How To Use Instagram Guides to Market Your Brand

July 2021
 minute read
instagram logo sketch

Instagram is making some big moves. Whether it’s rolling out IGTV, Reels, or Instagram Shop, the powerhouse social media app will not stop dreaming up new ways for audiences to consume media. It’s latest feature, Instagram Guides, allows users to curate a list of Instagram content for their followers. 

Guides rolled out in May of 2020 on a limited basis for accounts offering COVID-19 resources. Thankfully however, use of Guides was expanded to all users this November, giving marketers everywhere the opportunity to quickly and easily repurpose Instagram content in new + engaging formats. There’s really no downside to keeping pace with the platform and jumping on this Instagram Guides train. As our startup marketing agency knows, it’s important to stay on the cutting edge in a competitive world. 

That’s why we took a deep dive into these “Guides” in order to learn exactly what they are and how you can use them to supercharge your content. Here’s everything we know: 

What the Heck is an Instagram Guide?

A Startup Marketing Agency’s Primer on a Startup Feature

image of flowers, a basket, and three bowls on top of a dresser in front of a wall with the words "So Into This: November Faves" overlaid
Use Guides to frame existing content in new and exciting ways.Image Source: @sooveritshop

Guides are Instagram’s latest approach to native content, allowing you to string existing posts together into a longer, more cohesive narrative. This means you can revamp and reframe old content to keep your audience’s eyes on you for longer than the amount of time it takes to scroll past a single post. 

From our experience as a startup marketing agency, we know this is big news. When it comes to content marketing, we can attest to the huge time-saving benefits of being able to add value to existing assets instead of reinventing the wheel every time we want to put new ones out there.

And it’s okay if you don’t already have your own extensive library of content. Guides are flexible–you can use several different types of Instagram content in your Guide. The platform offers three different types: 

  1. Places: A Places Guide curates different posts that were taken in the same location. These can be your own posts, as well as posts from any public account, as long as they use the same geotag. 
  2. Products: Product Guides gather different products from Instagram shops for customers to browse and purchase.
  3. Posts: The Post Guide is the most flexible type–allowing you to string any of your existing or saved content into any structure you want.

Users can click any individual post in your guide to be taken to the original post. And on a Products Guide in particular, choosing to learn more about a particular product will direct users either to your Instagram Shop or your website. Creating any one of these Guides is a quick and painless process: 

How to Create an Instagram Guide

Step 1: 

Navigate to your Instagram homepage and click the plus sign to create a new post. In the dropdown menu, choose “Guide.” 

dropdown menu of different types of posts, with an arrow pointing the the "Guide" option

Step 2: 

Choose whether you want to make a Places, Products, or Posts guide

menu of different choices of Guides: Places, Products, and Posts

Step 3: 

Select content according to which Guide type you chose 

  • Select products from one or multiple Instagram shops if you chose Products
  • Select posts from a list of all the public posts tagged in one location if you chose Places.
  • Select posts from your own account or library of saved posts if you chose Posts.
Photo on the left shows selection of Instagram posts taken in one place. Photo on the right shows selection of products from the Adidas Instagram store.

Step 4: 

Add a cover photo, titles, captions, and links (for Product Guides), as needed. 

Instagram Guide entitled "My 2021 National Park Tour"

It’s that simple! And now that you’ve created one, there are plenty of ways your audience can discover your Guide. 

  • They can navigate to a special “Guide” tab on your profile to see a list of all your Guides.
  • They can see it if it's shared via Stories or a direct message. 
  • They can find product Guides on a special section of their Shopping Explore page
  • They make the most of Instagram’s new updated search policy to find it by searching keywords in their Explore page.

Creating and sharing Guides is quick and easy, yet still incredibly valuable. Guides offer endless opportunities when it comes to making existing content exciting, especially since they can be edited and reshared any time you feel like making some tweaks. 

How To Use Instagram Guides for Marketing

Making Guides Work with Your Content Goals

 image of a child touching a wooden board covered in an Indian language with the words "Brands To Help Kids Learn Indian Languages" overlaid
Use Guides to showcase industry knowledge. Source: @moditoys

Since Guides are such a versatile tool, they can work toward any kind of marketing goal. Guides give you plenty of options, whether it’s featuring products, sharing resources, or getting more eyes on your brand. The trick is finding out which type of marketing strategy works best for your particular business. 

  • Product Guides are obviously great tools for any ecommerce business. You can use them to feature your favorite products and send users directly to a place where they can purchase them. But Product Guides are also a space where non-ecommerce brands can shine, showcase their industry knowledge by recommending lists of their favorite products for their followers. (Just a note: this a space to develop valuable influencer marketing partnerships as well).
  • Places Guides are perfect if your business has a physical location. They’re a great way to gather some user-generated content from people who tag your business. What’s more since these days, customers love buying local,you can use Place Guides to showcase some local pride! Tell your followers your favorite places to grab a bite or where to go for a great walk. Show them why you love where you live. Travel-based brands could also take advantage of Places Guides to give recommendations and tell stories about the places they’ve encountered on their journeys. 
  • And where do we even begin with Post Guides? You can use these to assemble posts into any narrative or theme you can dream up. Brands can use these Guides to group related content into longer, blog-style topics that educate and excite their followers. Food brands can use Post Guides to share their favorite recipes and cosmetic brands can share some makeup inspo posts. Businesses can share DIY content with their followers, showcase client successes, create resources that answer FAQ’s, pin their most engaging content, and more. 

Whatever your brand’s story, Guides expand the possibilities for how you can tell it with your existing content. Check out how some brands are using Guides today: 

How Brands are Using Instagram Guides

A Startup Marketing Agency Takes You Through Guides in Action 

the feet of several marathon contestants running down the street in athletic shoes
Savvy brands are joining the race with Instagram Guides 

Instagram Guides are still a relatively new feature, which means there’s low competition in this space for now. We’ve been having a blast keeping up with all the creative ways brands are capitalizing on this and turning their old content into new assets. Here are some of our favorites: 

In a guide we coffee enthusiasts find particularly informative, NYC lifestyle publication Gear Patrol uses product recommendations for upgrading your morning coffee ritual to show off their expertise in city living.

And we love to see this clever move by furniture + decor store West Elm coming in with a yearly roundup of their most liked bedrooms. This Guide lets them both inspire customers and pin their best performing content at the same time: 

The Traveling Child family travel blog uses the Places Guide to share valuable information about tourist locations in Morocco. We’re packing our bags!

Sustainable clothing brand Alohas is killing the game too. They’re keeping the needs of their followers in mind by using a Product Guide to make all their black footwear easier to find. After all, black goes with everything.

And finally, how could this mouthwatering chocolate recipe guide from Buzzfeed Tasty not make our list?

These Guides are a great example of how different businesses are making Guides work for their brands and resources. Whether you leverage other people’s content for your brand message like Gear Patrol, or refresh old content with a new theme like West Elm, you’ll have no trouble getting a bang for your buck with Guides (especially since they’re free). 

Guides just make sense for our startup marketing agency, because we’re storytellers at heart. Making a Guide is really just a fun and easy way to find a new story hiding in existing content. And of course, the other thing about marketers is that we love getting our hands dirty and exploring new trends as they come along. 

If you’re thinking about joining the party and making your own Guide, just shoot us a message, and we’ll help you get started.

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