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What are Instagram Guides? [+ How to Create One]

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What are Instagram Guides? [+ How to Create One]

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If you’re on Spotify, chances are you’ve curated a playlist with all your favorite songs — and rearranged them in a specific order. But did you know you can do something similar on Instagram?

Enter the Instagram Guide — a tool that allows you to curate your favorite Instagram posts, Reels, or Lives in one location, which you can share with your community. For marketers, it’s a great way to revive old content, promote products, and introduce your brand.

Let’s take a closer look at Instagram Guides, how you can leverage them in your marketing strategy, and how to make one in six steps.

What is an Instagram Guide?

In short, an Instagram Guide is a collection of posts, Reels, or Lives — either from your own feed or from others.

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All guides revolve around a single topic, story, or idea. For instance, you could create a gift guide, product round-up, or exercise routine — but more on that later.

Once you create a guide, it will live under a public tab in your profile that users can visit anytime. You can also share it to your Instagram Story for more visibility.

There are three types of guides on Instagram — places, products, and posts.

  • Places is for sharing travel-related or location-specific content. For instance, you could share your road trip itinerary or your favorite coffee shops in X location.

    Example: The Most Instagrammable Places in Phoenix.

  • Products is for showcasing products from Instagram Shops. You could create anything from product tutorials to listicles of your favorite products or brands.

    Example: My 8 Must-Have Products for Sensitive Skin.

  • Posts is for articles, commentary, or anything interesting you’ve shared or saved from others. This type focuses less on visuals and more on your storytelling abilities.

    Example: How to Build a Healthy Morning Routine.

With a solid understanding of Guides, let’s discuss the benefits of using them in your Instagram marketing.

Instagram Guides for Marketing

Instagram has countless features for marketers — but what makes guides stand out from the crowd?

Check out the top benefits of using Instagram Guides in your marketing:

1. Revive your old content

Content on Instagram has a short lifecycle. After hitting the “Post” button — and watching the likes pour in for a day or two — your content sits on your feed, collecting dust.

With guides, you can shine a spotlight on your past content. When a user clicks on an individual post in your guide, it directs them to the original post — giving it a new lease on life.

2. Drive traffic to your blog or website.

Guides are a great way to share your tips, tricks, advice, and recommendations on specific topics — but you shouldn’t reveal everything.

Instead, use the guide to summarizing one or two points from your blog posts — then encourage users to visit your blog for more details (or more tips). That way, you can drive traffic to your other channels.

3. Introduce your brand.

Instagram Guides are a great way to introduce both new and current customers to your brands and its values. Use them to highlight social responsibility work, new milestones, behind-the-scenes content, or new initiatives.

For example, fashion marketplace Vestiaire Collective highlights its brand values by posting guides on building a more sustainable wardrobe and the power of upcycling.

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4. Leverage user-generated content.

With Guides, you can combine content from other users with your own — which presents an opportunity to leverage user-generated content.

For example, suppose you run a sunglass brand. You could create a guide titled, say, “The Trendiest Sunglasses of 2022” that contains photos of your customers wearing your products. What better way to leverage UGC, promote your products, and attract new customers — all at the same time.

5. Promote your products — without being too sales-y.

If you struggle with promoting your products without sounding like an infomercial, Instagram Guides are a great way to strike that balance.

Back to the sunglass example above — if you were to create a guide for your new collection, you could add value to the reader by including advice, tips, or tricks within the guide. Then, title your guide in a way that puts the value front-and-center, such as “How to Style Oversized Sunglasses.”

This is one way to subtly promote your products without it being the center of attention.

How to Make a Guide on Instagram

Creating a guide is relatively simple, but you’ll need the latest version of Instagram before you can start. It’s also a good idea to brainstorm what type of guide you want to create — and take note of the content you want to include. Then, follow these steps:

1. Navigate to your Instagram profile and tap the plus (+) button. This opens a menu with options of what you can post on Instagram. Tap “Guide.”

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2. Next, tap on the type of Instagram guide you want to create. You can choose from Places, Products, or Posts.

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3. Select the content you want to add to your guide. This can be content you’ve shared or saved from others.

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4. From here, you’ll need to write a few details about your guide — namely the title and summary. You’ll also need to upload a cover photo if you want to change the one Instagram provides.

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5. As you scroll through the guide, add titles and descriptions, commentary, or thoughts to each post.

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6. Once you’re happy with the guide, click Share.

Instagram Guides are all about repurposing content. So take a look at your feed and find new stories you can tell. Leverage the tips in this article to make your guides an effective top-of-funnel marketing strategy to engage users, promote your products, and introduce your brand.

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For a Better Long-Term Content Strategy, Find a Purple Audience

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For a Better Long-Term Content Strategy, Find a Purple Audience

“The stock market is not the economy.”

When the stock market is up, it doesn’t always follow that the economy is great. When the stock market crashes, it doesn’t always mean the economy is bad.

That’s as true today as it was 25 years ago when I first got into marketing. And it’s a great reminder to avoid basing business decisions on faulty connections.

