Instagram has become the favorite social network of many -- and not just for teens and Millennials. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 35% of online adults use Instagram -- up 3% from 2016. Compare that, for example, to 24% on Twitter.
But for those who have never used the platform before, or those who just want to take their usage to the next level, Instagram has some lesser-known tricks, settings, hacks, search options, and comment features you should know about. That's why we set out to find them and list them all in one place.
Whether you're a recruiter looking to showcase your company's culture, a marketer in the ecommerce industry, or an individual who's just looking to use Instagram in the best ways possible, there are tips and features here for you.
And for a quick overview of these hacks, check out this rundown from HubSpot Content Marketing Strategist Megan Conley.
Note: Before getting started, make sure you're operating on the latest version of Instagram. At the time of publishing this guide, the latest version is 84.0 on iOS and 83.0 on Android. Please also note that although this article might demonstrate each tip below using an iPhone or Android device, all items on this list are available for both operating systems and can be enjoyed using the same step-by-step instructions.
20 Powerful Strategies & Hacks for Increasing Instagram Engagement
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27 Hidden Instagram Hacks, Tips, and Features
1. Get notifications when your favorite people post.
Never want to miss an Instagram post from your favorite influencers again? You can choose to get a notification every time a specific user posts a new photo. All you have to do is turn on notifications for each user individually.
To turn on these notifications, visit a user's profile, click the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the post, and choose "Turn on Post Notifications" from the menu that appears.
Want to turn post notifications off? Just follow the same steps. It's important to note that you must enable notifications from the Instagram app in your phone's settings -- here's how.
- To allow notifications on iPhone/iPad: Go to "Settings," then "Notifications." Choose "Instagram" and then turn on the setting to "Allow Notifications."
- To allow notifications on Android: Go to "Settings," then choose "Apps," then "Instagram." Select the option to show notifications.
2. Add special fonts to your bio.
Here's an Instagram bio hack that can truly make your profile stand out. You can already add emojis to the bio beneath your profile photo, but your keyboard limits your creativity right there.
Using a couple of basic third-party websites, you can copy over some more special fonts not often found in the Instagram community. Here's how.
To Add a Special Font to Your Bio via Mobile:
Add a new font to your Instagram bio via your mobile device using a website like LingoJam. Open the site on your phone, type your desired bio text in the lefthand text box, and you'll see the same bio text in different typefaces appear on the right.
Carry your chosen font over to your Instagram bio by tapping it and selecting "Copy." Then, open your Instagram app, navigate to your profile, select "Edit Profile," tap the "Bio" section and paste your chosen font into the empty field.
To Add a Special Font to Your Bio on Desktop:
If you're editing your Instagram profile on your laptop or desktop, Font Space has a library of fonts you can download and copy into your bio in seconds. To do so, Find a font you like and select "Download" beneath the font's sample image, as shown below.
Downloading this font will open a folder on your desktop where you can pull a ".ttf" file that carries the various versions of this font. The file will look something like the screenshot below.
Once you have this font copied to your computer's clipboard, open your internet browser and log onto Instagram.com. Select "Edit Profile" and paste your downloaded font into your bio field. You can then edit the sample text that came with your font to write your new bio as you see fit.
3. Add special characters to your bio.
Not only can you customize your bio with a special font, but you can also add atypical characters that distinguish you or your brand -- but that you wouldn't find on your smartphone's normal keyboard. These include §, †, or even ™ if your Instagram name features a trademarked product name.
To Add Special Characters From Mobile
Using your mobile device, install a free mobile app like Character Pad, which catalogs nearly every character and symbol you might need but won't find in the 26-letter English alphabet.
Open the app and find the character you want to add to your Instagram bio. In Character Pad, you'll simply double-tap the picture of your chosen symbol to paste it into a text box, as shown below. Then, copy this character to your phone's clipboard.
Once you have your symbol copied to your clipboard, open Instagram, navigate to your bio, and tap "Edit Profile."
