Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. In 2018, Insta hit 1 billion monthly active followers, and demand for the visual app keeps growing.
It’s no wonder that countless companies are turning to the ‘Gram to strengthen their online presence and drive more traffic. Of course, just like any social strategy, you’ll need to ensure you’re approaching your Instagram content in the right way to get great results.
There’s more to becoming an Instagram success than sharing countless pictures online. You also need to figure out how you’re going to engage with your followers through every snap, story, and hashtag.
Here are some of the most essential content creation best practices to add to your Insta campaigns.
Instagram video content best practices
Let’s start with a rising star in the Instagram content creation landscape: video.
Ever since the introduction of IGTV and Instagram Live, the social media company has been pushing more focus towards its video options – encouraging people to share clips, as well as snaps. In an era where tools like TikTok are skyrocketing in popularity, the video could be the key to your success.
There are different kinds of video on Instagram to explore, including:
- Instagram stories: Short video clips (often 15 seconds or less) that are generally casual, low-pressure, and easy to make. They also disappear within 24 hours unless you pin them to your highlights reel. That makes Stories a great place to experiment.
- IGTV: Longer videos starting at 1 minute, with a maximum of 15 minutes when uploaded via mobile. These are great for more informative content, like how-tos and product demonstration. IGTV videos will always give you another opportunity to rank on Instagram with your chosen hashtags.
- Instagram live: Instagram Live is all about live-streaming. According to studies, 80% of customers would rather watch a live stream than read an article. Instagram Live is a great way to generate credibility for your brand by showing your audience “behind the scenes” of your company.
Remember, you can also post videos straight to your Instagram feed. Feed-based videos can be anywhere between 3 and 60 seconds long – making them one of the shorter types of Instagram video.
Most of the more popular Instagram video posts showcase quick how-to’s, behind-the-scenes insights, or stop-motion/ time-lapse content. You can also get seasonal with your videos like Tesla did with this Halloween-focused post:
Tips for Instagram video content
To make the most of your video Instagram content, the best thing you can do is experiment with different formats. Different video tools offer their own unique benefits. For instance, the temporary nature of Instagram Stories makes them an excellent choice for people who are experimenting with different kinds of video material. Stories are also perfect for limited-time sales and promotions.
If you want to get involved with the latest in Instagram content options, you could consider Instagram Reels. This feature is very similar to TikTok, allowing users to create 15-second videos with audio, effects, and various unique tools.
With Reels, you can add AR effects, audio, and even timers or countdowns to your content, helping you to engage your audience. There’s also the option to share your Reels to dedicated groups so that you can test your latest content with a specific audience.
No matter what kind of Instagram videos you’re producing, remember:
Show off your brand personality
Video on Instagram is an excellent way to showcase your unique personality. Creating fun stories that you can pair with your standard Instagram posts gives extra depth to your brand’s identity on the web. You can also take advantage of countless fun features, from polls and Gifs to music that makes your videos instantly more entertaining for your followers.
Find a theme
It doesn’t matter whether you’re posting videos to your newsfeed, Reels, or IGTV, you need to be consistent. Finding a theme helps you to create the most engaging videos that speak to your customers and maintain the general essence of your brand. Some companies are bright and friendly, while others are all about social movements and taking a stand. Look at @Lush for instance:
Make it beautiful
All visual content should be stunning – whether it’s an impromptu live stream or a fully produced video. Some of the videos you produce on Instagram might be slightly lower in quality than other clips.
However, you should always be aiming for a pristine brand image. Consider things like white borders to keep your content looking clean. Maintain consistent presets, so you’re not constantly switching between filters, and keep the colour themes that matter to your brand in mind.
Instagram content best practices: Feed content
Beyond the wonderful world of video, there’s still plenty of content types you can experiment with on Instagram. The most obvious option is the content that you post to your feed. This can be in the form of video clips, pictures, or even text-based quotes.
So, how do you make sure that your feed content is amazing?
Start by getting the timing right.
There is a time and a place for everything – even your Instagram posts.
Conduct a quick search on Google for “Instagram posting times”, and you’ll find dozens of studies telling you the best times to publish, depending on things like industry and location.
For instance, the best time to post on Instagram in the media and entertainment industry appears to be at around 9 am on a Friday morning. You can also get great engagement in this niche on Wednesdays Thursdays, and Fridays, during typical work hours.
Remember, when using data available from other companies to plan your social media scheduling, make sure you supplement it with your own insights. Studies can give you a basic idea of when the best time to post might be for you. However, it’s up to you to analyze your audience and find out when they’re the most active.
Your own research mixed with the best practices guidelines available online will help you to schedule your content at the perfect moment.
