Guides are a relatively new functionality that Instagram released in the summer of 2020. It was initially a feature exclusive to creators only, and the key idea behind it was to spread helpful information and content about wellness to support people all over the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. A bit later in 2020, the Instagram team made Guides available to all users.
What are these Instagram Guides?
Guides are a new type of content we can post on our Insta profiles. You could say a Guide is a post itself but the one that consists of other posts focused around one specific topic. For example, a Guide on the picture below is called Mindful Movements. It combines other Instagram posts on the topic with comments and suggestions from the author.
the picture was taken from the official Instagram blog
Your guide doesn’t have to consist solely of your own posts. It can be an aggregation of posts across Instagram, which means you have an infinite number of possibilities.
Types of Instagram Guides
Now, let’s figure out what these Guides can be about. There are three types of Guides on Instagram—places, products, and posts.
Places is the perfect type of Guides for travel bloggers or anyone who wants to tell about specific locations and experiences. It could be a restaurant guide that features the best coffee places in your neighborhood, or a listicle with the top 5 Instagrammable spots to visit in Europe.
Products Guides allow for showcasing any product from Instagram Shops. It could be a listicle of the all-time best skin-care products, or a digest with the best DIY stuff on sale, or an introduction to the latest high fashion trends.
Posts type of Guides is for articles, thoughts, or anything interesting you’ve shared or saved from others. We believe this type is more focused on text rather than visual content. But you’re the boss!
It seems like these categories limit us to post about specific things. But once you take a closer look and start using Guides yourself, you’ll realize that they can really be about anything, and this anything can fit into one of these three categories.
Take a look at the example guide below. It was made by @afspnational and it’s the one of Posts type.
Who Instagram Guides are made for?
We all know that Instagram was made for visual content. But nothing could stop people from writing long-reads using the captions under their photos. They sometimes even post the rest of their text in the comments section because they ran out of space in the caption. If you want to let it out, you just do, and the 2k-something character limit is not an obstacle!
It’s no wonder the Instagram team made up Guides. They’re just a logical step on a long path of improvement. It’s like we had files and now we can make folders to gather them by theme. But who can find a real use for these Guides?
Let’s play a game. Imagine you’re someone else. Let’s say, you’re a bookworm who uses Instagram to tell the world about your precious discoveries. You have hundreds, if not thousands of posts on your profile, and sometimes it’s just hard to find the one about that awesome sci-fi book you’ve read last year. And then you remember another book that was even better. Now you think that it would be nice to gather these kids-posts in one big mama-post. And here comes this Guides functionality.
Now imagine you’re a marketer, who promotes a clothing brand that just launched a new seasonal collection. Dozens of Instagram posts are published to spread the news. Your Shop is full of new items and you want to make the most out of this occasion. Create a guide that reviews all collection items from your Instagram Shop, and make it a fun and inspirational reading. Users can share your guide in their own Stories and DM. If you target ads on this whole thing, you’ll have an even bigger reach. The rest is history.
Or you could be a nomad, who travels the world with a backpack and shares the details of a journey on your Instagram. Guides are really awesome for this type of content. You could make location-specific guides, showing cool places to visit and things to do there. The limit is only in your imagination when it comes to themes for this type of content.
Anyone can find a use for Guides but not everyone needs them to have a successful presence on Instagram. The Instagram team wanted Guides to become a tool for spreading useful information about health but it definitely has the potential to overgrow the initial goal and become a strong marketing tool in the upcoming years. It might as well not.
How to make an Instagram Guide?
To create your own guide, you need to make sure your Instagram is updated to the latest version.
- Go to your Instagram profile and tap the plus button. Then you’ll see a menu with the options of content you can make on Instagram. Locate the Guides (an icon with an open book) and pick the type of guide you want to create.
- Select posts you want to add to your guide. They can be yours as well as others.
- Make up a name for your guide. Remember, that you only have 63 characters for the title, including spaces. The rest will be cut off.
- Change the cover photo of your guide if you don’t like the one that Instagram chose automatically.
- Describe what your guide is about in two-three short sentences. You have a limit of 2,200 characters for descriptions, like in a common post caption.
- Add titles and write your comments/suggestions/descriptions for each post of the guide, if you want.
Instagram leaves all descriptions optional. It’s perfect for creators, who want to make guides with visual content only. Sometimes, you just don’t need to say much to share something meaningful.
What bloggers think about Guides?
We didn’t want to stop on just explaining Guides, so we asked two bloggers what they really think about this functionality, whether it’s useful, and whether they are planning to use Guides for work.
