11 Most Engaging Instagram Post Ideas to Boost Your Algorithm

11 Most Engaging Instagram Post Ideas to Boost Your Algorithm Game

Instagram success is not a simple matter of gaining followers and garnering a few likes and shares. Instagram is first and foremost a content-driven platform, which makes it essential to create content that compels engagement and involvement, and keeps you top of mind in an increasingly bogged-down digital landscape. While you may be posting every day and working hard to make sure that your images, Reels, and captions are attention-grabbing and worthy of sharing, are you truly leveraging your Instagram presence to its fullest potential? That’s where these Instagram post ideas come in.

Creating Instagram posts that are able to successfully resonate with your target audience will go a long way in optimizing your content to appease Instagram algorithms, which will in turn increase your visibility and strengthen the digital footprint you are leaving behind. I have gathered 11 of the most engaging content ideas and Instagram post types to demonstrate the difference between racking up passive or apathetic viewers and active participants on your page. 

11 Types of Engaging Instagram Post Ideas

If Instagram is a marketplace, engagement is the currency required to engage with other vendors and successfully sell your wares. Unfortunately, without a clear strategy and Instagram-specific goals, it can feel a lot more like a hamster spinning in its wheel, destined to keep moving without truly going anywhere. Using the list I’ve compiled here, you can begin parsing through which posts are right for you and your business, to increase engagement and thereby increase the likelihood of working well within the Instagram algorithm to create more visible, noteworthy, and shared content. 

1. Instagram Reels, More Instagram Reels…and Even More Instagram Reels!

@panafiend Instagram Reel

Reels continue to be one of the most important aspects of Instagram creation. Essentially the answer to the videos found on TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook, Reels are the best-performing type of Instagram content, and they are more likely to be found on the search page, making it more likely to receive distribution beyond your existing followers. 

While Reels can be complicated, they need not be; an Instagram Reel can be as simple as a peek into the day-to-day operations of your business, or as complicated as demonstrating how to use an intensive product. In either case, your content is going beyond your standard audience, and increasing the likelihood of being seen and sparking engagement. 

Further Reading: How to Use Instagram Reels for Business: The Definitive Guide

YouTube video

Instagram started out as a platform designed specifically for images, and Carousel posts continue this type of post with an added bonus: additional images! Being a visual platform, Instagram is best utilized when catching the eye of your audience via high-quality pictures. Before and after images are just one of the types of content that work well within a Carousel post, and business owners would be wise to take advantage of this marketing strategy. 

If before-and-after photos are not a possibility with your particular brand or business, behind the scenes content, seasonal posts, and current events are all contenders in Carousel posts. Any form of transformation, storytelling sequence, or grouping can take advantage of the use of Carousel posts on Instagram. 

3. Interactive Polls and Quizzes

@brainovision on instagram quiz example

Have you asked your audience for their input recently? Have you asked for their input at all? Using interactive polls and quizzes can invite your audience to share their thoughts and ideas. Even a simple tap in response to a basic question can increase engagement tenfold. 

Think of it this way: if you were to engage directly with a company, and have them actually use your idea, respond to your suggestion, or take your idea into account, how much more likely would you be to go back to that company than a faceless brand somewhere else? Interactive polls and quizzes do far more than simply increase engagement: they build relationships and spark a sense of trust with your audience. 

Have you taken advantage of this interactive goldmine?

4. Behind-the-Scenes Sneak Peeks

@hungergameske on instagram behind the scenes of the hunger games

People are curious creatures by nature, and giving them a glimpse into the daily goings-on can help foster a sense of connection and community. Behind-the-scenes content is one of the best types of content to humanize a company or brand, and build trust. By pulling back the metaphorical curtain on your social media platform, whether it is for the start of a product launch, or a general “day in the life,” potential customers and existing ones can enjoy a sense of camaraderie and closeness that no other type of content can truly enjoy. 

Instagram Stories is one of the best places to deliver this content, though a single post can also be used as a window into your operations. From the smiling faces of workers at their desks or work stations, to the nitty gritty process of creating a product, make sure you are sharing your story as your go along. 

