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How to Post on Instagram: A Step-by-Step Guide

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With over 1 billion active users, Instagram is undoubtedly one of the most far-reaching social media networks you can use for marketing purposes.

Instagram has proven a viable advertising option for businesses today, and shows no signs of slowing down — in fact Instagram ad revenues will exceeded $20 billion in ad revenue in 2019, an exponential increase from 1.86 billion in just three years.

If you’re not already using Instagram for your business, you’re missing out on a ton of opportunity to grow brand awareness and reach a wide audience. Fortunately, adopting an Instagram strategy can be relatively easy with enough time and effort.

However, if you’ve never used the app, you might be daunted by the first question likely to cross your mind — How can I post my first image?

If you’re ready to post an image to Instagram, we’ve got you covered. Here, we’ve cultivated a quick-and-easy guide to posting on Instagram, to ensure you can begin attracting the attention of  your audience with Instagram marketing.

How to Post to Instagram

Posting to Instagram consistently can help businesses find resonance with their audience and grow better, but doing it right is just as important. Here’s how to post to your Instagram account step-by-step.

1. Tap the + icon at the bottom of your screen.

Instagram Post Icon on Home Screen [+]

See that plus sign [+] in the image above? That’s your starting point. See that post from our culture account? That’s your end point. Click that plus sign and you’ll be ready for the next step, below.

2. Choose a photo or video from your library — or shoot one in the app.

Instagram will show you the photos already saved to your phone. Choose one of those to post. Alternatively, you can click “Photo” or “Video” in the bottom to take a photo or video within the Instagram app itself, if you don’t already have an image you want to use.

Once you choose an image, click “Next” in the top right.

Instagram Gallery Photo Picker

3. Crop the image.

You aren’t limited to just a square image on Instagram. You can actually share horizontal or vertical images as well. To get more of your image seen, pinch the screen of the photo you’ve selected on the Library screen.

Cropping Photo on Instagram by Pinching

However, while Instagram does allow vertical and horizontal options, the images still need to fit into some specific dimensions. So, you might still need to crop a tiny bit of your photo to get it to fit.

4. Try a carousel post.

Do you have multiple photos and want to highlight them all? Instagram allows you to do this with its carousel feature.

Instagram "Select Multiple" Feature for Carousel Posts

As you go to tap a photo or video, first tap the icon just above your photos to the right that looks like stacked squares. Once you tap this, you’ll see a number on the corner of every image or video you tap. This number notes where the content will show up in the carousel.

5. Pick a filter.

Instagram offers 24 filters — scroll to the right to peruse your options, and click on one to preview how it will look on your photo. (Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Filters to learn more).

Instagram Filters

6. Edit your photo.

You can also click “Edit” at the bottom right to adjust contrast, brightness, etc.

Instagram Photo Editor

When you’re ready, click “Next” in the top right.

7. Type your caption.

Get creative and write a nice, interesting caption to go with your photo. Since text can help optimize your post in Instagram’s search, writing something can only benefit you.


8. Use hashtags for post optimization.

With Instagram’s search feature, users can search by hashtags. So, you should make sure to write relevant hashtags in your caption. If someone does a search of a hashtag you placed in your caption, they might find your post as well as others that included the same one.

9. Tag friends.

Want your friend or their followers to see a photo that you posted of the two of you? Tag them!

On the post page, you can click “Tag People” to tag other Instagram accounts in your post. Alternatively, you can include their handle (or their username beginning with an @ symbol) in your caption.

10. Add your location.

If you’re on a fun vacation or at a neat event and you don’t feel like including that information in your caption, you can mark where you are in another way. On the post page, tap “Add Location” to put a location on your image (which makes it easier for people to find your post).

When you post an image or video with a location, it will show up between your name and the block of content on the feed.

11. Play with emojis.

Emojis are fun and can make your caption more eye catching. If you know of a few relevant emojis that could fit with your post, stick them in the caption area.

For example, if you’re posting a vacation photo, you could include a beach umbrella or a plane to show you flew somewhere.

Be sure not to go overboard and post emojis just for the sake of posting them. If you post a bowling emoji along with a photo of a beach, that obviously won’t make sense to people. Similarly, if you post 20 emojis that loosely relate to a post, you might just annoy your followers or come off as desperate.

