A Glossary of Instagram Terms for 2020

Social media is constantly changing. Just recently, Instagram made their biggest change since IGTV (Instagram TV) by removing the numeric value of likes and replacing it with words, such as hundreds of likes or thousands of likes. For this constant change, it’s important to put an emphasis on continual learning in order to keep up with current features and understand industry topics.

To help, we put together a list of the most common (and not-so-common) Instagram terms and vocabulary. If you’re an Instagram newbie or pro, this glossary is for you.



The Instagram algorithm dictates the order in which users see posts on their feed, and which posts make it onto the Discovery page.

Algorithms are common in computer science — essentially, an algorithm is a procedure that helps make calculations. In regards to social media, algorithms control a lot: They’re in charge of trending hashtags, what content certain users do or don’t see, and more. Each social media platform has an algorithm. On Instagram, engagement such as likes will shift the algorithm.


An Instagram bio is the section of text under a username where you can list information about your profile or brand.

Your Instagram bio is a great place to write about you, your company, and your niche. What do you offer followers or customers? Often, this little blurb is the first thing people see when they come to your profile.


An Instagram handle is another term for username — the name used on Instagram to define a specific profile.

On your profile, your Instagram handle can be found at the very top in black lettering. When you sign up for Instagram, choosing a username is one of the very first things you will be asked to do.


A brief description that appears underneath a photo.

Instagram captions might include a call to action, a funny quote, or explain the story behind the picture. Captions are the place for hashtags – they’re almost 2,000 characters long, so you can fit a lot in there if you choose. If you write a lot in your caption, Instagram will automatically place a “read more” link.

User-Generated Content

Content (photos or videos) created by fans of a certain brand or celebrity.

User-generated content is when a business’s customers post pictures of themselves using a product or service. Often, businesses will look for user-generated content and ask permission to repost it. As the user, you should negotiate a mention in the re-post, this way you receive value.


A method of sharing up to 10 photos in a post.

When you post an Instagram “gallery,” you create a post with multiple photos and/or videos. Your followers will be able to swipe through the images.


Hiding old posts without deleting them.

By “archiving” a post, you can take an old post off of your profile without deleting it. You’ll be able to see the archived post by tapping “Archive” (found under the three horizontal lines at the top right-hand corner of your profile), but no one else will be able to see it.

Saved Posts

A way of keeping posts you want to look at again.

You can save a post by tapping the banner icon at the bottom right, just above the caption. This will save the post to your library, accessible on your profile. As you scroll through your Instagram feed, you may want to save posts that you can draw inspiration from later.


Interacting with users on social networks.

This one is pretty simple — engagement simply refers to people interacting with each other on social media. These interactions are what makes social media social. Replying to comments and liking posts are types of engagemen

Engagement Rate

To find your engagement rate, you must use this formula: (number of likes + comments received on a post) / number of followers.

Finding your Instagram engagement rate takes a little math, but it’s really not that hard. Here’s an example: if a post received 3,693 likes and 203 comments; adding those together equals 3,896. To get the final engagement rate, you would divide 3,896 by the profiles number of followers. Let’s say the number of followers is 30,000. On average, this account has a very high engagement rate of about 6.07 percent.

Organic Reach

The number of unique users who find and view your content without being prompted by a paid promotion.

Your organic reach consists of people who find your page by themselves, from a webpage, or through friends. For small businesses who don’t have the budget to create a promotion, focusing on organic reach can be a great strategy.

Double Tap

Liking a post

The term double tap or double tapping is simply another way to refer to “liking” a post, since double tapping an image on Instagram is a method of liking it.

Direct Message

A private message between two people, or a group of people, that cannot be seen except by invitation.

Instagram DM’s are private messages between users. DM’s don’t apply to your engagement rate, but they are a great method of building engagement and trust with your followers; conversations over DM can make users more likely to visit your profile. Responses to your Instagram stories also come to you via direct messaging.


A section of statistics that helps you learn about your audience, your content, and how it’s performing. This is only available for business profiles.

Instagram Insights show a lot of helpful information such as where your posts are going, how people are discovering them, and even the time of day when the most people interact with your content. They also show demographic information about your followers and viewers such as their age and gender. These insights can help your content strategy be more focused.


