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How to Use Instagram: A Beginner's Guide

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How to Use Instagram: A Beginner's Guide

Over the past few years, Instagram has seen exponential growth — from one million users at its inception to over one billion in 2022.

If you’re interested in getting an Instagram account, or just created one but aren’t sure how to use it, you’re in luck. Here, we’re going to cover all the basics, so you can learn why Instagram is the top social media platform for engagement today.

It’s hard to remember a time before Instagram. At one time, “Do it for the ‘gram” was a common saying, which meant, essentially, “Do something so we can take a picture and post it to Instagram.”

Since then, Instagram has placed a larger and heavier emphasis on video. So you no longer hear the phrase “Do it for the ‘gram.” I bet, though, that a second version of the phrase will soon follow. (Maybe “Do it for reel?”)

If you’re not part of the one billion users on Instagram, you might want to reconsider. The app is a great chance to engage with top brands and stay a part of friends’ lives. When I want to see how my college friends are doing, I don’t check Facebook, I check Instagram. Plus, you can follow your favorite celebrities or political figures to see candid photos of their everyday lives.

Additionally, it’s a phenomenal platform for investigating what other brands are doing — for instance, Nike uses the Instagram Stories’ feature to promote inspirational athlete stories you won’t find anywhere else.

If you’re ready to sign up for Instagram, follow these steps below:

  • Go to the Instagram site on your desktop, or download the Instagram app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play Store (Android).
  • If you’re on desktop, click “Log in with Facebook”, or fill in the form with your mobile number or email, name, username, and password. Then click “Sign up”.
  • On Android, click “Sign Up With Email or Phone Number”.
  • On iPhone, select “Sign Up”.
  • Enter your email address or phone number, then click “Next”. Alternatively, you can sign up with your Facebook account.
  • Once you’ve filled out your username and password, you will be instructed to fill out your profile info. Then, tap “Done”.
  • If you register with Facebook, you’ll need to log into your Facebook account if you’re currently logged out.

How Do Instagram Notifications Work?

When your account is created, you’ll want to adjust your notifications so you only receive the information you want. For instance, you can choose to receive notifications when you get likes from everyone — but, alternatively, you might decide to only receive notifications when you get a like from someone you follow. Or, you might turn off notifications for likes altogether.

You can adjust notifications to “Off”, “From People I Follow”, or “From Everyone”, for the following categories — Comments, Comment Likes, Likes and Comments on Photos of You, Follower Requests, Accepted Follow Requests, Friends on Instagram, Instagram Direct, Photos of You, Reminders, First Posts and Stories, Product Announcements, View Counts, Support Requests, Live Videos, Mentions in Bio, IGTV Video Updates, and Video Chats.

If you’re overwhelmed by that list, I get it — I am, too. If you’re unsure what notifications you want to receive, you might start with your notifications on “From Everyone”, and if certain notifications begin to annoy you, you can turn them off later.

To customize which notifications you receive, follow these steps:

1. Open up the Instagram app on your phone.

First up, open up the Instagram app on your mobile device. You can also access Instagram on desktop if you prefer. Then, head to your profile by clicking the image of your profile picture on the bottom right.

how to change instagram notification settings: access profile

2. Access “Settings.”

After you arrive at your profile, click the hamburger menu on the top right-hand corner.

how to change instagram notification settings: access settings

A popup menu will appear. Tap “Settings.”

how to change instagram notification settings: tap settings

3. Tap “Notifications.”

On the next screen, click “Notifications.” 

how to change instagram notification settings: enter notifications settings

There, you’ll be able to change the notification settings depending on category. These categories include:

  • Posts, Stories, and Comments
  • Following and Followers
  • Direct Messages and Calls
  • Live and Video
  • Fundraisers
  • From Instagram
  • Email and SMS
  • Shopping

how to change instagram notification settings: view all notification categories

You also have the ability to pause all notifications by toggling the Pause All option up top.

4. Check off the notifications you want to receive.

Access each category individually and choose the notifications you want to receive. Here are the options, for example, for “Posts, Stories, and Comments”:

how to change instagram notification settings: toggle notification settings

The options will vary depending on category.

And that’s it! Next, let’s explore how to connect your other social media accounts to your Instagram, so when you post an image to Instagram, you can share it with your other online audiences, as well.

Can you connect to Instagram to other social accounts?

Yes, you can connect Instagram to Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, but it’s no longer done through Settings, as it used to be.

Now, you do it on a per-post basis.

If you want to share a post to other platforms, you navigate to the actual post you want to cross-publish on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter, and then manually share it that way.