Hold down your finger on the field of your bio you want to insert your special character until "Paste" appears as an option, as shown below. Tap "Paste" and you'll be all set.
To Add Special Characters From a PC
You can also insert special characters and symbols through Instagram's web client on a desktop or laptop computer. The easiest way is to use Microsoft Word's "Symbol" insertion icon, as shown below.
Select your desired symbol or character and copy it to your computer's clipboard. Then, navigate to Instagram.com and follow the steps above to paste your character into a particular part of your bio.
You might be tempted to simply Google search the special character you want, and at times it might work just as well as the steps above. But keep in mind not all special characters you copy from the internet are "clean" when you paste them into Instagram -- some of them might become corrupted or not show up correctly.
4. Search Instagram users without an account.
As much as Instagram would like to see you ultimately create an account for yourself or your business, you can peruse the beautiful brands, people, and dogs that are waiting for you without an account to see if it's worth signing up.
There are two ways to search for people on Instagram without logging in:
Entering a Username at the End of the Instagram URL
The first way to search users without an account is by using an Instagram username you already know, and adding it to the end of "www.instagram.com/."
For example, if you were to start with our Instagram username -- which is simply "HubSpot" -- you can enter the following into your browser's address bar: www.instagram.com/hubspot. This will bring you to our Instagram profile as well as the elusive search bar at the top of the page:
Once you've reached this page, you can use the search bar to the left of the "Sign Up" button to browse users who are already active on the platform.
Googling Them in an Instagram Site Search
A slightly "hackier" way of looking up users without an Instagram account of your own is to simply search their name in a Google site search. This means telling Google to only look up search terms on a website of your choice (in this case, Instagram).
To site search a user, open a Google search and type the following: "site:instagram.com [name of user]."
By keeping all the text prior to the brackets in your search bar, you can shuffle through names of people and businesses and Google will produce results that live only on Instagram. Here's what a site search looks like for HubSpot, below. As you can see, Google produces our main profile, our culture-focused HubSpot Life profile, Instagram posts that include the #hubspot hashtag, and our HubSpot Academy Page.
5. See all the posts you've liked.
Ever wanted to see the posts you've Liked, all in one place? All you have to do is go to your own profile and click the "Options" button -- a gear icon on iPhone/iPad, and three dots on Android -- then, click "Posts You've Liked."
To un-Like any of the posts you've Liked, simply go to the post and deselect the "heart" icon below it. Don't worry -- the user won't be notified that you've un-Liked the post.
6. Add and manage multiple accounts from the same device.
Have a separate account for your dog? Don't be embarrassed; stand by your puppy profile. In fact, whether it's a pet account or a business account, you can add and manage this one right alongside your personal account. Here's how:
- From your profile, tap the gear icon. To find this icon on an Android device, you'll first need to tap the three horizontal lines to the top right of your screen.
- Scroll to the very bottom and tap "Add Account."
- Add your other account by username and password, and you're all set.
To toggle between both profiles, hold down your profile picture in the navigation bar to view all connected accounts. You can also switch to a different account through the Settings page mentioned earlier. See what this screen looks like in the next Instagram feature, below.
7. Schedule posts in advance.
Instagram being a mobile app, you're probably in a routine of taking photos and posting them to your Instagram Story on the fly. But, you can also pre-post them from your computer for a set day and time in the future.
This feature is available with a social media scheduling tool, as well as HubSpot if you have an Instagram business account. If you have this business profile, switch to it via the Instagram mobile app and follow the prompts to connect it to Facebook.
Depending on the social scheduling tool you use, you might not include this step. Once you've toggled to the right account, however, you'll launch your scheduling tool, navigate to your current connected profiles, and see Instagram as an available integration.
8. Optimize your Instagram bio to appear in the Explore tab.
Your friends, family, and coworkers might be your first group of Instagram followers, but growing your audience takes more than the people who already know you. One key way to do this is to get your profile to appear in Instagram's Explore page.
