Instagram Guides are the new Instagram IT Girl.
Social media platforms are constantly updating and Instagram is no different. It feels as though no sooner have you mastered one thing than a new comes along.
Earlier this year we had Instagram Reels which has certainly felt very much like TikTok and now we have two more new functions to wrap our heads around.
First up is keywords and I have to say I like it. In a nutshell keywords allow you to use Instagram more like a search engine. This definitely feels like a move towards being a little more like Pinterest, which we all know is a visual search engine.
One thing to note is that this rollout of keywords works very well with Instagram’s new Guides feature released in November. We’ll go into more detail on that in a minute.
Benefits of Keywords
The biggest benefit of this whole thing is that you’re no longer reliant purely on the algorithm and what Instagram decides to show your audience.
Now users can use Instagram with intent. Meaning it becomes more like a search engine.
The question is will Instagram now become a Google replacement?
According to Instagram, keyword searches will be “limited to general interest topics and search terms that are within Instagram’s community guidelines”. So niching right down in the way you might do in your normal SEO strategy probably won’t work.
How do Keywords work?
It’s still not completely clear how keywords will work. If they act as a search engine then it will be on relevancy and quality of content, as well as location. However, there does seem to be some AI (artificial intelligence) involved as content is shown to users based on their past history and things they’ve viewed on the platform. This is how the explore function works.
I’ll keep you posted as I find out more on this one.
Previously, hashtags have been the dominant feature in the algorithm so it will be interesting to see what happens with them moving forward.
Currently this new update is only available in six English speaking countries, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, US, Ireland, and Canada.
It’s also limited only to grid searching and isn’t available for Stories yet but this could be updated in the future.
And what about Guides?
Well this new feature was originally rolled out earlier in the year but only to health and well-being brands. Now it’s available to everyone.
But what’s the big deal? Instagram Guides are a way to share long-form content on the platform. Think of them like micro-blogs.
Instagram describes guides as “a way to more easily discover recommendations, tips and other content from your favourite creators, public figures, organisations and publishers on Instagram.”
In other words, Guides are individual pieces of related content pulled together in one resource. It’s another way of pulling your content into categories that make sense to your audience.
But it doesn’t stop there. As well as being able to group your own content together you can also do it with other people’s content. This could be huge, especially for the wedding industry. I’ll explain more in a minute.
How do you create an Instagram Guide?
From your Instagram profile, tap on the + icon in the top right corner and select Guide from the menu, it looks like a little newspaper icon.
There are three different types of Guides you can create:
This is more relevant to those with a physical location. So for example, a Bridal Salon in Colchester in Essex might use this option to show User Generated Content (USG) from users in that location to highlight your area or who have tagged themselves at your shop or outlet.
Remember though when you use this option it’s going to pull up ALL content tagged with that location and not just your content.
This is perfect for anyone using Instagram Shops because that is what this Guide is all about. Once you’ve chosen this option you’ll need to select an Instagram Shop, your own if you have one. Accounts you follow with shops will come up first but you can also scroll through to find one you want to feature.
Remember though you can only feature one product in each Guide so you’ll need to find posts related to that one product.
If you have products you sell like favours, stationery accessories, décor items or even cakes then now is the time to create an Instagram Shop.
Not only can you create Guides promoting your own shop items but other people can share your Guides too. This is a very powerful marketing tool.
One thing to remember though is that you can’t put digital items into an Instagram Shop – I know because I naturally looked that up straight away.
This is probably the most relevant for wedding pros. This pretty much does what it says on the tin. You can create up to 30 of your own posts or other people’s posts and put them into one Guide.
If you’re sharing other people’s, they will need to be in your saved posts first in order for you to add them to your Guide. Use the bookmark icon.
How do Guides benefit my wedding business?
So now you know what Guides are and the three different types available but how do they benefit you?
For me there are two major benefits. Once you’ve created your first Guide it will show up on your profile with the little newspaper icon next to the IGTV icon.
