11 Instagram Tips for Beginners

Instagram Tips

Written by Elise Moreau Please follow Elise

Instagram is one of the most popular social networks. Besides being visually appealing and easy to access on the go, it’s also pretty simple to learn how to use it.

The following tips can help you make the most out of your own experience on the social media platform so you can grow your followers and increase engagement.

Post Interesting, Colorful Photos and Videos

Photo of dessert
Martine Feiereisen / EyeEm / Getty Images

Instagram is all about providing value to your followers, especially if you want more engagement. When you post on Instagram, your goal should be to publish photos and videos that evoke some kind of emotion, such as happiness, humor, motivation, nostalgia, love, or something else. High-quality photos with a lot of colors tend to get the most action.

Don’t Overdo It With the Filter Effects

Photo with too many filters
Verity E. Milligan / Getty Images

Instagram provides a bunch of filters you can apply to your photos to automatically enhance the look and style. However, this trend seems to have already hit its peak. People want photos and videos that are colorful, but relatively natural-looking. Although filter effects are tempting, try to limit their use and keep the color and contrast normal in most of your photos.

Feel Free to Use Hashtags, But Use Them Sparingly

Uso de hashtag en Internet
Kristin Lee / Getty Images

Using hashtags on Instagram is a great way to increase your reach on the platform, encourage more engagement, and even attract new followers. Unfortunately, some people take it way too far. Their captions are often bloated with hashtags, many not even relevant to the post’s topic. If you decide to use hashtags, make sure to keep them to a minimum and only use keywords that are relevant.

Use the Search & Explore Function to Find Great New Content

searching web on phone
stefanamer / iStock

When you tap Search & Explore (magnifying glass icon) on the Instagram app’s bottom row, you’re taken to the Search & Explore page, where you can see content curated to your interests. This content is based on the types of photo and video posts you’ve liked or commented on. The people you follow also inspire what you see here.

Browse this page, or use the search bar to search for specific users, hashtags, subjects, and more.

Post Often to Keep Followers Interested

Child waving hand out of window of car
Artur Debat / Getty Images

If you want to keep followers engaged, you need to post new content on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean you need to post 10 photos a day. In fact, posting once a day, or at least once every other day, should be frequent enough to keep your current followers interested. If you go long periods of time without posting, don’t be surprised if you lose a few of them.

Use Messenger to Contact Specific Users

Man's hands taking city pictures with phone
Artur Debat / Getty Images

Although it’s a good idea to post frequently to keep your followers engaged, sometimes it’s not always necessary to post something publicly to all your followers. Instead, target one or more specific users by privately direct messaging them a text message, photo, or video. Instagram’s direct messaging functionality is integrated with Facebook Messenger, so you can message a Facebook friend who isn’t even on Instagram.

To send or reply to a direct message with a photo or video, tap the camera icon, take your photo or video, and then tap Send.

Interact With Your Followers

People sorted into groups by color represent the statistical technique of cluster analysis.
Magictorch / Getty Images

Never ignore your loyal followers who regularly like and comment on your photos! That’s a surefire way to eventually drive people away. Instead, let your followers know you value them. Reply to their comments or even go check out their account and like a few of their photos. You can use a third-party tool like Iconosquare (formerly Statigram) if you want to track Instagram comments and see which users are interacting with you the most.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to worry about how many people are liking your posts, Instagram added the ability to hide likes in May 2021. To do this, go into a post and tap the More (three vertical dots) icon, then tap Hide Like Count.

Don’t Be Tempted to Purchase Followers

Illustration of man and woman exchanging money
Jerry Nelson / Illustration Works / Getty Images

There’s a lot of hype around buying Instagram followers. And it’s true that you can get some big numbers for pretty cheap. The problem with buying them is that they’re often mostly fake and inactive. Your account may look a little strange to users who see that you have 15,000 followers, but almost no likes or comments on your photos and videos. Stick to real engagement. It’s not all about the numbers.

Experiment With Shoutouts

mouth shouting with copy space
Tara Moore / Getty Images

Interacting with your current followers is always recommended, but the more people you reach out to, the better. Doing a shout-out or a “shoutout for shoutout” (s4s) with another account in the same follower range is a very fast and effective way to reach more people. Two users basically agree to give the other a shoutout post on their accounts. This is actually the main technique many Instagram users use to grow their accounts by the thousands.

Stay on Top of the Latest Instagram Trends

Three friends taking self portrait with smartphone
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Hashtags and shoutouts are great, but even trends like these eventually have an expiry date. If Instagram is a major social networking platform for you, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends to avoid getting left behind and putting yourself at risk of losing valuable followers. Check out these five big trends in how people use Instagram.

Post Stories

Illustration of Instagram with people liking a phone

SiberianArt / Getty Images

Stories are less permanent, more “in the moment” pieces of content you can post for your followers to see. They come in the form of both photos and videos, and they automatically disappear after 24 hours. View them at the top of the feed (in the form of circular bubbles you tap). Stories simply offer a more casual way to connect, share, and interact with your followers.

Stories are becoming more integrated with other forms of social media. For example, if you use Twitter and find a tweet that resonates with you, you can easily add that tweet to your story. Tap the tweet, then tap the share icon and select Instagram Stories. The tweet will appear as part of your Instagram story. (This feature is currently supported only on iOS.)


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