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20 Creative Things to Post on Instagram: Spruce up Your Feed

By Kristina
26 Feb, 2021
13 min read

How often do you post on Instagram? Twice a week? Three times?

Well, in 2021, the average company added a post on Instagram 5.5 times per week! That’s according to the 2021 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report by Rival IQ. 

Image source: Rival IQ

Here are some even more eye-watering stats:

  • Retail companies, including online stores, averaged 5.5 posts per week!
  • For the companies in the health & beauty niche it was 6.4. That’s 332.8 Instagram posts per year. 

That’s a lot of Instagram action.

So, how do you keep your Instagram content fresh while you keep up with your competitors in terms of how often you post on Instagram? The answer is to get creative.

And we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll give you 20 practical yet creative suggestions for your Instagram feed, each with inspiring examples!

To begin with, let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits of using Instagram, and some tips for generating amazing Instagram content.

Why Instagram is a must for your e-commerce store

Almost 90% of the world’s top brands see Instagram as a crucial part of their overall marketing strategies. So what is it that makes this channel so important?

A young audience ready to spend

Instagram has around 500 million daily users, and its audience is young. In fact, two-thirds of Instagram’s users worldwide are aged 34 and younger. Internet users from this demographic are the most active buyers online. 

Impressive engagement rates 

According to the 2021 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report by Rival IQ, Instagram’s, “engagement rates are still exponentially higher than Facebook and Twitter”.

Advanced targeting 

After being acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram has been growing its targeting capabilities ever since. These days, both platforms are considered to be the most sophisticated social media tools for advertising.

E-stores are going to make the big bucks this year.

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You can do it too.

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Increased visibility through hashtags 

Hashtags can give you a viral hit even if your store is just starting up and you have a small following. If you can come up with clever, creative Instagram post ideas, the hashtags will help them go further.

4 tips for making compelling Instagram content

Hopefully, we’ve convinced you that a post on Instagram is worth investing your time into. Now it’s time to get creative and think about what to post on Instagram. We’ll start with some general tips before jumping into specific Instagram post ideas with some inspiring examples.

When it comes to creativity, there are as many theories and approaches as there are creative people. But here are a few reliable points to get you started (for something more detailed, check out this guide to creating posts on Instagram by Peg Fitzpatrick.)

  1. Set a clear goal. Do you want to build brand awareness? Or maybe encourage loyalty by establishing a more personal connection with your target audience? How about showcasing some new products? When you have a clear goal, generating Instagram post ideas becomes easier and quicker.
  2. Establish a coherent presence. Consistency builds trust and shows professionalism. You can achieve a coherent and recognizable Instagram presence by defining a clear style for your pictures and/or videos, using branded images, and applying the same color palette across all of your posts.
  3. Take lots of pictures. Many people underestimate how many pictures they’ll need for their posts. We recommend you create a stockpile of photos that you can use later – just snap a bunch of them while you’re out and about. A 1:1 ratio or square is usually best.
  4. Develop a hashtag strategy. Dig into research and find some popular hashtags to use on your post, or create your own. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post.

Instagram post ideas 

Right, we’ve covered some general points for starters. But the best way to get ideas for Instagram posts is to look at some living, breathing examples. So, here are 21 creative Instagram ideas you can try, each with an inspiring example. 

#1 A peek behind the scenes

Humanizing your business can help customers develop a genuine connection with your brand. And what better way to do it than by showing them what goes on behind the scenes!

Make sure your pictures are honest and transparent. An artificial-looking scene in a perfectly tidy office will just feel fake. So show off your workplace in all its messy glory! Whatever you end up choosing, try to be fun, authentic, and friendly.

behind_the_scenes frictional games
Game developer Frictional Games shared an Instagram post about … cinnamon buns. Nothing to do with gaming, but a great way to put some human faces to your brand and give you audience a look behind the scenes.

#2 Ask a question

Everyone loves sharing their opinions. So why not capitalize on that by asking your followers a question?

Ideally, the question should be related to your business. For example, if you run a coffee shop, you could ask your patrons for their favorite roast or blend of coffee. If you’re a gym owner, ask about experiences with different workout routines.

