How to Add An Instagram Photo Feed to WordPress for Free

Published on July 31st, 2017

Last Updated on December 12th, 2018


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Want to add an Instagram photo feed to your WordPress site? We’ve shared plenty of Instagram plugins in the past, but we’ve never actually shown you how to go in and add an Instagram picture feed to your WordPress website.

Let’s change that! In this post, I’m going to show you step by step how you can automatically import Instagram photos to your WordPress site. This method will work no matter where you want to import Instagram photos from. That is, you can bring in pictures from:

  • Your own account
  • Someone else’s account
  • A hashtag
  • A location

And want to know the best part? Unless you need to pull in photos from a hashtag or location, it’s 100% free! Can’t argue with that, can you? Let’s dive in…

Plugin For The Job: Instagram Feed

While there are tons of plugins out there that can help you add an Instagram feed to your WordPress site, I like Instagram Feed because:

  • It’s one of the most popular Instagram plugins, which is always a good indicator
  • The developers update it regularly
  • Support requests are answered in the forums
  • You can display photos from multiple Instagram accounts in one feed
  • The pro version allows you to pull in photos from hashtags or locations

If you don’t like it, you can always try something else. But I think going with the popular, well-supported option is always a good choice.

Here’s how to use it…

Step 1: Install Instagram Feed and Add Your Instagram Token

Once you install and activate Instagram Feed, head to the new Instagram Feed option in your dashboard sidebar. The first thing you need to do is add your Access Token.

Your access token gives the plugin access to Instagram so that it can import photos. Without it, the plugin isn’t authenticated to use the Instagram feed and can’t work properly.

Don’t worry it’s super easy to do – assuming you’re already logged into your Instagram account, all you need to do is click the button:

how to add an instagram photo feed to wordpress for free

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Then, you should see your Access Token listed. You need to copy that value into the Access Token box and click Save Changes at the bottom:

And with that out of the way, you’re ready to choose where to pull your pictures from.

Step 2: Choose User IDs to Pull Pictures From

User IDs are basically the numerical representation of a specific Instagram account. Your own account has one, as does every single other Instagram account out there.

So how do you find an Instagram account’s user ID? The easiest way is to use one of the tools that are out there. Smash Balloon, the developers behind this plugin, have built one such tool. You can find it here.

Just enter the username of the account you want to get a user ID for (either your own account or someone else’s), solve the math problem, and click Get Instagram User ID:

It will spit back the username information. Copy the User ID option:

Then, paste it into the User ID(s) box:

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If you want to display photos from multiple accounts, just separate each account with a comma like this:

Then make sure to click Save Changes.

Step 3: Customize Your Feed

Now that you’ve set up your feed sources, head to the 2. Customize tab to set up how your Instagram picture feed is styled.

Go through and set:

  • Width of your feed. You can use either percentages or a fixed pixel width.
  • Height of your feed. Same deal as width!
  • Background color. Usually you’ll want to leave this as the default.
  • Sort photos by. Whether you want to sort photos newest to oldest or randomly.
  • Number of photos. The total number of photos you want to display. The max is 33.
  • Number of columns. How many columns you want to divide your photo grid into. If you select 1, it will just be a vertical list.

You can also set a few smaller options at the bottom of the settings.

Once you’ve made all of your choices, make sure to click the Save Changes button.

Step 4: Display Your Instagram Feed

Once you’ve configured the appearance, hop over to the 3. Display Your Feed tab and copy the shortcode:

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Now, go to the place where you want your Instagram feed to display. Depending on your goals, this could be a:

  • Post
  • Page
  • Page builder interface
  • Widget (when enabled in functions.php).

Then, paste the shortcode into the WordPress Editor, page builder element, or widget. It should look something like this:

Then, on the front-end, you should see a feed of your selected Instagram photos like this:

Want To Display an Instagram Feed in Your Sidebar?

If you specifically just want to use an Instagram feed in your WordPress sidebar, you have two options:

  • Use a sidebar-specific Instagram plugin like WP Instagram Widget.
  • Enable shortcode use in widgets.

To enable shortcode use in widgets, you need to add a snippet to the functions.php file in your child theme (remember! Always use a WordPress child theme).

Head to Appearance → Editor and choose functions.php. Then, add this short code snippet to the end:

// Turns on shortcodes in the text widget

After you save your functions.php file, you need to add a Text widget to your sidebar and paste in the shortcode:

You should see your Instagram pictures appear according to your settings:

Do You Need the Pro Version of Instagram Feed?

If you just need to display one feed based on one or more Instagram account names, you’re totally fine with the free version. Here are some reasons to consider the pro version, though. If you need to…

  • Display Instagram photo feeds from hashtags, locations, or “liked” photos.
  • Add multiple different Instagram feeds to your site.
  • Showcase captions or likes/comments.
  • Exclude specific photos from your feed.

If you need those features, the pro version costs $39 for a single site license.

Wrapping Things Up

And that wraps my tutorial for how to add an Instagram photo feed to WordPress using the free Instagram Feed plugin from Smash Balloon. While there might be a niche Instagram plugin out there that fits your specific needs better, I think this plugin is a great starting point for bringing Instagram pictures into WordPress.

As always, if you have any issues that crop up when trying to add your Instagram pictures, leave a comment and I’ll try to help out.

Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer and long-time Internet marketer. He specializes in digital marketing, WordPress and B2B writing. He lives a life of danger, riding a scooter through the chaos of Hanoi. You can also follow his travel blog.