12. Share the post on other social media platforms

Finally, if you want to share your content on your other, connected social media sites (like Facebook or Twitter), simply slide the bar from the left to the right.

When you’re ready to post, click “Share” in the top right.


Instagram Saved Drafts

If you’re not ready to post right away, you can also save it to your Instagram Saved Drafts. Simply go back to the filtering and editing step, tap the back arrow in the top left, and select “Save Draft.”

13. Edit the post.

Typos happen to everyone! If you just posted something and notice a glaring spelling error, don’t panic. Simply tap the three dots that appear on the right across from your name, then tap “Edit.”

Instagram Post Edit Menu

Now that you know how to post to Instagram, you can begin creating content for the platform and connecting with your audience. If you’re a business or brand, you’ll want a solid strategy for earning engagement and awareness. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Adapt Your Content Into an Instagram Story, According to HubSpot Marketers

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If you’re a marketer, at some point, it’s likely you’re going to be asked the question, “Is it on brand?”

This is especially true for social media content. Companies with social media pages generally have a theme that relates to the organization. The use of colors, sensory details, and styling all contribute to the overall theme of a page. I, for one, love thematic Instagrams — they’re so aesthetically pleasing.

When the colors, text, and photos all fit, I find myself going through all the content because it’s so easy to look at — the same is true for Stories.

Sometimes, I come across posts that make me think, “How did this marketer turn a simple content idea into this engaging Instagram Story?” And, as always, curiosity got the best of me. I had a question, and I was ready to search for the answer.

Fortunately, I knew exactly who to look to for help. I wanted to know just how social media marketers choose the right pieces to include in Stories, so I turned to the experts. I asked HubSpot’s marketers this question and compiled their tips.

Let’s see what they had to say.

1. Look for buzzy, trendy content.

When choosing content to add to Instagram Stories, HubSpot Audience Growth Writer Pam Bump, asks herself a question: “Is the content buzz-worthy?

“Trend or buzz-worthy content usually relates to a topic, trend, or piece of research that people in my industry are talking about or sharing on social media,” she says. “If a topic is already being widely discussed and shared, it might be more engaging as a story on a social platform.”

For instance, if you find that a hot topic in your industry is, say, personality tests, and you have a blog post all about them, think about how you can adapt that into a story.

Check out this example from HubSpot:

Example of content broken up in a story.


This story corresponds with a post about free personality tests. It takes the main ideas from the article and uses short, digestible sentences to recap the content. Additionally, the story’s following tiles included a few of the options outlined in the blog:

Example of reforming content into an Instagram story.

This tile includes a “Swipe Up” function, so audiences can see the post and get details about the test. Remember, the swipe-up tool is a great one to use for backlinking. You can bring new browsers to your website without making them exit the app.

Sharing buzz-worthy content will throw your company into the conversation and keep the content fresh and topical on your page.

2. Choose media that’s easy to comprehend.

When you want to adapt content, think about what can be split up into small, comprehensive pieces. If an audience member is scrolling through Instagram during their lunch break, it’s likely that they’re not interested in reading Stories that are full of text.

“Odds are, much of your audience is on Instagram looking for quick entertainment during a work break or daily commute,” notes Kelsey Yamada, one of HubSpot’s social media managers. “This is why my most important tip is to start your story actively rather than passively.”

Yamada suggests that, to keep audiences engaged, “Grab the reader’s attention with an interactive element, interesting fast-fact, a video, or eye-popping graphic. Then, use the following pages of the story to go into depth about the topic.”

Let’s look at a visual:

Example of starting a story interactively.

This first tile asks the reader a question to get them thinking. The Story doesn’t use much text, and instead, includes an interactive function — the emoji slider sticker. The next tile gives survey data to add background.

How to present data in an Instagram Story.

This content is easy for audiences to engage with as a quick brain break from their busy day. It takes data that was previously collected by HubSpot and turns it into a visually appealing guess-and-check for marketers.

You can use stats, like survey data, for Instagram Stories. Use short questions to engage users right off the bat, then use the following tiles to give them the full story.

3. Think about if you can make the story interactive.

One question Bump asks herself when choosing content for Stories is, “Can I make this content interactive?” For instance, you might have some less-than-glamorous topics covered on your blog or web pages, but take a look at them from a different perspective.

