Instagram Content Strategy: Crafting Your Creative Blueprint

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | Mar 13, 2024

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On a creativity-first visual platform like Instagram, your content will make or break you. If you consistently come out with fresh, diverse, and exciting content, you’ll be more successful on the platform. But to have this kind of top-tier content, you must first craft a solid Instagram content strategy.

Creative content isn’t just about your skills in photography, editing, and writing captivating captions. It also requires strategic planning skills to ensure that you execute your content in a way that makes sense. A creative strategy will be one of the best social media management tools to help you do just that.

But what even is a content plan, and how do you make one for your brand? In this guide, we’ll talk about the benefits of having a well-planned creative strategy for Instagram. We’ll also take you through every step of making your own. Are you ready? Let’s jump right into it!

Someone writing down notes on paper with colorful highlights on an office desk while brainstorming a strategy.

What Is a Content Strategy on Social Media?

First things first—what is a content strategy, and why do you need one for social media platforms like Instagram?

This kind of long-term creative strategy pertains to your overall content plan on Instagram. It outlines the types of content you put out on your page, including themes, formats, post schedules, and more. Brands craft these strategies with their business goals in mind.

Following this strategy makes content brainstorming and production more efficient because you know what you need to create and post. It also allows you to stay focused on your social media goals and how to meet them through your content.

Creative Instagram strategies aren’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. Every brand will have its unique strategy depending on its niche topic, target audience, and business goals.

Having a creative strategy in place makes content creation less stressful and all over the place. It serves as a guide as to what kind of content you need to post. So you won’t be rattled trying to come up with content themes for a particular day or season.

In a nutshell, a creative strategy is a blueprint or guide that makes your content plan more solid and cohesive. It ensures that every post you publish has a purpose in your overall brand storytelling and meeting your goals.

A social media team in an office brainstorming how to craft a creative strategy for a brand.

How To Create a Content Strategy for Instagram in 5 Steps

Crafting your own social media marketing strategy might sound intimidating and challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as you know the right steps to take when building your strategy, you’ll be golden. By having a thorough understanding of your business goals and purpose on social media, you can create a solid strategy.

Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get down to business? Here’s how to create a content strategy for Instagram in five key steps:

1. Set the Business Goals You Want To Meet on Instagram

Every social media marketing strategy starts with clearly defined business goals, and content plans aren’t any different. You need to know the specific goals you want to achieve on Instagram before populating your page with content. That way, every piece of content you churn out contributes in some way to those objectives.

Setting clear goals for your brand on Instagram makes it a lot easier to think of creative strategies later on. It also ensures that you won’t just make content for the sake of it. Each post should have a clear purpose in your journey to meeting your social media objectives.

There are many kinds of objectives you might want to focus on for Instagram. Newer brands might be more concerned with boosting brand awareness. Influencers who want to form a stronger connection with fans, on the other hand, might want to focus on engagement. Meanwhile, profit-oriented brands should consider increasing sales or driving website traffic as their main social media marketing goals.

Knowing your Instagram goals makes the path to building a creative strategy much clearer. It’s the starting point for all the content themes and ideas you will add to your overall strategy.

For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, your content plan should have tons of product-centric content. If you want to generate sales, captions should always have a CTA to visit the shopping link in your bio. If your goal is to educate users about specific campaigns or advocacies, incorporate infographics and trivia-themed content in your strategy.

Without nailing your business goals, you will have a difficult time creating a cohesive Instagram strategy. Make sure you know your key objectives (and which ones to prioritize) before moving on to the next step.

A pen lying on top of a notebook with the word “GOALS” on its cover.

2. Identify Your Target Audience

Aside from defining your goals, you’ll also need to know who your brand’s target audience is. You can’t create relevant content without niching down on an audience you want to reach. By having a thorough understanding of your audience’s demographics and psychographics, you can tailor your creative strategy to fit them.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to define your target market’s key demographics. What age range are they in? Are they male or female? Where are they located geographically?

