Getting engagement on Instagram isn’t an easy task and especially with more users, businesses and content creators joining the popular platform each day, along with the addition of new Instagram format types and trends. However, engagement is a highly important metric for businesses hoping to grow their pages. With billions of active monthly users, Instagram is highly influential.

With this, however, comes a lot of content flooding users’ feeds and suddenly, posting your organic content alone doesn’t work. Your goal on Instagram should be to design, craft and edit content that will get users to stop scrolling and engage through actions such as liking your post, commenting, saving and sharing.

In this guide, we’ll look at the key content categories on Instagram, along with the best practices to employ when creating them. We’ll also summarise the most effective formats and tactics to use for maximising engagement. 

The Science of Engagement: Understanding the Types of Content that Resonate


Video content is being pushed and is becoming a central Instagram format. However, the original Instagram format remains static photos on feeds. These timeless visuals, when crafted with intention, can captivate audiences, drive engagement and make your feed look professional and aesthetic. As a main Instagram format, static photos should involve the following elements:

  • High quality visuals – High-resolution, well-lit images and videos immediately grab attention while looking professional. You should invest in a high quality camera or smartphone to take these pictures with. 
  • Edit your photos – Download some editing apps to ensure you establish a consistent and professional-looking feed. Don’t go overboard with the editing and filters though as this can make your imagery look inauthentic and sometimes even tacky. Lightroom presets or tools that enhance rather than transform the photo often resonate best.
  • Defined focal point – Ensure that there is a “hero” in the majority of your static photos; this could be a product or a person, but you want to choose something that will capture the attention of audiences. 
  • Compelling captions – While visuals may be the key to Instagram engagement, you should craft captions that increase engagement levels. Ensure that your captions are consistent with your brand image – add humour, flair, emojis, call(s) to action to heighten engagement amongst your followers. Use relevant hashtags to enhance visibility and connect with potential followers who share similar interests.
Image of an instagram feed (photos are the original instagram format)

Carousels: A Multi-faceted Approach

A relatively recent Instagram format is carousel posts; these are highly effective for driving engagement. Carousel posts are multi-slide posts and have emerged as a highly used Instagram format. 

By strategically adopting carousels brands can captivate their followers, enhance their storytelling, and, in turn, boost their engagement levels on the platform. What is essentially a slideshow, Instagram users can add up to ten images or videos within the one post, swipeable by the user. This content works incredibly well for showing products in different angles, showing off multiple pieces from a collection, or showing a how-to step-by-step guide.

Because users have to swipe with carousel posts, they are often more likely to engage. These posts are beneficial as, unlike videos, users can spend as much time as they like scrolling. There’s also higher engagement with carousels because users often want to swipe until the end so that they don’t feel like they’re missing out on anything. 

So what are the best ways to create engagement through this Instagram format?

  • Enhance storytelling – present a series of images or videos that unfold a narrative or convey a message.
  • Leverage carousel posts for educational and informative content – each slide can be a key takeaway, fact, or step-by-step guide, making it easier for users to retain and apply the information.
  • Share UGC – Carousels can be a powerful tool to generate and share UGC; this fosters a sense of community and encourages users to share their posts.

Carousels are a key Instagram format that should be integrated into your business’ social media marketing strategy.

Image of Instagram logo 3d
Incorporate Instagram carousels into your social media strategy

Reels: Capturing Attention and Driving Engagement

An effective and engaging current Instagram format is Reels – the short-from video offering that competes directly with TikTok. Reels have become incredibly popular because of their entertaining and easily consumable content. The greatest Reels success comes from leveraging current viral trends, sounds, songs and challenges that are resonating across both TikTok and Instagram. Be aware though, trends on these platforms change incredibly quickly. So, how can you use this Instagram content type effectively to maximise engagement?

  • Get creative with popular audios – This makes it easier for your content to surface across the platform and be shared between accounts organically. Trending audios enable brands to tap into popular culture and connect with their followers on a relatable level.
  • Keep your reels short – With declining attention spans, you’ll want to keep your Reels between 15-30 seconds long for optimum engagement rates.
  • Post behind-the-scenes footage – Behind the scenes footage on Instagram is always gold. It gives your followers and inside look into your daily life and enables them to access the ‘human side’ of the brand. This helps to build trust amongst your followers and fosters relationships with them.

Reels are an Instagram format that have grown in popularity and brands should take advantage of this to be creative, to tap into trends, and to expand reach and engagement. 

Instagram Stories: The Ephemeral Powerhouse

Instagram Stories, with their ephemeral nature and real-time engagement, have become an important Instagram format to help businesses build relationships with their followers. This disappearing content offers businesses the unique opportunity to share behind-the-scenes glimpses, spontaneous moments, and interactive elements that capture follower attention and foster loyalty. This Instagram format channels personality over perfection. To use this Instagram format effectively:

  • Leverage interactive elements: Unlike other Instagram content types, Instagram Stories enable brands to adopt interactive elements such as polls, quizzes, questions, and sticker challenges. This enables brands to actively engage with their followers and foster two-way conversation with them.
  • Stay on top of trends – Incorporate popular audios and music as well as templates and filters into your content on Instagram Stories.
  • Run flash contests – By inviting your followers to enter your contests, your business can generate excitement and buzz which helps with Instagram engagement.

Make Instagram Stories a daily habit, and watch your engagement metrics climb; this Instagram format truly helps foster relationships, communication and engagement with your followers.

Image of someone taking a photo for Instagram Stories

Live Videos

Live videos, as one of the less talked about Instagram content types, can feel a little daunting but it’s a great way to boost engagement and interact with your followers in real time. 

Live videos are great because they send a notification to everyone following you that you’re going live. Popular live videos include Q&A sessions or even just spontaneous pop-ins with behind-the-scenes content or product launch announcements. The ephemeral nature of live video also builds excitement and urgency around tuning in. Viewers can’t scroll back after it’s done – encouraging engaged participation there and then.

Going live doesn’t require hours of streaming. In most cases, quick 20-30 minute videos work best to sustain engagement without losing audience attention or interest.

Image of someone hosting a livestream
Instagram Live can be daunting but it boosts real-time engagement on the platform

Key Takeaways for Instagram Format Types

When it comes to engagement on Instagram in today’s competitive landscape, your content strategy is everything. As we’ve explored, certain Instagram format types simply resonate more than others based on how users interact with the platform.

By focusing your efforts on highly engaging formats like Instagram Reels, Stories, live videos and carousels, you can capture more attention and response from both existing and new audiences. Match this with compelling imagery and an authentic style, while leveraging trends and hashtags for amplification.

Beyond engaging Instagram format types, remember there are other key drivers for Instagram engagement including consistency, quality imagery and compelling captions. And remember, while it can be difficult, stay on top of trends to maintain relevance.

Check out our video below on adopting Instagram for business:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *