How often do you post on Instagram? Twice a week? Three times?
Well, in 2020, the average company added a post on Instagram 4 times per week! That’s according to the 2020 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report by 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 it’s 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 2020 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report by Rival IQ, Instagram’s, “engagement rates are still exponentially higher than Facebook and Twitter”.
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.
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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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).
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.
#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.
#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.
#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!
#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.
#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.
#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.
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.
#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 2020, 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 livestreaming. 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.
#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.
Why should I post on Instagram?
Instagram is one of the most popular social media sites in the world, giving you access to massive amounts of potential customers. Along with Facebook, Instagram also has the most advanced targeting capabilities of all similar platforms. And engagement levels on Instagram are high.
What should I post on Instagram?
Think about your brand first. Then do some research to understand your audience. Once you have these points clear in your mind, use the ideas above for inspiration. Don’t forget, you can always try a range of different posts then see which type works best.
How do I generate new ideas?
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here. Follow brands you like and see what they do. You can also use this guide to spying on your competitor’s Instagram ads to see what your closes rivals are up to.
Creating a clear schedule with different post types can really help too. This way you’re not working from a totally blank canvas. If you know that this Tuesday you’re planning to post a poll, you immediately have focus and the ideas will come more easily.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 in 2021.