Have you checked your Instagram yet today? Turns out most of us spend an average of 30 minutes on the beloved social media app every day.

( … and make that at least an hour for those of us who are checking our personal and business Instagram accounts on a daily basis.)

If you’re wondering how to create content for Instagram, you’re already on the right track to thinking strategically about your brand’s social media accounts and making the most out of the time you spend with Instagram every day.

So without further ado, let’s talk about Instagram content before we get lost in today’s scroll.

Why Is Instagram Content a Must-Have for Your Business?

Before we dive into how you’ll be creating high-performing Instagram content, let’s quickly level-set on why we’re here. With over 1 billion monthly users, Instagram is home to many of the people who are interested in your product or service. Not to mention that of those billions of users, 200 million of them visit at least one business profile every day.

Along with all those eyes on your brands, Instagram is unique in the type of content you can share about a product or service. While Twitter and LinkedIn are reserved for corporate jargon and business talk, Instagram is the online space for fun and conversational dialogue with your audience that shows off the more human side of your brand.

Instagram is also all about visuals, so it’s the ideal social media platform if your product or service lends itself to photography. And don’t worry, other visuals like videos, illustrations and graphics are more than welcome on Instagram — especially if they’re high-quality, aesthetically pleasing and paired with an engaging caption.

Your target audience is waiting! Let’s move on to the Instagram marketing basics and expert tips you need to know to create the content that will make them pause in the daily scroll.

Instagram Content: The Beginner’s Guide

Setting yourself up for Instagram marketing success means understanding the features of the app and the types of posts you can utilize. Here’s your crash course:

Top Business Features of Instagram

Step one to any Instagram marketing plan is to create a business account. If you already have a personal account, you can easily switch it to a professional account by going to your account settings.

The reason you’ll want a business account is that it gives you access to additional features including:

  • Instagram Insights to track your content’s performance.
  • Instagram ads and other content promotion options.
  • Instagram Shopping to seamlessly feature products.
  • Direct messaging features for easy contact with users.
  • Contact information and call-to-action in your profile.

Types of Instagram Content

Like we touched on above, Instagram is a highly visual platform. Your feed is for posts that are high-quality and on-brand, while Instagram Stories give you more flexibility. Here are the types of Instagram content you can work into your posting strategy:

Images

The most common type of Instagram post is a still photo. You have the option to post a single image or up to 10 images in one post, better known as a carousel.

While Instagram is known for its iconic square image, the app does also give you the option to post images with vertical and horizontal aspect ratios. However, your Instagram grid will be in rows of three squares and the vertical or horizontal size will only appear when users click on the post or see it as they’re scrolling through their feed.

Videos

In addition to photography, Instagram is the place to post short video content. By short, we mean that Instagram will cut your video off at one minute.

You can upload your videos with or without sound, though the default when users are scrolling is no sound so it’s best to use captions if the video requires narration or music to be understood.

Remember that videos will live on your grid, so you’ll want to choose a cover photo when uploading a video. If you press post without designating the cover image, Instagram will choose one automatically and, unfortunately, it’s not likely to choose the most flattering moment that you would have liked to feature on your page.

Reels

Instagram Reels is the app’s response to the popularity of TikTok. It allows users to upload 15 or 30-second loops of content. When you post a reel, it will live on the dedicated Reels page, but you have the option to share it to your feed or story as well.

IGTV

Much like your feed, IGTV is for sharing video content that you’ve already created and fine-tuned. The difference is that IGTV allows for long-form content. Any account can post videos that are up to 15 minutes and verified accounts are upgraded to posting videos up to an hour long.

Instagram Live

If you want to share Instagram content in real-time, Instagram Live is the place to do it. Instagram users that follow your account will receive a notification when your brand goes live, which encourages them to check out what you’re sharing.

This live content works well for virtual events, interviews with special guests, product reveals or demos. You won’t want to overdo it on Instagram Live content, though, as it will lose its appeal and excitement if your brand goes live all the time.

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are like Snapchat Stories, meaning they disappear after 24 hours. If you want your stories to last more than 24 hours, you can save them as a “highlight” on your main page, which allows users to click through different categories of content when they visit your brand’s Instagram.

Posting on your Instagram story allows your brand to share various photos and videos without overwhelming your page with too many posts. You can also engage users with polls and other interactive features.

Your Instagram story is also a great place to reshare content that you’re tagged in, post live event footage, or snap some behind-the-scenes moments. You have more flexibility here because Instagram Stories don’t have to be as high-quality as the photos and videos that make it to your feed.

Instagram Captions and Hashtags

Instagram is a visual app, but the words that accompany your post are important as well. You’ll want to craft captions that are engaging and relevant. Ideally, they’ll tell a story that encourages users to like, comment, or follow if they aren’t already.

While you won’t want to pile on the sentences and emojis for the sake of it, Instagram does lend itself to longer captions. You have up to 2,200 characters, so feel free to tell a bit of a longer story here than you would on, say, Twitter.

If relevant, add a geotag and hashtags to your Instagram caption so users are more likely to come across your post organically. That said, avoid overstuffing your caption with hashtags.

Our advice would be to include a few hashtags in the caption if they fit well. Otherwise, feel free to add some at the end of the caption or share them in the first comment of the post. This way, the hashtags will still offer the same search benefits, but they won’t be in anyone’s face when they come across your post.

Another Instagram quirk to remember: You can’t include clickable links in a caption. The only place on Instagram that users can click a link to leave the app is in an account bio. If you want to direct users somewhere else, put the link in your bio and include the classic “link in bio” call-to-action in your caption.

