Instagram is an image-based social media app. It can
be used on all platforms but works best on a mobile device. Users post
images/videos with captions into a stream of data, similar to Twitter. It also
uses hashtags to categorize posts. You can follow a hashtag on Instagram to see
those posts in your stream. The app includes a few ways to post videos or to
share your pictures beyond the infinite list of images on your feed. Stories share
posts, but they have a limited lifespan, about twenty-four hours. Reels are a
new feature on Instagram that shares videos. They last longer, and the video’s lengths
can be greater than those on your story.

How to use Instagram

Sign up for an account. You can connect your Instagram
to other social media through the settings on your profile page (three bars at
the top, then Settings then Share to Other Accounts). Share images and videos
by clicking on the Plus sign on the top of the screen. It will go right to your
photo gallery on your phone. You can also choose to make it a Post, Story,
Reel, or a Live video. For a post, select an image and then “enhance” it. You can shrink
the size with the frame button at the bottom of the page.
Drag the image
around the space to “crop”
or refocus it.
When finished, press the blue arrow at the top of the
screen. Next add a
filter (if you want) to add new lighting, make it black and white, etc. Click
the Edit button on the bottom to change angles, brightness, contrast, and more.
Once completed, press the blue arrow again. Now, write the captions. Use
hashtags to make your post visible to non-followers. If you created a
business/public account, you could turn the post into a fundraiser or a promotion
(using money). You can also share the post to any social media accounts you’ve connected
to your Instagram. Be aware: outside links do NOT work on Instagram posts.

If you are new to Instagram, you will need to follow
others, the same as Twitter. Hopefully, they will follow you back. Click on a
user’s name in your
feed or search for them using the magnifier tool. Once their bio comes up,
click Follow. If you like a person’s posts, click the heart under the picture
or double-click the image. To comment, hit the dialog bubble. If the post is so
amazing you want to share it, hit the paper airplane to add it to your story
(like a retweet). (You can only share public posts, btw.) The little bookmark
lets you save the post. The heart at the top of the page will show you all the
comments and likes for your posts while the dialog bubble on the top of the
page shows your messages.

Instagram has many other features. I could’ve created a full 3-post
session and more for it. If anyone needs more information, let me know in the

Using Instagram as an Author

Because it’s
an image-based app, you can show ads, cover pictures, or inspirational photos
to market your brand and flaunt your books. You can get involved with certain
hashtags like #bookstagram to help with marketing.

still has many younger users. If you are doing YA, New Adult, and
twenty-somethings, you will find many readers there. Instagram is expanding.
Readers can find you through tags, shared Stories, or Reels. Use the app to
show off your own fandoms and find a community.

and find followers by using hashtags. Click on a hash tag to see everyone who’s
used it lately. Follow other authors or influencers who use the tag.

Two things though: Build your bio well and make your
account public (as an author). Public profiles will generate a certain amount
of spam, but you can promote and be shared. It’s worth it. Include all your buy and media links in
your bio because links do not work on posts. Readers will have to cut and paste
links to see them outside the app. Or you can use Linktree in your bio to have
a list of links. (We’ll
do Linktree another week.)

Last, I mentioned the app works well on a phone or
mobile device. I’m a PC
user, and I’ve learned to tweak the app to use on my computer. Not every
feature works. You cannot share other posts to your story, among other things.
BUT you can use it on a PC. Here’s how. Go to and log in. Here you
can view your feed. To add posts, etc., click on the three dots on the top
right side of the webpage in the address bar ribbon. Slide the mouse arrow down
to More Tools then over to Developer Tools and click. A bunch of HTML and web-language
will appear on the right. Ignore it. Now refresh your page. You will now have
the Home, Magnifier, Plus, and Heart buttons. Click the Plus to add posts. Be
aware it’s a little tough to cut and paste. Your cursor might look like a
fuzzy, gray dot and be a little awkward. The point is Instagram is absolutely usable on a PC.

Thanks for looking at Instagram 101. (Thanks to my seventeen-year-old
for her input on this post!)

Next week, let’s take on Pinterest.

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