Instagram is great. Yeah, sure there’s Snapchat where you can take all the selfies you want and bug your friends with them. And Twitter, where you can can say whatever asinine thing that comes into your head. And the beloved (or be-hated) Facebook, where we can share all the things. But there is still a place for Instagram with its simplicity of sharing your pics for all your friends and family to see, simple captions, hashtags, not too many bells or whistles. And the ability to share said pics to your other favorite social media platforms.
So you would think with that ease of use, Instagram would have offered a way to use the app to its fullest extent online by now. You can certainly check your account at instagram.com, but there is still no way to upload photos from your PC to your Instagram. But what if there was a way? What if there was a way to login to Instagram, using your Facebook, online and not only check your Instagram but also use the app to its fullest capacity? To paraphrase Liz Lemon, ‘We want to go to there.’
Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.—Walt Disney
Instagram Login with Facebook Online
First, let’s talk about Instagram. Maybe you don’t have an account but you’ve been curious and want to take the plunge. We’ll take you thru the sign-up process, how to use Instagram, and how you can currently use it online.
Instagram is the brainchild of Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and was founded in 2010. The name? “Instant” “Telegrams.” That’s kind of how the founders saw photos. Within the first two months, Instagram had 1 million users. In 2011, Instagram was named “iPhone App of the Year.” Shortly after introducing the app for Android (in April 2012), Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, only 18 months after its launch. Not too shabby. Today, there are over 300 million users on Instagram.
Not on Instagram? Let us take you thru the steps to sign-up on your mobile device. Head over to your App Store (if you’re on an iPhone, it’s the i-Tunes App Store; if you’re using Android, Google Play Store; and Windows Phone Store if you’re Windows), and search for Instagram. Download the app. Once downloaded, tap the Instagram icon to open it. From here, you will sign up by tapping Sign Up. You may either enter an email and proceed by tapping Next; or you can choose to Log in with your Facebook by tapping on “Log in with Facebook.” If you go the email route, you’ll be prompted to choose a username and a password, fill in a profile, and then you’re done when you click “Done.” If you Log in with Facebook, nearly all of the work is done is for you.
Great Things You Can Do with the Instagram App
So, you’ve got your account all set up. Now let’s use it! Instagram is mostly about posting and sharing pictures and videos; but there is more you can do. Currently, you can link your Instagram to your Facebook Timeline. You can also share photos from Instagram on Twitter, Flickr and Facebook and there’s a nifty option if you add a location, Instagram will check you in on Foursquare. Perhaps you’ve gained about 40 followers and a lot of what you see if your niece or friend from high school’s tattoos; and if you’re lucky, a couple of your friends minored in photography and take actually decent and altogether stunning photos (not that you have to have a minor in photography to be such a person). Great! You should enjoy scrolling through your homepage.
But let’s say you’re part of a company, or even follow a certain brand. Certain brands are using Instagram in really fun and creative ways. And we can all take a cue from them (even though, let’s be real, there were brilliant and creative people already on Instagram that the brands copied from). Nonetheless, here’s a couple of examples of ways you might spice up your images and get the most mileage out of your Instagram.
- Look up @BMW. BMW released some stunning photos, but they were also creative. Just this last Spring (April 2015), BMW posted 3-D photos to their Instagram. Say what?!!! Like, you need the red-cyan glasses to get the effect. Result: over 80,000 likes on a single Instagram. How cool is that? This goes beyond filters and brightness. Think outside the box.
- Did you know that you can actually use up to 2000 characters on your Instagram caption? Yeah. Just because Twitter limits you and thinks shorter is better, doesn’t mean you have transfer that thought process to Instagram. Instagram is not for stifling your creativity. After all: a picture sometimes really is worth a thousand words. Instagram itself uses this storytelling technique. Why shouldn’t we follow suit?
- Use the TAG, maps and messaging functions in a new way. Ikea used the TAG feature and created a website within Instagram, as well as multiple other accounts so their brand name is across Instagram. There has even been an adventure game made on Instagram by a Turkish cookie brand company. An entire game within Instagram; now that’s pretty frickin’ cool.
