Jenn Herman
December 7, 2017

Instagram Marketing: Which Types of Content Perform Best?

Instagram Marketing: Which Types of Content Perform Best?

In this article, Jenn Herman details which types of content work best when it comes to Instagram Marketing. And there’s a little hint at the about a trend you will want to be aware of. It is another article in our “Great Articles You may have missed” series.

Instagram Marketing: Some Tips On Content Types

We all wanna do our best and put our best foot forward on social media. Instagram is no exception. And, being such a highly visual platform, creating the best content is key! But, how do you know what will perform best on Instagram? That’s what I’m here to help you with!!!

First of all, we have to accept and appreciate that Instagram is NOT like other platforms. People want pretty pictures on Instagram. They want native or organic looking content – not overly produced, text-heavy, and busy images. Those big bold graphics you created for Facebook are great… on Facebook. Not on Instagram. Those simple product shots on a white background are great for eBay, but they don’t convert on Instagram.

Instead, on Instagram, your photos should be great photos. Good lighting. Well composed. Properly staged components. There should be a clear focal point. They should stand alone as a quality image, yet invite the viewer to know more by reading the caption. They need to stand out from everything else in the feed of your followers. At the same time, they must be true to your brand, message, styling, and tone.

That’s a tall order, right?!

Sure it is. But all the best accounts that succeed on Instagram have figured this out. Their content is consistent and branded so that their audience recognizes it as theirs, and it appeals to their audience. But they are also well formatted. They have been well selected, edited, and composed for results.

If you are merely snapping a photo, calling it a “winner” and uploading it to Instagram, you are likely struggling to see the results you want. Even those people who seemingly snap a “random” photo and upload it, have spent time thinking about the purpose of the image, along with the message, composition, context, angles, lighting, and the final product. Even before they hit the shutter button on the phone.

You need to move towards this mentality in taking photos to share on Instagram. Because the more your content connects with your audience and tells a real story, the better it will perform.

And, with all of this being said, that doesn’t mean your posts have to be devoid of your personality or flair. On the contrary actually! I’ve written before about creating content that stands out as your own.

Ultimately, Instagram Is Still All About The Pictures!

Ok. so you may have noticed I kept referring to photos here. There’s a reason for that. And that’s because no matter what, Instagram is always going to be dominated by photos.

Yes, there are some brands and accounts out there who are killing it with videos. But in general. photos will always be the dominant media on Instagram.

On Instagram, the general performance of content is: Photos > Videos > Carousels (Albums)

The Importance Of Selecting The Right Cover Image

A recent study by Agorapulse’s Social Media Lab found that carousel posts (multi-image posts, or albums) actually perform significantly lower than other posts on Instagram. I have a few theories on this. One of which is that many people don’t think about the first image in the carousel being the cover image. This is the image that is displayed to viewers in the feed, and if it’s the first in a series or not the best image of the bunch, it will likely not be the best choice for driving engagement.

If you are going to use carousels, please take time to strategically select the right image for the first image and ensure you are inviting people to scroll through. It’s also worth pointing out that many people scroll through the images, looking at all of them but then not “liking” the image because their behavior of scroll-double-tap-repeat was disrupted by the horizontal scrolling through the album. So, just because you aren’t getting the likes, doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t getting the reach and exposure.

Cover Photos For Videos

And similarly, when it comes to videos, so many people upload the video to Instagram without carefully selecting a cover image for the video. Did you know you can select a cover image? You can! In the editing stage of uploading the video, there’s a tab at the bottom to select “Cover” and you can drag the slider along the length of the video to select the best “image” to represent the video. And, no, this should NOT be the first frame of the video. A frame near the end of the video may be the best part of the story to highlight as the cover image. And, you can ensure you choose a cover that isn’t blurry or distorted by a moving frame in the video. Creating a better image will help your videos perform better and invite more engagement.

Now, all of that being said, in Instagram Stories, videos are generally very high performing. The same rules do not necessarily apply to Stories as they do to regular Instagram posts. There you can be more random, less polished, and creative. But, rest assured, that as more brands and users get adept at using Stories, we’ll see a surge in the number of polished posts and well-crafted storyboard style content in the Stories. So the suggestions above for content creation on Instagram will become universal to Stories in the future too.

What Do You Think?

Has this article been helpful to you? Do you have any other suggestions you feel will be useful to your fellow readers? Please leave your comment, below.

You might also like to read: 5 Reasons You Should Embrace Instagram Marketing

Here’s How to Gain Quality Instagram Followers


Originally titled “Which Types of Content Perform Best on Instagram?” on, this article is republished here with permission.


Featured image: Copyright: ‘‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Jenn Herman is a social media strategist and Instagram advocate who writes a blog focused on understanding trends in social media management. She provides tips, resources, and training for small to medium sized businesses that need to structure their social media strategies for success. Her business background includes Administration, Sales, Human Resources, and Marketing. If you would like to learn more about how to use Instagram, you can download "The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Instagram" here.