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Knowing what to post on Instagram is a never ending struggle.
After you’ve exhausted your own feed for post ideas, interrogated your team for inspiration, and finally landed on super generic suggestions that are copy pasted across every blog, you might be tempted to chuck up a static image of a motivational quote and call it a day.
But your problem isn’t that your creativity well has run dry.
Your problem is that there are an infinite number of things to post and ways to post it.
So, instead of wasting precious brain cells trying to figure out what to post, you can start with a simpler question:
‘What’s the best kind of post for me and my audience?’
You might already know what that is — but if you don’t, we took part in a review of 62,875 Instagram business accounts to find what post types worked best based on follower size.
While the data might make you want to instantly reshape your Instagram marketing strategy, a word of caution:
Every business is different. Every following, community, and objective for your social is different.
So, start with these post ideas based on your follower count and test, test and test again!
Below is an infographic summarizing the key points of this article. If you'd like to read the detailed version, keep scrolling!
When you’re a small account, your focus should be on educating your audience and random feed-passers-by about you. This is where you start to find your ideal audience, aka, the people most likely to buy from you or spread the good word about you.
Here are some goals for small accounts:
When it comes to the best post type for small accounts, carousels are the clear winner, driving the most engagement, saves and reach.
But before you create a bunch of carousels defining your brand position, think about carousels like this:
Every carousel is pillar content. That means it sits at the core of a larger idea or series of ideas. Each image can later be its own post, giving you way more content to play with, and you’ll spend less time creating content from scratch.
Here’s some great examples of how you can achieve that.
These are for your data nerds. You know, the ones that get excited when they see a percentage sign.
Now, we’re still in the small account phase, but we want to show our audience and potential audience that we’re obsessed with Instagram marketing, and we’ve got the knowledge to back it up.
Here’s how we (@getskedsocial) carousel’d those insights:
In five posts, we give our audience a high level overview in bite-size chunks.
But because there’s so much depth to the study, we can pull out individual facts and stats to turn into further content.
This is another value-add great for supporting your brand's worth.
Carousels have individual posts beat when it comes to resources, as individual posts only give you one chance to convince people your resource is worthwhile.
Carousels let you:
This is a great example from @pixistock:
She starts with a clear solution to a problem — Instagram content ideas.
And ends with:
While the content planner is technically the pillar this carousel is built on, each of the 20 ideas she provides can be looked at in greater detail.
Whatever it is you do during your day, there are steps to doing it — and there are always some people who will find it interesting.
Here’s an example that won’t take your breath away:
This is from @nicholashackowatch, a tiny watchmaker based in Sydney Australia.
While the image above (and the rest of the carousel if we’re being honest) would seem bafflingly dull to your average audience member, to your horological enthusiasts this is like watching croissants being baked by a master pastry chef.
Again, your day-in-the-life carousels can be turned into their own individual posts where you further break down the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of what you do.
These can be about yourself, your business, your product, or your area of expertise.
Check out how @drannecoffey does this around IVF:
While we would suggest switching the text around (so the question is the lede), her point is still made — this is a big question, and I’m here to answer it.
This means Dr. Coffey is talking directly to her ideal audience and proving herself as an expert in a single post.
Here are some goals for medium accounts:
You might be happy with a medium size account. People know who you are and what you do — but to become a big account, you need to deliver more engaging content.
And the king of engaging content is video.
Video also feels more personal — your audience isn’t dealing with a still image of you. They’re ‘interacting’ with a walking, talking, animated human being.
Here are a few great examples of Instagram post ideas for medium accounts.
What you know and can do, others want to know and do.
Taking people step-by-step through how to do something — whether it’s a recipe, artistic creation or process — educates your audience and encourages them to ask questions.
Check out the recipe videos from @lifebymikeg.
In each video, Mike takes his audience through the recipe in a short, sharp way, making it easy to follow and easy to replicate.
Everyone explores in their own way.
Whether it’s literal exploring (like going on a tour or hiking) or using a product or service to suit their specific needs, your audience can provide unique perspectives.
This is how Tourism Australia @australia shares their audiences’ content to show the beauty of Australia:
This strategy is priceless if your organization covers a lot of ground.
For Tourism Australia, they would have had to hike to the location, invest in a drone, get back to base and upload it.
By sharing user-generated content, they can show off the best of every corner of Australia without having to go there themselves.
...and repost the recording after!
Interviews are a great way to get to recognise your audience, tap into a larger audience, and provide more depth in your area of expertise.
This is an interview from @thesocialimpact.au.
This interview is genius because it achieves a few things in one go:
For those of you who get nervous about the idea of video, first think about your MVP (minimum viable product). Or more simply put:
‘What is the least amount of video I need to do in order to create great value?’
For some brands, you might need the whole shebang — fancy camera, lighting, mic setup and so on.
But if you’re a smaller, more relatable and down to earth brand, you might only need a decent smartphone and a pair of good earphones or headphones.
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Here are some goals for large accounts:
Also, take a look at these quick facts:
Having a large account is where it stops becoming a channel and starts being a responsibility. With a huge fan base and reach, it’s not about you anymore — it’s all about your audience.
But the Instagram algorithm is tricky for large accounts.
First, you’re dealing with a throttled reach rate, meaning that it’s more important than ever to create quality content.
Second, every post type starts having distinct advantages. Are you after more commentary? More saves? More engagement?
Whatever you decide to go with, the goals are still clear: get grounded, win hearts and shine a spotlight on your audience.
Find a goal that your audience is desperate for and give them a path to achieve it.
Whether that’s best suited to a series of images, or Reels, or a video is up to you — but here’s how @headspace pulled off theirs:
This is a four-step mindfulness challenge where their audience has to achieve one simple goal: write themselves a letter.
While it doesn’t sound ground-breaking or revolutionary, you only need to look at the comment from @mrskatestubbs to see how something simple made a difference.
If you’re keen on starting a challenge on Instagram, remember to make it a SMART goal.
By ticking these criteria off, you can be confident you’re setting realistic expectations and providing the right incentives for your audience.
Takeovers are an underrated gem.
Here’s an example from @mensfoliomy:
The reason these are underrated is that they have intense value:
And having influential friends on Instagram never hurts!
In the Venn diagram between a case study, takeover, advertisement, and sharing UGC, is the sneaky testimonial.
Now, this won’t work for all brands and services, because the resulting post has to be the proof in the pudding.
Here’s how @canonaustralia does it:
That’s a stunning shot.
And right there at the bottom you can see exactly what equipment was used to take it.
Again, this doesn’t work for everyone.
But if you have a product or service that has a visually appealing result, then this could be absolutely perfect for you.
The difference between a ‘day in the life’ and a behind the scenes is the polish. You can have a day in the life perfectly mapped out, photoshopped and looking perfect.
Behind the scenes is raw.
Here, Disney takes us straight to the recording of the voice acting sessions for Raya and the Last Dragon.
While behind the scenes works for all brand types, they’re especially good for large accounts. It makes you feel more accessible and open, showing off your human side.
Getting noticed by a huge brand and their audience is huge for some followers.
To get UGC, you can search to see the posts that you’re tagged in or see if you’re mentioned in hashtags.
Here’s how @targetaus pulls it off:
Real simple. Real easy for them to find. It makes the process of checking for approval much smoother.
These Instagram post ideas and suggestions are just that — ideas and suggestions.
What’s more important for your brand — no matter what the size — is that you’re consistently providing quality content that resonates with your audience.
If you’re still struggling, take a step back and think about:
And if you're looking for some help with creating engaging Instagram content, make sure you check out Visme.
Good luck with your feed!
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