Bump notes, “Even a bland topic can be zested up with a quiz or poll. For example, sometimes, when adapting a post with heavy research into an Instagram Story, we’ll format the story like a quiz. Then the last page will offer readers the ability to swipe up to read more about the answers.”

For example, this story was adapted from a post about the difference between millennials and Gen Z:

How to capture audiences with statistical content in an Instagram Story.

It might not be the most exciting topic, but using Instagram Stories can make the content interactive, raising the interest level of audiences. If I were to see this story before the blog post, I would stop in my tracks and ask myself, “I think I know the difference, but what does HubSpot have to say?”

Alternatively, if I saw the blog post, I might not want to engage. But this story makes the content fun, gives the value of the post, and brings readers to the content in a new format. If the last tile included a link to the post, you could boost the number of reads.

4. Decide if you can make the text sparse and actionable.

“One thing the social media teams I’ve worked with are mindful of are the amount of text and the amount of pages in each story. I’ve seen that more than a paragraph of text on one story page can result in reader fatigue, which, in turn, could cause people to drop out of your story,” notes Yamada.

Remember, it’s likely that your Instagram audiences are checking their feeds as a quick brain break or a source of entertainment. Bombarding them with text-filled stories will take away from that experience.

Instead of using a paragraph of text, include bullet points. This will break up text and allow for emojis, stickers, or other content that will make a story visually appealing.

Example of a story with little text.

“If you can include a swipe-up with more content, consider a less-is-more approach where you include a quick tip, poll, or quiz related to a topic. Then, encourage the reader to swipe-up to learn more about the topic,” recommends Yamada. “If you can’t, but the story is more complex, consider breaking it up into a larger amount of pages.”

5. Experiment, experiment, experiment.

What works for HubSpot’s socials might not be the case for companies in different industries. So, remember to experiment with your content to find what works the best for your audience.

Bump recalls, “While you should do research and keep social media manager guidelines in mind as you craft a story strategy, don’t be afraid to try something different. For example, if you have a low drop off rate and most of your audience gets to the end of your Stories, you could experiment with a longer story to see how far they’ll get.”

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Sometimes, new ideas are the ones that will be the winning ticket to better engagement. That sales metric that you’re unsure about sharing? Experiment with it, and see if you can change the wording to make it enjoyable.

“Regardless of which experiments you do,” Bump continues, “Be sure to start with a hypothesis, know which metrics you’ll be monitoring, and identify what you’ll do if the experiment works or doesn’t work. This will allow you to develop a strong set of learnings around your audience and their behaviors.”

As for metrics to look for, Bump recommends looking at story views, impressions, swipe ups, and exits. Outside of the app, analyze overall Instagram traffic, or use a tracking URL. ” If you include a swipe-up to your full web content, use a tracking URL, such as one made with HubSpot or, as your swipe-up link,” she says.

“A tracking URL will allow you to see how many page views you received from the story. If you have a CMS with an analytics dashboard that can distinguish social media sources, like HubSpot, you can also see how much traffic your post has coming from Instagram.”

6. Be mindful of story length.

We’ve talked a bit about keeping the audience’s attention. The length of your story could impact their engagement. So when you’re choosing content, think about how many tiles it would take to convey the message. Can you do this in less than five?

Yamada says, “If someone doesn’t get to the end of your story where a swipe-up link is located, they won’t swipe up. So, I try to keep Instagram Stories content within 4-5 pages if it will include a swipe-up.”

Remember, in our personality test example, the story had five tiles. At the end of the last tile, there was a link to the corresponding blog post. This captures the reader’s attention quickly and backlinks the source before they exit:

How to shorten content for an Instagram Story.

“Do your best to cut the content down to the biggest takeaways. If your audience wants all the details, provide a link to the source material in a swipe-up or in the DMs if anyone reaches out. If a piece of content can’t be summarized and cut down, it’s not the best fit for Stories,” Yamada explains.

In the example above, the content explains a test the audience can take, where they can find it, and how to get more information. Basically, the story is used as a “preview” for the rest of the content. Is there content in your arsenal that’s similar — like a study you just performed?

7. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes.

Keeping your audience in mind is at the forefront of content creation. Remember to think about their motivation as much as their interests.

“Whenever I’ve adapted long-form content into Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook Stories, I’ve tried to imagine what my audience will be doing and thinking when they aimlessly tap through Stories and come across my brand’s,” states Yamada.

