How To Create An Instagram Content Strategy

Profile photo of Denise Langenegger, author

Denise Langenegger

Last Updated: Jun 22, 2023

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What goes into an Instagram content strategy? For non-marketers, it may seem as simple as posting one pretty photo after another. Sure, you may get a double-tap after posting an artfully framed shot of your product by the beach, but there’s a lot more to it than that. 

instagram content strategy

You’ve heard it — there are over a billion active users on Instagram. But as more and more users join the platform, more competition will come streaming in for a share. How can you stand out? Whether you’re a content creator or a business owner trying to grow your brand on Instagram, having a solid strategy is key to achieving success. 

If you don’t know where and how to begin, we’ve created a guide to help you build an Instagram content strategy that will set you up for success

How To Create Your Instagram Content Plan

Outline Your Goals For The Month 

Before skipping ahead to your Instagram content plan, you have to align your strategy with your overall marketing goals. Do you have a product launch coming up? Are you just starting out on the platform? Naturally, your goals will change monthly or even weekly, which means the type of content you create will change as well. 

content goals

Popular restaurant food group, Momofuku (@momolongplay), shared a series of food shots topped with their best-selling Chili Crunch to announce and remind followers about their recent restock. In this case, Momofuku’s goal is to push sales for that particular product. 

Instagram should not be treated as a separate entity. If your brand exists on other channels, your content should complement what you have elsewhere. Using social media management tools would definitely make this task a lot easier.

If you’re new to Instagram, don’t worry about the follower count just yet. One of your initial goals should be to populate your account with enough valuable content for your specific audience. Followers will come after. 

Know Your Audience

If you’re an existing brand, you probably already know who your customer is. Always keep them in mind when coming up with your Instagram content plan. Do your research. Take a look at their profiles and who they follow, and find out what specific interests they have by browsing their recent posts. It helps to have an ideal representative of your audience in mind and create a persona around him or her. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How does a regular day in their life look like? 
  • What do they do during their free time? 
  • What other brands do they love? 

The answers to these questions will help you envision what type of content to produce and think of possible posts outside of your regular product shots. 

instagram content strategy audience

Glossier, is a shining example of a brand that truly knows its audience. Following its tagline “Beauty products inspired by real life”, Glossier’s Instagram account is filled with images of women of all colors, shapes, and sizes, flaunting their natural beauty. Unlike other skincare and makeup brands, Glossier’s Instagram grid is filled with real, accessible women that consumers can relate to. 

For more information about your existing followers, you can access insights from the upper right corner of your main account page (take note: only Instagram Business accounts will have this). On the audience tab, you can view top locations, age range, gender, and the best times to post.

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Check Out Competition 

Keeping track of your competitors — taking note of their strategies, what type of posts are popular, and how they engage with their followers — can help you craft a powerful Instagram content strategy. Your competitors are targeting the same Instagram users, so tracking their posts, will help you understand what works and what doesn’t. 

Of course, always take inspiration, don’t mimic. The trick to winning followers in a crowded marketplace like Instagram is to create content that’s unique to your brand. 

Draft A Content Plan

When drafting your Instagram content plan, It’s crucial to visualize your content as a complete grid. At a minimum, that means you need to plan nine posts ahead. This ensures that your look and feel is cohesive. 

It will help to think of a monthly theme or narrative for the month. For example, during the holidays, it’s not uncommon for brands to anchor on green and red — the colors of Christmas  — for their grids. 

instagram content strategy content plan

Clothing brand, Madewell (@madewell), used a combination of soft red hues and warm colors to match the season for its December content. Before posting, lay this out on a mock grid, to see how your profile will look like once all nine squares are filled in. 

Pro Tip: To help you create a consistent look, you can use Instasize, which gives you over a hundred filters to choose from and the option to add unique effects to help your content pop.

Cover All Bases

When Instagram first launched, all you had to worry about was single-photo posts. Choose the right filter, schedule for posting, and you’re done! More than 10 years after, you can now post videos, albums, Stories, Reels, GIFs, and so much more — you have to keep up

While single-photo posts are the easiest to execute, to be successful on Instagram, you will have to exist in every medium. Your potential followers are no longer looking for simple, pretty photos, they want to be engaged. Your Instagram content strategy must include all kinds of content from short-form videos to polls and live content.

instagram content strategy milkbarstore

Aside from the no-fail dessert close-ups, award-winning bakery, Milk Bar (@milkbarstore) posts a variety of engaging content. Scrolling through its profile, you can see that the brand has videos on IGTV, posts short clips on its feed, is consistent with posting on Instagram Stories and updating highlights, and has shoppable content. This is what all brands should aim for. 

To aid your stunning visuals, don’t forget to add a thoughtful caption and strategic hashtags for maximum likes. 

Allot A Budget For Ads

Ads are one of the key recipes for a successful Instagram content strategy. 50% of Instagram users become more interested in a brand after seeing it on ads. Relying on organic discovery will take you forever to achieve growth on the platform especially if your business is still brand new. To begin, you can simply choose from your best photos, and tap on promote. With even a minimal budget, you’re guaranteed to see a boost in engagement. 

Don’t take Instagram Story ads for granted. If done right, Instagram Story ads are one of the most effective mediums for brand discovery, with 500 million users and potential customers on Stories daily. 

The beauty of Instagram ads is that they don’t feel or look like traditional ads at all. The most successful ads are non-invasive and blend in because they look like content that the targeted user typically follows. 

ads for content strategy

New Yorker Magazine (@nymag) targets users with a simple flat lay photo of their magazine with a text overlay to highlight their ongoing promo. 

Before coming up with an ad campaign, make sure to define a clear call-to-action. Ask yourself: What do you want the user to do after seeing your ad?

If this is the first time you venture into paid ads, it would be a good idea to A/B test your creatives. For example, to find out if a video ad works better than a still image, you can split your audience in two and serve one segment with the video ad and the other with the still image. Whichever creative performs better, will be the ad format you will use moving forward. 

When doing A/B testing, you have to make sure that all variables are controlled except one — the one you’re testing.  In the case given above, the only thing that should differ between the two ads is the format. Everything else — caption, budget, time of posting, and audience size — should remain the same. 

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Partner With Influencers

Including an influencer engagement campaign to your Instagram content strategy is a powerful way to grow your brand on the platform and reach new followers. 

Partnering with an influencer could mean sending them your product and having them post about it on their personal accounts or planning an Instagram takeover. Instagram takeovers can be extremely successful if your audience overlaps with the followers of the influencer you choose to partner with. 

instagram content strategy influencers
instagram content strategy

@younetflix, the official account of the show, You, created hype for the show’s launch with a series of cast takeovers. These takeovers were hosted on Instagram Live and Instagram Stories. All takeovers were saved on highlights so followers can view them any time. 

Putting Your Instagram Content Plan To The Test

There’s no denying that Instagram is an extremely powerful tool for your brand to reach a wider audience. Because you’re competing against thousands of other brands and content creators, having an Instagram content strategy is vital to your success. Many bigger retailers are investing in social commerce through a holistic and effective content strategy. Before beginning your first post, always sit down and plan what you want to post. List down all your ideas and data gathered from research and mock it up on a grid. Don’t forget to leave a record of your goals so you can go back to them, measure your success, and use the results to improve your strategy further. 

Bonus Content

Check out the infographic version of this blog. If you like the article, feel free to post the infographic on your site using the embed code below or share it on your social media accounts.

Infographic on how to create an Instagram content plan

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Author Bio

Denise Langenegger is part of the team at Instasize – a content creating tool kit for anyone editing photos and online content on mobile.

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