Instagram: The Ins and Outs

Instagram basics

In 2010, Instagram began like any other social platform but in the past few years has since skyrocketed to popularity with Millennials and Gen Z and, as a result, has sparked both cultural movements and cultural malaise alike.

Today we’re diving into the digital marketing treasure trove that is Instagram. We’ll cover what it is, what you need to care about, and how you can start turning this ubiquitous social platform into a revenue and lead generating channel for your business.

Instagram Basics You Need to Know

Engagement rules.

Engagement. This is single-handedly the most important aspect to all social platforms. A simple way to understand how it works is that Instagram rewards accounts for being social. The more your business interacts with the Insta community, micro-influencers, and even other brands, the more engagement you’ll see. Engagements are likes, shares, comments, etc.

Algo-what? That chameleon of the algorithm.

Something obvious: posts with higher engagement perform better. What you may not know: The faster a post gets likes, comments, shares, and views the wider it is spread to the Instagram audience. This means quantity and proximity- how many comments and how fast they are on a post leads to viral ability, or the ability for your content to ripple out pasts the community of your followers.

Instagram Top 9 example

Instagram’s Top 9…or should we say Top K-9?

# Hashtags= sociaal media SEO.

While you may think hashtags are silly–they’re actually an important part of social SEO. Think of hashtags as keywords. They can be general (or saturated) and they can be specific, a mix of the two works well. In our strategy, we recommend finding hashtags that are location and industry-specific, and then get more tailored and specific to the post.

For example: If you are posting a photo of a margarita for your bar you would want to use specifics hashtags for your city (#austintx), local bars (#atxdrinks), and specifically to margaritas (#tequilamargarita), or what makes yours special/different (#mangomargaritas).

Envision Tip: Remember your why, why are you posting this. That can be a good guide to direct which hashtags you want to use. Using hashtags to target a specific area or clientele is one of the best decisions you can make on Instagram.

Top 9- No, Not that feature from MySpace.

The top 9 refers to the top posts when you search for a hashtag, you can toggle here between recent and top. Showing up here is one of the places that expand your reach. To get your posts in the top 9, Instagram looks to what hashtags you’re using, your engagement rate, and what CTAs (calls to action), if any, you’re using.

Instagram’s Many Content Forms

Think Insta is just about selfies and pictures of food? Think again. Users are creative, innovative, and always on the move. Because of this, the platform has diversified the types of content that can be shared and it’s more than likely your brand isn’t keeping up.

Instagram Content types


  1. Photos: Ok, so this is where selfies and pictures of food may exist, but so do doodles, fashion, retail, travel, design, branding, and even case studies. If an image is worth a thousand words, an Inta post may be worth a thousand leads.
  2. Videos: Videos of all types can be posted here. There are a handful of features below that get into the specifics of what each of them does. They can all be saved without posting, or if you post them as a story they can then be shared as a post. All the video features that are in InstaStories are able to be posted here once saved.
  3. Sliders (carousels): A series of photos that can be scrolled through on one post. Great opportunity here to show the final product and behind the scenes, or a series of photos from an event. Ten is the maximum number of pictures/videos you can include in a slider post. Photos and Videos can be used here.

Instagram Stories

This is an interactive place for engagement. You can add gifs, music, text, polls, Q&As, countdowns, time, emojis, photos, and ratings and can be added on top of stories.

Types of content

  1. Photos: You can swipe up an add photos from your device or take them directly in the app.Envision Tip: If the photo you took is a live vertical shot you can press down on the screen and Instagram turns it into a boomerang.
  2. Type: These can be used to make announcements or disclaimers.
    Type posts examples

    An example of type posts.

    Envision Tip: You can use a photo and add text over the top for a more stylized or on brand touch.

  3. Videos: Boomerangs: captures quick motion and then loops it.
    Envision Tip: Keep the camera still and have the subject move.
  4. Live: Here is a place to make long-form video content. Great place to interact with followers and answer questions. When you go live your followers will be notified which helps invite them to tune in. These can also be posted for 24 hours and/or saved and posted in IGTV or other video sharing platforms.
  5. SuperZoom: There is a myriad of filters IG has added on top of this tool. There are hearts, fire, and different sounds that add flare.
    Instagram example of Super Zoom

    Example of Instagram Super Zoom, not to be confused with super zoomies.

  6. Focus: This is a great option if you have an older device or don’t have access to a DSLR. It helps add depth of field and blurs with intent.
    Instagram focus example

    Example of Focus, model is a very good doggo.

  7. Rewind: It records the video and then plays it back backward.
    Instagram example of rewind

    Example of Rewind on Instagram, we would not want the pupper to ever back away from us.

  8. HandsFree: Great option to film yourself or something without hands.Envision Tip: Hold the button down until it starts a countdown. There is a 3-second countdown where you can set up your phone and get in place before it starts.


On your way to Instagram expertise…

Instagram provides a variety of tools which gives each user no excuses when it comes to creating a diverse range of content. Take time to play with each of the features to see what you think will benefit your brand. Creating innovative and interesting content is essential to growth on Instagram, but it’s only the beginning of how to use the app. Follow us on Instagram to see what we’re doing (@envisioncreative )!