Now that you know a bit about what Instagram is and how it works, and have learned how to stay safe using Instagram, you're probably wondering if it's the right website for you. Before you get started on Instagram, allow us to offer you a critical snapshot of the service. Here's a list of some of the pros and cons of Instagram.
Freedom! – Like many other social networks, Instagram is free to sign up for and use.
Show off your artistic side – The app has easy-to-use controls that let you touch up your photos and videos to give them a unique look. Choose from over 20 pre-set filters, or if you're posting a photo, make even more custom adjustments to it!
Share with whoever you want to – Instagram lets you share photos and videos that you create on, or import from, your mobile device. You can post them on other social networks, share them with people who follow your activity on Instagram, or send them privately to only a few specific people.
A world of visuals – If you don't like posting your own material, then it's perfectly fine to see what the rest of the world is up to! Instagram is used by all sorts of different people, including A-list celebrities, famous companies and organizations, and photographers both amateur and professional.
Portable or bust – Instagram is a service that is designed to be used with mobile devices, such as tablet computers or smart phones. It has very limited functionality on desktop computers.
Freedom comes with a price – Since the company doesn't charge you any money to use their service, they will show you targeted advertisements that are based on how you use the application. Be aware of this, and ignore them as best as you can.
Downloads denied – Although Instagram allows you to share your photos and videos in many different places, one thing it does not allow you to do is save photos and videos onto your desktop computer (in order to have a backup of them). Fortunately, savvy users have found ways to bypass this restriction; we'll show one of these ways in our tutorial on how to download photos from Instagram.
The bottom line: 7.5/10
Despite being a simple photo-and-video-sharing service at heart, Instagram strikes a good balance between being flexible and being easy-to-use. The main draw is that it's free to use however you want. You can use it as a very basic photo and video editing program with simple controls. You can use it as a home base for sharing your photos and videos over your other social network connections. Or, you can use it as its own social network, discussing and keeping up with people, organizations, and brands that you know and love.
Instagram has a few critical flaws, though. The fact that most of its functions only work on mobile devices and not on desktop computers really hurts its usability. In addition, many people who used Instagram before Facebook purchased it are not very happy with the parent company's efforts to ratchet up privacy-invasive targeted advertising techniques on Instagram. And the inability to download your photos and videos off of Instagram (at least without using a third-party service) is a curious, if not irritating, lack of functionality.
Overall, we feel that you'll probably get the most out of Instagram if you already use a mobile device (such as a tablet computer or smart phone, such as an iPad or iPhone) and/or other social networks (notably Facebook and Twitter) frequently.
And that’s how we feel about Instagram! If you like what you’ve read and think it may be the app for you, check out the rest of our Instagram course, including our next step-by-step tutorials (with pictures!) where we teach you how to download Instagram, and how to sign up for an account.