With about 400 million active users, Instagram is a powerful mobile photo and video sharing platform that makes it easy to share moments and keep in touch.  It’s also a great way to connect with clients and prospects, showcase products and build interest in what you do.

If you’re new to Instagram for business, “Instagram 101” will help you get going in no time!

Get the App

Since Instagram is – first and foremost – a mobile app, you’ll need to download it to your mobile device and sign up for an account. Instagram is available for free from iTunes and  the Google Play Store.  Once you’ve installed the app, create your account with your email address, or by connecting your Instagram account to your Facebook account.

When opening the app, you’ll automatically be taken to the home page, where you’ll see current posts from users you follow, along with posts of your own. Across the bottom of the app, you’ll find five navigation buttons: Home, Search, Camera, Activity, and Profile.

instagram navigation icons

Learn more about getting started in Instagram: Instagram 101

Tapping the Home button displays the latest photos from those you follow. Search allows you to find photos, videos, and people you might like.  Hit the Camera icon to take new filtered and framed shots on the spot or edit a photo from your albums. The Activity button displays the latest information about who you are following and who’s following you, and Profile allows you to view and edit your profile.

Immediately above the major navigation icons are quick action icons:  click Heart to favorite a post, the conversation bubble to comment, and the Forward arrow to send a post to someone you know.  Of course, “…” opens up a few more options.

You can post two different types of content: photos and videos. To post something new, tap the camera button at the bottom of the screen, then choose to either take a new photo or video, or select one from your camera roll. Tapping the next button will then allow you to edit the photo or video.

Share, Tap & Tag

You can interact with other Instagram users in a number of ways. Just as you can tag users in your photos on Facebook, Instagram lets you add tags before posting an image or video. Tap the Tag People option before sharing your photo – then tap in the photo where you wish to add the tag.

Mentions on Instagram are much like ones on Twitter, since you can use the @ symbol to tag other users in your comments or captions. To like another user’s photo, either double-tap the image or tap the heart button under the post. Next to the like button is a comment button – tap it, and you’ll be taken to the comments page for that photo, where you can type in your comment.

Private Message

Communicate privately with other users via Instagram Direct. To access it, go to the home page, and tap the plus button on the top-right corner. This will open your camera, from which you can take a photo or video, or upload one from your camera roll. You can then edit it, and choose one or more users to send it to. Then, you can message back and forth with the recipient using the Comments feature.


You can configure your Instagram account to post content on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Flickr. If these sharing configurations are all highlighted, all of your Instagram photos will automatically be posted to your social networks after you press share. Engage followers by taking pictures and videos to show how your product or service is produced. This is especially worthwhile if the process is unique or interesting, or something your customers frequently ask you about. Including photos and videos of your employees is a great personal touch that allows you to connect with your customers and followers, and helps them identify with your brand.

Show and Tell Time

Encourage your customers to show off their photos – just let them know you’re on Instagram, and which hashtags they should use. Liking and commenting on customer photos will increase engagement and encourage them to share more. Show off your products by photographing them as they come in, or share pictures of your most popular products. If you run a service business, take photos of your work to build interest in what you do.

Ready, Set, Go!

Instagram was the fastest growing major social network among American adults last year. For the first time, over half of all young adults – people between the ages of 18 and 29 – are on Instagram. Given this rapid growth, the service is quickly becoming a social phenomenon that today’s business owner can’t afford to ignore.

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Marissa enjoys social media management and digital platform integrations.