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Apr 13

The ultimate guide to Instagram formats and features

Post, instastories, guides, igTV, reels, DMs… If you feel a little bit lost among those formats and you’re not quite sure what they’re about and how you should use them to make the most of the platform, this Instagram lesson is for you. 

Instagram offers a lot of tools and formats, which are crucial from a strategic perspective. Let’s dive deeper into their functionalities, as they’re efficient and give you the possibility to reach your audience using different methods. The truth is, your personal research will tell you which of them are the best working ones for you, but there are also many theoretical rules you should know. Actually, we recommend mixing them up together and using them all because each format and each tool gives you different advantages – let’s discuss them!

In our handy guide, you’ll find specifications of the most pivotal Instagram formats and features. We’ll also share lots of other secret-sauce tips to help you start creating professional posts to grow your business. Let’s jump right in. 

 

Regular posts

Regular, in-grid posts are the most basic, longest-existing form of Instagram content. They’re not only about photos or videos, they’re also about captions. 

 

Rules? Long story short, to have your visual content published correctly, follow these instructions: 

1. First of all, upload a high-quality image or video. 

2. Remember that you should always approach your caption like a text – think about your purpose and how you want the users to feel when they see your post.

3. It’s crucial to remember that to gain better visibility and reach new people from your target audience; you have to use well-crafted hashtags – people often forget about them. Let us tell you: it’s a negligence creators pay a high price for. 

Important limits:

+ If you want to share an Instagram post (called carousel post) with multiple photos or videos, you are allowed to upload up to 10 images and videos in a single post.

+ Feed Videos can be between 3 seconds and 1 minute long.

+ You can use up to 30 hashtags to describe each post (and yes, we recommend using all the 30 – we we’ll discuss why in one of the upcoming posts).

 

 

Aspect ratio and size: It’s essential to make sure your photos, graphics, or videos fall within Instagram’s aspect ratio and size guidelines. Differently, they’ll be cropped (just to fit a supported size/ratio), and you may lose the critical part of them.

Preferred aspect ratios and sizes for regular posts photos/graphics/videos:

  • squares (1:1)
  • horizontal format (16:9)
  • vertical format (4:5)

As when it comes to size, we always suggest 1080px by 1350px. Why? When Instagram compresses such a photo, it should be displayed at around 480px by 600px without losing many details (the visible quality will still be pleasant for an eye). 

Protip: we often get asked about content recycling. You shouldn’t repeat precisely the same content many times – so publish it once, then you can recycle it but in other formats (we’ll teach you how in one of the upcoming Instagram lessons)

Instastories

Instagram Stories are a fundamental format – they’re 15 seconds short-form videos and expire after 24h (unless you save them as highlighted instastories). 

Stories are actual, interactive, and full of emotions content that will help engage with fans and followers. What can you share there? Behind the scenes of your niche, your daily activities, spoken messages for your audience, spoilers of longer videos. The possibilities are actually endless. 

 

From a psychological perspective, videos convey emotions and are more spontaneous, they’re more like real-life images from your reality, which often tend to be more engaging for the audience. Instagram stories can be considered an exciting, new structure of representing visual content for fans and audience. According to recent statistics, 40% of the total number of Instagram users watch Instagram stories every day. They’re able to consume content quickly and then go back to what they were doing.

 

Let’s see how you should approach Stories – there are a few key points that will be useful for you: 

We suggest uploading more often on Instagram Stories than on your photo grid: this way, you’ll have a higher chance of being on Instagram’s Explore Page (which means visibility and more potential engagement). 

You can use different ways to communicate with your followers and get direct feedback from them by applying polls, surveys, and questions-windows. Instagram’s Stories can be the perfect place to connect with your audience, to communicate on a more direct level, and if you take advantage of them right, you can build higher trust with them and get more engagement.

We strongly suggest using them, especially if your audience is young, as it’s an advantageous tool for building stronger connections with them.

In conclusion: It’s no wonder that Instagram stories are a great way to build engagement with your fans and followers and reach a broad audience and brand awareness if done right. The most crucial element is storytelling: the user experience and the ability to communicate effectively are two of the most critical components when it comes to using this format correctly.

Important limitsInstagram Stories can be up to 15 seconds (per story). 

Aspect ratio and size: minimum aspect ratio of 1.91:1 and a maximum aspect ratio of 9:16.

We suggest using an aspect ratio of 9:16 with a size of 1080px by 1920px.

 

IgTV 

IgTV is a longer-form video format.  

Using IGTV (Instagram TV) is something that is going to become more and more relevant: many people are uploading their own videos on Instagram, and besides that, you can also watch multiple other videos on one page without having to leave Instagram – this way you increase the engagement rate with your own profile because users don’t have to leave the app.

 

 

What to share there? Tutorials and video guides, behind the scenes, spoken messages, Q&A sessions

Important limits: IGTV videos should be between one and ten minutes long (only if you have a lot of followers or your account is verified, your videos can be up to 60 minutes long).

Aspect ratio and size: When it comes to the allowed aspect ratio, you have two choices: vertical IGTV videos with an aspect ratio of 9:16, or horizontal videos with an aspect ratio of 16:9. For vertical videos, the perfect size is 1080px by 1920px. For horizontal videos, the best size is 1920px by 1080px.

 

Guides 

One of the comparatively new Instagram’s features that turned to be extremely helpful for many creators and entrepreneurs – especially for product-based businesses. Guides resemble blog posts. They give users a more comfortable way to consume long lists, pieces of advice like step-by-step tutorials and how-tos, and product comparisons: those are only a few examples of how you can use them in your everyday content creation. 

 

You may wonder: what’s the main distinction between a regular, in-grid post and a guide?

In a guide, you can make your content look like an actual blog post. It means you can add a guide’s title, an introduction, headers, main text, and you can upload photos and videos right there (the ones you’ve posted on your feed or the ones you’ve saved from other accounts as well).

For now, you can choose from 3 different Guide formats: 

Places: Suggest places (great for travel guides, for example) 

Products: show off your products, describe them, make their comparisons

Posts: Recommend posts from the ones you’ve created or from the ones you’ve saved. 

This is an excellent tool for businesses looking to add extra, longer-form content, for example, with commentary to their shoppable products or services. It also opens up new opportunities for story-telling and collaborations with influencers. 

Reels

Tiktok better watch out because Instagram is also changing the game!

It’s time to get excited about Instagram reels. Reels are – in some ways – a copycat of TikTok main feature: short, most often fun and energetic, edited from many cuts videos of (up to) 30 seconds.

It’s a great strategy to take advantage of the relatively low competition (so far) and an evident opportunity for improved engagement.

Aspect ratio and size: When it comes to preferred size and aspect ratio, reels are similar to Instastories. They are designed to be viewed vertically, on mobile or tablets, and full-screen. All things considered, we suggest using an aspect ratio of 9:16.

 

Direct Messages (DMs) 

Thanks to them you can communicate with customers, potential business partners, influencers, co-workers, and fans directly. It’s like an in-app communicator. 

Protip: you can also reach influencers and build genuine relationships with them using DMs. Influencer marketing is one of the most effective ways of reaching your customers through authentic content, and influencers are natural at this type of communication.

 

 

What is your favorite Instagram feature so far? Which ones are the most comfortable and intuitive in use for you? We’d love to know. Feel free to send us a DM on Instagram or simply leave the comment in the section down below. 

See you over there!

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