Think about how you interact with Stories on Instagram. A story that’s short, simple, and includes visual elements probably keeps you more interested than a story that’s too busy, with a lot of moving parts. It’s jarring to tap to a story and see a huge video with no explanation, right?

To choose content that your audience will be intrigued by, Bump encourages marketers to “Think about what your audience likes to see from you on Instagram. If you get a ton of engagement on sales-related content, for example, try adapting a blog post about sales into a short-form story.”

As Yamada notes, “Adapting your existing content into stories will give it the opportunity to provide value on a different platform to a different audience.” If your audience misses content you want to boost, or you want to present it in a different way, take to your Stories to give it more exposure.

Adapting your content into stories gives audiences a rounded view of what your brand is about from a different perspective.

“Why shouldn’t more people see the awesome content you’ve already worked on creating?” she asks. “You’ll also find yourself saving time when adapting content, as you won’t have to create a whole new piece just for Stories. A win-win!”

These tips made me excited to jump into my content and see what I could turn into the next high-performing story. I can’t wait to find new data or research that I can make more engaging with a few emojis. Plus, I feel more confident about what I can put out there. Knowing I have a solid direction now, I’m ready to be bold and experiment.

Thank you for reading.

How to Use Instagram Stories to Promote Your Products

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Want to promote your products and services with Instagram Stories? Looking for actionable tips to create intrigue and excitement via Instagram Stories? In this article, you’ll discover how to use Instagram Stories features to create a sense of urgency and leverage scarcity for limited products or offers. To learn how to use Instagram Stories to […]

The post How to Use Instagram Stories to Promote Your Products appeared first on Social Media Examiner | Social Media Marketing.

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Instagram DMs are now available for everyone to use on desktop

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Instagram DMs are now available for everyone to use on desktop

Back in January, Instagram started rolling out its direct message feature on the web to a small percentage of users. As of Friday, the feature is officially available for everyone to use.

The company took to Twitter to announce that everyone around the world can now send Direct Messages to each other on desktop.

*Sliding into your DMs*

Now you can get and send Instagram Direct messages on desktop, no matter where you are in the world 👍

— Instagram (@instagram) April 10, 2020

Sending and receiving Instagram DMs via web browser works the exact same way as on the mobile app.  Read more…

More about Instagram, Social Media, Web Browser, Direct Messages, and Tech

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5 Ways to Analyze Your Instagram Marketing

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Do you know how well your Instagram marketing is really performing? Your Instagram business profile provides you access to valuable metrics that can help you understand what’s working. In this article, you’ll discover five ways to analyze the performance of your Instagram business profile. Why Instagram Business Profile Insights Matter Instagram is a powerful tool […]

The post 5 Ways to Analyze Your Instagram Marketing appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Instagram Brand Collab Manager and Pinterest Trends Tool

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore the latest way Instagram is connecting brands with influencers on the platform and upcoming Instagram Stories features […]

The post Instagram Brand Collab Manager and Pinterest Trends Tool appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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5 Ways to Measure Your Instagram Marketing Results

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Do you need a better way to report on your Instagram marketing results? Are you looking for ways to measure your Instagram posts and stories? In this article, you’ll learn how to combine data from Instagram Insights and other third-party tools to get a complete picture of your Instagram marketing activities. #1: Compare Your Instagram […]

The post 5 Ways to Measure Your Instagram Marketing Results appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Instagram Stories for Business: How to Create Engaging Stories

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Do you want to do more with Instagram Stories? Wondering how to create Instagram Stories that engage viewers? To explore how to create compelling Instagram Stories for business, I interview Alex Beadon on the Social Media Marketing Podcast. Alex is an Instagram Stories expert who specializes in helping people use Instagram for business. Her course […]

The post Instagram Stories for Business: How to Create Engaging Stories appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Changes Coming From Instagram: What Marketers Need to Know

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore what marketers need to know about changes coming from Instagram and the expanded rollout of Facebook’s search […]

The post Changes Coming From Instagram: What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Instagram Pushes IGTV Growth With Horizontal Video

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore horizontal video support for IGTV and other video broadcasting updates with special guests, Luria Petrucci and David […]

The post Instagram Pushes IGTV Growth With Horizontal Video appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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