In this blog post we’re going to be talking about the different content formats on Instagram, so that you know that every time you post, you’re actually using the right content format for that content idea. Using the right format will get you more reach, more engagement, and more views on your posts on Instagram! Before we dive into the different content formats, I first want to talk about a mistake that I see a lot of people making:
Mistake: Posting without thinking what format that piece of content is best suited to
I see lots of content on Instagram that’s just been posted without stopping to consider what format would actually be best in that scenario. What that results in is a lack of engagement (because it doesn’t really work in that content format), and a lack of reach and ultimately views.
This is why I really suggest that you keep the content format in mind when you’re creating content, so that you know that you’re going to maximise the number of people that see it, and that it’s actually going to work harder and further for you.
Create content for a specific format
If you don’t do this, then what’s going to happen is you’re going to create that piece of content, and then you’re kind of going to have to do a lot of editing, a lot of shuffling around. It’s just going to create more friction for you actually posting on Instagram. It just makes it all harder than it needs to be.
Another thing I want to say is that ideally, you want to be using all of the content formats that we’re going to talk about, and you want a variety of them. The exception to this is if you find that it’s taking too long, or again, there’s too much friction in producing one certain content type. If that’s the case, then I would remove that content format and actually not do it, because at the end of the day, you want to be consistent. If you’re finding that things are feeling hard and sticky, then you’re less likely to be consistent. Just remove the thing that’s holding you back and find the path of least resistance to getting your content out. So now that’s out of the way, let’s dive into the content types!
The first content format is posts on the feed. So when you go on someone’s profile or account, these are the first content pieces that you see. These posts should be more “curated”, polished and strategic.
(insert picture from my Instagram: use mockupbro to create mockups)
So this is not really the place for the last minute content posts on your feed; they all should be really high quality and just have a little bit more planning behind them. This is the type of content that you can actually schedule months ahead and months in advance (if that works for you – I’m more of an “on the fly” kinda gal).
Now when I say that it should ideally be more polished or curated, I don’t mean that you need to spend 1000s of pounds on graphic design or loads of hours tweaking your feed and trying to make it look aesthetically perfect! What I mean is that it should just be on brand like don’t use too many clashing colours. It should just be easy on the eye because you want to encourage people to stay when they come to your profile, and not run away because it’s all clashing or too overbearing.
What type of feed posts are best?
Now the specific type of content that I would suggest for feed posts is:
- Share worthy graphics (insert picture)
- Carousel posts (insert picture)
- Reels thumbnails
You just want to be creating super valuable content that your audience is going to want to save and share. Just remember that if you are posting a photo of yourself with a long form caption, that can be good. But it’s not as share worthy as a graphic or carousel post because your audience isn’t necessarily going to want to share a photo of a random person in their story.
The next content format on Instagram is Stories. Now this is where you can do more off-the-cuff, last minute content that you just get in the spur of the moment! Stories are a really good way to deeply connect with your audience (I make a large majority of my sales on Instagram Stories).
Here you just want to give perhaps a behind the scenes, you might want to share a life or a business update. Mainly, you just want to connect with your audience. The way you can do that is via polls, Q&A, quizzes and lots of other Instagram Story features that aren’t available anywhere else.
Why captions are a must-have
If you are talking directly to your audience (so to the camera), or you are telling a story, just make sure that you use captions. These are now built into Instagram. So you can actually add them automatically, which is amazing. Why is this important? Because most people are going to be scrolling through Stories in silence. So if you don’t have subtitles, or what you’re saying in text, then they’re likely to just skip through it.
The key in Stories is to just grab people’s attention straight away. So don’t have big large blocks of text or really busy backgrounds. If you want to just have text there, then make sure that you do a bit of a slideshow. So have a little bit of text on every story so you don’t overwhelm people and have it looking cluttered!
(Image to show exactly where these are on IG interface)
The next content format on Instagram is Reels! Now Reels at the minute actually have a much larger reach than other content types. So what this means is that with your Reels you actually want to be creating content that’s going to appeal to the masses, whereas Stories are a tool to engage and nurture your existing audience.
Reels are an amazing tool to reach new audiences. So you’ve got to make sure that the type of content you are creating in Reels is going to appeal to the masses, and that’s going to be understood by people who don’t already know you. So just to give you an example, if you are a social media manager, on your Stories you might share “These are the 5 tools that I use to schedule my social media content”. Whereas if you are creating Reels with that content idea, then you want to make it more generic and more applicable to people that don’t know you. You could do something like “5 tools that you can use to schedule your social media content.” So it has to make sense to someone who doesn’t already know you.
Other content ideas that do really well in Reels format are humorous pieces of content. So these little skits that I do are really anything that is taking or using trending sounds, in Reels, and then adapting that to your niche. Now, if you want to learn how to create these Reels super quickly and super easily, then make sure you dive into this blog post here.
The next format is IGTV. So this is a longer form of video content that’s between 1 – 60 minutes long. So if you do longer form video content, like YouTube videos, then this is a really good place to post a teaser of them.
(Image to show exactly where these are on IG interface – e.g. of my YT video teasers on IG)
Or, you can just post the entire video on Instagram. This is also a really good place to connect with your audience for longer. So if you would like to speak to them, maybe you want to do a free training or a free masterclass that you couldn’t really do on your Stories, then you’d want to do it on IGTV. Just remember that whatever type of video you’re posting on IGTV, it’s super important to have subtitles. Previously you would have to add these manually, but now auto generated captions are available within IGTV, and you’ll see the option for that when you go to post. Easy!
(Image to show exactly where these are on IG interface)
The next content format is Instagram Live. Now this is exactly what it says on the tin – it’s a really good place for you to go live with your audience, whether that be you on your own, speaking directly to them, or collaborating and going live with someone else. So if you’re going to live on your own, again, you might want to give a training or a masterclass, something that’s probably educational, but quite long. So typically something that you can’t really teach or cover in your Stories.
Another thing that lives are really good for is having a heart to heart with your audience. So if you want to have a longer conversation about something, and you feel compelled to share something that’s perhaps deeper, that you can’t really fit on your Stories, then it is a really good place to do that.
And finally, if you are collaborating with someone else in their lives and pooling audiences, then that’s a really good idea. If you want to learn more about how to do that, then read this post on how to get followers on Instagram, because I will give you a step by step breakdown on how to make the process of organising lives a lot easier. Remember, whatever you’re doing live, you can then save or download that video, and you can repurpose it and post it as an IGTV!
The next content format is Instagram guides. Now guides are essentially a way of collating different posts, whether they be your own posts or other people’s content, and putting them into a handy guide or step by step process. So this is a really good way to share tips and tricks with your audience and to generally educate them with previous content that you’ve created. As you can see here, you’re not necessarily creating new content for this format, you’re actually just repurposing previous content.
The way you can do that is to look at your content pillars. So for example, I talked about entrepreneurship, social media strategy, property and investing. So what I could do is have my step by step guide on “how to get followers on Instagram”. I could go through my previous feed posts, pick those carousel posts with those tips and collate them into a guide. So guides are just a really good way to lump your content into different themes and to make it go further for you.
The one drawback of guides that I do want to alert your attention to is the fact that typically, you would take users off of Instagram to serve them this longer form content. And what that means is that you would be building your email list in that process. Now with guides you are actually giving your audience that content within the app, so it means that you’re just not actually building your email list! So please keep that in mind when you’re deciding whether to use guides.
Make sure to check out this blog post: