Instagram Guides are one of the newest ways to share content on the platform. Since the feature was first introduced in 2020 (along with Live, Shops, Reels and a rearranged home screen—whew) brands around the world have discovered how to incorporate Guides into their marketing strategies. And with 1.3 million people using Instagram every day, each new feature offers some serious potential reach.
But there’s something about Instagram Guides that sets them apart from all of the app’s other features: to create a Guide, you don’t need to make any new content. Exhausted social media managers, rejoice! Guides are all about taking photos, videos and posts that already exist and gathering them together: think of it like a family photo album, minus the embarrassing bathtub pics.
Read on for an overview of Instagram Guides, step-by-step instructions on how to make them, and some examples of using Guides as an effective marketing strategy.
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What is Instagram Guides?
Instagram Guides is a content format that combines visuals and text. Each guide is a curated collection of existing Instagram posts accompanied by descriptions, commentary, recipes, etc. Guides are similar to blog posts and give creators more space than traditional posts to share recommendations, tell stories, explain step-by-step instructions, and so on.
Guides include a cover image, title, introduction, embedded Instagram posts, and optional descriptions for entries.
Once you create your first Guide, a tab with a brochure icon will appear on your profile (along with your posts, videos, Reels and tagged posts).
Guides can’t be liked or commented on by other users—it’s more of a one-way sharing experience, like reading a book or watching TV. But, they can be shared on Instagram Stories and via direct messages.
Guide entries can be edited, added, or removed (this is another thing that sets them apart from other kinds of posts on Instagram—there is a lot more room to edit if you make a mistake or need to refresh the content).
3 types of Instagram Guides
Here’s a brief overview of the different kinds of Guides you can create on Instagram.
This is the idea that Instagram Guides was born for: sharing great locations, whether that’s hidden spots for camping, restaurants with cheap happy hours or the best public washrooms in New York City (I made that up, but it’s a good idea, isn’t it?). These Guides are geography-focused, and generally center around some kind of theme. For example, where to get vegan nachos in Seattle.
This type of Guides is great for small businesses looking to sell products and services directly on Instagram.
Product Guides are integrated with Instagram Shops (so you can’t add something to a product guide unless it’s a product on Shops). If you’re a brand that sells products, these kinds of guides can be used for sharing new launches, or gathering up a bunch of products in a specific category—like Our 2022 Swimsuit Collection or The 9 Best Button-Ups for Brunch with Your Mother-in-Law. If you’re a creator, you can make guides using goods from your favourite brands (and maybe make some money on it).
This type of Guide isn’t governed by geotags or products from rge Instagram Shop tab—it’s the most open-ended sort of guide, and allows you the most freedom in terms of what content you can include. Any public post can be included in a Guide, so it can be anything from How to Meditate Without Falling Asleep to 8 Pugs I Want to Hug.
How to make an Instagram Guide in 9 steps
New to creating Instagram Guides? Follow these steps to create Guides with posts, products, or places.
1. From your profile, click the plus symbol in the upper right corner and select Guide.
2. To pick your Guide type, tap Posts, Products, or Places.
3. Depending on what your Guide is about, you have different options for how to choose content.
- For Instagram Guides to places: Search geotags, use saved places, or use locations you’ve geotagged on your own posts.
- For Instagram Guides to products: Search brands or add products from your wishlist.
- For Instagram Guides to posts: Use posts that you’ve saved, or your own personal posts.
4. Tap Next.
5. Add your guide title and description. If you would like to use a different cover photo, tap Change Cover Photo.
6. Double check the prepopulated place name, and edit as needed. If you wish, add a description.
7. Tap Add Place and repeat steps 4–8 until your guide is complete.
8. Tap Next in the upper right corner.
9. Tap Share.
Tip: The easiest way to quickly add things to your Guide is to save them beforehand, so make sure you’re hitting “save” on locations or posts you’d like to include (or, if you’re using products, add them to your wishlist). That way, Instagram will have the contents of your guide pre-saved in a single location: no searching required.
13 ways to use Instagram Guides for your business
If you’re guide-curious and not sure where to start, look to the experts. Here are a few examples of ways to use Instagram Guides to elevate your brand.
1. Create a gift guide
Trends change, but consumerism remains—and let’s face it, there’s nothing we can depend on more than the holiday season coming on way too fast. And gift guides aren’t just for winter holidays: you can make them for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day, weddings or birthdays (or really any hyper-specific occasion your heart desires—dog’s adoption anniversary party, anyone?) and showcase your favorite products.
You can make a gift guide that features only products that your brand makes, or expand it to include non-competing brands that serve the same audience as you. For example, a company that sells funky pajama sets might make a Christmas gift guide that also includes cozy slippers from another brand. It’s a good way to build community, and it makes your guide look less like an advertisement.
Skincare company Skin Gym made a gift guide outlining their favourite products for Mother’s Day gifts.
2. Compile a list of tips
Everyone is an expert on something—whether that’s overnight hiking, peeling a pomegranate or getting a good night’s sleep, chances are you (or your brand) has a skill worth sharing. Gathering a list of tips on a certain topic is an excellent way to provide a service to your audience—they get free, valuable advice from you, which helps to build a relationship (and also makes them more likely to take a look at the rest of your content). This isn’t a direct way to earn revenue (like the gift guide example above) but it fosters another important element of business: trust from consumers.
Brassware manufacturers Perrin and Rowe complied a list of tips for designing the perfect utility room. They included examples from other creators in the design industry, fostering valuable relationships with them, too.
3. Gather posts under a theme
If your business is offering multiple products or services and posting different types of content (and hey, you should be!) you can gather them together in a guide under a specific theme. For example, a restaurant might create a guide that only showcases their desserts, or a sports equipment retailer might make a guide to the best baseball gear.
Instagram automatically organizes your profile chronologically (at least, it does at the time of writing this—only the Insta-gods know what the future holds), so creating guides of your posts grouped together is a helpful way for your followers to find exactly what they’re looking for.
This vegan creator makes guides to plant-based restaurants in their area under specific themes, like nachos, pizza and dumplings.
4. Share your own favourite products
Creative folks are often asked what sorts of tools they use in their work—for example, you might ask a podcaster what kind of microphone they use or sculptor what kind of clay is their favourite. Sharing a product guide gives your followers an interesting peek into your process, and helps other aspiring creators find the best tools for them.
This artist created a guide to all of the materials they use in their paintings, making it easy for their audience to purchase the same ones. (Pro tip: if you’re into affiliate marketing, this could be a great way to incorporate it and make some money).
5. Create a ranked list
Ranking things (objectively or subjectively) is almost as much fun to do as it is to read about—this can be a fun team-building exercise as well as a great method of creating content. Share your bestsellers, your most popular posts, or you employee’s favourite products in a ranked list. You can run a contest or post a story asking your audience to rank things, and publish the results as an Instagram Guide.
Visit Brisbane created a guide to the city’s top 10 signature dishes (zucchini fries rank #1).
6. Share a brand story or message
It’s tough to control what your new followers will see as a first impression of your brand—with only 150 characters allowed in your bio and new posts shared everyday, your profile at a glance doesn’t give viewers much of an idea of who you are.
Creating an Instagram Guide that introduces your company (and the values you hold) is the perfect way to give potential followers a snapshot of your brand. You can share company history, a founder’s bio, and some of your top-selling products or even goals as a brand: think of this like a fun alternative to a resume.
Bike company Brompton shared some company history, plus bios of current employees in this Instagram Guide.
Most folks are familiar with GoPro cameras, but GoPro UK made a guide to the lesser-known features of the product.
7. Provide step-by-step instructions
Similar to a guide with tips or advice, a guide outlining step-by-step instructions provides a free service to your followers (how generous!). This is a helpful way to assemble posts together, especially if you are already running an advice series or providing how-to instructions on Instagram.
This digital creator often shares how-to guides as carousel posts, but gathered them all together in an Instagram Guide that covers various strategies for improving mental health.
8. Shoutout others in your community
It’s important to remember that Instagram Guides aren’t just limited to your own content—you can include posts from other creators or brands too. This is both beneficial to your followers and to your company.
Guides with advice, posts or products from multiple sources will be more helpful and communicate more information than guides with a single source. Plus, including content from other brands (psst: make sure their values align with yours!) helps you to create a positive relationship with them. You’re building community and making valuable connections—for example, including a brand on a guide will make them more likely to want to partner with you on a giveaway.
Even though you technically don’t have to, it’s best practice to ask for permission before including a post that isn’t yours in an Instagram guide. Send a quick DM to avoid any awkwardness later.
This development company made an Instagram guide outlining the best restaurants in the neighbourhood they’re developing in—its good advertising for the restaurants, and helpful info for folks who might be considering real estate in the area.
9. Collaborate with a creator
Instagram provides lots of ways for businesses to collaborate with creators, and guides make up a piece of that marketing puzzle.
You can create guides that feature your brand ambassadors, collaborate with influencers to make Guides on their account, and more. Similar to the above, this helps to foster community. Additionally, it helps share your content with a wider audience: your followers will see your guide, and the creator’s followers will see it, too.
Jewellery brand Ottoman Hands collaborated with creators for this influencer-focused Instagram guide.
10. Share a travel guide
The travel industry jumped on Instagram Guides as soon as they became available—and whether your followers scroll through to actually plan trips, get inspiration or just to daydream about their next vacation, they’re super engaging (and often, beautiful).
If you’re a travel-related company, this is the guide for you… but some clever outside-the-box thinking can align almost any brand with a geography-focused guide. For example, a running shoe company could provide a guide to the best trails in a certain area, or a cat food business could make a guide to cat-friendly hotels in the city. The world’s at your fingertips! Dream big!
This tour guide company in Philadelphia created a summer guide of places to visit and things to do in the city.
11. Promote causes and provide resources
For companies that champion causes and engage in social activism, Instagram Guides provide a place to summarize efforts and share resources. If your brand isn’t specifically geared towards social activism, you can still do this—and in fact, you should! Using your platform for social change is good, whether you’re a houselessness-focused nonprofit or a handmade hair scrunchie biz.
To celebrate Black history month, publisher Random House created a guide to Black-owned independent bookstores.
12. Share behind-the-scenes content
Brands in the creative industry often share behind-the-scenes content (and the internet loves it). If you’ve already shared the process behind creating your crocheted halter tops or hand-carved walking sticks on Instagram, gather that content together to create a guide.
This helps your audience understand more about you and how much work goes into your business, which, you know, is good for business.
Artist @stickyriceco created an Instagram guide for an anniversary sale that contained behind-the-scenes content like unboxing a new product.
13. Share sales or special offers
The example above also shows how you can use Instagram Guides to promote your brand’s sales or special offers. You can use guides to share what products you’ll be including in the sale, process pics of preparing for the sale or even testimonials from previous customers.
And with that, your guide to Guides comes to an end. Time to start making your first Instagram Guide (or keep researching strategies for marketing on Instagram).
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