To attach someone’s username to a post.

The term “tagging” generally refers to tagging someone directly in an Instagram post — i.e. their username shows up on the photo — instead of simply mentioning them in the comment section. When you tag someone in a post, the picture will show up in a designated section on their profile. Here, Saucy Lips Food tagged Food For Life Baking.


The Instagram users who follow your account.

When you create an Instagram profile, profiles can follow you, and you can follow other profiles. You can see your number of followers at the top of your Instagram profile. Your followers will see your posts in their newsfeed.

Follower Growth Rate

The percentage of new followers an account gains

Your follower growth rate is simply a way to track how many new followers you receive over a certain time period. You can find this growth rate by comparing the number of new followers (i.e. 200 in the last week) to the number of existing followers. This statistic can help you figure out whether you’re doing a good job of attracting new users (which is something you should actively be working on).


Alerts that announce new social media activity.

Notifications keep you updated on how many likes and comments your posts have received, plus anywhere someone has mentioned your handle. It’s important to respond to comments quickly when you get a notification — that favors the algorithm.


The total number of times your post has been viewed.

Impressions are a little trickier, because they can occur multiple times per user. Reach measures how many unique users have seen your post; impressions count the total number of times the post has been seen. That means one person could look at your post three times, resulting in one number added to your total reach and three added to your impressions.


A word or phrase with the # symbol placed in front, making it searchable. These are normally based on a topic.

When you type the pound symbol (#) and then add a word or phrase immediately after, that’s a hashtag. Hashtags are searchable tags and a way to categorize posts, so it’s important to use relevant keywords that will help more relevant people find you.

Branded hashtags

Hashtags that are unique to a brand, often using the company name.

Belk uses the hashtag #BelkStyle so customers can post photos of Belk products all in one place. Another popular hashtag is by Aerie: #aeriereal. Branded hashtags are a good way to source user-generated content.

Popular hashtags

Commonly used hashtags that may reach a wider audience

Popular hashtags (such as #love, the most commonly used hashtag on Instagram) might be helpful, but your post could easily get lost in the shuffle. If you use popular hashtags, make sure they’re relevant to the content.


The tagged location of the post.

When you geotag your post, you select a location, and that location shows up just under your account name in the feed. This allows you to associate a post with a physical location such as a bar or restaurant. Geotagging posts is a good way to help more people find them.


Someone who produces content for a large audience, often in a specific niche.

An influencer creates engaging content for their follower base and are seen as a form of media; most influencers are focused in one specific niche, such as fitness or beauty. Generally, influencers have over 10k followers.

Influencer Marketing

A form of social media marketing where influencers promote products or services.

Companies will often partner with influencers and have influencers promote a product or service on Instagram so that person’s followers will learn about the company or product.

Sponsored Ads

A paid promotion that shows up in users’ news feeds.

Instagram ads might look like a typical post at first glance, but if you look more closely, you’ll see the “Sponsored” mark. Sponsored ads show up in users’ news feeds just like any other post. The difference is these types of posts are actually a paid promotion instead of being an organic post, so their reach is further.

Paid Reach

The size of the audience reached by a sponsored post on Instagram.

Paid reach is the opposite of organic reach; your paid reach is made up of the user impressions you receive through a sponsored or paid post. With paid reach, you can also target a certain demographic.


Posts that are available for twenty-four hours. They’re found in circles at the top of your Instagram news feed.

Stories can be pictures or videos; they appear at the top of the Instagram newsfeed and, unless you change your settings to save to your archive, they’ll disappear after 24 hours. Instagram Stories have several interactive features such as polls, reactions, and animations. You can also save stories to your highlights.


Instagram Stories saved to your profile.

On your Instagram profile, there’s a section for highlights in between your feed and your bio. You can save photos and videos that you’ve posted to your Stories to these highlights so that they can be viewed by users visiting your page.


A short video that loops back and forth.

Often used in Instagram stories, boomerangs are a form of media that are made into short videos that play continually (similar to a gif).

Instagram Live

A live video for your followers to watch.

With Instagram Live, you can livestream video and then download it and save for later. Live videos are a good way to further connect with your followers and keep them updated. This is similar to the Live feature on Facebook and Twitch.


