What Is Instagram?

April 18, 2017 Online Marketing

Instagram is a free app for smartphones that allows people to share photos in real-time with friends, family and the world.

The story of Instagram kind of reminds me of Twitter.

Facebook came on strong around 2007 or so.

Then Twitter came on strong around 2008-2009. But on the surface, Twitter was really just one of the functions that Facebook offered. A feed of text updates.

Facebook had that and more, but Twitter tweaked a few things and it caught on.

Instagram was a photo sharing feed. The founders launched it in 2010, well after Facebook had already become the biggest photo sharing site on the Internet.

But Instagram tweaked a few things, offered cool little filters and it caught on.

So it’s an interesting background, but let’s get into what Instagram is and how you can use it.

Instagram: The Basics

Like most social networks or social apps, Instagram has the usual feed.

Feeds have obviously been around for a long time in various forms.

Stock tickers. Sports tickers. All kinds of information has been released in feed form. Even blogs are feeds.

But social networks and apps kind of streamlined things, honed in on specific types of content and allowed people to consume a lot of information in a short amount of time. Or they could stay and dive in if they wanted to.

Instagram did that with photos.

Users could follow people: friends, family, strangers, etc. And anytime those people posted a photo their followers could view it, like it and comment on it.

Pretty simply.

I remember stories during the time when Facebook was really taking off that their costs were getting high with having to store all kinds of photos. I know they limited the size of photos at one point. I think they would automatically shrink or condense photos without users even realizing it.

Instagram probably did the same thing. That was the only way to store so many photos on their servers. I’m sure they’re still doing it.

And it also kind of made it not make sense to save photos from Instagram. They weren’t really that high quality so why download them?

So users had to go back to Instagram if they wanted to see something again.

The Filters

Now, posting photos was pretty cool.

But was that enough to dig into Facebook’s turf more than a little bit?

Instagram brought something else to the table and that was their filters.

It was kind of hokey, but it was fun. Users could upload pics to the app and choose from about two dozen filters. I remember the popular ones were the old style ones. Like a Kodak from the ’70s.

You could make your modern day pic look like something from your parents’ generation.

It was a gimmick, but it was fun. SnapChat has taken it to new levels today.

And it was something that Facebook didn’t really offer.

Hashtags, Tagging, Video, Stories & More

Instagram would go on to allow users to use Hashtags. This gave people a way to see more feeds. They could see something like a pic of a sunset. If that person used the sunset hashtag they could see everyone that was using that hashtag.

Users could also tag their friends. They could also tag their location when they took a photo.

Later video would come into the frame. And so to would Stories, which allowed users to create a short series of videos and photos very similar to Snapchat.

Instagram has added these features and more over the years, but it never felt like they went overboard with things. What people really seemed to like was the simplicity.

It’s easy to snap a pic with your phone and upload to Instagram. Maybe add a filter and a few hashtags.

And if you’re really eager you could take a few minutes to create a story or even a video.

Instagram Tips

We’ve written about a few in the past.

From this post:

  • Share lots of photos
  • Fun & Work-related pics
  • Partner with other users

From another post:

  • Have a key follower in mind
  • Build on what your competitors are doing
  • Build a daily posting routine

It’s also important to use hashtags. Here are some for:

My biggest takeaway from that would be to know your target audience. You want to share what they want to see. You can do a little research and see who the big Instagrammers are in your industry. Maybe a competitor. See what their most popular pics are.

You can build on those ideas and add in some of your own. Also make sure to use hashtags relevant to your type of business and industry. Things your followers would follow.

And finally, build a regular routine with Instagram. As with anything in life, routine will lead to success.