Here’s how:

1. Open up the Instagram app.

2. Navigate to your profile.

3. Tap on the post you’d like to cross-post.

4. Click the three dots on the top right-hand corner of the post.

how to link instagram to other social accounts: access post settings

5. On the pop-up menu, click “Share.”

how to link instagram to other social accounts: tap share on the post Note: Don’t click “Share to,” which will give you an option to AirDrop or share the post to your contacts.

6. Toggle the accounts you’d like to share the post to. If you’re not already signed in, you’ll need to do so right within the Instagram app.

how to link instagram to other social accounts: toggle the social accounts

Once you’ve connected your accounts for one post, you can then toggle the sharing options for any new posts without needing to sign in again.

If you connect Instagram to Facebook, you can share your Stories across both accounts. We talk more about how to do that below.

How to Connect Instagram to Facebook

Since Instagram and Facebook are owned by the same company, Meta, you can connect the two accounts for a more seamless experience. Connecting your Instagram and Facebook accounts allows you to:

  • Share Stories across both Instagram and Facebook
  • Login with Facebook into Instagram
  • Sync your profile name and picture across both profiles
  • Use Facebook Pay on both platforms
  • Access your shopping activity on both accounts

If you’re a frequent Facebook user, then connecting your account to your new Instagram profile is highly recommended. Here’s how:

1. Open up your Instagram app.

2. Click on your profile picture on the bottom right-hand corner.

3. Click the hamburger menu on the top right-hand corner.

4. Tap “Settings.”

5. Under the Meta logo, tap “Accounts Center.”

how to connect facebook to instagram: tap account center in settings

6. Tap “Set up Accounts Center.”

how to connect facebook to instagram: click set up accounts center

7. Follow the prompts to log in into Facebook.

Done! Your two accounts are now connected. Here’s how it’ll look like once you’re finished: 

how to connect facebook to instagram: final result

In the next section, I’ll show you when a linked account comes in handy.

Upload, Edit, and Post an Image

Now, for the most important part of Instagram — how to upload and post an image.

Instagram is an entirely visual platform. Unlike Facebook, which relies on both text and pictures, or Twitter, which relies on text alone, Instagram’s sole purpose is to enable users to share images or videos with their audience.

On Facebook, you might choose to post 100 photos on an album. On Instagram, you need to be choosier about which photos you post. There are a few reasons for this — first, you don’t want to post more than once a day (typically). And you don’t want to post too many similar photos.

For instance, it would be odd for you to post fifty photos from the same beach vacation on your Instagram profile. Instead, you might choose five or six, and place them all within the same post.

(These are called carousel posts, and they allow you to share multiple photos in one post only. Carousel posts are awesome for posting similar pictures in one package while keeping your overall profile aesthetic diverse.)

Curious about creating an aesthetic? To learn more about Instagram account themes and get inspiration, take a look at these Instagram themes. Additionally, if you want to embark on a deep-dive, you can take HubSpot’s Instagram Marketing Course.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s explore how to upload, edit, and post an image.

1. Click the “+” icon at the top-right hand corner.

When you tap the “+” icon, you’ll be prompted to choose the type of post you want to share. Since we want to publish a post directly on our profile feed, tap “Post.”

how to upload an image to instagram: click the plus button

2. Choose your media file.

Here, you have three options. You can look through your Photos library on your phone, you can take a new picture from right within Instagram, or you can take a new video. For our purposes, I looked through my Photos library and found a picture of Boston I wanted to use. Then, I clicked “Next” in the top right.

how to upload an image to instagram: choose media

3. Add filters if desired.

There are two categories you can use to edit your image — “Filter” and “Edit”. Instagram automatically shows you filters first. You can scroll through the carousel and click any of the filters to apply it to your image.

Additionally, if you want to use a filter but you want to tone it down, double tap the filter and move the cursor to the left to lessen the intensity of the filter.

how to upload an image to instagram: add filters

4. Edit your image if desired.

Next, click “Edit”. Here, you can adjust contrast, brightness, structure, warmth, and more. When you’re happy with your edited image, or if you don’t want to edit it at all, click “Next” in the top right.

how to upload an image to instagram: edit image

5. Write a caption and toggle sharing settings.

Now, you can add a caption, tag people (you can only tag someone if they also have an Instagram account), and add a location. Additionally, click the button beside Facebook or another linked social media account to share your image on that platform, as well. When you’re ready to publish, click “Share” in the top right.

how to upload an image to instagram: add caption

If you don’t want to use your app to post on Instagram, you can also do so from your computer. Learn how to post to Instagram from a Mac or PC here.