A multiple-choice question in your Instagram story.

You can create polls to engage with viewers. They’re fun and an effective form of interaction. Not all interaction on Stories is visible to viewers, but the results of a poll are.


The number of people who left your Story.

Exits refers to the number of people who left your Instagram Story without watching it to the end, either by skipping to the next person’s story, going back to their main feed, or closing Instagram altogether.



An Instagram Stories feature that zooms in and creates sound effects.

Superzoom is a fun way to make a dramatic, silly video on Instagram stories.


A video service where users can upload videos up to an hour long.

IGTV, often called Instagram’s answer to YouTube, is a video service that allows videos up to 15 minutes (or up to an hour for accounts with more followers). You can access IGTV by tapping on the small TV on the top right-hand corner of your Instagram feed

Product Tags

An image tag that lets users view a product.

You can create a shoppable posts on Instagram by selecting a product tag when you upload the photo — the process works just like tagging a person. Then, your viewers can tap the product tags to see more details about the product

and purchase it from your online store.

Scheduling Posts

Planning your Instagram content in advance so it will automatically publish at a set time.

Instagram doesn’t have an in-app method of scheduling, but you can use third-party tools such as Hootsuite or Later to schedule your posts. This can save you time and effort, and the consistency of posting will help you build more followers.


A humorous image or video that spreads quickly across the Internet.

You probably already know what a meme is, but did you know memes can be hugely helpful for engagement on Instagram? Meme Monday posts (or memes any day of the week) can add some flavor and personality to your feed and often get more engagement than typical posts.

Explore Page

A section of Instagram that recommends posts for you.

The Explore page can be found under the search tab and offers up a curated collection of fresh posts for each user based on the type of posts you typically interact with. From a business standpoint, the Explore page can be very helpful — if your posts have geotags and get a lot of engagement, they might appear on that page for some users, giving you more exposure. The best way to get your posts on the Explore page is by receiving Auto Likes.


An editing feature that enhances the colors of an image.

Filters are used to add a certain “vibe” to an image, and Instagram has several built-in filters that you can choose from when you go to post a photo on the app. Example filters include Clarendon, Gingham, X-Pro II, and others.


A post that doesn’t make it to Instagram until days after the event happened.

A latergram occurs when you post a photo of something at a later time than when it actually happened; these posts are commonly hashtagged #latergram.


Tapping the heart button to acknowledge a post.

Liking a post is the same thing as double-tapping it. You acknowledge that you see and appreciate the post, and whoever posted it gets a notification that you liked it. You can receive more likes each time you post with Select Influencer’s Auto Likes.


An abbreviation for Instagram.

IG is simply an abbreviation for Instagram, and Instagram users are sometimes called IGers.


Reposting someone else’s post.

When you regram somebody’s post, you can either screenshot it and post it again, or use a third-party app to repost it. Don’t forget to ask permission, and then include the hashtag #regram and give the original user credit.


Visual consistency on your Instagram feed.

Many Instagram users choose a certain aesthetic theme to follow as they post content — that might be pastel colors and lots of flowers, or a darker theme with lots of black and grey. Staying consistent with a theme can help your feed look more appealing to potential followers.

Website Traffic

A metric that tracks website visitors who come from your Instagram.

One of your goals with Instagram should be to get people off Instagram and onto your website – this is where the sales will happen. By using Google Analytics to track the number of website visitors you’re getting from Instagram, you can see whether or not you’re doing a good job of this. Get web traffic by pointing people to the link in your bio or adding a swipe-up link to your Stories.


A way for people to immediately follow your account.

You can find your Instagram nametag by tapping the three horizontal lines in the upper right-hand corner of your profile and then clicking “Nametag.” This nametag is scannable, so people can find your profile by simply scanning the tag instead of typing in your username to the search bar.


Located on your home screen, where you can view posts from people you follow.

By tapping on the house icon on the bottom left corner of the app, you’ll reach your newsfeed, where new posts from the people you’re following are shown. This is the page that automatically opens each time you open the app.

Become a Knowledge Base of All Things Instagram

Make it a priority to educate yourself about Instagram, its features, and new trends. Learning how to speak the lingo and understand Instagram best practices can set you up for success as you work toward your social media marketing goals.

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