of other users may already have the same name. For example, if I wanted to find my friend Jane Smith, I might not be able to find her right away because of many other users coming up when searching her name:

The solution? Ask them for their username! When everyone first signs up, they all choose a unique username that no other person on the site will have. Upon searching for their unique username, you will be able to find your friend and start following them.

Following Accounts Catered to your Interests

Instagram can be used for more than just connecting with your friends and family; you can use it to stay up to date with your interests! Many organizations and different artists can now be found on Instagram. Simply search for the name of the organization or artist you wish to follow and your feed will begin showing more of their posts! Some examples of organizations and notable people that can be found are CP24 Toronto News, ESPN, and Justin Trudeau. To begin finding accounts you wish to follow and stay up to date with, search for their names by tapping on the magnifying glass tab and typing in the search bar located at the top:

To ensure you are following the real account of the organization or public figure you are looking for, keep an eye out for the blue verified symbol beside their username which will look like this:

Navigating Your Instagram Feed

Once you begin following more people, your feed will become filled with their posts. Here is more information on how to navigate your newsfeed and the application on your smartphone. For this section, follow the numbers and match them with the corresponding numbers displayed on the image below:

(1) Taking a Photo – This camera icon indicates the option to take a photo directly from your phone’s camera. You have the option to tap the options underneath to start a live stream, create a text post, or simply take a normal picture. Press the big white circle at the bottom once you are satisfied with your photo. At the bottom right, press “send to >” and you will have the option to post it on your story for all of your followers to see, or you can forward the picture to specific contacts by pressing “send’ beside their name.

(2) Stories – Stories are a popular feature on Instagram where users can showcase a part of their day to be highlighted for 24 hours on their profile. To view someone’s story, click on their icon (which will be highlighted with a pink circle). Upon clicking their story, you have the option to send a message in response to their story by tapping the “Send Message” bar located at the bottom and typing your reply to them there. The conversation can be found in your direct messages tab (view #3 for more information).

(3) Direct Messages – Although Instagram is primarily a photo-sharing application, you can still have conversations with your contacts on this platform. Click the little paper airplane icon on the top right to see the tab where all of your conversations will be stored. To start a new conversation, use the search bar at the top of the tab to search for the person you wish to start a conversation with. Remember: if you cannot find them right away, try searching their username instead!

(4) Reacting to a Post – When a post appears on your newsfeed, there are many ways to react to it. By clicking the 3 dots next to a post, you have many options immediately available to you:

Reporting it – If a post violates Terms of Service (i.e., nudity, violence, NSFW content, self-harm) you can report it directly to Instagram for review. The post will be hidden from your newsfeed from then on.

Copy link – Tap this option to copy the Instagram link of the post to your clipboard to share with your contacts on other platforms!

Share to – Your smartphone will present different options on how you wish to share the post such as to a different application, e-mail, phone contacts, or copying it to your phone’s clipboard.

Turn on Post Notifications – Get the option to receive phone notifications from this account whenever they post!

Mute – You will not see this account’s posts on your newsfeed anymore, but you will still be able to follow them.

Unfollow – Tap if you wish to unfollow the account affiliated with the post.

(5) Like – If you enjoyed someone’s post, you can click the heart icon under the post to “like” it and they will receive a notification for it.

(6) Commenting If you wish to add a response or start a discussion under a post, click the comment bubble underneath the post and select “post” when you are done crafting your response. Other people’s comments also have a “reply” button in grey underneath their comments, which you can tap if you wish to type a comment responding to them.

(7) Forwarding – To forward a post to someone on the application, tap the paper airplane icon underneath the post and you can select someone to forward the post to. You can follow up with this in your direct messages tab.

(8) Uploading – To upload a picture from your camera’s library, select the plus (+) icon at the bottom middle of the application. You will have the option at the bottom to select a photo from your library, take a live photo, or take a video instead. Select “next” on the top right when you are satisfied and you will have the option to write a caption underneath the photo, add a location, tag other people, and you can also cross-post it to other applications such as Facebook and Twitter. Once you are satisfied, press “share” and the post will be available to view your profile and on your follower’s newsfeeds.

(9) Activity – The activity tab showcases your account’s activities such as who has liked your posts and comments, whether anyone has replied back to you, and who has followed you. Simply tap the notification to be forwarded back to the post where the interaction took place.

(10) Your Profile – To view your profile, tap your icon on the bottom right of the application. On your profile, you will have the option to view your followers and who follows you, and see how many posts you have. You can also tap the “edit profile” button to change your bio, request a new unique username, and change your display name.