The answers you get will provide you with valuable insights about your audience (they may even spark new ideas for future Instagram content). But best of all, your audience will love telling you what they think.

To maximize engagement, stick to fairly simple questions that don’t require too much thought. Encourage users to tag their friends for an additional signal boost.

ask a question barnsannoble
Barnes and Noble poses a simple questions to great effect with this Instagram post. They give their audience a fun topic to think about. Plus the comments that are posted will be useful to other users too. Win win!

#3  Share an inspirational quote

Sharing wisdom is inspiring, and it’s a great way to show what your brand stands for. So share some quotes that inspire you with your Instagram followers. They could be quotes by a famous writer, philosopher or entrepreneur. 

One tip is to include the quote in the picture itself, rather than just in the caption. This will make it easier for people to share it around.

inspiration quote mental aspect
This post by Mental Aspect is uplifting and positive. The image also showcases a  great way to share quotes - it feels like we’re all reading from the same book.

#4  Post a tutorial

Tutorials and how-tos provide real value, making them a top post idea for Instagram engagement. 

If you’re in a niche like health & beauty or food & beverages, the opportunities are endless. But even in other niches, you’ll be surprised how many useful tips you know that you can share with your audience. Video’s work best here, though pictures with written instructions can also work.

share a tutorial fitmencook
Fit men cook is a health eating e-commerce store that has perfected the tutorial. The recipes and health tips are easy and helpful, and appeal to a clearly defined audience. That’s why posts like this end up with almost 250,000 views on Instagram. 

#5 Make people laugh

Humor is great for making your brand more memorable. It’s also great for engagement. If you can make people laugh, your post is likely to be shared many hundreds or thousands of times. Perhaps you’ll even become a viral hit!

Just make sure not to recycle outdated material. Posting a stale meme is a serious offence that the online world won’t appreciate. So keep up to date with what your audience likes and what types of humor are being shared the most.

humor car dollarshaveclub
Dollar Shave Club is a brand built on humor. Instagram posts like this one connect well with its audience, while also communicating a deeper message that relates to the product itself.

#6 Conduct an AMA

AMA (“Ask me anything”) sessions allow you to engage with your followers directly. Questions aren’t restricted by any specific topic, which can make for an interesting, wide-ranging conversation.

All you have to do is announce a suitable date and gather questions from your followers in the comments of a post. You can then answer them in the comments section, or create a separate video.

ama ask me anything digital marketing
AMA posts are common in digital marketing.  These types of posts are also suitable for a range of e-commerce product niches, including health & beauty, fitness, consumer electronics, and food & beverages.

#7 Host a contest or giveaway

Contests and giveaways work well on Instagram. These posts are a smart way to build up your follower base and put your products in front of new shoppers.

Be sure to flag the event by including GIVEAWAY at the top of the post and offer a prize that’s relevant to your audience. You can also simplify participation by providing a link in the bio.

contests and giveaways ipsy
This giveaway Instagram post by Ipsy  is bold and engaging. Notice that to participate you have to follow, post and tag. This way your post will be shared organically and your audience grows.

#8 Enlist an influencer

If you want to draw attention to your brand in the least amount of time possible, why not enlist an influencer? Working together with a big name – especially if their target industry is related to yours – can bring you a lot of exposure. In addition, influencer marketing is a great way to get social proof. 

If your marketing budget is limited, you might want to consider micro-influencers (with up to 100,000) or nano-influencers (with up to 1,000 followers). These influencers tend to be more trusted by their audiences and often create more authentic and engaging Instagram posts.

influencer marcusbustler
Absolut Vodka is using Instagram influencers like Marcus Butler to showcase its new paper-based bottles. If you have an exciting or innovative new product, Instagram influencers are great for spreading the word.

#9 Post user generated content

Social proof matters. Shoppers want to see your products being used by real people. Plus, they’ll be encouraged to buy if they feel like they’re missing out on the new big thing. User generated content on your Instagram feed is ideal for social proof.

