Full Screen

Basic Features

More Free Lessons in

Social Media Marketing View All →

Get cutting-edge digital marketing skills, know-how and strategy

This micro lesson is from one of our globally recognized digital marketing courses.

Start a FREE Course Preview Start a FREE Course Preview
Global Authority

The Global Authority

12 years delivering excellence


245,000+ Members

Join a global community


Associate Certification

Globally recognised


Membership Included

Toolkits, content & more

Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Home feed

The home feed is dictated by the home emoji on the left-hand side.

  • On the top, there’s a brand name and logo. This is where you can know which Instagram page you are on.
  • Then, you will see the content. The content can be a post, a video, a boomerang, a carousel. The sky’s the limit.
  • Then, you can also see the views and likes, views dictated off of a boomerang or a video, and likes is for photo generated content.
  • And then, below that is the copy.


The home page offers a number of benefits:

  • You can draw inspiration for content.
  • You can use it to look at the competitive landscape.
  • You can add insights to your strategy.
  • You can regram other people’s content.


On the Activity feature, you have “Following” on one side, and “You" on the other.

  • On the Following side, you can see all the posts displayed by the accounts that you follow.
  • On the Activity side, you can see your people that you follow, who’s going to follow you, and who likes your content.

The activity feature side is beneficial to marketers because it:

  • It helps you to stay up to date on the people you are following.
  • Facilitates user-generated content and discoverability.
  • Enables you to do a quick user engagement and competitive analysis.

Search and Explore

When you touch on the magnifying glass, you’re able to get to this page, and this page gives you loads of information for you to find new content, discover new users, and see how content is really generated nicely. This is very beneficial to marketers, because it lets you connect with a larger community and influencers, and find them within the niche that you are in.

You can get insights and discover how to do great content creation, and you can bring this all the way back to your brand, and you have the ability, if you’re able to do so, you can get featured on the Search and Explore page, and this will help drive so many new followers and growth for your brand.


When Instagram started out, Filters was a differentiator. Instagram Filters are beneficial because they can enhance a photo, but doesn’t take away from the original concept. You can incite emotional reactions. If you hit a black and white onto a photo, that really produces an emotional connectivity and makes you more emotional towards it. You can make a photo more beautiful, and if you use brightness and sharpen it, you can really add to your photo. You can unite your brand’s imagery and messaging through a creative palette. A lot of times, brands have certain looks for their Instagram grid. They just want to have the same coloring, the same message, and they really create it unified. Filters bring dull photos to life!

Sometimes, you just take that photo and you need some extra help. So, Instagram filters are such a great way for marketers to help their brand, help creative photos become more enhanced, and just really take your Instagram to the next level.

Let’s look at the basic features of a filter strategy. You want to bring out the best elements of the photo to further tell a visual story.

There are many factors to why choosing a certain filter lends itself to more engagement. In fact, a study shows that the world’s favorite filter is Clarendon. However, in fashion posts, the most used filter is Kelvin. Hence, there is reasoning within each niche on what filters you should use.

  • Overall, make sure the photo is sharp, clean and clear, and brings out the colors in an authentic way.
  • Filters can add an emotional element to a photo. For example, using black and white makes it more sentimental.
  • Don’t forget you can always use #nofilter, which in turn helps to have your photo be searched. The #nofilter hashtag has been used over 170 million times. By putting that hashtag on your post, you are more likely to be searched and your content is engaged with. Additionally, it shows that your photo is so well captured that you don’t need any extra editing capabilities.

Hashtags and branded hashtags

Hashtags are short words or phrases proceeded by a hashtag symbol, added to content captions to enable discovery and engagement.

Branded hashtags are unique to your business, usually including your company name, company tagline, campaign or contest name used for driving participation and engagement. Learning the art of a hashtag will lead to incredible results. Hashtags are short words or phrases proceeded by a hashtag symbol, added to content captions to enable discovery and engagement.