Instagram Online: Functions and Limitations
After Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, it didn’t take long to hear and take heed to the many followers who wanted an online presence. In late 2012, Instagram rolled out online profiles. “Yes!” we all cried! “Instagram online!” Well, but wait. Instagram.com most certainly was a step in the right direction, but lacks in one major way: you can’t upload photos from your computer. What you can do is check your profile, see what your friends have posted, favorite posts, comment, and use the search function–everything but the kitchen sink…and the kitchen sink is uploading pics from your PC!
A picture of a kitchen sink, which I uploaded from my PC. My analogy is valid!
To check out your profile, simply type into your url: instagram.com/username–don’t actually type “username;” type your username, silly. Or just go to instagram.com and login with your email and password or Facebook, and you can check your profile from there. It is nice to be able to save a little of your phone’s battery and mobile data and check your Instagram from the comfort of your own home/coffee shop/wherever.
Great Workarounds for Using Instagram Online
So you’re looking at the above section, and you’re thinking “Well, what if I want to be able to do more than that in online! I want to post pictures that I have on my computer!”
That makes sense. After all, why should you be limited to just the photos that you’ve taken with your phone. Maybe you’ve got a really boss digital camera and you still want to be able to post all of your photos to Instagram. I mean, true, there a great big variety of photo sharing sites out there, but none of them really have the same level of distribution potential as Instagram. Perhaps because Instagram is now a part of Facebook, it’s just so easy to get your photos out to all of your friends by posting them to Instagram (and, if linked, to Facebook as well), rather than requiring all of your friends to make new accounts at flick or PhotoBucket.
So, if you want to post pictures from your computer to your Instagram… yes, you are out of luck as far as the official Instagram app goes. Now, if you take a look at the iTunes store, you’ll see there are all kinds of third party apps out there that claim to let you manage your Instagram in there. But I’m generally very reluctant to give any kind of third party app unrestricted access to my social media accounts.
But there are numerous workarounds that will let you put your PC photos online through Instagram. Some of these require installations, or some general tech savvy, but the easiest one can be managed with a free app, and a free (and widely trusted) website.
In both cases, I’m referring to DropBox.
For those of you who haven’t had call to use it before, DropBox is a super-convenient file-sharing service. You can upload files online to your DropBox account. Within the DropBox, you can even create multiple folders, and then share those folders with others. (It’s really useful if you’re doing a collaborative project.)
Dropbox gives you 2GB of data storage for free, but beyond that their plans are cheap. ($10 a month for 1TB, for instance).
Or, if you prefer, you could go with Google Drive. Either way, the tactic is the same: You use whatever online storage service you want, and upload your pictures to that. Then, you install the (free) app onto whatever device you have with Instagram installed. Now you can just download the picture or pictures from the sharing service and voila, it’s on your phone! Now, it’s an easy thing to upload it onto Instagram.
But if (for whatever reason) you want to avoid using a phone entirely, there are methods in place for that as well. These require a little more work on your part, though. Basically, you will need to install an Android emulator of your choice. We’ve talked about a few of them before, so essentially pick the one you like and work with it. The differences are these:
Bluestacks is a very well respected, and well-supported emulator.
Andyroid is also a great emulator, and though it doesn’t have quite the development team behind it that Bluestacks has, it’s completely free.
Manymo is a completely different type of emulator: Instead of installing it to your computer, Manymo is entirely browser based. So you set up an account and you virtualize an android device online. The only downloading you need to do are the .apk files you need to upload to your Manymo account, and there’s no installation.
Simply pick the emulator that appeals to you most and you can set up a virtual Android device. Then you sign up for a Google.Play account (if you don’t have an Android device, you can borrow a friend’s in order to sign in, confirm your Google Play account, and immediately sign out.)
After that, you just download the Instagram .apk file from Google Play and set it up in the emulator of your choice. Now you have a virtual Android device with Instagram set up on it, right there on your computer, and you can upload any of the pictures from your computer to Instagram.
As you see, using DropBox or Google Drive will be a lot easier, and this is why we prefer this method. And if you’re wondering why we favor Android emulators, and don’t really say anything about iOS emulators, will, it’s just that we’ve still not found a reliable iOS emulator that we’re happy with.
Well, that’s the ins and outs of Instagram Online and Instagram on your Facebook. If you have any questions about anything we’ve covered, or if there are any methods that you like that we didn’t mention, feel free to mention it in the comments.