Upload an Image or Video to Your Stories

Instagram Stories is a feature that allows you to post videos or images that disappear after 24-hours. Instagram’s Stories feature is similar to Snapchat in terms of content — users often post more casual and candid videos and images, offering glimpses into their every day lives.

For instance, on your normal feed, you might post a heavily-edited picture of yourself and friends at a baseball game. But you might post a more candid video to your Story of the stadium singing “Sweet Caroline”.

To learn how to upload an image or video to your Stories, follow these steps:

1. Tap your profile picture in the upper left-hand corner.

Alternatively, swipe right on your feed or tap the “+” button in the top navigation bar.

how to upload a story to instagram: access the story camera

2. Capture or add your media.

Once you’re within the Stories feature, you can take a picture or video right from within the app. Alternatively, if you have an image saved to your phone that you’d like to use, you can choose it from your media library.

how to upload a story to instagram: capture media

3. Add stickers or filters.

On the left-hand side, you have a few different editing features.

The “Create” button lets you add a location, hashtag, time, date, and other fun images or emojis to your picture.

how to upload a story to instagram: add stickers and filters

The “Boomerang” option allows you to create a looping video. And the “Aa” icon is your text button. Once you click “Aa”, you have the option to change your font.

If you click the smiley face icon, you’ll see the following screen. Simply click on one of the icons to add them to your image. If you don’t like it, drag it to the bottom, and a trash can will appear so you can delete it.

how to upload a story to instagram: add poll

For instance, I clicked the smiley face icon to add a poll to my image. You can also swipe to the left or right to add filters to your photo or video.

4. Publish your Story.

Once you’re happy with your content, you can either click the white arrow icon in the bottom right, which allows you to share your Story with everyone who follows you, or select “Close Friends” first, so that only your close friends see it.

Then you’re done! Your Story is immediately live.

How to Follow on Instagram

It’s incredibly easy to find and follow users. Using Instagram’s search feature, you can find celebrities, brands, and friends. Additionally, you can search “Tags” or “Places”. “Tags” is particularly useful if you know what type of content you want to find, but you’re not sure who posts about it.

For instance, you might search “#familyrecipes” under tags — your results will include any images with that hashtag. As you peruse, you might find someone who posts content you really like, and you can choose to follow them so their content appears on your feed.

To follow someone, follow these three easy steps.

1. Click on the search icon at the bottom of your screen.

It looks like a magnifying glass and will be right next to the “Home” button.

how to follow on instagram: click the search icon

2. Next, type in a person, topic, or brand.

For this example, I searched “architecture.”

how to follow on instagram: view results

Instagram allows you to either search all posts that contain the word “architecture,” or “See all results” and see tags and places.

how to follow on instagram: browse through the results

3. Tap the account you’re interested in following.

Once you’re on someone else’s account, you’ll see a blue “Follow” button at the top. For public profiles, you can click and immediately begin following that account. However, if the profile is private, you may need to wait for them to accept you first.

how to follow on instagram: follow an account you like

And that’s it! You’re on your way to becoming a pro. To take your account to the next level, plan out your next posts using an array of content ideas and templates.

Using Instagram is Key for Growing Your Personal Brand

If you want to grow both professionally and personally, then using Instagram is more important than ever. You can start by observing first, then begin posting as you learn your way around the user interface. With over one billion users, Instagram is an extremely worthwhile social media platform to join — and it’s only set to keep growing as time goes on.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

Creating content isn’t always a walk in the park. (In fact, it can sometimes feel more like trying to swim against the current.)

While other parts of business and marketing are becoming increasingly automated, content creation is still a very manual job. (more…)

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

Are data clean rooms the solution to what IAB CEO David Cohen has called the “slow-motion train wreck” of addressability? Voices at the IAB will tell you that they have a big role to play.

“The issue with addressability is that once cookies go away, and with the loss of identifiers, about 80% of the addressable market will become unknown audiences which is why there is a need for privacy-centric consent and a better consent-value exchange,” said Jeffrey Bustos, VP, measurement, addressability and data at the IAB.

“Everyone’s talking about first-party data, and it is very valuable,” he explained, “but most publishers who don’t have sign-on, they have about 3 to 10% of their readership’s first-party data.” First-party data, from the perspective of advertisers who want to reach relevant and audiences, and publishers who want to offer valuable inventory, just isn’t enough.

Why we care. Two years ago, who was talking about data clean rooms? The surge of interest is recent and significant, according to the IAB. DCRs have the potential, at least, to keep brands in touch with their audiences on the open internet; to maintain viability for publishers’ inventories; and to provide sophisticated measurement capabilities.

