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When Instagram launched in 2010 with its visually-focused platform, it disrupted the social media scene. So big was its success that it sparked a whole movement in photo styling.
Instagram has since added video, but its focus has always been one-off visual experiences that are shareable but sometimes leave marketers trying to figure out how to provide context.
The answer has typically been super-long captions, stories, or creative posts that make up a series. Still, Instagram was never really the place for long-form content.
Fast forward ten years and Instagram is finally getting into the long-form content game.
Instagram introduced Guides as “a way to more easily discover recommendations, tips and other content from your favorite creators, public figures, organizations and publishers on Instagram.”
The scrollable lists provide text and visuals that come together in a listicle. You can either use new, saved, or older posts to deliver helpful how-tos on almost any topic.
It’s one more opportunity to put your brand forward as a subject matter expert and influencer in Instagram’s space by engaging its users with more in-depth content directly on the platform.
Instagram Guides are a new tool for content discovery. They’re a string of consecutive Instagram posts curated to share helpful information with your audience. Each post within the guide links to a traditional Instagram post or a product page where you can purchase what you see.
Here is an Instagram guide my agency, NP Digital, created to promote mental and physical well-being while everyone works from home. It starts with a cover image that includes a title and a brief description.
As you scroll down, you find six posts put together to provide tips on taking breaks during work, communicating with coworkers, and maintaining a routine, among other tips.
Each tip is clickable and leads your users to the original Instagram post.
Six months later, Instagram opened up Guides to all users and expanded it to other topicsrolled up into three different types of guides: Products, Places, and Posts. In particular, they’ve focused on travel and shopping, linking Product Guides directly to shops on Instagram.
Now that Instagram has expanded its guides, there are all kinds of content possibilities to promote your brand. Home improvement brands could create repair and renovation guides. Cosmetics brands might have step-by-step guides for different makeup looks, and cooking brands can include recipes in their guides.
The possibilities are endless.
As we mentioned, you can create three kinds of guides on Instagram right now: Posts, Places, and Products. You’ll know which one you’re looking at by checking the lower-left corner of the guide.
A post lets you curate past and saved posts. It’s the most flexible in terms of the kinds of content you can include.
Nordiska Kӧk is a maker of bespoke countertops imported from Sweden. This brand’s Instagram guides offer tips on choosing and caring for a counter.
Notice how each guide tells you exactly what it is (a post, product, or place Guide) and how many Instagram posts you’ll find in each one, right above the title.
Product Guides link directly to Instagram Shopping, allowing users to buy from your guides.
Stuck in the Book, a book blog run out of Manchester, England, created these guides.
Two of the guides in the example above are Product Guides. If you click on any of the products in these guides, you’ll be directed to a page where you can buy the books.
Finally, Places Guides focus on travel. Users can build guides for travel tips or recommendations.
Brands have a lot of room for creativity within these categories. They let marketers tell a story around products, repurpose older posts into new content, or add context to new posts.
With Instagram Guides, brands can build long-form content for the first time on Instagram. There are many excellent reasons you might want to do that.
Longer-form, scrollable guides keep users on your content longer, allowing them to get to know your brand and your products. They won’t have to click away to another site for more information, as they would with regular Instagram posts.
Because Instagram is now offering longer-form content, it also updated its search functionality. Users can search for content by keyword, which will surface Instagram Guides. That means content discovery just got a whole lot easier on Instagram. Users no longer have to know your brand name or search by hashtag.
Now that users can find you using keywords, you can create guides that target your brands’ new audiences. Guides also help you put your brand forward as a subject matter expert in your vertical. By creating content that addresses micro-moments, you can focus on the solutions people are searching for, even outside your target audience.
This feature is yet another opportunity to build loyalty through useful, trustworthy content. Tips, tricks, step-by-step instructions, and any content that would be valuable to your target audience will keep them coming back for more.
You can foster loyalty even further by offering the first crack at content or product deals through your guides or by announcing new guides through a newsletter.
Product Guides let users shop directly from Instagram, shortening the buyer’s journey. Users can see product descriptions and prices, as well as more products from your shop.
Guides are shareable in stories and through direct messages. If your audience likes your guides, they can spread the word.
Much like you would share articles on LinkedIn, sharing guides from other users on Instagram shows your expertise in your vertical, and makes it more likely your guides will be also viewed and shared.
Guides give you another format to explore with influencer partnerships. Work with influencers in your space to create guides that include your products or services.
To create a guide, click on the little plus sign like you would for a regular post, video, or live content. In the dropdown menu, choose Guides.
From here, you’ll be able to choose between the three kinds of content:
Once you choose your content format, place your images, posts, and links. Keep in mind that this is Instagram, so images and content should be formatted for mobile.
Rachel Waldorf is a lifestyle content creator out of Seattle. She uses Instagram Guides to create gift guides featuring Seattle-based businesses.
To access her (or any) guides, go to the main Instagram page and look for the Guides icon.
That will lead you to the Guides page.
From here, you can browse and click on Guides to view their content. Waldorf has created Places and Product Guides for her followers.
In the Product Guides, you can click on her featured products and shop them from the website or directly from Instagram Shopping.
As I mentioned, scrolling down from here shows users related products so they can keep shopping.
You can also share, embed, or copy links to guides by clicking on the icons in the top right.
Because this is still a new feature, not everyone has set up Instagram Guides just yet. As time goes on and marketers discover how valuable this tool can be, you might begin to see them more and more.
For now, you can check on your favorite Instagram accounts or find them through the Instagram Explore page.
Instagram Guides are another great tool for a brand’s marketing arsenal to build their following and increase conversions.
The new long-form format allows marketers to provide valuable content to their target audiences and reach new audiences at the same time.
You can even use them to deliver shopping opportunities directly to your users through Instagram Shopping.
How are you going to use Instagram Guides in your marketing?