There’s no disputing it anymore: Instagram isn’t just a place to post pretty pictures of scenic beaches. It’s a powerful tool founders and entrepreneurs can use to grow their businesses and personal brands. At this point, many huge businesses have been built on the backs of Instagram accounts.
That said, every business that decides to make Instagram a core part of its growth strategy will run into the same question: What should I post? There’s not much point in posting a bunch of lame stuff just to say that you’re on Instagram. You want it to be a quality account that people love.
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to create and post quality Instagram content, you are not alone. And there is a way out of the I-don’t-know-what-to-post graveyard.
Foundr CEO Nathan Chan has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of Instagram content creation. And he’s learned some simple content creation strategies that anyone can use to create quality content. Every. Single. Time.
These are the very same techniques Nathan used when he was growing Foundr’s account to 1.8 million followers. And he did it in just a few short years, thanks to the strategies he’s outlining here.
Watch the video below for four of Nathan’s best tips for always having something to post on Instagram and then we’ll unpack his advice below.
Tip #1 to Instagram Content Creation: Study the Greats
Nathan says one of the hardest pills for new Instagrammers to swallow is realizing that what they consider great content might be very different from what their followers want. Just like with your product, you can never assume what your audience wants, and Nathan cautions both new and advanced Instagrammers to avoid this trap at all cost.
A better way to start making real progress on Instagram and always having quality content to post is to model what other great content creators are already doing and create content similar to that.
For example, Nathan says that in early days of launching Foundr, he drew a lot of inspiration from Gary Vaynerchuk’s videos and Instagram content. Gary has a huge audience. And more importantly, his audience is very similar to the audience Nathan wanted to serve through Foundr’s account.
Now, Nathan could have taken wild swings in the dark with his content and hoped his ideas would stand out. That’s the approach most people take.
Instead, Nathan took a shortcut by studying the types of posts from Gary V that got the most engagement and modeled his own posts after them. It’s been such a powerful secret to Foundr’s Instagram success, that he and the team still use it to this day.
For example, you probably recognize Gary V’s classic “headline text” videos at a glance. Like this recent one that got over 1 million views:
Nathan and the Foundr team realized that these kinds of videos got TONS of engagement. So they modeled a similar style of videos on their account.
And guess what happened next?
If you look at the comments on any of Foundr’s Gary V-style videos, you’ll see Foundr fans LOVE THEM:
Nobody on the Foundr team was shocked by this. In fact, Nathan already knew these kinds of videos would work before he ever created them. How? Because he was modeling a format that had already been proven by Gary V to work.
It works the same way for any business or niche.
Model what works and you’ll never have to guess about what to post next. Your competition and fans will tell you!
Of course, eventually you want to get to a place where you’re creating completely new ideas and blazing trails for others, but in the beginning, new is not what’s important. What’s important is making sure you are creating content that’s going to resonate with your audience.
Tip #2 to Instagram Content Creation: Test New Content Ideas on IG Live
In the world of sales, the motto is “always be closing.” In the world of Instagram, the motto should be, “always be testing.”
Testing is a powerful way to uncover new and potentially breakthrough ideas on Instagram. And if you want to be the center of a viral breakthrough and create content that gets seen and shared, you need to be testing all the time.
That’s why Nathan loves Instagram lives. It’s the fastest way to get real-time feedback from fans and see which content ideas resonate the most with your audience.
A great example of this can be seen on Scott Murray’s Instagram. For years, Scott avoided posting about his personal life. He just shared informative memes and nutrition infographics like this:
But after posting few physique updates and behind the scenes of his meals (and having a blast with it), he noticed a big spike in engagement.
In fact, his followers told him they loved it when he shared more about his personal life. They found him much funnier and more relatable than other accounts that posted similar types of content.
Keep in mind, this was totally different than the type of content Scott normally created, which was focused on research-based nutrition and science. But his fans begged for more of his personality and day-to-day life.
So Scott embraced this idea and made a regular practice of sharing his meals and what he does during the day—almost as much as he talks about nutrition and science.