If you need some hashtag inspiration, the best place to go is, you guessed it, Instagram. Click the search icon at the bottom of the app and start typing in hashtags relevant to your brand.

For example, if you search #marketing on Instagram, you’ll find a ton of other popular hashtags that users follow, such as #marketingtips, #marketing101 and #marketinglife.

Ideas for Instagram Content

Now that you’re ready to come up with ideas for Instagram posts, here are some content ideas to get the wheels turning.

Sneak peeks and promotion: While you don’t want to share straight-up ads on your Instagram feed, users will appreciate updates from your brand. Think product launch teasers, info about new service offerings, event promotion, or alerts about an upcoming sale.

Educational posts: You’re the expert on what you do, so share your knowledge with users in the form of aesthetically pleasing photos, fun videos, or an illustrated carousel like this one from Hubspot:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by HubSpot (@hubspot)

Behind-the-scenes moments: Humanize your brand with highlights of your company culture, photos and videos that show how your product or service is made, or other parts of your brand that consumers wouldn’t normally see.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Jack’s Abby (@jacksabbycraftlagers)

User-generated content: Put the spotlight on your followers by sharing photos or videos of them using your product or service.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Girlfriend Collective (@girlfriend)

Giveaway contest: If you have the means to offer a lucky winner something for free, turn it into Instagram content! It will encourage users to interact with your Instagram post, and it may also be the perfect opportunity to partner with an influencer or another brand.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Hootsuite (@hootsuite)

Of course, the best ideas are ones that align with your brand and strategy. You don’t want to post for the sake of being on-trend because Instagram users are all about authenticity. Your Instagram content should work toward your social media marketing goals, so be sure to come up with a clear content plan before you start creating and posting.

Instagram Content Strategies that Work

The first step to utilizing Instagram for your business is defining your goals for the platform. Think about what you want to get out of spending time and energy on your business Instagram, such as showing off your company culture, recruiting potential team members or building a community around educational posts.

If Instagram is the right place to build awareness among your target audience, consider working Instagram advertising into your content strategy. The best perk about these ads is that they show up in user feeds like a typical post, so they flow seamlessly into the user experience as opposed to being an unwelcome interruption.

Next up, make sure you’re creating consistent content. Your account doesn’t have to be as aesthetically pleasing as an Instagram influencer, but it shouldn’t feel like a random hodgepodge of content either.

As with other social platforms, make sure you find your Instagram voice. It should still sound like your brand, but you can experiment with what works on Instagram as opposed to LinkedIn or email marketing campaigns.

Finally, make sure you have a solid content plan in place. The more you plan ahead of time, the better your Instagram marketing will be. Build a content calendar so you know when and what you’ll be posting throughout the month.

B2B Rockstars

If you’re a B2B brand, don’t think you’re limited to LinkedIn and Twitter. Instagram can be a highly successful platform for B2B companies, especially as it allows for brand visibility that humanizes your brand and shows your product or service in action.

Here are a few B2B Instagram accounts to check out for inspiration:

B2C Rockstars

Reaching consumers on Instagram may seem easier than speaking to other businesses, but a crowded platform still calls for a targeted, on-brand strategy.

Take for example these B2C accounts that definitely know a thing or two about Instagram marketing:

Analyzing the Success of Your Instagram Content

You’re working your way through your content calendar, and with the right strategy in place, you’re seeing the likes, comments, followers and direct messages roll in. Hats off to you!

Now you’ll want to keep track of your Instagram account’s performance with tangible metrics so you can identify what content is driving results and where you might be able to up your game.

With an Instagram business account, you’ll have access to analytics like follower growth, impressions, reach and engagement by clicking “View Insights” below any of your posts. You can also check your Facebook account to track the performance of your Instagram ads.

While these metrics are certainly better than no metrics, the best industry insider tip we can give you is that paying for a third-party app like Sprout Social, Buffer or Coschedule is worth the investment.

These social media services give you access to more in-depth analytics, such as engagement growth and optimal post times or content types based on your previous posts. If you choose to link other social media accounts as well, you can compare performance between platforms.

The Instagram Metrics that Matter

You’ll want to make sure the metrics you track speak to your Instagram marketing goals, but there are some best practices to keep in mind when reviewing your analytics.

First, don’t be worried if you don’t have as many followers as household names like the Kardashians or Nike. What really matters is your follower growth rate. This will give you a better idea of how your content and posting frequency are influencing users’ decisions to give your account a follow.

Other engagement metrics to watch are your likes and comments — which should also steadily increase over time if you’re keeping up with a consistent posting schedule and posting valuable content for your audience.

You can also keep an eye on how many people are clicking on the link in your bio. This will give you an idea of how effective your posts are in encouraging users to visit your website and learn more or make a purchase.

Evolve Your Instagram Strategy As You Go

Once you have the analytics to understand how your content is performing, you can make adjustments to your Instagram marketing strategy accordingly.

For example, if your engagement rates went up during a week when you posted four times instead of your usual two posts, you may consider upping your frequency for consistently higher engagement. Or if your first behind-the-scenes posts knocked your average metrics out of the park, consider working those into your content calendar on a more regular basis.

Go Get Those Instagram Marketing Goals

It’s time to create some Instagram content! We can’t wait to see what you achieve — and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any extra support along the way.

Stevie Snow is a writer at Brafton. Yes, she is named after Stevie Nicks. She’s a believer in "to life, to life, l’chaim!" because life is what brings us the Obamas, a really smooth vodka tonic and that moment on the dance floor when your favorite banger plays.