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 exceed $18 billion in ad revenue in 2021.
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 on Instagram
- Tap the + icon at the bottom of your screen.
- Choose a photo or video from your library — or shoot one in the app.
- Crop the image.
- Try a carousel post.
- Pick a filter.
- Edit your photo.
- Type your caption.
- Use hashtags for post optimization.
- Tag friends.
- Add your location.
- Play with emojis.
- Share the post on other social media platforms.
- Edit the post.
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 top of your 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 on the camera icon 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 select and crop an image (or carousel of multiple images), click the arrow button in the top right corner of the app.
5. Try a carousel post of multiple images.
Do you have multiple photos and want to highlight them all? Instagram allows you to do this with its carousel feature.
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.
4. 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.
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.
3. 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.
By default, the filter will be applied by full strength. However, if you want to scale back the intensity of the filter, double click the filter tile once it’s been applied, and a scale selector will appear, allowing you to downplay the effect.
You can also tap the magic wand at the top of the screen to adjust the photo further.
(Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Filters to learn more).
6. Edit your photo.
You can also click “Edit” at the bottom right to adjust the image to your specifications.
Here are the editing options that come built in to Instagram for you:
- Adjust – This helps subtly rotate the image along the center plane, giving it a tilt either to the left or right according to the linear scale at the bottom of the screen.
- Brightness – This helps lighten or darken the image. All you have to do is pull the selector to the left to darken or to the right to lighten.
- Contrast – This helps to increase or decrease the intensity of the image’s colors. Pull the selector to the left for less contrast (a dulling effect) or to the right for more contrast (a higher intensity effect).
- Structure – This helps to add an HD-like effect to the image, bringing out specific details in your photo. Drag the selector to the right to help the image “pop.”
- Warmth – This helps you adjust the temperature of the photo. Drag the selector to the left to increase cool tones in the image, or drag the selector to the right to increase the warm tones in the image.
- Saturation – This helps you adjust the saturation of the colors in your image. Drag the selector to the left to desaturate the image (all the way to the left if you want a monochrome look), or drag the selector to the right for extremely saturated colors.
- Color – This gives you a number of color options to overlay over your image for interesting color effects. Simply select your color choice and see how it changes the image in the preview box.
- Fade – This softens the intensity of the blacks in your image to create an “aged” photo effect. Simply drag the selector to the right for a higher degree of fade.
- Highlights – This helps you control the intensity of the highlights in your image. Dragging the selector to the left will darken the highlights in your image while dragging the selector to the right will lighten the highlights in your image.
- Shadows – This helps you control the intensity of the shadows in your image. Dragging the selector to the left will darken the shadows in your image while dragging the selector to the right will lighten the shadows in your image.
- Vignette – This darkens the corners of the image, leaving a circle shape in the center. Drag the selector all the way to the right for the most dramatic vignette.
- Tilt Shift – This helps blur the edges of the image in a radial or linear way, drawing focus to the details in the center of the image.
- Sharpen – This helps sharpen certain details of the image, bringing a more dramatic look to subtler elements in the photo.
When you’re ready to move on to the next step after editing, click the arrow button in the top right corner.
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 palm tree 🌴 or a plane ✈️ to show you flew somewhere.
Here are the top Instagram emojis you can use:
However, keep in mind that there’s a multitude of choices to add flair to your posts, from keeping it real 💯 to the cringe face 😬.
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.”
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.