Over the past year, Instagram has undergone layout changes and introduced Reels, Shop, Live, Live Room and a bunch of other tools that may have slipped under the radar of brands, creators and Instagram users. One of these tools is Guides.
What are Instagram Guides?
Instagram Guides were introduced to help users more “easily discover recommendations, tips and other content” from creators, organisations, publishers and public figures.
Guides allow users to scroll through a curated flow of content and posts (owned and saved) with additional commentary. Initially, Guides were created to provide users with travel advice, but Instagram changed tact and launched the new tool with a health and wellness theme. The platform hoped to provide those who were struggling from the COVID pandemic with health wellness tips.
Guides are essentially a cross between an Instagram carousel and a blog post. Each guide includes a cover image, title, introduction and optional description for each entry. Entries can be pre-published posts, places or product listings from the creator’s account or other accounts.
Guides appear in a dedicated tab on a user or brand’s profile and can be shared through Stories or direct messages. They can be edited, added or removed entirely as the owner of the account desires.
How Can Creators Use Guides?
There are three main types of guides you can create: one for recommended places, one for your recommended products and a final one for recommended posts. The versatility of these three types means creators can make a guide about whatever topic they want.
Typically speaking, content creators use Instagram Guides to provide their followers with advice, tips and recommendations. If an influencer has partnered with a brand to create a range, using a Guide is a great way to show a collated, shoppable list of what’s available.
Content creators have also utilised Guides to support small or local businesses and restaurants following lockdown restrictions lifting, as well as sharing a curated selection of posts to show support for particular social movements.
Guides are particularly popular with health, wellness and fitness influencers. They regularly share Food and Cooking Guides, Fitness Routine Guides as well as tips to practice mindfulness and meditation.
How Can Brands Use Guides?
Brands have the same categories of Guides to choose from as influencers do, however brands use guides differently to creators. For the most part, brands have yet to make full use of Instagram Guides. A fair amount created Guides when they were first released back in November 2020, but have since stopped using them altogether—potentially due to the lack of audience engagement.
But how are brands currently using Instagram Guides?
The most frequent way brands use Guides is to provide customers with a collection of gift guides, outfit guides or best picks that are in seasonal sales.
This method allows brands to entice customers to make an easy purchase by providing posts that have shoppable links attached. In addition, general gift or last chance guides can be continually updated as products become available or unavailable.
Many beauty brands showcase their products in Guides by creating skincare regimens.
Share Brand Messaging
Guides are a visual and informative way to share your brand messaging with your followers. It’s an easy way to have a lot of information in one space but simultaneously keep the viewer engaged with extra visuals.
Guides can be edited to suit the brand voice easily, as shown in the ways Red Bull has used Guides in comparison to Conde Nast Traveller. Brands can use Instagram Guides to tell consumers more about their values and voice.
Position as Trend Leader
Brands can use Instagram Guides to show they understand and are ahead of industry trends. Fashion brands such as Primark, New Look and ASOS use Guides to provide their followers with mood-boards and trend ideas for the upcoming season. This not only displays the garments available to purchase but also positions the brands as industry leaders as they know what is going to be popular.
When creating these Guides, brands use posts they have already posted into their main feeds across a period of time, or use content from their other accounts, for example ASOS’s beauty account.
Are Guides Worth It?
Instagram Guides present brands and influencers with a new, and relatively unique, way to share information and engage their followers. They are sources of visual information that can provide real value to consumers. However, Instagram users don’t seem to care about them.
The engagement received across Guides is incredibly low compared to standard Instagram posts, Stories or Reels. A reason for this could be because Guides aren’t actively promoted by Instagram in the same way Reels, Stories or posts are. While you can find Reels, Stories and Posts on the Instagram Explore page, Guides are only found once a user clicks on an influencer’s or brand’s profile. This creates an extra step for consumers to consume information.
Guides that perform best generally involve current or upcoming trends within an industry. Instagram Guides are relatively quick and easy to create. You can use pre-existing content and repurpose it, which provides additional exposure. Consumers like to know what’s going to be the next best thing. Brands could create a trend guide that is updated every other month or season to let customers know upcoming events, topics or products.
Instagram Guides are a great way to show consumers you mean business. They present brands with an opportunity to show they know what their industry and consumers want. By providing additional information to your audience, you are providing content with additional value to consume.
The issue is that consumers need to be actively seeking for new information to consume. Creating Instagram Guides won’t dramatically increase your engagement or follower count, but they may help you create more loyal followers out of your existing audience.
Considering Guides are so easy to create (you’ve already made or saved the content used to create them), it’s worth giving it a go. They provide an extra piece of content for your audience to consume and provide links back to shoppable posts, potentially gaining you an extra few sales.
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