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Complete guide to Instagram content types

october 24, 2023

If you're just getting started on Instagram, at first it can seem overwhelming to understand how to share content. Since the app's launch in 2010, Instagram has released multiple ways to share content.

If you're a business owner new to the platform, you might have questions about the different content types and need information about how to create them. There are currently five types of posts on Instagram, and they all fit into your content strategy in a different way:

  1. Feed posts
  2. Reels
  3. Stories
  4. Instagram videos
  5. Live broadcasts

Feed posts

Feed posts are the grid items you see when you go to someone's account page (also referred to as a feed). These items include single image posts, carousel posts (up to 10 different images or videos in one post), and video posts (up to one minute long).

Example of an Instagram grid showing a collection of feed posts.

Feed posts serve as the foundation of your Instagram content strategy. They are typically the first type of content that users will see when they visit your account page. Each individual post is important, but so is the overall grid look and feel.

Feed posts should serve one or more of the following purposes:

  • Provide value through education, humor, or inspiration.
  • Build trust through customer reviews or user-generated content.
  • Encourage interaction so users will save, share, and like your posts.

Feed posts can be seen by both followers and non-followers and can help increase your reach in different ways. Here's how:

  • If the engagement rate (likes, comments, saves, and shares) is high, the content is shown to a larger audience.
  • If more people continue to engage with the content, the post has a higher chance of being shown on other people's Explore pages (the page in Instagram where people can see posts they might be interested in). By reaching this new audience, you'll hopefully convert those people to followers and grow your account.
  • By including hashtags and keywords in your content, you'll increase your reach by connecting with people who are interested in those subjects

Overall, feed posts are important because they set up your account for success. Your feed serves as a strong foundation for the rest of the content types because it provides the most value, is a place to engage with your community, and acts as the initial introduction for newcomers to your account.

Create eye-catching Instagram posts

Check out these beautiful Instagram post templates from Microsoft Create. Start with a template and make it your own, no design or video editing experience needed.


Reels are Instagram's version of short-form vertical videos. They have a separate feed in the app where people can view reels related to their interests. Your profile has a separate section where visitors can view your reels. You can keep reels and feed posts separate, or you can opt to show reels in your feed as well.

If you're looking to grow on Instagram, you need to create and post reels. These quick and easily digestible videos have the potential to reach not just hundreds or thousands, but millions of users—even from a smaller account.

Tapping into trends on reels is a great way to reach a wide range of new users and grow your account. Reels trends are typically based on music or other types of audio, dance, or specific styles of filming or editing. One easy way to find trending sounds is to scroll on the Reels tab and look for the up arrow next to sound names.

Here are some suggestions for the type of content that does really well in reels:

Educational contentCreating value-driven educational content is a great way to get started on reels—especially since people are encouraged to share and save reels. Here are some examples of educational content: Five easy outfit ideas, recipe ideas for busy parents, and top three skincare tips. Think of tips and advice that your audience wants and needs.
Products or servicesReels are primarily seen by non-followers, which means this a great way to promote your business to new people. Share how-to's, before and afters, vlog-style videos with your products—anything to catch people's attention.
BTS (Behind the Scenes)People want to see more relatable and raw content on social media. BTS videos are a great way to be more personable and to build rapport with people. Share things like your business story, a day in the life at your company, or funny, relatable clips of you and your coworkers.

People can find reels on the Reels tab, the Explore page, and the home page—making reels one of the best ways to get massive reach. To help get your reels shown to your ideal audience, keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep the videos short, simple, and easy to follow.
  • Include captions and text overlays for accessibility.
  • Use trending sounds in the background (when possible).
  • Include keywords related to your business in your videos, captions, and hashtags.

Pro tip:

The main purpose of reels is to reach new followers. Your existing followers will see your reels, but they are a key component in current Instagram content strategies for growth. So post as many as you can (I recommend two to three per week), while keeping them on-brand and high quality.


Instagram stories are either static images or videos that last on your account for 24 hours. They can also be saved on your account as highlights so people can view them even after the 24 hours are up.

Information about where to find Instagram stories and saved story highlights on an Instagram home page.

Stories help you communicate with your followers on a more personal level than Instagram posts—they're where you can share more insight, BTS, and personality.

Here are some ideas to get the most from your stories:

  • Share more in-the-moment content, to help your audience feel more included.
  • Post polls, quizzes, and Q&As to get direct feedback from your followers and boost engagement. The more people interact with your stories, the more your account's performance will improve.
  • Include links to your website and products.
  • Repost tagged content from your audience.
  • Share new feed posts and reels in your stories to get more visibility for the content you work hard to create.

Pro tip:

Showing up as often as possible on Stories is a great way to keep your audience engaged. Post daily (if possible) and be a consistent source of content that your community enjoys seeing.

Instagram videos

Instagram merged in-feed videos and IGTV (Instagram TV) videos into a single format called Instagram videos in 2021. There is a separate tab for Instagram videos on your account, allowing for a clearer distinction from reels.

Information about where to find Instagram Videos on an Instagram home page.

Instagram videos can be up to 60 minutes long, so they offer more creative control and higher-value content than reels or videos on other competing platforms, such as TikTok.

Some common types of video content include interviews, in-depth tutorials, and product reviews.

Typically, videos will not help as much in reaching new followers, but they are a great way to connect with your existing audience by offering more value.

Pro tip:

A great way to repurpose these longer-form videos is to create snippets from them and post them as reels, feed posts, and story content!

Live broadcasts

Instagram live video broadcasts are unedited videos that are streamed in real-time. They can be saved afterward and posted as Instagram videos.

Live broadcasts are great for connecting with your community on a more personal level because people are able to ask questions in real-time and communicate with you directly.

Looking for ideas on what to discuss on a live broadcast? You might answer questions about your products or business, or promote new products and sales.

It can be helpful to have regularly scheduled live broadcasts that your community can expect and look forward to on a weekly or biweekly basis.

Pro tip:

You can also host collaborative live broadcasts with other brands or creators (up to three) - which allow you and the other video hosts to reach new audiences and grow.

And there you have it: the five different types of content on Instagram—feed posts, reels, stories, Instagram videos, and live broadcasts.

Further reading

Looking for more ways to master the art of Instagram? You might like these other articles from our creative pros:

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