Further Reading: Best 25 Instagram Bio Ideas to Help Improve Yours (with Examples)

5. User-Generated Content

YouTube video

Creating a seemingly never-ending stream of content can feel difficult or downright impossible, but rest assured: content creation is not entirely on you and your marketing team. Instead, you can leverage user-generated content, or content created by your followers. This can be done in many different ways, depending on your product and brand, but no matter its exact iteration, utilizing user-generated content helps build a sense of community, and creates the sensation of investment in the brand; after all, if you’ve poured your time and energy into something, how much more likely are you to stick around to see how it pans out? Acknowledging the contributions of your audience is an excellent way to herald the release of an upcoming product or simply beef up the content on your social media accounts. 

One well-known type of user-generated content is influencer marketing materials, generated by existing (or new) followers who have a vested interest in your brand. Using influencers to help draw in your target audience and theirs can still help foster a sense of community (an influencer is still seen as closer to a standard follower than a marketing team), while increasing your reach, likelihood of engagement, and ensuring higher-quality materials.

6. Inspirational Quotes and Stories

@thepotatocouple on instagram inspirational quote:"Dear me, I'll make you proud one day!"

Have you ever been moved or inspired by a quote, a story, or a transformation you’ve found online? Words are powerful, and human stories are deeply compelling. Your brand can stand out as a motivational tool, or a consistent source of inspiration by sharing powerful quotes, incredible stories, or even before and after details that can help your followers feel better equipped and more capable of taking on challenges. Even if you only ever share quotes that resonate with your core values, rather than stories or quotes relating directly to your products, your followers can glean a great deal of insight and inspiration each time they visit your profile or see your posts pop up in their feed. 

7. Contests and Giveaways

@brocollilovers india contest alert instagram post example

Who doesn’t love an opportunity to win something? Using contests and giveaways on Instagram is a great way to drive engagement, and help your audience interact with promotional content. Giveaways and contests in your feed posts and Instagram Stories, alike, can give your audience an impetus to speak up that they may not have felt before, and can demonstrate the willingness of your brand to go above and beyond. 

Contests and giveaways can also bring new audience members to your page, as people share and engage with the post. Exciting incentives can motivate your loyal customers and a wider audience both to stick with your brand, and keep checking back for more ideas and information. They can also be helpful to keep your audience guessing; after all, if you’ve had one giveaway or contest, you might have a few more! 

Further Reading: How to Do A Giveaway On Instagram in 12 Easy Steps

8. How-to Guides and Tutorials

@persian hot to properly use and prepare saffron Instagram how-to guide example

Educating your audience is also a great way to encourage engagement and foster connection. Simple and informative how-to guides and tutorials are great for sharing, and are a huge value add for your audience. Tutorials and how-to guides can be generated according to the questions you are asked most often, according to standard guides in your niche, or even in response to common questions received from your top competitors. Remember that the goal of this type of content is to inform and encourage your audience, so simple and sustainable are the way to go. 

FAQs on your social media are a great place to start. If you have a product or line that regularly receives questions, start making tutorials or sharing basic how-to ideas! You can also turn to your customer service team to identify the issues most customers are experiencing. 

9. Events

@archiemsources on instagram event behind-the-scene look

Events run the gamut, and social media is a great way to promote them. Because Instagram offers a way to set reminders, you can even leverage it as a calendar, of sorts, for followers to refer back to for upcoming events, product launches, and more. These posts are typically used to get followers excited for what is to come, so make sure images are attention-grabbing, and captions deliver plenty of hype. 

Far from simply announcing events, Instagram can also be used to report back on events. What does this mean? Essentially, you can use Instagram Stories, Reels, and basic posts to let your followers know how an event went, post pictures of any engagement you received during the event, and even let anyone who wasn’t able to make it what they might have missed out on, to encourage participation and attendance in the future. 

10. Seasonal Posts

@wishuponacupcake on Instagram Happy Mother's Day instagram post example

Seasonal posts are a great way to develop video content and images alike, because it demonstrates that your brand or company is a living, breathing entity that is keeping up with the times, rather than simply recycling evergreen content, or creating a “one and done” approach to marketing. Even if your product or service is not directly tied to seasons, you can demonstrate how uses change or shift throughout different seasons and different points in time. 

Seasonal posts can be related to holidays–think winter holidays like Christmas or summer holidays like Independence day, for those in the U.S.–or literal seasons. In both cases, you can loop the season back to your offerings, to demonstrate how you add value no matter the time or place your followers find themselves in. 

