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At the moment everyone seems to be talking about Instagram Reels.
I’m firmly in the camp that believes it’s a good idea to experiment with new features when they are first rolled out. Being an early adopter means there is less competition and therefore more people are likely to see your content. This is a great article to read if you’re haven’t yet ventured into creating Instagram Reels.
However, creating Instagram Reels content doesn’t mean you should forget about all the other features available on Instagram and now is an ideal time to make sure you know about, and are using, Instagram’s full range of functionality as effectively as possible.
In this article, I’ll lay out the different ways you can add original content to Instagram, share ideas about how to get the best out of each type and (the best part) how you can cross post between them so you don’t feel like you’re constantly feeding the content machine.
4 Ways To add original content to Instagram
For years it was only possible to upload a single photo but, over time, Instagram has expanded the options so that there are now 4 different way you can upload content. These are:
- Grid posts: The true ‘original’ way to post. These images appear on the newsfeed and on your ‘grid’ whenever anyone looks at your profile.
- Stories: Enables you to share multiple photos and videos that appear together in a “slideshow format”.
- IGTV: A way to share long-form video on Instagram. Videos can be between 1min and 60mins in length. (15min max for a mobile upload, 60mins on a desktop)
- Reels: The new kid on the block allows you to create and share 15 or 30-second videos.
Each of these has 4 types have their own nuances and it can seem overwhelming but let’s break it down and look at each one in turn.
The ‘original’ way to post. These images appear on the newsfeed and on your ‘grid’ whenever anyone looks at your profile. Check back in a few weeks as I’ll be sharing another blog soon diving into how to get the most out of your grid posts so that your Instagram “shop window” works hard for you. In the meantime, keep in mind that Instagram is a very visual platform so think about these 6 tips:
High quality creatives
First and foremost all your posts should be high quality and aesthetically pleasing.
If someone lands on your profile page they are much more likely to investigate further if your overall page looks beautiful. To understand what I mean – which of these 2 views do you find more appealing? (More fab examples of account makeovers can be found here)
The standard Instagram grid post is based on a square 1080 x1080 post but it’s worth switching it up occasionally and posting either a larger (1080 x 1350) or smaller (1080 x 608) post.
Read this article if you want to understand more about optimum posting sizes.
Take advantage of the ability to upload more than one item for each post. Carousel posts can be a mixture of photos, videos, animated effect and collages so the use cases are limitless.
Instagram has some fantastic in-app effects you can take advantage including boomerang (short looping view) and collages and thats before you’ve explored the myriad of stand alone apps available.
Stories enable you to share multiple photos and videos that appear together in a “slideshow format”.
They are what is know as ‘ephemeral’ content which means that they are only on your account for 24hrs (unless you save them to the highlights section) and, as a result, the content doesn’t have to be as polished as that on your grid so your imagination can truly run wild.
The options are far more than I can go into in this blog but I often share tips about stories on my account – my favourite being how to use a photo of your brand colours to make sure your stories are on-brand.
Providing a way to share long-form vertical (and horizontal) video up to 60mins in length (15min max if on mobile) this was rolled out as Instagram’s attempt to create a rival to Youtube.
Although it hasn’t really achieved its aim of being a serious rival, IGTV can be the perfect outlet if you want to create high-quality long-form content that’s permanently accessible (and you could re share your YouTube content on to IGTV too).
The real power of IGTV comes by creating a series – much like a TV series where you can release regular content on a particular theme or content type to encourage your audience to ‘tune back in’ for the next release.
As I’ve mentioned this is the latest format type available from Instagram. Developed as a rival to TikTok, Reels enable you to share 15 or 30second videos, add in music, text and other effects to tell a more complete story.
But how do you know which type of content you should use for your business?
No “one size fits all” solution
Despite what anyone says there is not a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. Each business will need to take into account the following factors in order to make an informed choice:
- Resources available for content creation
- Technical ability to create content
- Product or service offerings
- Ideal client preferences
Much like the platform itself, it’s important not to stand still. Try, experimenting with different types of content and engage with your audience to establish if they are responding to it or not
However, in my opinion, the real way to get yourself noticed and in front of as many potential clients as possible is to develop a process that works where you create one piece of content and repurpose it across the various different formats
Work smart and repurpose
Repurposing is such a powerful way to free up your time and still share content in multiple different formats. For example, if you decide you do want jump into Reels, then don’t leave it there. Share the Reels to your grid (take the time to add a cover picture that will fit in with your overall grid theme) and then share the grid post to your Stories. In this way you have made one piece of content but shared it 3 times on your account.
Create a reel ⇒ add to your Grid ⇒share to stories
Another way to reshare would be
Record an IGTV ⇒ put a snippet or a promo post onto Stories ⇒ Share that same snippet as a Reel.
Or post on your grid and Story to promote an upcoming IGTV episode. Ask your followers for questions to cover in the recording.
If you think about it the options are limitless.
So, by all means make a plan to explore Reels – but not before you’re figure out how to get the best out of each of the different types of content and how you can cross post between them.
You may also be interested to here my next blog here – its all about how to grow your Instagram account more effectivley.