Instagram Basics You’ll Want to Know

Instagram basics

Are you just getting started into the Instagram world and need a little help? It can be overwhelming to a newbie. Or maybe you have used it for a personal account, but want to figure out how to use it for your business. Wherever you are at in your Instagram journey, here are some basic Instagram insights that will make your business brand soar!

Instagram Basics to Help Your Business Soar


When signing up for an Instagram account, the first thing you will need to do is set up your portfolio. Some brands choose to have multiple accounts for their business so that they can focus their attention in a specific niche of their business. For example, if you are a web design company, but you also do ghost writing, blogging, and social media tips, it could be helpful to zone into one of those niches for a specific account.

Sue Zimmerman @suebzimmermanA great example of this is Sue Zimmerman, an expert in Instagram. She has six different accounts including a personal account, one for her business shop, and others for her Instagram mentoring businesses. All of these accounts allow her to have the niche and focus for that specific page.

  • Photo: When you set up your portfolio, choose a picture that will match up with your other social media sites. It’s a small frame, so make sure your followers will be able to see your brand or photo.
  • Username: You will want to choose a username as close as possible to your company or brand name. If it is taken, try different workarounds. For example: If Melissa Hyder is taken, you can try adding a middle initial like Melissa J Hyder.
  • Description: Write a brief description of who you are and what you do. You have 120 characters to express this point. Be specific. The most successful brands have a specific niche. Express what you believe your niche will be.
  • Website: Instagram allows you to put in one website address that is directly hyperlinked. Where is it that you want to direct your followers? This can be changed at any time. For example, if you are a t-shirt company and you are featuring a specific shirt on your page, you can change your link to directly go to that page on your site. You can direct people to your blog, your website, another Instagram account, etc.
  • Private or Public: For the most part, if you want to gain exposure and engagement, you will want to make your profile public. However, if you notice that you are getting followers that are not “quality” followers it may be helpful to change your settings to private.


@unlockhope exampleComing up with a strategy for posting can help you feel confident about your business’ marketing direction with Instagram. Ask yourself, how often do you plan to post, what are you planning on posting, and who are you trying to attract? It can feel discouraging when you don’t know what to post. Here are a few options.

  • Inspirational quotes. Everyone loves to have a little encouragement in their lives. You can create your own photo by using some helpful apps.
  • Personalize it. Post pictures of yourself doing your work. If you are a web designer, show us at your work space. Take us into your world of editing and graphic design. If you are an owner of a boutique, show yourself interacting with your customers.
  • Photos of your work/product: Followers want to see your product in action. If you are an owner of a bike shop, show us people riding your bikes.
  • Inspire your followers: If you have followers that are tagging you in their photos, ask permission to use that. For example, @unlockhope does a great job of this. They inspire their followers to promote and advertise for them. They have a weekly contest that inspires their followers to tag themselves, and they are then able to use those photos to show off their product.
  • And if you are really stuck: repost. There are repost apps that you can download that help you accomplish this. It’s important that when you are reposting, that you have permission, and you make sure to give that person a shout out.


@pegfitzpatrick exampleBeing able to understand and use hashtags will transform your exposure on Instagram. A hashtag is when you use the number symbol, “#” before a word or phrase. In so doing, it creates a hyperlink to that specific phrase. When navigating Instagram you will notice that there are two main ways to search: hashtags, and usernames.

For any given post, Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags. That doesn’t mean you use them all, but being strategic about your hashtags is important. You can create your own hashtag page that you consistently use. Creating and using hashtags it will then put your picture at the top of that page for all to see when searched.

Peg Fitzpatrick, @pegfitzpatrick, co-author of The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, featured Sue Zimmerman in a great Google chat called, Instagram 101: 7 Keys Steps to Instagram Success. In the discussion, she shares a great tip for saving her hashtags to allow her to stay consistent. She uses Evernote to save groups of hashtags by topic to use across your devices or Notes on an iPhone so she can cut and paste them in groups of six. She goes on to share that she encourages adding hashtags in the actual post and also in the comments.


Whether you have 100 followers, 1000 followers, or 10,000 followers, you want quality engagement. What engagement looks like includes likes, comments, and in the end, sales and profit. It’s important to not spam other people by saying “Likes for likes” or “follow” for “follow.” You want true active people who are interested in your product and your company. This goes also for buying followers. This can really hurt your business and cut way down on your engagement.

It’s important to be active and engage on other peoples pages as well. You can do this by giving other business, “shout outs” or commenting on their pages with meaningful thoughts, or even direct messaging others. This is a social media site and making sure you have meaningful social interactions will help sustain, legitimize, and attract others to your brand.

Take Away

Starting up on Instagram can feel intimidating and overwhelming, but many businesses are seeing incredible results. They are seeing their photos not just turn into engagement, but profit. I would love to hear your thoughts. What have you seen work for your business? What tip did you find most helpful? Share your Instagram page below so we can check it out!

Melissa Hyder is an author at R & R Web Design LLC. She is a graduate of Cornerstone University with a degree in English Education. Melissa is passionate about using social media to help others make a difference in their community and their world. She is also a speaker and an advocate for vulnerable communities around the world.

11 comments on “Instagram Basics You’ll Want to Know
  1. Melissa, GREAT blog article chocked full of useful tips. As someone who’s just getting into Instagram I’m hanging on every word.

    IF you are looking for subject matter for other blogs, I would love suggestions on how to handle multiple IG accounts (it’s challenging logging in and out of each one to use the next one). Also, how to track analytics and how to actually see who’s following you and not just a number. Maybe these are pipe dreams and aren’t possible yet I hope they are.

    Good stuff! Keep it coming!!!

    • Melissa Hyder says:

      Heidi! Thank you for always being so encouraging! Thank you for the suggestions and I am always up for a challenge :)! I will get on that one.

  2. Thanks for including me in your article – great tips!

  3. Cindy Braid says:

    I did not know that I can change my website link when need be. I am running a 1 item a day sale and wondered how to get my followers to get to the page easily. Just changed it now. Thank you Melissa!! 🙂

    • Melissa Hyder says:

      Oh, so glad to hear Cindy! That feature was one I was most attracted to at first with Instagram. Thanks for sharing! ~ Melissa

  4. Thanks so much for sharing my Bio and Post…I love that you got my #Passion post in there…great job!

    • Melissa Hyder says:

      Thanks Sue and thanks for your expertise! I have really appreciated all your great information you have put out there for Instagram. ~ Melissa

  5. Sue B says:

    You can use Schedugram to manage multiple accounts and Iconosquare to track your analytics. I teach all this and so much more in my on line Instagram for Business course call Insta-Results. 🙂

  6. Elly says:

    I will be starting on Instagram very soon, so this article was extremely helpful, thank you so much.

    • Melissa Hyder says:

      Thanks Elly, so glad that you found it helpful. Let us know if you have any questions and share how it is going. ~Melissa