There are ubiquitous hashtags used by Instagram users, but you can also create a branded hashtag for your business, which is unique and can include your company name or company tagline. Also, when running contests, you can ask your followers to include a branded hashtag to drive participation, searchability and engagement.


Hashtags bring a number of benefits for marketers.

  • They can be used to help meet marketing objectives.
  • They produce discoverability, which leads to new partnerships, engaged followers, and expanded reach. This can lead to higher sales and a larger global presence.
  • They help grow followers by users organically discovering your content through hashtag search.
  • They can be used to increase social reach and improve brand awareness by searching popular hashtags related to their service, location or target audience.

And branded hashtags bring these benefits:

  • They can be used to connect with your community, by allowing them to share and use in their own channels.
  • They can be used to create an organized repository showcasing your content and industry knowledge for users.
  • They can be used in online to offline branded marketing campaigns.

Hashtag creation and utilization

Using the right hashtag in your post is a data-driven art form.

  • Search top hashtags: You want to search the top hashtags in your niche to increase searchability. For example, if you are in fitness, look at similar and top accounts and see what they use in their posts. You can internet search for top hashtags in your niche as well. To have better search results for your brand, use the SEO keywords that are part of your content strategy.
  • Use ubiquitous hashtags: These are the one that users use most. These include #tbt, which is Throwback Thursday, #photooftheday, #nofilter, and many more.
  • Use the hidden hashtag strategy: This way, you use five dots, periods, and you put them in a vertical line.
  • Add up to 30 hashtags: You can add in up to 30 hashtags that relate to your photo. And these will help get to the most targeted results and engagement. These hashtags can include overall descriptions of the photos, like sunset, location like San Francisco, and niche like #sanfranciscosunset.
  • Create a branded hashtag: A branded hashtag for your company is important for brand awareness and having your users spread the word.
  • Monitor what your community is using for hashtags: That way, you’re on top of trends and their names.
  • Use hashtags in Stories: Hashtags are now used in search for Instagram Stories and you can watch Instagram Stories based off of hashtags. Include hashtags in Instagram Stories to become more discoverable in your content.

Double-tap and regram


“Double tap” is a colloquial term used to have people like your photos. This is really important for marketers, because they can drive results by asking their users or audience to double tap a photo. By having more likes, this will help your content be placed above while in the algorithm, which is sometimes hard to get in, and asking your followers to double tap or like is just a way to really help that get through.


Regram is posting user-generated content on your own Instagram page. Regramming is super important for marketers.

It can be beneficial in these ways:

  • It can highlight other content that promotes your business.
  • It increases community interaction by showcasing user-generated content
  • It encourages community engagement by motivating followers to share and post content that would be worthy of being regrammed.

And another way you can do it is if you have multiple Instagram accounts, you can regram content from other pages onto that one as well. So, when regramming user-generated content, make sure you always ask permission to use that and you can slide and give them a shout out in their own photos.

Instagram Direct

Instagram Direct is Instagram’s native messaging platform that allows you to privately exchange threaded messages, and share posts, profiles, ephemeral photos, hashtags, and locations with other users. It’s the best way to connect with users on a one-to-one basis, and is accessed by clicking the kite icon in the top-right corner of the home feed screen.


This feature is very beneficial to marketers for the following reasons:

  • It creates deeper connections with followers through making them feel a part of your brand through an authentic relationship.
  • It can be used for social customer service and feedback, enabling real-time interactions to fix customer needs.
  • It can be used to share content with your community, send photos one-to-one to users instead to all followers. It makes them more engaging and personable.
  • It’s great for sending targeted direct messages for lead generation, promote sales initiatives to highlight products for a purchase.
  • You can easily connect with influencers and other brands for partnerships.
  • You have direct access to top global influencers as opposed to email or third-party tools.