Ellina, a blogger from Estonia. She shares work-life balance tips, tells awesome stories about her travels, and about life in general.
I think the wave of Guides and short eBooks is already declining in the international space. In the Russian-speaking community, guides are still at the peak, but I believe next year authors of guides will have to create something really outstanding to draw attention to their materials. We are overwhelmed with information, and high-quality products are getting harder to find. So the public is becoming pickier when choosing what to devote their precious time to. The design of the guide is important, but the content is still more important. Therefore, when making a guide, I would first think: can it change the work process of a reader for better? What information will be really useful to them?
I don’t plan to make my own guides yet, because I want to focus on other projects in the nearest future. Although I admit, there are several ideas for guides I could make for my colleagues—advertisers, agencies, contractors, in order to create a kind of memo that will allow both me and the reader to simplify and speed up our work processes.
Vlad Bogutskiy, a digital marketer and blogger. He shares great tips about social media marketing, advertising, and targeting.
I see that more and more brands introduce themselves to this functionality now. It has a very big potential and of course, it is worth using, or at least thinking about using it.
I personally always test new functionality on my dog’s Instagram account (@vizsla_arya). If everything works fine, I then push the functionality further to clients and businesses. I always recommend testing the new functionality and only then using it in your work, and I’ll tell you why. For example, Instagram already sends push notifications when your shopping tags start working. This feature is awesome and it’s available in your ad manager. But if you’re located in one of the CIS countries, it might not work when you close the ad manager.
Instagram Guides have a cool idea behind and I think many businesses like offline shops will use guides to indicate locations and more. Bloggers will be able to use guides too! I checked myself and everything seems to work perfectly. I plan to start using Guides for work soon.
Ideas for your own Instagram Guide
There are tons of potential topics you could cover with Instagram Guides. Depending on your profession or hobbies, you could go even further and style posts specifically for Guides. Anyway, we thought it would be nice to pitch several ideas for a warm-up.
- X cooking lifehacks that changed my life.
- Quirky pizza restaurants to add to your bucket list.
- X places that serve too delicious cheesecakes.
- The stories that will inspire you to open a restaurant.
- X dishes to help you get fit/gain weight.
- X diets that don’t make you starve.
- The ultimate list of home-cooking recipes.
- X dishes that are easier to make than it appears.
- X local places with great takeaway food.
- X most nutritious/defatted/other foods.
- Local farms/sellers to buy organic food from.
- X places NOT to visit after the pandemic.
- X best hiking trails for lovers of really long walks.
- X non-typical places to visit while in Italy/Denmark/Bali/another country.
- Precious hidden spots I found while walking the city.
- X best local spots to have a picnic/read a book/watch the sunset.
- Essential packing tips for nomads.
- X brands with the best gear for hikers/climbers/others.
Marketing, Business & Media
- X news media worth reading AND believing.
- Top marketing/design/other trends of the year.
- Effective lead magnet strategies for marketers.
- X common mistakes all entrepreneurs make.
- X examples of really good/bad campaigns.
- Top ideas for your next marketing campaign.
- X not obvious but working marketing techniques.
- A list of industry awards worth your attention.
- X successful business cases for inspiration.
- X stats that will convince you to invest in marketing.
Sports & Health
- The ultimate list of exercises for yoga/aerobics/another sport.
- X items you need to have a more productive workout.
- X stories that will inspire you for sports.
- X meditation techniques that anyone can do.
- Small habits that can change your life.
- X best local sports clubs for TRX workouts.
- Sports tricks/lifehacks that really work.
- Famous coaches to follow for great sports advice.
- X accounts to get support and overcome fear/tension/anxiety/another.
- X quotes to make your day better/motivate you for achievements/other.
- All the words you should repeat to yourself every day.
Fashion & Beauty
- Awesome/weird/must-have fashion pieces for your wardrobe.
- X clothing items you should only buy once and for life.
- X great alternatives to expensive skin-care products.
- Essential pieces of jewelry/accessories this year.
- X makeup tricks to enhance your natural beauty.
- X best brands of eco-friendly products.
- X tips for a zero-waste lifestyle.
- X brands that are against animal testing.
We already have our good-old ways of sharing content on Instagram—posts and Stories. We also have Reels (that look like a move from Instagram to take over the audience of TikTok) and we have IGTV content, which is a real buzz already. Now we have Guides too.
For now, Guides feel like another feature that tries to set our eyes on Instagram even more. They are undoubtedly a great tool for anyone to group their content and spread it without ever having to leave Instagram. It’s great news for Instagram itself and for those who actively use it for promotion.
Only time will show the real value of Instagram Guides, so let’s try them and see what happens! 🔮