You can also use some of the best third-party Instagram tools to find out your personal best time to post on Instagram more easily.
Best practices for Instagram feed content
Aside from picking the right time and day to post your Instagram content, there are other steps you can take to make your profile more appealing too. For instance:
Post Instagram content that’s engaging and high-quality
High-quality visuals are at the heart of all Instagram best-practice guides. Scroll through the world’s most popular feeds, and you’ll find that every photo is carefully curated to deliver a specific aesthetic. Great images and videos connect with your audience. They also show that you’re a professional, committed to providing genuine quality.
Just look at snaps like this from Airbnb – they instantly inspire you to learn more.
When producing Instagram content for your feed, make sure that your pictures are the highest resolution you can get. Free image editing tools like VSCO Canva will help you to enhance your photos and add other elements for brand consistency, like borders and filters.
Stay on top of evolving trends
Instagram is constantly changing. Most recently, we’ve seen the arrival of Instagram Reels to make Insta more compelling for the younger Gen Z users who seem to prefer tools like TikTok. However, new opportunities are appearing on Instagram all the time. If you want to produce the best content, you need to make sure that you understand what’s available from Instagram.
Remember, Instagram has some of the best engagement levels of any social platform, but different customers will engage more with specific kinds of content. Trying out the latest trends will help you to figure out what really speaks to your audience.
When you post something new, like a different style of video, or an Instagram Reel, ask for feedback from your audience, and get them to let you know what you’d like to see more of.
Know Your audience
Finally, don’t just throw out new content at random. Get to know your audience and figure out what they’d want most from you.
If you don’t have a buyer persona yet – make one, outlining all of the information you can gather about your audience, including their gender (majority), location, age, and other essential facts. Once you know what kind of audience you have, you can begin creating content that’s appealing to them.
A younger audience might respond better to short video clips than text-based posts, for instance. Instagram analytics on your back-end will give you some handy metrics so you can figure out which kinds of content work for you.
Remember, getting to know your audience will also make it easier to decide which #hashtags you need to use to help customers find your posts.
User-generated content best practices
We’ve looked at video content and the very basics of Instagram feed content – but there’s another point worth exploring still. User-generated content is one of the most powerful assets any business can have on social media.
UGC on Instagram comes in the form of reposts and content created by users specifically for your brand. The easiest way to expand your content portfolio on Instagram is to ask permission to repost anything you see on your newsfeed that seems relevant to your brand. Crucially, you do need to follow some reposting etiquette here.
Make it clear in your bio or caption that the photo you’re posting isn’t your own. You’ll also need to DM the user and ask for permission to reuse the content. Once you’ve got permission, you can use a tool like Repost for Instagram to add a watermark to the reposted content.
Remember, include a @Mention in your post sending traffic back to the original content creator too.
How to generate more user-generated content
User-generated content is excellent on Instagram because it’s a chance to show your audience that you’re part of a wider community. With UGC, you can share posts from other influencers and social figures. If those pros @Mention you in their next post, that sends unique traffic your way.
Posting user-generated content also shows your audience that you’re interested in what they have to say and care about their opinions. This strengthens the relationship between you and your follower.
On top of all that, with UGC, you get some extra social proof for your company. Content from happy customers and clients doesn’t just shake up your news feed; it gives you visual confirmation that people are using your products – and they’re satisfied with them. Check out this post from Lush, for instance:
To earn more UGC for your Instagram feed:
- Create a branded hashtag: Hashtags are a valuable addition to any Instagram content strategy. However, they’re incredibly important when you’re trying to earn user-generated content. Sharing a branded hashtag like Nike’s #JustDoIt will make it easy to find customers who are sharing content related to your brand.
- Run giveaways and contests: People love getting things for free. Ask your audience to share pictures of them using your products for a chance to win something – like a gift or a massive discount on their next purchase.
- Work with micro-influencers: Find micro-influencers that already have a connection with your target audience and ask them to create content for you in exchange for freebies. You can build a better reputation and update your content this way!
Making the most of your Instagram content
Instagram is a popular social media platform for a reason.
People naturally respond to better visual content than written text. We love scrolling through amazing images and videos every day. It’s an excellent way for brands to make connections with their target audience.
However, just like any social media campaign, you’ll need the right strategy to stand out on Instagram. A powerful content plan that considers each of the three elements above will give you a diverse and immersive way to connect with your audience.
Remember, don’t forget the basics of social media posting too. Use hashtags to add more context to your campaigns, target your posts specifically to the audience that’s right for you, and always look for new chances to engage and delight your followers.
Good luck with mastering your Instagram content.