The Explore page, accessible using the magnifying glass icon shown above, is a browsing page that sorts the entire Instagram community by topic and keyword. These include "Fitness," "Style," "Science," and more.
Hashtagging your posts with these words can expose your content to the people browsing these topics, but you can also use them in your Instagram name and bio to promote your profile. If Jane Doe is a marketing consultant, for example, she might want to make her Instagram name "Jane Doe Marketing," rather than simply "Jane Doe." Then, in her bio, she can include all of her specialties, such as "SEO," "blogging," "email marketing," etc.
9. Create a collection of saved posts.
In addition to being able to view all of the posts you've liked, Instagram also has an option to save or bookmark certain posts in collections that you create.
Start by going to your profile, and tapping the bookmark icon on the top-right menu above your photos.
Select the "Collections" tab, and tap "Create Collection." Below, I've created one for food-related posts I particularly like.
Hit "done," and you can start adding photos to your collection. To do so, tap the bookmark icon below the post you want to add.
Then, go back to your saved photos by following the previous steps. You'll see the photos you've saved -- to add them to your collection, select the collection you want to add to, and tap "Add to Collection." From there, you can add any of your saved photos.
10. Use 'Type Mode' to enhance your Instagram Stories.
Instagram Stories is a feature of Instagram that allows you to post ephemeral photos that show up separately from your profile and only last 24 hours. It's a great function for helping like-minded users discover your profile on Instagram's homepage.
But since its beginning, Stories have become quite creative, and it takes more than a pretty filter to stand out to your audience. Enter "Type Mode," an option similar to Snapchat that gives you the power to caption Stories that need extra context to resonate with someone. Here's how to use it:
Open Instagram Stories by swiping right from your Instagram feed. This will launch your smartphone camera. Then, take a photo or video and press the "A" icon to the top-right of your screen, as shown below:
This "A" icon will open Type Mode, where you have five fonts to choose from: Modern, Neon, Typewriter, Strong, and Classic. Here's what a sample Story looks like with Modern font:
11. Create Stories Highlights to show Stories for longer than a day.
Like in Snapchat, posts to your story only stick around for your followers to see for 24 hours. But sometimes, you have a story that deserves more daylight to be told.
That's where Stories Highlights comes in, a feature by Instagram that allows you to save stories together in the same space on your profile page. If you ever wondered what that "New" button with the "+" icon was below your profile image, this explains it.
To make a Stories Highlight, tap this New option and select any number of past stories in your album:
Then, give it a cover photo and a name to display as its own Instagram Story on your profile page. You can remove Stories Highlights at any time by tapping and holding down this story.
12. Post content from other users to your Instagram Story.
Although Instagram Stories are a great way to give your content exposure on your followers' homepages, you might not always have something Story-worthy. In those times, you can share an inspiring post from someone else through your Instagram Stories. Here's how:
Find a post you want to share in your Instagram Stories and tap the paper airplane icon, as shown below.
This icon will open a screen allowing you to send this post to specific followers, or add to your Story. Tap the latter option, as shown below.
Tapping this option will automatically turn the post into an Instagram Story, which you can edit and design to your liking the same way you would any other Instagram Story.
13. Upload and browse video content on IGTV.
IGTV is one of the biggest new features by Instagram to date. This acronym, as you might assume, stands for "Instagram TV," and it's basically an Explore page just for users' video content. The main benefits of IGTV? You can upload videos more than 60 seconds long, and you can create your own channel with, perhaps, a video series that can be broadcast across other video platforms like YouTube.
Navigate to IGTV by tapping the icon shown above. A page will appear featuring topics and videos by some of the most prolific IGTV video creators on the platform today. As you view more videos, the topics you see on the IGTV homepage will begin to adapt to your interests and serve you more content around those interests. And, naturally, the same goes for your target audience.
Create an IGTV channel by tapping the circular icon to the right of your screen, as shown below.
With an IGTV channel created, you can then upload videos directly from your smartphone's camera roll to your channel.
