Instagram Content Formats: Posts, Stories, Reels, and IGTV Compared

Feb 2, 2024 8:30:00 AM | Instagram Instagram Content Formats: Posts, Stories, Reels, and IGTV Compared

Get the inside scoop on Instagram content formats and how to use them for maximum reach. Unlock the power of Instagram with this comprehensive guide!

Instagram is the fourth most downloaded app of all time and one of the most popular social media networks, with over 1 billion users around the world. It has become an essential platform for businesses to increase sales and gain brand exposure. Whether it’s a product launch, marketing campaign, or just promoting content to engage with your followers, Instagram offers multiple content formats to choose from.

Posts, stories, reels, and IGTV are the main content formats available on Instagram. Each of them brings a different and unique way to engage with your followers. This article will answer your Reels vs. IGTV and Instagram Stories vs. Posts questions. You'll also learn how to use each content format to maximize your reach and get the most out of your content.

Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels are full-screen vertical videos that can be up to 90 seconds long if you record them in the app or 15 minutes long if you upload a pre-shot video. They're probably best described as TikToks on Instagram, as they allow you to add music, effects, and filters.


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Reels are great for creating fun and engaging content that your followers will enjoy. You can use Reels to show off products or services, give tutorials on how to use them, showcase customer reviews, or just share fun snippets of your day.

For example, here are some Reels from the beauty brand Glossier showing off their product:

 Instagram Reels by Glossier

Glossier does an excellent job of using Reels to promote its brand. Not only do they show off products and give tutorials, but they also feature customer reviews. This helps build trust with potential customers and makes them more likely to purchase.

How to Use Reels to Promote Your Brand or Business

Reels are a great way to promote your brand or business in an engaging and fun way. Here are some ideas on how to use Reels to promote your business:

  • Share tutorials or how-to videos about your products or services.
  • Feature customer reviews and success stories to build trust with potential customers.
  • Create engaging videos with music and effects to show off your products or services.
  • Showcase different ways to use your products or services.
  • Share fun behind-the-scenes videos of your team.
  • Run contests or giveaways to drive engagement.

Instagram Posts

Posts are the classic form of content shared on Instagram. They are the main form of content you’ll see when scrolling through your feed and can be a single photo or a carousel (multiple images in one post).

The Post feature is great for showcasing products or services that you offer or highlighting events you’re attending or hosting. You can even use Posts as an opportunity to share valuable tips or advice related to your industry.

Posts are the easiest form of content to create on Instagram. Get a nice photo (or graphic), craft a captivating caption, and you’re good to go. They don't require fancy editing or video-making skills, so anyone can create them.

How to Use Posts to Promote Your Brand or Business

Here are a few ideas for using Posts to promote your brand or business on Instagram:

  • Share before-and-after photos of a project you’ve completed.
  • Share behind-the-scenes photos of your business to show the human side of your brand.
  • Create a carousel of images that share the story behind your brand or business.
  • Share customer reviews or success stories to build trust with potential customers.
  • Share relevant industry tips and advice to help grow your audience.

Starbucks is an excellent example of a company that uses Posts to promote its brand. On their Instagram account, they regularly post photos of interesting drinks, delicious food, and images that capture the feeling of their coffee shops. They also post customer photos to show what being a Starbucks fan is like. Here are some examples below:

screenshots of Starbucks Instagram post

These posts give Starbucks fans a glimpse into the world of Starbucks, helping to create an emotional connection with the brand. Instagram Posts are a great place to start if you’re looking for an easy and effective way to promote your brand or business. 

Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are short videos or images that appear at the top of your feed and are only visible for 24 hours before they disappear. Their ephemeral nature is where the difference between posts and Stories on Instagram lies.

Stories are great for sharing quick snippets of your day or products, like photos of a new product launch, behind-the-scenes videos, or a special sale. It’s also a great way to connect with your followers on a more personal level by sharing everyday moments.

The ephemeral nature of Stories makes them more fun and engaging, as they don’t feel too “marketing-y.” You can also add interactive elements to stories like polls and quizzes or use stickers and GIFs for a more creative touch.

