Need to update your Instagram marketing? Wondering which types of content are working best right now?
In this article, you’ll discover which Instagram content types will improve organic reach, engagement, and lead generation.
3 Themes to Shape Your Instagram Content Strategy
To design a successful Instagram content strategy, you need to know how the algorithm works and what the platform aims to achieve. In his end-of-year wrap-up, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri explained that the platform’s priority for 2023 is to “bring people together over the things that they love.”
To create value for the platform’s 2 billion monthly active users, Instagram plans to focus on three pillars in 2023:
- Creativity: Instagram aims to inspire Instagram users to express themselves and be original. This pillar likely builds on Meta’s larger shift toward prioritizing original (rather than repurposed) content. And Mosseri’s mention of Instagram’s former focus on photo filters likely means a continued push to use the platform’s native tools.
- Discovery: Instagram strives to help users find content and creators that inspire them and keep them coming back to the platform. This pillar likely implies a continued emphasis on feeding the platform’s recommendation engine and creating posts that appear in the feed as suggested content.
- Connection: Instagram intends to help people spark conversations and build deeper connections. This pillar likely references Instagram’s engagement tools. While public engagement (i.e., comments) continues to be important, private engagement (i.e., messaging) may provide even more value.
How to Update Your Instagram Content Strategy for 2023
Keep the three pillars above in mind as you review your account’s insights and map out an updated content strategy. Let’s look at ideas for improving reach, engagement, and lead generation on Instagram.
#1: 4 Types of Instagram Content to Improve Reach
To improve reach, create original content that maximizes opportunities for discovery. Experiment with the suggestions below.
In many cases, only your followers will see your account’s content in their feeds. If your audience is on the small side or if your reach tends to be low, use native tools to get your content in front of more people.
With Instagram’s Collaboration tool, you can partner with another business or creator to produce content. When you invite your content creation partner via the Collaboration tool, the post automatically displays on both accounts’ grids. It can also display in both accounts’ followers’ feeds, which means this tool can easily increase reach.
Keep in mind that content using this tool should be a true (i.e., unpaid) collaboration. If you pay a brand partner or influencer to create content, make sure they use the Branded Content tool to add a Paid Partnership tag instead.
Adding viral hashtags to your content probably won’t increase your reach. However, adding relevant hashtags to your content does help you maximize opportunities to display your content in various feeds. In turn, that can increase reach and drive discovery.
When you add relevant hashtags to content, it can appear in those hashtag feeds and on those hashtag pages. Anyone searching for those hashtags may discover your content and anyone following those hashtags may spot your content in their feeds.
If your content is especially engaging, it may also appear on the hashtag’s top-performing tab. Since top-performing content appears first on any hashtag page, this placement could drive additional discovery.
For best results, avoid using overly popular hashtags that already have a lot of competing content. Instead, aim to use hashtags with more than 10,000 but less than 1 million uses. You can check usage levels by searching for a hashtag and visiting its page.
Another way to help Instagram deliver your content to your ideal target audience is to add as much context as possible. If you aren’t already, use relevant keywords in post and reel captions. When you add keywords and key phrases, you tell Instagram what the content is about and increase the chance of it appearing in a relevant Instagram search.
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But don’t stop at captions. You can improve searchability and increase reach by adding on-screen text and reels captions.
If you typically add these elements with a third-party tool prior to publishing, experiment with using the Instagram app or another native tool like Business Suite to add text and captions. Then compare reach metrics.
Although Instagram has dialed back the amount of recommended content that appears in the feed, creating content that gets recommended is still a viable way to increase reach. To make sure that Instagram can recommend your content, check your account status and confirm that it qualifies for this opportunity.
Then create original, engaging content that Instagram is likely to recommend to people who don’t yet follow your account. Start by reviewing your account insights to find posts that reached more non-followers than followers. Then identify what made those posts particularly recommendable and incorporate those elements into future posts.
#2: 4 Types of Instagram Content to Increase Engagement
On Instagram, reach and engagement are closely intertwined. The algorithm uses engagement as a ranking signal, which means the more people interact with your content, the more people will be likely to see it in their feeds. Create engaging content with the tips below and then leverage that engagement to build deeper connections with prospects.
In early 2022, Instagram leaned heavily into short-form video content, which meant businesses had to prioritize Reels. Although Reels continues to drive substantial reach and engagement for many businesses on Instagram, the platform has widely acknowledged that its earlier focus on Reels may have been too extreme.
In response, the platform began to seek a better balance between photo and video content. Mosseri and other official Instagram outlets have since confirmed that the platform will continue to prioritize balancing the two content types in 2023. That means photo posts can help you achieve reach goals as long as they follow the principles above.
Carousel posts are uniquely designed to maximize engagement because each item in the carousel can display in the feed, essentially creating multiple opportunities for your audience to react or comment. To get more value from your carousel posts, encourage followers to swipe to see more.
For example, the first item in the @leadpages carousel post below uses an arrow symbol to prompt followers to swipe for more. Then each subsequent item includes a numbered step. If followers spot any of the images in their feed, they’ll instantly know there’s more to the post than what they’re seeing—piquing their curiosity and increasing engagement.