Best practices

When communicating with your followers via Instagram Direct, make sure to adhere to these best practices:

  • Create a thread with your advocates.
  • Connect with users when they are most active.
  • Find user groups to gain feedback.
  • Use DMs to your competitive advantage.
  • Find your competitor’s top users and DM them.
  • Use location tags to connect with users.
  • Use calls to action for sharing content
  • Be strategic if you want photos to be ephemeral or stay there forever.


When referring to the term mentions on Instagram, we mean that @ button to tag users in photos and videos, and in the comment section of a post, from which users receive notifications. Mentions help with discovery of content and can be used to expand audience reach to community members who would like the content.

Best practices

It is important, however, to be aware of some key best practices when using mentions to reach your audience. This is in order to leverage a feature effectively and avoid negative sentiment towards your brand.

Here are the ways to do so:

  • You want to include mentions within the photo, so you notify users of either the people or products in the photo. Followers can click on those and be taken to their Instagram site.
  • Don’t overuse mentions and avoid spamming users.
  • Keep your account clean and professional.
  • Tag users that would find content relevant in hopes that they would share. In doing so, you’re able to notify them of your content and with a strong call to action that they can engage.
  • Ask your community to tag a friend in the comment section. This is the perfect way to boost your Instagram algorithmic placement by having strong engagement in the comment section in promoting your account.

Pinch to Zoom

Pinch to Zoom is a feature that allows users to zoom in on a photo or video on a touchscreen device by pinching the screen with two fingers. This took a while on the Instagram product roadmap, but was super important once it was implemented.


It's simple feature, yet one that poses a variety of benefits for marketers. These include:

  • There are increased opportunities for brands to insert creativity into their posts.
  • Businesses can enhance their content and encourage their audiences to engage with the post on a deeper level.
  • You can use it to run Instagram contests to find hidden content in your posts.

Save as Draft

Save as Draft is a feature that allows the user to choose whether they would like to save a post as a draft or discard it. This is beneficial to marketers that want to take extra time to post a photo even after capturing it.

Let’s take a look at how marketers can benefit from this feature.

  • Content isn’t lost after adding edits.
  • It allows you to take more time to incorporate more elements into building the perfect post, allows you to draft content and post it later at more suitable and convenient times.
  • You can share the content on other social networks before posting on Instagram.
  • It facilitates content approval before publishing.

You can access the Save as Draft feature by tapping “plus” at the bottom of the screen, then take or upload a photo or a video. Add effects, filters, and a caption or your location. Go back to the filtering and editing step, and then tap the back arrow in the top-left. And lastly, select “Save Draft” at the bottom of the screen.


Archive is a feature that lets you hide any of your posts from everyone else, but keeps them safe for you to look at in private or restore to visibility.

This feature is beneficial to marketers as it gives the ability to test out content to see if it delivers, use it for product launches to create a photo grid, or use it to promote sales and specials that expire.

Save to Collections

Save to Collections is a feature which lets you organize your saved posts into individual collections to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

This feature is beneficial to marketers in many ways, and it gives you the ability to capture user-generated content for future use. You can create specific boards within certain verticals and niches and use them to show clients and perspectives, and you can monitor your competition as well as find inspiration.

Back to Top
Kate Talbot

Kate Talbot is a Growth Marketing consultant at Vidder Inc., best-selling author of "Oh Snap! You can use Snapchat for Business" and regular contributor to online publications such as Social Media Examiner, Engadget and KISSmetrics. Passionate about building brands through demand generation and strategic partnerships, Kate's expertise in social apps are unrivaled. 

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


    Instagram and Snapchat
    Kate Talbot
    Skills Expert

    This module dives deep into the leading app-based platforms, Instagram and Snapchat. It begins by outlining the benefits of using social apps in your campaigns. Then, it teaches you how to navigate the key features of Instagram and Snapchat, and how to create fully optimized posts on both platforms. Next, it provides best practices for managing Instagram and Snapchat accounts effectively and covers how to run engaging ad campaigns on each platform. Finally, it provides you with the knowledge to analyze performance on each channel using analytics tools.