Instagram 101: Quick guide for busy business owners

by | May 24, 2021

So, you have an idea for an Instagram post. Now what? In a simpler time, you had just one option — choose your photo, hit “post” and wait for the likes to roll in. These days, there is a little bit more strategy required to decide how to best share your content out to the world. It’s great to have so many creative options to deliver content to your audience, but that means more decisions for busy business owners to make.

While it will take a little bit of extra time to think through where and how you’re posting your content, it is worth it to have a solid strategy because each Instagram avenue serves a unique purpose.

Main Feed Posts

If you have a lot to say or have a stunning image or video clip, this is where you will shine. The main feed, also called your “grid,” is where visitors land before they decide if you’re worth a follow and that’s why it’s important that you put your best foot (and content) forward to give them a feel for what you’re about. Think of this as that wall in your home where you display your favorite photographs in pretty frames.

When you post photos or videos here, people who already follow you will see them pop up in their home feeds if the algorithm has decided they will like seeing it. If you use hashtags in your caption, you may also appear in the “Explore” tab and reach more accounts that way. Speaking of captions, you have 2,200 characters to play with in the main feed. Photos and videos that get posted in your main feed stay on your profile until you delete them or choose to archive them so that they are temporarily hidden.

If you’re posting a video, keep in mind that it will need to be under a minute or you will be prompted to post it as an IGTV video instead.

IGTV Posts

Having trouble keeping your videos under a minute? You’re going to love IGTV. Videos posted here can go up to 15 minutes if uploaded from mobile and an entire hour if loaded from desktop. If you’re pushing out video content regularly, you can have some fun with the options to create series that group similar videos together.

Before you hit publish, you’ll have the option to post to your main feed so that your followers see it appear in their feeds and a preview appears in your main grid permanently; otherwise, someone needs to visit your profile and tap the IGTV tab to watch your content.

If you do decide to add it to your main feed, keep in mind that you will want to make your intro appealing so that people are motivated to click in to see the video in its entirety. Otherwise, they will see just a short preview and can keep on scrolling by.

Instagram Stories

Stories allow users to film or upload 15-second clips and then add text, GIFs, polls, filters and music and other interactive features to make them unique. If clips go longer, Instagram automatically splices them into 15-second snippets, maxing out at one minute at a time. Just like in the main feed, hashtags and tags can be added to increase the reach of your stories beyond your followers, who get notified in the Story feed when you post something new.

One of the most notable features is that Stories disappear after 24 hours, giving an extra sense of urgency for followers to view your content. While this adds an extra element of fun, perhaps the best part is the ability to highlight these with custom icons that stay on your profile until you change or remove them. You not only get a little more creative freedom to stay on brand, but this lets you showcase more information about your business if someone decides to click around and get to know more about you. If main feed content is the family photo wall in your digital home, think of Story Highlights as the scrapbooks on the shelf.

Whether you decide to post to the main grid, Reels or IGTV, you will have the option to cross-post to Stories and, from there, to your Facebook Stories feed. Because Stories are usually seen by more of your followers than content in the main feed, it’s a smart move to do this whenever you post new content.


Reels is Instagram’s response to the wildly popular TikTok app and is currently favored by Instagram over main feed content when it comes to reach. This option lets content creators splice multiple video clips together or post a single video clip up to 30 seconds, adding music, text and other effects from right within the app. If more editing is required, videos can be created outside the app and uploaded. Recently, Instagram began offering the option to post videos up to 60 seconds to some accounts.

Aside from the opportunity for creatively showcasing your brand, one of the biggest benefits to posting to Reels is the likelihood that you will get in front of new followers. While still a part of the Instagram platform, the Reel feed feels and acts like a platform on its own, with content suggested to viewers based on their activity and hashtags in its own feed.

While your Reels can be viewed by someone clicking the “Reels” tab when they visit your profile, you can get extra exposure by choosing the option to add it to your main grid where it can live until you delete or archive it. Worried about your grid aesthetic? Instagram already thought this through; you can upload a custom cover photo to your grid to maintain a consistent look and feel.

We get it, you don’t have time to stay on top of every new feature. That’s where we come in! Contact us for a free digital marketing consultation and let’s have some fun sharing your brand’s story with the world.