June 24, 2013

Instagram has received lots of press in the last week and you may be thinking about starting an account now. Or maybe you realize that this is the next platform that you should be using to market your business. With both photo and video capabilities, this is a great tool to get exposure for your brand. But, if you don't have an account yet, you're probably wondering how to get started.

Well then, here's your step-by-step guide! I'll list out the things you need to do to get started on Instagram. But I'm going to give you a little more than just that. I'm going to help you understand how to set up an account for successful marketing.

1. Get the App

Instagram is a mobile device app. You can't do it on your computer, you need to use your mobile device. So, head over to the App Store or Google Play and download the Instagram app. Don't worry, it's free.

2. Register Your Account

Once you open the app after downloading, you'll be prompted to Register or Sign In. If this is your first time, you'll need to Register. Select this option and fill in your username and enter a password. When you type in your username, the icon will turn green or red. If it turns green, you are good to go. If it turns red, someone else is using that username and you'll need to choose something else.

*Tip for Success: Use a consistent username! Use something that your audience, customers, and fans will recognize. You can even use the same name you use as your Twitter handle. Instagram doesn't make it very easy to search for people so using a name that your audience recognizes, increases your chances of having them follow you. Avoid using weird or jumbled variations of your name - these will make you hard to find.

Click on the "Photo" box to upload a photo. You can choose to import a photo from Facebook, take a photo, or import a photo from your phone library. I recommend you use the same profile photo that you use on other sites. Again, you want to make it easy for your fans to find you and recognize you. People love consistency!

Fill in your profile info, including your name, email, and phone number (the phone number is optional). You can fill these in manually or you can choose to auto-fill this information based on your Facebook profile.

*Tip for Success: If you are using Instagram for your business profile, I recommend filling in this information manually. If you choose to auto-fill from Facebook, it will enter your personal information which may confuse your audience if they recognize you by a company name. Use your real name or your business name (however you would like to be recognized). This is the name that will appear beneath your username in the bio and searches, etc.

Once you've filled in these fields, click Register.

3. Find Friends

Instagram is going to try to help you find friends already on Instagram. You will be prompted to find your Facebook friends that are already registered. You can also choose to skip this step. But, if you want to do this, go ahead and click on the Facebook friends button. Before you can proceed, a pop-up will come up asking you if you want to share your likes on Facebook. Choose "yes" at your own risk! By saying yes, every photo you like, every photo you post on Instagram will show up in your Facebook feed. To save another long-winded explanation, please read this previous post about why I highly recommend you do not link your sites.

All of your Facebook friends on Instagram will appear with little buttons to follow them. Go through the list and follow anyone you would like to. Then click "Next" when you've finished.

Instagram will then offer you the option to find friends from your contacts. In order to do this, you'll need to give Instagram authorization to send address book information to their servers (using a secure connection). Depending on your confidence and interest in privacy, you can choose to allow this, or you can skip this step.

And since you haven't likely found enough people to connect with just yet, Instagram is now going to suggest users for you to follow. You can scroll through this list and follow any of these people you would like.

*Tip for Success: Following suggested users has pros and cons. Following these highly active accounts will provide you with great examples of what works well on Instagram and give you ideas of what types of photos and hashtags to use. However, chances are that these users will not follow you back nor will they genuinely interact with you. Depending on your strategy for Instagram, these users may or may not benefit you. Just so you know, I did choose to follow some of these accounts when I started (for educational purposes) but then I later unfollowed them and chose to focus my feed and attention on relevant connections.

4. Edit Your Profile

Now that you're registered, you need to fill in your profile info and set up your settings. Click on the right-most icon along the bottom of your screen (it looks like a business card or contact card). Your profile will show you how many posts (photos and videos) you have shared, the number of followers you have, and the number of people you are following. Just beneath these stats is an arrow to Edit Your Profile. Click this field to complete your profile information.

Fill in your business website URL. Enter a short bio describing you or your business. Try to keep this information consistent with what you use on other sites. You have 150 characters to tell the world who you are, so make it good!

*Tip for Success: Much like other sites, include some personality in your bio. Don't make it too stuffy or boring. Tell them who you are, what you do, and what makes you "you".

You also have the ability to make your posts private on this screen. You'll see a little box (currently NOT checked) which means your posts are public. I highly recommend you leave this unchecked! Just like on Twitter, if you are using this for business or marketing, you will alienate and discourage followers if you lock your photos to private.

Make sure you click "Save" after making all of your edits.

5. Set Your Sharing Settings

Again, Instagram really wants you to connect everything to Facebook. Even if you chose to not connect with Facebook during the select friends section, you are still connected to Facebook. Sneaky, I know! So you need to take one more step if you don't want to spam Facebook with every photo and like you put on Instagram. Click on the 3 little dots in the upper right of your screen (on your profile screen) then click "Sharing Settings". You'll notice that Facebook is checked. If you chose to not share likes from the friends stage, you'll notice that the "Likes" box is unchecked, but that your photos are set to share to your Facebook timeline. In order to remove this function (if you so choose), go back to the previous page and uncheck the Facebook box. You'll receive a pop-up to confirm that you want to unlink these accounts.

If, on the contrary, you want to leave Facebook connected and want to connect other accounts, go ahead and check any of the other sites you would like to connect, and leave Facebook checked.

6. Take Some Photos (and Videos)!

This is the whole reason you're here, right? So, start taking photos! You have two options for taking photos.

First, if you want to take photos directly in Instagram, click on the large camera icon in the center of the bottom tool bar. Then make sure that you have the blue camera icon selected - this is to take photos. Or you can click on the video icon to the right to take videos. The advantage to taking photos directly from Instagram is that your field of view is set to the square size allowed for Instagram photos. This ensures that you keep your objects of focus within the field of the photo.

Secondly, if you want to take photos using your regular camera function, you can do this. After you have taken the photo, you just need to choose to share it to Instagram. The advantage to taking photos from your camera is that you have more editability within your camera features. Just remember, that your Instagram photo will be a square and you won't capture everything in your regular photo.

After you've taken your photo, you are ready to add filters and a description before uploading. For more information on taking great Instagram photos, check out this post with helpful advice.

I hope this gets you started successfully on Instagram and that you enjoy it as much as I do! And now that you've joined the party, I invite you to follow me at jennherman31!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Jenn, Instagram is definitely one of my next stops in working my craft on.

    Images and videos are well liked by myself, and love to create them.


    Samuel from Internet Dreams

    1. I’m so glad to hear to plan to get active on Instagram, Samuel. If you genuinely love photos and videos already, you are really going to enjoy Instagram! Just a warning, it gets pretty addicting 😉 Have fun with it!

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