Gathering it is pretty simple. Tell your audience what you’d like to see. It doesn’t need to be anything detailed. In fact, giving your audience plenty of artistic licence might result in more creative posts. After some time, search for the hashtag, find some user generated content you like, then post it on your Instagram feed. Just don’t forget to get their permission first.

user generated content number one shoes
Number One Shoes gave its users a simple brief - “Show us your summer vibes.” The result is some authentic, on-brand user generated content.

#10 Embrace a trend

Recreating the latest social media trend is fun, easy to do, and won’t cost you much. It’s also a great way to put a face to your brand and help your audience connect with you.

Just don’t eat laundry detergent (yup, that was a thing!) or dabble in memes if you’re uninitiated (for more on the grim consequences of that see #5).

trends steamzaus
The example above shows a trend called ABCD, which stands for “anybody can dance.” A well-known dancer posts a challenge and people post their best attempts at mimicking the dance moves. This could be perfect for a fitness of fashion brand.

#11. Stats!

Stats and graphs may not seem super creative, but they can actually make for really engaging Instagram content. 

Use resources like Statista or Statistic Brain to find stats that will be relevant or surprising to your audience. Type in a keyword or phrase related to your industry and see what’s out there. The more counterintuitive or shocking the info, the more shares it’s likely to get. 

statistics valentine's day gifts infforgraphicly
This instagram post by Infographic.ly is a great example of a useful stat. It can help shoppers decide what to get their other half for Valentine’s day. Once you’ve found an enticing stat like this, you can either create an infographic (time consuming but shareable) or choose a relevant picture and incorporate the numbers into it.

#12 Spotlight an employee

Another behind the scenes content idea, and one that will make you popular with your audience. Showing gratitude and appreciation always goes down well on Instagram. So share selfies, pictures of your employees engaged in their craft, or short video interviews. 

You can get into the habit of giving the spotlight to employees on their birthdays. Or you can introduce new team members - share a pic, 3-5 fun facts about them and a short list of things they love the most about their jobs.  

employee spotlight
Ruckus Axe Throwing offers an unusual leisure time activity - axe throwing. Part of its value is the experience it offers, so it uses Instagram to showcase the people who create that experience.  If great customer service is one of your selling points, posts about employees are a great way of showing this.

#13 Show your mistakes

At times, social media can feel a bit fake. When everything looks too perfect, it’s hard to believe it’s real (and most of the time it isn’t).

So why not be honest and show your mistakes as well as your triumphs? There’s no need to show anything serious or unpleasant. But posting about a minor slip-up (especially if there’s a funny picture of it) can be a powerful way to build empathy and loyalty with your followers.

And showing how you made up for the mistake communicates responsibility and trustworthiness.

mistakes charcooksalotte
Cookery mishaps make for perfect behind the scenes content. Newby cooks make mistakes all the time. Showing them that this is normal will help to build their confidence. So follow Instagrammers like @charcooksalotte and post your baking disasters for all to see.

#14 Happy [insert holiday]!

People love to get into the holiday spirit, and often well before the holiday even begins. So holidays and festivals are the perfect time to seize the day and post something positive.

Create a calendar with major festivals and holidays well in advance. Then when it comes time to post, add as many hashtags related to the respective holiday as you can. Taking Christmas as an example, include hashtags like #christmasiscoming,  #winterweather, #christmascountdown, #allIwantforchristmasisyou, #christmasshopping, and many more.

If holidays are still a way off, general seasonal posts (summer vacations, first snow, leaves changing color) also work well. And don’t forget that holidays are many and diverse. Do some demographic research on your audience and join the holiday cheer!

Try to think globally with your holiday posts. Occasions like the Tet holiday in Vietnam may be unfamiliar to many, but they’re a great opportunity to appeal to a specific demographic. Plus, they give a clear focus for creativity. Vietnamese inspired design, fashion or cookery could work really well.

#15 Before and after

Before and after has been a standard approach in the advertising industry for decades. And personal transformations and success stories are wildly popular on social media too. 

Instagram is the perfect platform for before and after posts. To get some ideas, think about the value you offer to your customers. For a health and fitness brand, show weight loss or muscle gain. For a home decor businesses, show the drastic changes from a renovation.

before and after
Before and after Instagram posts work because our natural curiosity makes us want to see the change. Take this post for home improvement ideas. By showing the “before” picture first in a carousel, we’re curious to see the “after.” Whereas just showing the “after” picture by itself would have less impact.