Over the years, I’ve learned an adjacent lesson about content and audiences: Popularity isn’t a sign of differentiation. People don’t necessarily regard what is popular among online audiences or the media as high quality – or even true.

If you successfully chase trends and feed popular content to audiences, you have not necessarily differentiated your content. On the other hand, differentiating by taking a contrarian or highly niche view of what’s popular doesn’t always work either. How do you blend popularity and differentiation?

#Content popularity isn’t a sign of differentiation, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Red and blue ocean strategies

In their 2004 book, Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne explain red and blue ocean strategies for marketing. Red oceans are crowded markets where popular products abound and cutthroat sales and marketing strategies rule. Blue oceans are undiscovered markets with little or no competition, where businesses can create new customers or die alone.

In strategic content marketing, most businesses focus on the red oceans – offering short-term, hyper-focus feeding. They look to drive traffic, engagement, and conversions by getting the most people to consume the content. So a red-ocean strategy focuses on topics and content that have proven popular with audiences.

But this strategy makes it difficult to differentiate the content from everyone else’s.

This myopic view of content often prohibits testing the other side – investing in a blue-ocean mindset to find and create new audiences with less-popular content.

Short-term, hyper-focused #Content feeding often prohibits the mindset of creating new audiences, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Finding a blue niche in a red world

I recently worked with a financial technology company that provides short-term loans to small businesses experiencing a cash-flow crunch. It’s as sales-driven as any team I’ve seen.

When they started, they put much of their marketing and content efforts into a blue-ocean strategy, targeting small businesses that will need a loan within a month.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Five years ago, this company wasn’t the only one to recognize the massive opportunity in fast, easily accessible, short-term lending. A red ocean of new customers who needed these loans grew in a relatively robust economy (and historically low interest rates).

The value of these loans grew from $121 million in 2013 to just over $2 billion in 2018. And competition for this audience’s attention grew, too. As short-term, low-funnel content on accessible lending saturated the market, this strategy became less and less successful because so many fintech companies pursued it.

My client’s team knew they couldn’t only count on this red-ocean audience for new business. They recognized the need to invest time in building a new audience – larger, more established, long-term borrowers.

This audience wouldn’t produce immediate lead generation. But the company wanted to diversify its product line and better support the new audience’s loan-related needs.

The genius of this strategy was teaching, targeting, and building demand for new ideas from a niche within the red audience. Put simply: They created a purple audience by targeting a blue audience within the red one.

The blue audience the team targeted consisted of fast-growing smaller businesses that would soon evolve into established, long-term borrowers. These businesses might want to know the benefits of the short-term availability of cash. The team focused the new learning content platform on teaching companies that don’t need a loan now about the benefits of having a solution at the ready when they do.

The purple audiences took time to develop. But when those audience members entered the red ocean, my client company stayed top of mind because it had bucked the popular trends and offered completely different content.

3 triggers for targeting purple audiences

Deciding to invest in cultivating a purple audience requires some thought. These three considerations can prompt the move to a different audience hue.

1. You’re ready to hedge bets on current efforts

So many companies double down on their content to the point where their strategy incorporates the same content at every stage of the customer’s journey. Why? Because everybody is talking about it.

I see some B2B marketing organizations deliver the same “why change” thought leadership content to prospects as they do their customers. Shouldn’t your customers’ needs and wants change after they purchase your solution?

Developing thought leadership you believe is important but current audiences aren’t yet thinking about can be an excellent hedge.

You shouldn’t deliver the same thought leadership to prospects AND customers. After all, your customers’ needs and wants should change after they buy.

2. You believe the consensus is wrong

Many companies fold their content marketing like a lawn chair because their content goes against the consensus. Last week, a chief marketing officer told me, “Our CEO says we can’t go out with that thought leadership message because people will disagree with us.”

You don’t have to invest the entire budget in a contrarian idea. But if you genuinely believe the world will eventually come to your point of view, build the content infrastructure that supports that opinion and experience a multiplier on the investment.

3. You see an opportunity to steal audience

Look at the most popular content, and you see all your competitors fighting over the eyeballs seeking that topic, trying to outrank everyone on search, and fighting a red ocean of potential audience members. Then, look up and ask, “What’s next?”

You might see a slight trend. Or, as my fintech client did, you may notice a niche blue audience in the red audience. Investing in that content can pull audiences from the popular content into your fledgling purple audience.

SAP’s content site The Future of Customer Engagement and Experience illustrates this concept. During the pandemic, the team, led by Jenn Vande Zande, adjusted its editorial focus to steal a segment of the red-ocean audience seeking COVID-19 coverage. Jenn and team designed the content to appeal to people looking not just for lockdown news but also for the most up-to-date practices and industry information for businesses on customer experience in the COVID-19 era.

SAP created a purple audience.

Get colorful

As a marketer, you should think about new audiences. How can you address them with content that may not be widely popular now but can help them better prepare for what you believe is coming tomorrow?

That’s a better question to answer for long-term content marketing success.

Get Robert’s take in just five minutes:

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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