14. See the posts your friends recently liked or commented on.
When you're looking to discover new people to follow on Instagram, there's nothing like asking your friends. There's a quick way to do that -- by viewing the recent liking and commenting activity of the people you follow.
To do that, click the heart icon at the bottom of the home screen -- the first thing that should appear is a list of likes and comments on your photos. Choose the tab near the top that says "Following," and you can see the activity of users you follow.
15. Look through pictures without accidentally liking them.
It's pretty easy to learn how to like something on Instagram -- so easy, in fact, that people do it accidentally: It's just a quick double tap of the photo once you've entered its full view.
The thing is, it's so easy to do quickly by mistake. So, here's a quick Instagram cheat for you: To look through someone's photos without "double-tap paranoia," scroll through Instagram feeds with your phone set to airplane mode. Without internet access, you won't be able to Like a photo, even if you accidentally double-tap it.
The pictures won't load in the first place if you start on airplane mode, though. You'll have to go to the feed first to load the posts, then turn on airplane mode, then start scrolling. When you reach the end of the first rows of posts and want to load more, simply turn airplane mode off, let more load, and then turn it on again. Cumbersome? Maybe a little, but it could be worth the paranoia mitigation.
- To turn on airplane mode on an iPhone/iPad: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and click the airplane icon. Or, go to "Settings" and then "Wi-Fi," and switch "Airplane Mode" on.
- To turn on airplane mode on an Android device: Swipe down from the top of the screen. Then, swipe from right to left until you see "Settings," and then touch it. Touch "Airplane Mode" to turn it on.
16. Hide, delete, or disable comments on your posts.
Twitter may carry a more "anything goes" culture of commentary, but your Instagram is your domain -- and it's much easier to control who says what on your content. This is especially important if you manage a business account.
To Filter Comments by Keyword:
In the Instagram mobile app, navigate to "Options" and select "Comments." From here, you can toggle on "Hide Inappropriate Comments" and even enter specific keywords you'd like the app to police within each comment.
To Delete Comments:
Tap the speech bubble icon below the comment you'd like to delete, and swipe lightly to the left over this text. Select the garbage can icon that appears to delete this post. You can also do this to your own comments.
To Disable Comments Entirely:
To clarify, you can't turn off comments across your entire profile; you can only disable them for individual posts.
To do so, start posting an image on which you'd like nobody to comment. When you reach the page to add a caption, tags, and location, tap "Advanced Settings" at the very bottom. This will open a screen where you can easily switch on an option labeled "Turn Off Commenting."
17. Clear your Instagram search history.
We swear -- this blog post isn't all about how to convince people you're not an Instagram creeper. But many of us can relate to the desire to clear our online search history everywhere, including on this particular social channel. Luckily, you can.
To clear your Instagram search history, go to your own profile and click the "Options" button (a gear icon on iPhone/iPad and three dots on Android). Scroll down and click "Clear Search History." When prompted, click "Yes, I'm sure."
18. Reorder filters and hide the ones you don't use.
If you use Instagram a lot, chances are, you have a few favorite go-to filters, and others you never touch. To make editing photos easier, you can reorder the filters in your editing window, and hide the ones you never use.
To reorder or hide filters, add a new post and begin editing it. When you get to the filters page, scroll to the very far right of your filters options and click "Manage."
To reorder filters, hold your finger down on the three grey lines on the far right of the filter you'd like to move, and drag it to reorder. To hide them, deselect the checkmark to the right.
19. Use Instagram as a photo editor (without having to post anything).
Perhaps you love Instagram's filters and editing capabilities, but aren't quite ready to post the photo to your account -- right now, or ever. To use Instagram as a photo editor without posting anything, all you need to do is publish a picture while your phone is on airplane mode.
First, be sure you have "Save Original Photo" turned on in your Instagram settings.
Then, turn on airplane mode -- see instructions in #5.
Next, follow the normal steps to post a photo to Instagram: Upload the photo, edit it, and press "Share." An error message will appear saying the upload failed, but you'll be able to find the edited image in your phone's photo gallery.