How to Use Stories to Promote Your Brand or Business

Stories are a great way to promote your brand or business unobtrusively. Here are some ideas on how you can use stories to promote your business:

  • Take care of the content quality first. Use  Instagram Story Maker tools, like the Lift app, to create irresistible content.


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  • Invite followers to “swipe up” to learn more about a product or service you offer.
  • Share exclusive discounts or offers with your followers.
  • Share behind-the-scenes videos or photos to show the human side of your business.
  • Share sneak peeks of upcoming products or events.
  • Showcase customer reviews or success stories.
  • Create polls to get feedback from your followers.
  • Share short clips of products in action to showcase their features and benefits.

A brand doing an excellent job promoting itself on Instagram stories is Nike. As you can see in the screenshots below, they use stories to show off new products, share inspiring stories, and even have interactive elements like polls.

nike Instagram story

By leveraging stories, Nike creates an engaging and personal connection with their followers, which helps promote its brand more organically.

Related reading: 12 Best Instagram Story Maker Tools To Try

Instagram Video (IGTV)

Instagram Video (formerly known as IGTV) is a feature that allows you to share video content without using the “Stories” or “Reels” formats. Instagram Video is great for creating longer-form content like interviews, product reviews, tutorials, or in-depth looks at your business. It’s also a great way to share videos from events you’ve hosted or attended.

You can also save and share playback of your Live videos to Instagram Video. This gives your followers a chance to watch the content again after it’s done streaming live.

How to Use Instagram Video (IGTV) to Promote Your Brand or Business

Instagram Video is an excellent tool for promoting your business in a more in-depth manner. Here are some ideas on how to use Instagram Videos to promote your business:

  • Share interviews or Q&As with experts in your industry.
  • Create tutorials and product reviews to highlight the features and benefits of a product or service.
  • Share videos from events you’ve hosted or attended.
  • Showcase customer reviews and success stories.
  • Share playback of your live video sessions.
  • Create longer videos about your products or services.

Instagram Story vs. Reel vs. IGTV vs. Post: Comparing the Formats

Each of these four Instagram formats has unique features and benefits, so it’s important to understand which one is best suited for the content you’re trying to promote.

Photo posts and carousels are great for creating simple images or collections of images that can be quickly consumed. They’re ideal for sharing static visuals, such as product shots, illustrations, or memes.

Stories work best for sharing short snippets of your day-to-day activities or quick announcements. The limited viewing time also creates a sense of urgency and encourages followers to watch quickly.

Reels are perfect for creating fun and engaging videos that show off products and services, give tutorials, or just feature snippets of your day. Reels are currently the most-engaged content format on Instagram, with an engagement rate that is more than double that of other content formats, which explains why so many brands are leveraging the format.

Longer-form video content, such as interviews or tutorials, is better suited for Instagram Video (IGTV). This format allows you to share longer videos, which can be especially helpful for tutorials that require more time to explain.

You may have noticed fewer and fewer people using the Instagram Video format for sharing video content because of the increase in popularity (and length) of Reels. However, Instagram Video can still be a great way to show more in-depth content that Reels may not be suitable for. Can't save your IG Live playback as a Reel, you know.

The best Instagram content strategies involve combining all four of these content formats. A photo or carousel for a product announcement, a story to promote an upcoming event, a Reel to show off your team or products, and a longer form video for a lengthy tutorial.

Understanding how each format works and when to use them will help you create engaging content that resonates with your followers.


Instagram offers four different video formats for brands and businesses to share their content: photo posts, carousels, stories, Reels, and Instagram Video (IGTV).

It's important to consider the type of content you're trying to share and the audience you're trying to reach before deciding which format to use. Photo posts and carousels are great for static visuals, stories work well for short snippets, Reels are perfect for fun and engaging videos, and Instagram Video (IGTV) is ideal for longer-form content.

Bonus Tip: Experiment and track the performance of each format to find out which type of content resonates best with your audience. That way, you can focus your efforts on creating the best possible content for maximum engagement.

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John Awa-abuon

Written By: John Awa-abuon

John is a freelance writer with 4+ years of experience writing for B2B SaaS brands. He's been featured on MakeUseOf, ThriveGlobal, SmallBizClub, and more.