#16 Highlight your community involvement

Getting involved in your local community is a fast-track to boosting trust and loyalty in your audience. Many customers like to feel like they’re not just buying a product, but also making the world a better place. 

There are tons of simple ways you can give back: contribute to food banks, donate to a worthy cause, volunteer. Posts that convey a commitment to giving back and improving people’s lives get tons of engagement.

community involvement
The holiday season is a great time to give back, as the CiaoBellaSpa in Alberta does here. Don’t forget to thank your customers for making it possible. 

#17 Poll your audience

Polls are not as intimate as livestreams and AMAs, but they’re still engaging. Plus they’re fantastic for collecting valuable information about your followers while having fun at the same time.

Ask your audience members about their favorite types of Instagram content, what features they would like to see in your future products, or what they like most about your store. Or go general. In which case, try to pick a topic your audience will be passionate about. 

Instagram poll labels image
You can share 2 option polls in Instagram stories. The poll labels look great and will get more engagement from your audience. Image source: Instagram

#18 Carousels

A study of over 22 million Instagram posts last year found that carousels are the most engaging type of post on the platform. Furthermore, the popularity of carousels is projected to keep growing in the coming years.

You could use a carousel to show multiple ways of using a single product. Or show multiple related products. Or why not try a step-by-step tutorial using this format?

One smart tip is to create mixed carousels  (images + videos). These carousels generate the highest engagement rate per post (2.3%). And only 7% of carousels on Instagram are mixed carousels, so this is an under-utilized type of Instagram post.

Educational content, like this Instagram post by Skill Fix, is perfect for Instagram carousels. So post on Instagram some tips, guides or tutorials using a carousel.

#19 Go live

When it comes to authenticity, nothing beats interacting with your followers in real-time.

Livestreaming on Instagram is great for answering questions, promoting new or upcoming products, and showing the goings on behind the scenes. And, since 2021, it’s also a great way to sell for some businesses. The Instagram Live Shopping feature lets eligible stores in the US sell live while live streaming. You can find out more in this detailed article on Instagram live shopping.

You can also post the live video on your Stories once the stream is over – this way it’ll function as additional content and social proof. Make sure to give your audience a heads up before the stream. Choose a quiet, well-lit location for filming your livestream.

Including a direct channel for sales in your Instagram livestream is now possible for some US-based stores like Bag Snob. Image source: Later

#20 Answer an FAQ

Your FAQs don’t need to be buried on the support page of your Shopify store. Why not run a series of Instagram posts where you answer your follower’s most burning questions? These can be similar to AMAs, only with more curation.

As you’ve probably gathered, being responsive to your followers’ input is paramount. FAQ Instagram posts allow you to not answer relevant questions without having to invest much time into content creation. 

A good format for an FAQ Instagram post is to show the question in the image. Then provide a detailed answer in the comments and be ready to respond!


Things to post on Instagram: the takeaways

So, you’ve got all you need to create your 4 creative instagram posts per week. Here’s a quick summary of the main points to remember.

  1. Listen to your audience: Asking questions, running polls, and encouraging comments will all get your audience engaged. Remember that your audience wants to be part of a conversation, not just a passive recipient of your Instagram posts.
  2. Go behind the scenes: Show the human side of your business when you post on Instagram. This makes for engaging content, and it will make your brand more memorable and distinctive.
  3. Be authentic: Post on Instagram about your mistakes, go live even if you’re not a TV presenter. Audiences value authenticity on social media, so don’t be afraid to show who you really are.

Now you know what to post on Instagram, it’s time to focus on your Instagram ads! These can improve your overall reach and help you connect with new audiences. A great starting point is this up-to-date guide to advertising on Instagram.


I'm a content manager at sixads. I'm fiery about marketing, writing and traveling, so you can often find me scribbling away in some unknown corner of the world. If you want to know more ways to increase traffic and attract buyers to your online store get in touch with sixads on one of the channels bellow.