AND THEN IT IS SHAREABLE.
Yes, you heard me, shareable. Other people can share your Guide and so can you. You can share it on Stories and on DMs.
This means it makes a great marketing tool.
Secondly, it lends itself perfectly to collaboration. In the wedding industry we all work together as part of a team. Guides allow you to share the love with that team.
The Guides you create can absolutely be collaborative.
What about a Guide on planning a wedding with your recommended dream team?
Could you pull together shared images from a styled shoot you’ve been part of taking a different image from the Instagram account of each vendor?
The ideas endless really.
Guide ideas for Wedding Pros
- Create a User Guide: As a Wedding Stylist you could put together user guide for a particular look or theme using your favourite suppliers. As a floral designer could you do the same sort of thing for a centrepiece showcasing each individual flower used?
- Top Tips Guide: Using your own posts try creating a top tips guide on what to look for in your wedding venue, how to choose your wedding cake, the top ten shots to have on your shot list etc.
- Testimonials Guide: If you’re not putting testimonials as posts on your Instagram Feed you should be. And this is another great reason as to why. Create a Guide that collates all your testimonial posts so your potential clients can see from others just how wonderful you really are.
- Resources Guide: Collate a Guide that features all your favourite resources for planning the perfect wedding. Or perhaps a list of stress busters to help keep sane during the planning process or a productivity Guide for the organised bride – again you’re only limited here by your imagination.
- Inspiration or Vision Board Guide: There’s a reason Pinterest is so popular for anyone planning a wedding. Because we all love a good vision board. Try creating a vision board for your followers based on a colour, theme, style or venue.
Creating Your First Instagram Guide
Like anything the best way to learn how to use it is to give it a go yourself. However, here’s a few little pointers when it comes to creating your first Guide.
Once you’ve chosen your Guide type and selected the posts you want to feature, you’ll be taken to the Format Page.
Instagram Guide Title
Without giving your Guide a title you can’t publish it. I recommend choosing something simple that says exactly what your guide is all about. Remember, Instagram uses relevancy, so your title needs to be relevant to the content within it.
The Cover Image
You can change the cover image for your Guide, and I suggest you do, but it isn’t easy. You have to choose from either your posts, saved images or the Guide posts. It won’t let you upload a specific image. This is frustrating because the size is different from the usual 1:1 ratio. You need a 3:4 ratio which means it is 3 units wide by 4 units high. The way around this currently is to create a post to promote your Guide that you publish to your feed. That will allow you to then choose it as your cover image.
Post Titles & Descriptions
You also need to give each individual post in your Guide a title. I’m afraid Instagram haven’t seen fit to pull in any information, so this does make it a bit of a task.
However, I suggest once you’ve chosen your posts you type the title and description for each post on a laptop or computer to make it easier and save it on Notes or Evernote so you can simply copy and paste as Guides have to be created on your phone.
Editing your Instagram Guide
It’s very easy to add or remove posts for your Guide. To add more posts just tap on the Add Posts at the bottom of the formatting page. To delete or reorder posts you do this at the individual posts level. Just use the three dot icon next to each post and make your choice.
Publishing your Instagram Guide
Just like Reels you can publish to drafts and come back to it later. You can also preview to make sure you’re happy and when you are simply hit share. And that’s it. Once it’s published, and if it’s your first one, you’ll now see the Guides icon on your feed.
Sharing your Guide
As I mentioned earlier you can absolutely share your guide and so can other people. All you need to do is click on the Guide you want to share and then use the paper aeroplane icon in the right-hand corner and choose how you’d like to share, Stories or DM. Remember, if this is a collaborative Guide then don’t forget to tag those involved when you share to your Stories. You can also copy the link by hitting the three dots and choosing that option.
So there you have it. Instagram’s latest features, keywords and Guides. Personally, I think Guides is the best new feature they’ve introduced in a while as it really allows us to start using Instagram to build more awareness and to hopefully monetise our efforts.