20. Insert line breaks into your bio and captions.
When you write a caption in Instagram, you'll see the keyboard doesn't give you an option to press "Enter" or "Return." The same is true for your bio. So how do all those people put line breaks in there?
It turns out that all you have to do is press the "123" key in the bottom lefthand corner of the keyboard, and the "Return" key will appear on the bottom right.
I know this tip sounds simple, but a lot of people miss it -- myself included, until a colleague clued me in. We've seen some elaborate solutions out there for hacking through this problem, like writing the caption copy in another app, then copying and pasting it into Instagram. Thankfully, it's much simpler than that.
21. Hide Photos You've Been Tagged In
When someone tags you in a photo or video on Instagram, it's automatically added to your profile under "Photos of You," unless you opt to add tagged photos manually (see the next tip).
To see the posts you've been tagged in, go to your own profile and click the person icon below your bio.
Then, to hide the posts you've been tagged in from other users, click the three dots in the top right of your screen and choose "Hide Photos." Select the posts you'd like to remove from your profile, and when you're done, tap "Hide Photos" at the bottom of your screen. When prompted, tap "Hide From Profile."
This won't remove the posts themselves from Instagram, but it will remove them from your profile, so you and others can't access them.
22. Adjust your settings to approve tagged photos before they show up in your profile.
As we mentioned in the previous step, when someone tags a photo or video of you on Instagram, it's usually added to your profile automatically. But, you can change your Instagram settings to enable manually selecting which photos you're tagged in that show up on your profile.
To add tags manually, follow the same steps above to get to the photos in which you've been tagged, and click the three dots in the top right of your screen. Tap "Tagging Options," and select "Add Manually."
You'll still be notified when someone tags you in a photo. Once that happens, to manually add a tagged photo to your profile, tap the photo you were tagged in, then tap your username and select "Show on My Profile." And if you'd rather it not be visible, choose "Hide from My Profile" instead.
23. Browse posts from certain locations.
One fun thing you can do on Instagram is browse photos and videos from a specific location, or taken near your current location. I like to do that when I'm planning a trip somewhere, or want to check out a new restaurant and scroll through the pictures taken there.
Here's how to do both of these things.
To Browse Posts From at a Specific Location:
You can either search for a specific place, or you can click into a geotag on an existing photo.
To search for a specific place: Tap the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of your home screen, which will bring you to the general search page. When you click into the search bar at the top, four tabs will appear. Choose "Places," and type in the name of a place. When you press "Search," it'll show you all the top and recent posts that were geotagged with that location.
To look at posts with a certain geotag: Go to the photo that's geotagged with that location, and click the geotag. It'll show you all the top and recent posts that were geotagged with that location.
Browse Posts Near Your Current Location:
Follow the same instructions above to get to "Places." Tap the search bar, and select "Near Current Location."
Choose which geotag you'd like to browse from the options that appear. Let's say I chose to browse posts with the Museum of Science geotag. When I click "Museum of Science, Boston" on the menu, I'll see the top and recent posts that were geotagged at that location.
24. Drive traffic to an external website.
One of the biggest frustrations people have with marketing on Instagram is that clickable URLs aren't allowed anywhere except the single "website" box in your bio. If you put a URL in a photo caption it'll appear as plain text, meaning users would have to painstakingly copy the URL, open a web browser, and paste or type it in there.
One sneaky way to get people to visit your Instagram profile, which is where that one clickable URL is allowed, is to use your photo captions to encourage people to visit your profile for a link. Then, update that URL frequently to point to your latest blog content, YouTube video, product, or offer.
Check out the example from food magazine Bon Appétit below. This photo's caption provides a text call-to-action to visit the user's profile so you can click the link related to the post.
A post shared by bonappetitmag (@bonappetitmag) on
Then, in Bon Appétit's profile, you'll see the link itself. Update this link frequently to point to your latest content or offer.
