When done correctly, Instagram will help you grow your business. The numbers speak for themselves: 200+ million Instagrammers visit at least one business profile daily. That’s a lot of potential reach and visibility that can be boosted with Instagram ads. It may be daunting to try and stand out amidst the crowd, but this guide will help those who aren’t currently using Instagram for business. For those who are already on Instagram, this guide will quickly help you differentiate your content.
Instagram’s value used to come from its younger user base. However, with the number of new users growing every day, it’s now a tool effective in reaching all kinds of demographics.
Instagram is an incredibly visually-based medium, so it’s crucial to dial in on the best design practices. Sizing dimensions, design principles, and strong calls to action (CTAs) are just a few of the moving parts to consider when building your content. Most Instagram users know how to filter and otherwise tweak their posts to be aesthetically appealing, but there’s more to Instagram’s visual curation than meets the eye.
Here, we’ll share the fundamentals of creating engaging newsfeed images, Instagram stories, and ads to help you grow your Instagram page, plus some templates to get you started. Ready to dive in?
When Instagram stories were introduced in 2016, they added a layer of depth to a brand’s Instagram content strategy. Stories are only viewable for 24 hours, allowing the poster to experiment more freely with different approaches as well as post more timely and recurring content without posting it to their permanent feed. Most importantly, as the name implies, you can post a number of stories back to back, giving you the ability to tell a narrative that’s hard to replicate in standalone posts.
Instagram stories take up the whole screen, providing a unique and brief moment to capture the audience’s entire attention. This results in a stronger impression on viewers than a typical post.
You can approach Story content strategy a number of ways: get additional engagement beyond your normal posts, or share more short-term specific content like a sale. Below, we’ll give more insights about how to maximize Instagram stories, regardless of your strategic goal.
Instagram’s story dimensions are 1080 by 1920 pixels, or a 9:16 aspect ratio: it’s especially important that you stick to this guideline, as Instagram can crop or zoom into your video which will cause a loss of quality and messaging.
Designing good Instagram stories can be more difficult than a feed post. Users click through stories, rather than scroll through their feed. Creating a story that captivates and forces engagement within a moment is challenging. Just like creating a post, creating a good story begins with the correct Instagram dimensions.
Figma’s free pre-sized Instagram story templates helps you build strong content that captivates the audience, and grows your following. Getting started is easy: just select one of our many designs, and start adding your images and accompanying text. Our Instagram Story templates are made to suit different brands, and are easily customizable so that you can truly get your identity across in every story.
When you’re adding your personal touch to Instagram stories, you should keep the core design elements in mind. For starters, maximize the screen space. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to fill the entire screen, but you should be conscientious about how you place your images, logos and buttons within the space.
You can use this Instagram UI Mockup tool directly on Figma to help build your Instagram story. You should aim to share the core message visually; text is great, but too much of it can be hard to understand quickly. Generally, text-heavy stories perform poorly on Instagram’s algorithm. Finally, if you’re looking to optimize for conversions, include a CTA. This can simply be a ‘Swipe Up’ link-- a functionality unique to business accounts, or those with more than 10,000 followers, which allows the poster to share a link within the story by prompting a viewer to swipe. Buttons are another important tool for businesses to utilize, because they let you add polls, products, and mentions, which increases audience engagement.
With that being said, you’ll want to make sure to test out what style and content works best for your audience. Your stories will be more powerful if you’re able to spend a few weeks measuring engagement metrics, like response rate and total views, from different story designs. That way, you can determine the content and formats that best resonate with viewers.
Now that you’ve made your Instagram stories, how do you publish them?
Once you’ve posted your Story, you can get updates on it’s view count in the bottom left corner. There’s no edit button once you’ve posted a Story, so make sure to review your content before publishing it.
Now that you have a good understanding of Instagram stories, the next frontier to explore is posts. Let’s dive into how your Story and post content strategy should work together, the different sizes of posts that you can make, and how to design great content that engages your audience.
The dimensions for an Instagram profile photo are 110 by 110 pixels. Your profile photo should be clear and easy to identify. A simple logo, for example, is a great choice, but you can also have a clear image of your core product offering in the profile photo as well. You can see how your profile photo will look on the platform with this Instagram Avatar Preview.
Regardless of the profile photo that you choose, try to keep it the same across all business accounts; great brands are sure to do this. The consistency will allow you to be more recognizable when targeting the same customers, and ultimately help build your online brand identity.