How data clean rooms can help. DCRs are a type of privacy-enhancing technology that allows data owners (including brands and publishers) to share customer first-party data in a privacy-compliant way. Clean rooms are secure spaces where first-party data from a number of sources can be resolved to the same customer’s profile while that profile remains anonymized.

In other words, a DCR is a kind of Switzerland — a space where a truce is called on competition while first-party data is enriched without compromising privacy.

“The value of a data clean room is that a publisher is able to collaborate with a brand across both their data sources and the brand is able to understand audience behavior,” said Bestos. For example, a brand selling eye-glasses might know nothing about their customers except basic transactional data — and that they wear glasses. Matching profiles with a publisher’s behavioral data provides enrichment.

“If you’re able to understand behavioral context, you’re able to understand what your customers are reading, what they’re interested in, what their hobbies are,” said Bustos. Armed with those insights, a brand has a better idea of what kind of content they want to advertise against.

The publisher does need to have a certain level of first-party data for the matching to take place, even if it doesn’t have a universal requirement for sign-ins like The New York Times. A publisher may be able to match only a small percentage of the eye-glass vendor’s customers, but if they like reading the sports and arts sections, at least that gives some directional guidance as to what audience the vendor should target.

Dig deeper: Why we care about data clean rooms

What counts as good matching? In its “State of Data 2023” report, which focuses almost exclusively on data clean rooms, concern is expressed that DCR efficacy might be threatened by poor match rates. Average match rates hover around 50% (less for some types of DCR).

Bustos is keen to put this into context. “When you are matching data from a cookie perspective, match rates are usually about 70-ish percent,” he said, so 50% isn’t terrible, although there’s room for improvement.

One obstacle is a persistent lack of interoperability between identity solutions — although it does exist; LiveRamp’s RampID is interoperable, for example, with The Trade Desk’s UID2.

Nevertheless, said Bustos, “it’s incredibly difficult for publishers. They have a bunch of identity pixels firing for all these different things. You don’t know which identity provider to use. Definitely a long road ahead to make sure there’s interoperability.”

Maintaining an open internet. If DCRs can contribute to solving the addressability problem they will also contribute to the challenge of keeping the internet open. Walled gardens like Facebook do have rich troves of first-party and behavioral data; brands can access those audiences, but with very limited visibility into them.

“The reason CTV is a really valuable proposition for advertisers is that you are able to identify the user 1:1 which is really powerful,” Bustos said. “Your standard news or editorial publisher doesn’t have that. I mean, the New York Times has moved to that and it’s been incredibly successful for them.” In order to compete with the walled gardens and streaming services, publishers need to offer some degree of addressability — and without relying on cookies.

But DCRs are a heavy lift. Data maturity is an important qualification for getting the most out of a DCR. The IAB report shows that, of the brands evaluating or using DCRs, over 70% have other data-related technologies like CDPs and DMPs.

“If you want a data clean room,” Bustos explained, “there are a lot of other technological solutions you have to have in place before. You need to make sure you have strong data assets.” He also recommends starting out by asking what you want to achieve, not what technology would be nice to have. “The first question is, what do you want to accomplish? You may not need a DCR. ‘I want to do this,’ then see what tools would get you to that.”

Understand also that implementation is going to require talent. “It is a demanding project in terms of the set-up,” said Bustos, “and there’s been significant growth in consulting companies and agencies helping set up these data clean rooms. You do need a lot of people, so it’s more efficient to hire outside help for the set up, and then just have a maintenance crew in-house.”

Underuse of measurement capabilities. One key finding in the IAB’s research is that DCR users are exploiting the audience matching capabilities much more than realizing the potential for measurement and attribution. “You need very strong data scientists and engineers to build advanced models,” Bustos said.

“A lot of brands that look into this say, ‘I want to be able to do a predictive analysis of my high lifetime value customers that are going to buy in the next 90 days.’ Or ‘I want to be able to measure which channels are driving the most incremental lift.’ It’s very complex analyses they want to do; but they don’t really have a reason as to why. What is the point? Understand your outcome and develop a sequential data strategy.”

Trying to understand incremental lift from your marketing can take a long time, he warned. “But you can easily do a reach and frequency and overlap analysis.” That will identify wasted investment in channels and as a by-product suggest where incremental lift is occurring. “There’s a need for companies to know what they want, identify what the outcome is, and then there are steps that are going to get you there. That’s also going to help to prove out ROI.”

Dig deeper: Failure to get the most out of data clean rooms is costing marketers money


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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

At this stage, your goal is to generate repeat buys and real profits. While your entry-point offer was designed for conversions, your ascension offers should be geared for profits—because if you’re serving your customers well, they’ll want to buy again and again.

