Instagram Guide: Decoding Instagram for Beginners

Instagram Guide: Decoding Instagram for Beginners

Instagram Guide: Decoding Instagram for Beginners


New to Instagram? Don’t know the first thing about it? You’re not alone. It can be overwhelming to enter a social platform for the first time and come across phrases like, ‘no ghosties’ or ‘fff’ without having the slightest clue as to what they all mean. That’s why I decided to write this blog post. This entry is designed to act as an Instagram guide; to help those who want to understand the basics of the social media site – specifically, the ‘language’ used throughout the community, and a few important do’s and don’ts. It won’t cover everything, but it will hopefully cover enough.

So, here is my basic Instagram guide…


Basic Keywords Defined:

Here are some of the common phrases you’ll see being thrown around Instagram and their definitions. If I’ve missed any, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.


#Potd – This is a popular hashtag that has been used hundreds of millions of times. It stands for: ‘Photo of the day.’

#Ootd – This stands for ‘Outfit of the day.’ That kickass outfit you’re wearing? Make sure to include this well-known hashtag when posting!

Fff – ‘Follow for follow.’

First – When you see this commented on a picture, the user is asking you to like their first picture in return for a like on your first picture. Note: this is considered spam, and a lot of users DO NOT like to see this on their posts. However, if you want to participate in like for likes, search up the hashtag ‘lfl’ or ‘like for like’, or go onto Kylie Jenner’s feed. For some reason, a lot of people comment this on her photos.

Row for Row – This one is self-explanatory. When you see this, a user wants you to like their first three photos (a row) in exchange for likes on your first three.

Lb/Cb/Fb – These simply mean, ‘like back,’ ‘comment back,’ and ‘follow back.’ These are also considered spam, but a few people do use them and will respond positively to them.

F to unf – This is the shortened version of ‘follow to unfollow.’

Spam for spam – Again, this just means that a user wants you to like a lot of their pictures in return for them liking a lot of yours.

Ghostie/s – This is a term used for ‘ghost followers’ – followers who aren’t active and don’t like or comment on pictures. A lot of users tend to voice their dislike for ghost followers.

Actives – This is a term used for active followers – those who post frequently, and often engage with who they’re following.

Mua – This is a term that I’m sure isn’t just used in Instagram but for those who want to know, it stands for ‘makeup artist.’ The reason I bring this one up is because in the beauty community you’ll see a lot of posts announcing ‘Mua follow trains.’ I thought it would be helpful to define what an ‘mua’ is, for those who were unsure!

Follow trains – These are places to get new followers. If you see a follow train announcement, simply comment your name (or whatever they ask you to comment – it might be a specific emoji), and follow everyone else who also comments. The reason for commenting is to let others know that you’ve joined. With follow trains, it’s important to follow the rules and to not follow to unfollow, otherwise, you could get blocked or banned. They’re mostly aimed at those who don’t mind following a lot of other users.


Those are some of the more frequent words or phrases that you might see. For the second part of my mini Instagram guide, I’ll explain some of the do’s and don’ts (please remember, these are subjective and they may not work/apply for everyone. It’s important that you do you!):

  • DON’T post memes of any sort if you want to gain a lot of followers. If you are posting just for you and you only want to have family and friends following you, then just ignore this. However, if you’re a blogger, or you’re looking to gain a large audience, then it’s better not to post memes as users don’t usually like to see them. They also lower the aesthetic of your overall feed, which also lowers the likelihood of new users wanting to follow you.
  • DON’T post low-quality photos. This includes blurry photos with little light. Low-quality photos are much less likely to get engagement, such as likes and comments. Again, if you’re not looking to expand your following, then completely disregard this.
  • DON’T engage in spam. By this, I mean over posting (posting more than three times a day), asking for like backs, follow backs etc. on small accounts, as a lot of users don’t like this.
  • DO be active. Engage with your followers and those who you are following. Post regularly to keep your followers interested.
  • DO include a profile picture on your account. People are less likely to think that your account is fake or a bot account etc. if you have a profile picture. It may not feel like it’s that important, but first impressions matter on a visual platform.
  • DO turn on post notifications for the accounts that you’re really interested in and want to keep up to date with. The algorithm (the thing that controls the content shown on your feeds) won’t necessarily always show you content from those you want to see from, first. Turning on post notifications for specific users is a good way to ensure that you don’t miss a post from them!


That’s all I can think of for now.

Granted, it didn’t take me long to understand the ‘rules’ of the social media platform once I was on it so it won’t take you long. However, it wouldn’t have hurt to have come across an Instagram guide that detailed some basic pointers, when I was just starting out. I probably would’ve gotten further a lot faster.

So, if you’re a total newbie, then I hope this Instagram guide has helped. If not, then no worries!

Hopefully, I’ll see you on my next post,

– Alicia.

P.s. If you have Instagram come and say ‘hi!’


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  • Mae

    Such an interesting post! It can definitely be difficult for Instagram beginners to understand the foreign language of the gram haha! Great post 🙂

    Mae ♥

    • Hi! Thank you! I completely agree – it was a little bit overwhelming when I first joined! Thanks again. x