Further Reading: Eleven Instagram Post Ideas for Every Holiday Season

11. Instagram Lives

@playkimie on instagram livestream example

Instagram Lives are also incredible for engagement, because they deliver a sense of immediacy that many people crave. You might host a Live to answer common questions leading up to a product launch, or a Live to provide a peek into the backend of production. No matter the precise reason, you can leverage Lives to give faces to your brand and products, and help your followers see who you are, what you are about, and why you are set apart from your competitors. 

Tips for Maximizing Engagement

Anchor your posts with genuine storytelling and calls to action, even if those calls to action are as simple as encouraging communication with other followers. Apart from the ideas I have identified above, there are a few other key components to consider when striving to maximize engagement. Consider the following: 

  • Timing. Is your audience online when you post? Have you noticed specific days or times of day that seem to bring in more engagement? These metrics matter tremendously when putting together your social media strategy on Instagram, so make sure you are measuring your success and adjusting accordingly. 
  • Consistency. Are you posting consistently? If you start out with a bang, posting every single day, and then falter and begin posting once a week, then rev up to every day again, your followers will not know what to expect from you. Opt for consistency over quantity, and develop a schedule that you can actually stick to. 
  • Optimization. Although you do not want to stuff each and every post with keywords, and a brick of hashtags so large as to be off-putting, it is important to consistently optimize your content for optimal reach. Research the hashtags that perform best in your niche, use the buzzwords and key phrases that are relevant to your topics, and watch as your engagement continues to climb. 

Getting started on Instagram, or developing a solid engagement strategy with Instagram does take time and energy. Once you have a clear picture of what works for you and what brings in the most engagement and excitement, you can scale back and use automation services and scheduling platforms to make sure you are working smarter, not harder. 

Further Reading: 12 Evergreen Tips to Boost Instagram Engagement

Instagram Post Case Studies

Instagram success is not a unicorn, thankfully, and there are scores of influencers and brands who have successfully cracked the code to receiving regular engagement and a fairly consistent audience on the platform. Looking at these success stories, you can see that they use a mix of these different types of posts, to successfully engage their audience and take advantage of the Instagram algorithm. What lessons can be learned from their success? I’ve identified a few great examples that have plenty to teach us about how to successfully navigate Instagram’s algorithm using engaging Instagram post ideas. These include: 


Starbucks Love at First Sip Instagram post

Far from being a small company, Starbucks enjoys a consistent rate of engagement on Instagram, because it regularly posts catchy and engaging content, and does not shy away from encouraging active engagement. From sharing audience responses, to hosting giveaways, Starbucks has mastered the art of using diverse post types to support engagement, and keep their audience coming back for more. 


KiwiCo on Instagram

A subscription box filled with arts and sciences for children, KiwiCo uses Instagram Reels to improve their engagement and conversion rates, reporting a 30% hike in ROI. 

Bloom & Wild

Bloom & Wild on Instagram

Bloom & Wild, a UK-based company, enjoyed a 62% hike in sales after taking advantage of Instagram ads. Although ads do offer a more targeted attempt to reach new people and increase engagement, Bloom & Wild’s success using Instagram ads has largely been attributed to the following and engagement they’d already built up on Instagram’s platform. Even when considering ad costs, engagement and successful Instagram use matters. 

Conclusion on Instagram Post Ideas

Every time you post to Instagram, you have the opportunity to leverage that post to increase engagement, foster a sense of connection, and support growth of your following and engagement rates. Even if you have been posting to Instagram regularly, have you been taking full advantage of all of the different post types and formats in which you can post? To reach the highest potential of conversions and engagement on Instagram, it is vital to implement the techniques I have identified here. By diversifying your post types, using all of the Instagram tools available to you, and regularly encouraging communication and conversation, you are more likely to see a steady rise in engagement, and ongoing opportunities for growth. 

Your Instagram account has the potential to be huge–and that potential is just waiting to be unleashed by you, as you develop a social media strategy that includes a robust range of Instagram post ideas, types and formats. From Stories, to Reels, to single posts, to Carousel posts, your content calendar can be filled with content that is not only seen, but remembered, referred back to, and shared. When your posts resonate with your audience, the algorithm listens, and Instagram’s potential for your business truly begins to take off. 

Do you use a diverse array of posts in your Instagram marketing? Let me know in the comments! 

Further Reading: 25 Ideas for What to Post on Instagram to Increase Engagement

Hero Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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