Ascension offers may be simple upsells made after that initial purchase… bigger, better solutions… or “done for you” add-ons.

So now we must ask ourselves, what is our core flagship offer and how do we continue to deliver value after the first sale is made? What is the thing that we are selling? 

How we continue to deliver value after the first sale is really important, because having upsells and cross sales gives you the ability to sell to customers you already have. It will give you higher Average Customer values, which is going to give you higher margins. Which means you can spend more to acquire new customers. 

Why does this matter? It matters because of this universal law of marketing and customer acquisition, he or she who is able and willing to spend the most to acquire a customer wins.

Very often the business with the best product messaging very often is the business that can throw the most into customer acquisition. Now there are two ways to do that.

The first way is to just raise a lot of money. The problem is if you have a lot of money, that doesn’t last forever. At some point you need economics. 

The second way, and the most timeless and predictable approach, is to simply have the highest value customers of anyone in your market. If your customers are worth more to you than they are to your competitors, you can spend more to acquire them at the same margin. 

If a customer is worth twice as much to you than it is to your competitor, you can spend twice as much trying to acquire them to make the same margin. You can invest in your customer acquisition, because your customers are investing in your business. You can invest in your customer experiences, and when we invest more into the customer we build brands that have greater value. Meaning, people are more likely to choose you over someone else, which can actually lower acquisition costs. 

Happy customers refer others to us, which is called zero dollar customer acquisition, and generally just ensures you’re making a bigger impact. You can invest more in the customer experience and customer acquisition process if you don’t have high margins. 

If you deliver a preview experience, you can utilize revenue maximizers like up sells, cross sales, and bundles. These are things that would follow up the initial sale or are combined with the initial sale to increase the Average Customer Value.

The best example of an immediate upsell is the classic McDonalds, “would you like fries with that?” You got just a burger, do you also want fries with that? 

What distinguishes an upsell from other types of follow up offers is the upsell promise, the same end result for a bigger and better end result. 

What’s your desired result when you go to McDonalds? It’s not to eat healthy food, and it’s not even to eat a small amount of food. When you go to McDonalds your job is to have a tasty, greasy, predictable inexpensive meal. No one is going there because it’s healthy, you’re going there because you want to eat good. 

It’s predictable. It’s not going to break the bank for a hamburger, neither will adding fries or a Coke. It’s the same experience, but it’s BIGGER and BETTER. 

Amazon does this all of the time with their “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought …” But this one is algorithmic. The point of a cross sell is that it is relevant to the consumer, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be aligned with the original purchase. What you don’t want to do is start someone down one path and confuse them.

You can make this process easy with Bundles and Kits. With a bundle or a kit you’re essentially saying to someone, “you can buy just one piece, or you can get this bundle that does all of these other things for a little bit more. And it’s a higher value.”

The idea behind bundles and kits is that we are adding to the primary offer, not offering them something different. We’re simply promising to get them this desired result in higher definition. 

The Elements of High-Converting Revenue Maximizers (like our bundles and kits) are:

  1. Speed

If you’re an e-Commerce business, selling a physical product, this can look like: offering free shipping for orders $X or more. We’re looking to get your customers the same desired result, but with less work for them.

  1. Automation

If you’re a furniture business, and you want to add a Revenue Maximizer, this can look like: Right now for an extra $X our highly trained employees will come and put this together for you. 

  1. Access 

People will pay for speed, they’ll pay for less work, but they will also pay for a look behind the curtain. Think about the people who pay for Backstage Passes. Your customers will pay for a VIP experience just so they can kind of see how everything works. 

Remember, the ascension stage doesn’t have to stop. Once you have a customer, you should do your best to make them a customer for life. You should continue serving them. Continue asking them, “what needs are we still not meeting” and seek to meet those needs. 

It is your job as a marketer to seek out to discover these needs, to bring these back to the product team, because that’s what’s going to enable you to fully maximize the average customer value. Which is going to enable you to have a whole lot more to spend to acquire those customers and make your job a whole lot easier. 

Now that you understand the importance of the ascend stage, let’s apply it to our examples.

Hazel & Hem could have free priority shipping over $150, a “Boutique Points” reward program with exclusive “double point” days to encourage spending, and an exclusive “Stylist Package” that includes a full outfit custom selected for the customer. 

Cyrus & Clark can retain current clients by offering an annual strategic plan, “Done for You” Marketing services that execute on the strategic plan, and the top tier would allow customers to be the exclusive company that Cyrus & Clark services in specific geographical territories.



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