Unlike many other social media platforms, Instagram photo sizes don’t have to be consistent across all posts. Instagram dimensions can be square, landscape, and portrait images now, and you should consider the pros and cons for each. Although all images show up as square on your profile, clicking on photos will reveal them at their full aspect ratio.
For Instagram square images, your picture needs to be a 1:1 aspect ratio, or 1080 by 1080 pixels. Using square images is a neat throwback to Instagram's early days, but the rules of composition are different for square posts. Square designs are all about symmetry, so they work best when you focus in and center on the main piece of content, rather than following the rule-of-third principle. You can also crop your image into the square format to show the most important part of the image, which will make the design more visually appealing, resulting in improved engagement with your audience.
Portrait Images are best at a 4:5 aspect ratio, or 1080 x 1350 pixels. The vertical aspect ratio maximizimizes your Instagram real estate and takes up more of the screen, allowing you to capture more of the audience’s attention and for longer. Being bold with your portrait designs will make your post go even further because they physically require more time to scroll by; a sharp image, or bright colors are both good ways to stand out even more and use the screen size effectively.
The aspect ratio for Instagram landscape photos is 1.91:1, or 1080 x 608 pixels. Note that these photos have the opposite use case than portrait-style images: the photo takes up less screen space vertically, but you can show more depth within the photo. You should opt for landscape dimensions on Instagram posts if you need more horizontal space for a more complex design, or wider scenery, for example, to capture your image more effectively.
You can create and plan your Instagram content for free using Figma. Get access to our pre-sized frames, and the tools you need to make Instagram posts that convert. Sign up for free, and see what our Creators are making.
While many think of Instagram as a photo-sharing platform, videos have become a crucial part of the app experience. A well-created video provides a unique opportunity to deliver long form content. This means that you have more time to deliver your message and a new medium to create engaging content. There’s a lot of value in videos for a business on Instagram, so it’s crucial to incorporate it in your content strategy. How can you optimize your feed to get strong engagement with video? Start with a great thumbnail that engages your audience.
Instagram recommends 161 x 161 px for your video thumbnail. You should also aim to clip the most interesting and unique portion of the video; the final product on a cooking video, or the core feature of a new software product. This will make your video more enticing to click on. You’ll also want to keep the thumbnail as clean as possible. Too much text looks tacky, meaning it won’t perform as well on Instagram’s algorithm. Keep in mind that once you make your post, you cannot edit the thumbnail photo, so be thorough with your revisions.
Instagram carousels are an opportunity to creatively tell a better story in your posts. Instagram gives you the ability to share up to 10 photos or videos for your audience to swipe through, presenting the opportunity to share more content without overwhelming your audience. The best reason to use a carousel is if you want to share a new feature, or product. You’ll have a more thorough chance to share your update, and your post won’t be cluttered, which will keep your engagement high. If you’re looking for a template to get started, try this Instagram Carousel Template from our Figma community.
Once you’ve built your profile, you can use the paid ads network to get more impressions and visibility beyond your organic reach. With ads, however, you need to make sure your design is captivating, or your ROI will be lower. The first step to getting started is understanding the Instagram dimensions, and then focusing on marketing and design principles that makes your ads stand out. Let’s walk through it.
Instagram dimensions are a bit different for ads:
Sticking to these ad sizes is particularly important for ads because poor formatting will perform worse in Instagram’s algorithm. With that being said, beyond the dimensions, there are also some design principles that you should follow to create winning content.
While your ads are an extension to the branding on your page,you’ll want to follow a few principles specific to Instagram ads. Firstly, think about the core conversion that you’re trying to achieve: is it more followers, or a new product that the customer can purchase, or simply referring a customer to a new blog post?
With your goal in mind, you can make more informed decisions about your ad designs. For example, a ‘Shop Now’ CTA won’t perform as strongly if you want to get more views on a blog post because your audience may get confused. Your ads will eventually perform better if you test and analyze the success of your paid content. That way, you can make informed decisions about what resonates best with your audience.
If you want to build a great following, try to plan your posts ahead of time so that you can introduce consistency and variety to your content. With this free Instagram Content Calendar, you can plan and develop content ahead of time, and visualize what it will look like.
Now that you have a better understanding of building your businesses Instagram profile using stories, Posts, and Instagram ads, it’s time to get started and engage with your audience. While Instagram’s ad capabilities are powerful, it’s important to use other channels and platforms to build your business as well. Check out our Facebook social media size guide next!