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Reels Trends and Remixes
Just because Instagram is incorporating photo posts back into the feed doesn’t mean you should stop creating reels. However, you should take steps to make sure your reels are generating engagement rather than reach alone.
To get more engagement from reels, pay attention to elements like hooks and transitions. When you start reels with great hooks and add eye-catching transitions, you can increase the chance that your audience will watch long enough to engage.
Not sure what to choose for the subject of your reels? Trends are a great place to start. Check the official @creators account for frequent trend roundups or scroll through your Reels feed to spot trending audio. Then join the conversation by creating your own take on a trend.
You can also respond directly to trending content using Instagram’s Remix tool. Since you can remix both photos and videos, this option is ideal for building on viral content, starting a dialog with another brand or creator, or showcasing how your business does something differently.
No matter how engaging your team’s content might be, remember that user-generated content (UGC) can outperform even the highest-quality branded content. Make a point of sharing UGC regularly to give customers a shout-out and add a little authenticity to your Instagram account.
If you plan to repost UGC to your Instagram feed, always get permission from the original creator first. Alternatively, share content to Stories using the Instagram app’s built-in Sharing tool. Then pin top-performing UGC to your Instagram profile by curating it in a story highlight.
Interactive Instagram Stories
Instagram is most likely to show your account’s stories to followers who regularly engage with your feed content. Tap into this cycle by prompting followers to engage more with your stories so they’ll continue to see and interact with more of your content throughout the app.
Stories are ideal for building deeper connections with followers and guiding them further through your marketing funnel. Use them to get followers more invested in your business, ask questions, and solicit feedback.
Give followers clear prompts to engage. For example, you can ask followers to reply with their thoughts, encourage them to vote in a poll, or ask them to contribute content via the add yours sticker. Check out some Instagram Stories ideas for inspiration to create your own.
#3: 3 Types of Instagram Content to Boost Lead Generation
In most cases, reach and engagement won’t be your end goals for Instagram. Yet they are important steps to revenue-focused goals like generating leads. Use the ideas below to convert engaged followers into leads.
Comments on posts and reels can be great for surface-level engagement. But when you want to turn prospects into leads (and eventually into customers), it’s often helpful to connect with them in DMs. There, you can learn more about their needs and challenges and they can ask more in-depth questions.
To get prospects to engage with you in DMs, create content that prompts them to do exactly that. In a post or reel, tease a lead magnet or a special offer. In the caption, direct followers to access your offer by sending your account a DM.
Make it as easy as possible for prospects to DM you by adding a message button directly to the post or reel. You can do that by tapping the Add Message Button option in the Instagram post or reel composer. Note that if you also have a WhatsApp account, you can choose whether to get DMs via Instagram or WhatsApp.
Another way to encourage DMs is to use Instagram’s Notes feature. Somewhat similar to stories, notes include up to 60 characters of text and display for 24 hours at the top of the inbox. Followers can tap to engage with your note by sending a DM reply.
To create a note, open your Instagram inbox and tap the plus sign at the top of the screen. Then write a brief prompt that fits in the 60-character limit. Use the idea below—teasing a lead magnet or a special offer—to get your audience’s attention and inspire a response.
It’s important to note that this feature may not be available to all accounts yet. It began rolling out in December 2022 and is widely available for creators as of March 2023. However, it may not be available for Instagram business accounts yet.
Lead Generation Stories
Because Instagram only supports links in limited placements, it’s often difficult to connect with prospects outside of the platform. If you leverage Instagram’s lead generation forms, however, you can give prospects more options to express interest in your business and allow connections off-platform.
To use this form, create a new story and tap to add the get quote story sticker. Note that Instagram automatically adds your active lead form.
If you haven’t set one up yet or if you need to update yours, you can do so by editing your account’s action button.
3 Tips for Creating High-Performing Instagram Content
Now you have an idea of which types of Instagram content to publish for more reach, engagement, and leads. But how can you choose the right topics to cover and elements to use? Adding top-performing content to your feed can provide ongoing inspiration. Use the tips below to reverse-engineer successful posts and create your own version.
Use Instagram’s in-app search to find hashtags that relate to your industry. Browse the posts and look for content quality and engagement. If you find hashtags that attract high-quality content, tap the Follow button. When you spot hashtagged content in your feed, identify what makes it work so well and repurpose those elements in your own posts.
Check Suggested Content
The posts and reels that Instagram recommends will have already passed the platform’s reach and engagement tests with flying colors. If you’re seeing them in your feed, they’ve probably already tallied tens of thousands of likes and comments. Pay close attention to what makes these Instagram posts stand out and brainstorm ways to replicate their elements in a way that makes sense for your brand.
Competitors can also be an excellent source of inspiration for your content, even if you ideally want to outperform them. I recommend adding top competitors and creators in your niche to your Favorites feed in the Instagram app. Not only will you see their best content more often, but you can also opt to view your favorites feed only so you can do competitive research more efficiently.
If you keep last year’s content plan on autopilot, you might miss out on key opportunities to build your audience and turn followers into customers. With the tips above, you can update your Instagram content strategy and lean into what works in 2023.
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