Plus, if you have a verified Instagram account, you can also add links to your Story. Read more about this feature here.
25. Sell products from Instagram using Shoppable Posts.
You might already know you can tag people in your Instagram posts as (or after) you post new content. Now, you can tag products -- and direct your viewers to a product page to buy what they saw.
To Add an Instagram Business Account
You'll need an Instagram Business account to publish shoppable posts. You can get one by selecting "Edit Profile" on your Instagram profile and tapping "Try Instagram Business Tools," as shown below.
To Tag a Post With Products
Once you've launched an Instagram Business account, you'll need to enable product tags to use them on a post that depicts a product. Navigate to your settings using the gear icon from your profile page, and select "Products." Tap "Continue" and follow the prompts to connect a "product catalog" to your business profile.
With product tags enabled on your Instagram Business account, you can now upload new posts and tag your photo with products you find from your product catalog. Here's what a shoppable post can look like:
Image via Instagram
26. Pin your Instagram post to Pinterest.
Instagram doesn't have a natural integration with many social networks (except Facebook, its parent company) for publishing Instagram posts to other social accounts.
But with respect to Pinterest, image-loving platforms stick together. Here's a backdoor way to Pin your latest Instagram Story to Pinterest:
On the Instagram mobile app, tap a post to view it in full, then tap the three dots to the top-right of the image. Select "Copy Share URL" to attach the picture's link to your clipboard.
Open the Pinterest mobile app -- or download it; you'll need it for this step -- and navigate to your profile page. If you have the latest version of Pinterest downloaded, it might ask you as soon as you open the app if you'd like to produce the image from your clipboard.
If not, select the "+" icon to the top right to add a new pin, and you'll see a menu of options where you can add your "Copied Link" to a new Pin or board on your profile.
27. Hide ads you don't find relevant.
Instagram tries to show you ads that are interesting and relevant to you. You might see ads based on people you follow and things you Like on Instagram, or the third-party websites and apps you visit.
If you see sponsored posts you don't find relevant, though, you can let Instagram know and slowly teach its algorithm what you like and don't like to see.
To hide ads on Instagram, tap on the three dots to the right of a post labeled "Sponsored," and choose "Hide This."
From there, it'll ask you to share why you don't want to see the ad anymore.
You can also opt out of seeing ads based on sites and apps off of Instagram and Facebook from your device's settings. Note that even if you choose to opt out of seeing these types of ads, you'll still see ads based on your Instagram and Facebook activity.
- To limit ad tracking on an iPhone/iPad: Go to "Settings" and choose "Privacy," then "Advertising." From there, choose the option to "Limit Ad Tracking"
- To turn off interest-based ads on Android: Go to "Google Settings," then "Ads." From there, choose the option to "Turn off interest-based ads."
28. Send photos privately to your friends.
Posting photos with all of your followers or with the public isn't the only way to share content on Instagram. You can also share them with individual or multiple users, kind of like a Facebook message or group text message.
You can either send a new photo to friends, or send a photo that you or someone else has already posted.
To send a new photo privately, upload a photo and begin editing it, as you would when editing a new post. When you get to the "Share" page, tap the top where it automatically says "New Post," but when prompted, select "Direct Message." From there, you can pick and choose whom you'd like to send the photo to.
You can access your direct messages at any time by clicking the mailbox icon at the top right of your homepage.
To send an existing photo privately, start by opening the post you want to share -- it can be your own or someone else's, as long as the latter has a public account. Next, click the paper-airplane-like icon below the post, then select who you want to receive it when the "Send to" box appears.
I might be biased, but Instagram is one of the most fun (and visually appealing) social apps around. And now, with these tricks, you can use it to an even fuller extent.
Plus, many of these features can help to enhance your brand's presence on Instagram. Now, you know how to use the app more efficiently, to make sure you're only tagged in photos you want to appear on your profile, and have even more ways to engage with the people by whom you'd like to be discovered.
Originally published Mar 12, 2019 11:46:00 PM, updated October 30 2019