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Instagram – What? Why? And How?


What’s Instagram?

It’s a free photo and short video sharing service. You can follow the posts of friends and professionals and make edits on your photos before posting them. Instagram has been owned by Facebook since 2012.

Why would I use it?

You might think that it’s full of teenager selfies and pictures of people’s kids, food and pets. And yes, people do post those picture but there is a lot more to explore. News agencies post breaking news there (the BBC makes good use of short videos for instance); check out travel locations with photos taken by real people; follow your favourite sports person or celebrity. If you are into photography there are some really talented people posting their work.  It’s also helpful to check out bars or restaurants before you visit to see what’s going on there.

If you run a business you might use it to post pictures of your products or your customers using your goods and services.

Your friends and kids are probably on there, follow them to see what they are up to – you don’t even need their permission!

Instagram users have a unique name (a bit like Twitter) so click on these examples to see what they post…

BBC News – @BBCNews
Photographer Matt Scutt – @MattScutt
Usain Bolt – @UsainBolt

British Museum – @BritishMuseum

Or take a look at my posts – @JohnJRoyle

If you see a picture you like just double tap on it. The poster will be notified and you can see how many other people have also liked it.

Use the search window at the top of any of the above to explore for yourself.

How do I get started?

To post pictures you need to download the app from the Apple App Store or from Google Play. It’s free and simple to setup. You’ll need to think of an account name. This can be your name or something else entirely. If it for business it would be good to use your business name.

You can enter a few words about your self and add links in there if you like.


Matt Scut InstagramThe first thing you’ll probably want to do is start following some people. Use the search function to find them by name or topic or location. Then just hit the follow button. They’ll be notified and you’ll be added to their list of followers. You can unfollow at any time. The posts from people you follow will appear in your feed when you open up the app.

Remember to double tap on pictures you like and you can even add a comment if you like.

You can also ‘send’ a picture to one of your friends using the little bent arrow icon.


Now it’s time to dive in and start contributing!

Smartphones contain fantastic cameras and we all have one with us all the time so start shooting and sharing. It couldn’t be easier and you will soon find that your work gets noticed and commented on.

Instagram ButtonsJust tap the centre button (it’s a really simplified camera icon) to call up your phone’s photo gallery and select the picture to post. Then follow the instructions on the screen to edit the picture, add a comment, the location the picture was taken and those all important hash tags.

Hash tags help people find pictures so use then liberally. There are no set rules, you can make them up but make sure you use all the obvious ones (really, if you take a picture of a tree tag it with #tree and #trees at the very least).

I hope you give it a try, if you do, please follow me and I’ll be sure to follow you back and look at your pictures. Good luck!

Lot more info here:
on this Cheat Sheet from May 2015.

Emma adds…

I love John’s Instagram posts. He shares some great pictures of his own. I don’t post many  myself but I do enjoy following the odd celebrity (my not-so-secret vice). It’s amazing what some will share about their personal lives. You often see it first on Instagram. I also love the inspirational food and travel posts by @everydaycurator and I’m a sucker for dogs, any dogs, all dogs,  on Instagram. This platform being photos and few words, it’s easy to flick through for a visual treat without much effort.


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