The result? His fans love it!
In fact, they love it so much, Scott later launched a series of YouTube videos around a similar concept, where he would share entire days of eating. Forgive the pun, but people ate it up! Many of those videos got more than 10,000 views.
The crazy thing isn’t that Scott created viral content. He does that all the time. It’s that he would’ve never known that this was something his readers wanted to know more about if he hadn’t tested that content through Instagram live.
This idea can be applied to any kind of content you’re creating.
Continuously test new ideas on your live streams and see which ones your followers respond to the most. Double down on what works and ditch the bad ideas.
The big benefit of this method is that you don’t have to sink a ton of time into the creation process to get this content up and tested. You can get real feedback in real time from your followers. Do more of what works. Drop what doesn’t.
Tip #3 to Instagram Content Creation: Get Your Followers To Create Content For You!
One of the biggest content creation secrets is to not create any at all, but to instead have your followers create it for you.
Otherwise known as user generated content (or UGC), this type of content can work especially well if you have a physical product, because fans can take pictures with it.
I’m admittedly biased because they are a client of mine, but one brand that does this incredibly well is Protein Cookie Butter Powder. If you’ve never heard of them before, Protein Cookie Butter makes a calorie-and-macro-friendly version of cookie butter spread, with fewer calories and carbs. Fans love the product, and they’re constantly posting recipes and pictures of the meals they make using it.
These posts were created by users and shared organically.
Think about how great this is great for the brand. When it comes to creating content for their own Instagram account, they never have to wonder, “What should we post today?”
They’re able to share their readers’ pictures and videos. And that gives them multiple things to post every single day. As an added bonus, this content works as social proof and actually helps them sell more product.
If you have a business selling physical products, supplements, or some type of consumable good, you should absolutely be using this strategy of content creation.
Nathan says an easy way to get started is to encourage customers to share the product on social media. You can do things like offer anyone who posts a chance to win prizes and get regrammed in front of your followers.
Often, those incentives can be enough for people to feel inclined to share. And once you get a nice flow of shares and pictures rolling in, it becomes this nice flywheel where more and more people are sharing for the chance to be featured, more people are buying and so on.
If you need content for your Instagram but don’t always have the time or money to create it for yourself, this can be a powerful tool to leverage.
Tip #4 to Instagram Content Creation: Embrace the Suck!
Surprisingly, a huge thing that holds would-be Instagrammers from creating content isn’t a lack of ideas. It’s a belief that the content they create needs to be perfect—from the get-go.
But the reality is, getting started and creating something is far more important than being perfect. One bit of wisdom I’ve always loved is, “If the first version of your product doesn’t embarrass you, you waited too long to ship it.”
In other words, you should hope that one day you look back on the content and products you’re creating and cringe.
That means that you did something and, more importantly, you kept iterating over time. And truthfully, committing to showing up every day and creating anything at all is going to take you much further than just sitting there and thinking about what could be.
If you look at some of Foundr’s earliest posts, you’ll see they were far from perfect. Some of the posts had typos. Some images were oddly colored. Some made no sense whatsoever!
But remember, perfectionism is the enemy of creation.
So don’t let feelings of inadequacy or the idea that you need to be perfect stop you. Just begin creating and take action. As the old saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”
When it comes to creating content, you don’t want to look back in a year wishing you’d gotten started. You want to look back happy that you prioritized action over perfection.
Posting Quality Instagram Content Can Be Easy and Fun
Some people think you need to be a creative genius to come up with things to post on Instagram. But that’s simply not true.
The truth is there are tried and true techniques you can use to always have something to post. And even more fundamentally, creating something will take you much further than simply sitting on the sidelines and watching other people create great stuff.
You can create great content. But you have to get out of your head and commit to showing up every day.
And if you ever get stuck wondering how to post quality Instagram content, use these tips to get out of the content creation rut.
If you’ve found these content creation tips helpful or have another secret to share, we’d love to hear from you, too.
Let us know in the comments below!