Decoding Instagram Language: What does it all mean?
LOL, FWIW, IMHO, BRB, “Like”, “Follow”, “Double-tap”, “DM me,” if a time traveller from even twenty years ago saw any of this, they would probably think they were reading another language or had been transported to another planet.
Since social media took over the world, our lives, and our businesses, a new language has slowly been created to speed up communication and increase engagement.
But what does it all mean?
If you’re new to Instagram, or only on it to follow celebrities you might not know what some of the Instagram languages you see actually means.
You might also be uncomfortable asking out of fear of looking silly because you don't know what it means to “double-tap.” Trust me, you’re not silly. You’re also not alone.
There is a lot out there, a lot of abbreviations, a lot of calls to action and a lot of ever-emerging new lingo that we all have to learn. We were all in your shoes once, so don’t feel silly.
Let’s start with some basics.
Go to your Instagram app and bring up your feed. Find that delicious-looking dessert, or your friend’s adorable baby and hit the picture twice. What happens? The little heart below the image turns red, right? That’s because the “double-tap” is the exact same as hitting that heart and liking the post. But saying, “double-tap” as a call to action sounds better and less demanding than, “like my post,” don’t you think?
A “like” or a “double-tap” is the simplest and most common form of engagement.
If you’re an entrepreneur or wanting to increase your business presence on Instagram, I encourage you to ask for a double-tap in your next business post and see if it works. You might be surprised at how many more likes your post receives simply because you asked for it.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Well, maybe not. You can save absolutely anything you see on Instagram and come back to that post at a later date for reference, or just to stare at the crazy-cute puppy enjoying its bath because you need a smile. If you don't know where the "save" button is, it’s that little flag or rectangle with a triangle cut out on the bottom on the left beneath the image. Hit that and your image is saved.
What you might not know is that even though the OP (original poster) can’t see who saves their post, the algorithm does see it. Saves are AMAZING for engagement. If someone saves your post it means it resonated with them enough that they want to be able to quickly come back to it for reference. And Instagram takes notice of that and therefore puts that post in front of more eyes.
“But I can't tell people to ‘save’ my post. That seems weird, or a little bossy.”
You absolutely can, just be nice about it. “Save this post for reference later.” Or “Don’t forget to save this post so you can refer back to it when you have more time.” Be kind, polite, but also realistic. It’s a great call to action, reminding people that if they like your post it’s probably a good idea to save it, otherwise they might not be able to find it later.
Which brings us to our next bit of Instagram language.
A person follows your account by clicking on your account name, going to your profile and hitting “follow.” Unless you show up in one of those recommended scrolls and they follow you without even checking out your profile. If that happens, whoop whoop! Time to celebrate! You’re making a great first impression.
However, like the above “save this post” you might feel a little uncomfortable outright telling people to follow your account. Don’t. It’s just a call to action, if people don’t want to follow you, they won’t. But there is no harm in asking. Just make sure to keep your language kind, polite and inviting. “Follow me for more great tips on time management and making the most out of your day.” Or “Follow me for more posts like this on finding the minimalist mom in you.”
On your profile page, you’ll see your images, your profile and the buttons, then you'll see some little circles between the two. Those are your highlights. If you create a story, it’ll only be available for viewing for twenty-four hours, unless you also save it to your highlights. Then it will be there until you remove it. You can also categorize your highlights, so anybody interested in checking them out can filter through what interests them quickly and easily. But don’t save everything to your highlights--that's what your feed is for. And be sure to keep those categories tidy, otherwise, it’ll be more of a deterrent than attraction to someone scoping out your profile and highlights. Even the messiest person in the world likes knowing where things are in their local grocery store; we respond better and more actively to organized presentations.
And lastly …
I’ve already mentioned the “algorithm” a few times in this post, but you might have been scratching your head going, “What’s she talking about?” Well, let me break it down for you.
All social media apps: Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest have algorithms. The algorithm is what pays attention to what you’re organically attracted to, what you search, what you save, comment on, what you like, what and who you follow and then it gives you more of that. The algorithm wants to keep you happy and coming back for more.
So naturally, the algorithm prioritizes engagement. If you like a post on mermaid scale-shaped bathroom tile, the algorithm is going to say, “Let’s give her more interior design posts to look at. She liked/followed/saved four different posts about bathroom tile, let’s give her more.”
But how does that translate into your business?
When you get those likes/saves/comments/follows on your account and posts it’s going to tell the algorithm that your post is engaging, that your post is worth showing to more people with similar interests. So if you posted about meditation, people who “liked/followed/commented/saved” other posts regarding meditation will be shown your posts because the algorithm says it’s an engaging post about mediation and something they will probably enjoy.
Simply put, posts that get a lot of engagement show the algorithm that that this is a post people like and more people will want to see, so the algorithm will put it in front of more eyes with similar interests.
There are so many more tips and tricks regarding each and every social media platform and believe me, I’m still learning, too. But please know that you should never feel silly if you don’t know something. I’m always here to answer simple social media questions, so please feel free to reach out and ask away. I’m here for you and your heart-centered business and I truly want to see you succeed and fulfill your dreams.
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