Then, narrow down that audience segment by bringing it to life with their psychographics. This includes their hobbies, interests, shopping habits, and social media behaviors.

From there, you should have a more specific target audience you’d like to speak to on Instagram. The next step is to research what their pain points are relating to your brand and what you can offer.

For example, if you run a fitness brand, do online surveys or interview your target market about exercise and wellness. Do they even like working out? How often do they squeeze exercise or meditation into their schedule? What are the biggest problems they face in the fitness space?

At this point, you might be a bit overwhelmed with the amount of audience data you have. Forbes suggests creating customer personas, aka fictional profiles of your ideal target market. This makes the data you’ve gathered easier to digest. It also paints a clear, realistic picture of the kind of person you’re trying to make content for.

After getting a grasp of their demographics, psychographics, and pain points within your niche, content brainstorming becomes easier. You can plan what types of content you can create to engage and provide solutions for your audience. That way, you’re sure that your posts will be purposeful and relevant to them.

A movie screening audience sitting on red chairs at the cinema.

3. Do a Quick Audit of Your Current IG Content To Assess Its Performance

It’s important to learn from your past mistakes. That’s why doing an audit of any previous content you might have on your Instagram page is a must.

By assessing how well your old posts performed, you can learn what worked and what didn’t. Then, you can use those insights to craft your new content plan and make it better and stronger than before.

If you have a professional account, check out your Instagram Insights dashboard to see key performance metrics per post. There, you’ll see which posts garnered the highest engagement rates and the most likes, comments, and shares. You’ll also see your content’s reach, views, and impressions, which can be indicative of interest and virality potential.

Note what made your best-performing content from the past so special and attractive to audiences. Was it because they learned something new from your content? Or perhaps it was aesthetically stunning and used your brand’s signature colors? Were the captions catchy and witty? Incorporate these successful content elements into your new strategy later on.

Check what types of content did well over others, too. Maybe your target audience interacted more with Reels and Stories than regular photo or video posts on the feed. Gleaning insights like these can help you perfect your content mix in your new content plan, too.

Someone looking at an Instagram profile on their phone.

4. Come Up With Your Creative Content Pillars

Now for the fun part—brainstorming what content pillars you want to add to your creative strategy. These pillars are your key content themes or categories for everything your brand puts out on Instagram. This is the meat of your creative strategy. Each post should fall under at least one of the pillars.

To decide on your content pillars, consider all the data you’ve already gathered. You must keep your business goals, target audience, and best-performing content in mind. Then, it’s time to decide on the key themes and messages you want your brand to convey.

Your content pillars should be specific but work together for seamless brand storytelling. Even if they’re vastly different from one another, they must be cohesive and share the same brand voice and personality. If you have multiple social media marketing goals you want to meet, make at least one content theme per goal.

You must also be sure that your content pillars aren’t too restricting. They should be flexible, adaptable, and executable in different content formats, from photos to videos to Stories.

Aside from your goals and target market, content pillars will heavily rely on the niche your brand operates in.

For example, let’s say you run a fashion retail brand with the goal of driving sales. To drive purchase interest, you might have pillars like product-centric posts, OOTD content, styling tips, and seasonal trends.

Those pillars vary immensely from, say, a travel influencer whose main social media goal is to engage and educate fans. A creator like that might have pillars like travel guides, trivia about cities, solo travel tips, foreign cuisines, and more.

Whatever pillars you choose depends on what is relevant to your brand and its followers. Remember that they should contribute to your goals and reflect your brand voice overall.

The back view of a female travel influencer facing the majestic Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

5. Map Out Your Content Calendar

Now that you know what your content pillars are, it’s time to map them out in a content calendar. This calendar is exactly how it sounds. It’s a calendar that shows the schedule of all the content lined up for your brand within a given timeframe. This tool helps you visualize and organize your upcoming content, making it easier to schedule posts in advance.

Content calendars allow you to double-check whether you have a healthy number of posts covering each content pillar. You want to balance out your calendar so that you make space for each key content theme. At the same time, it should be flexible enough to accommodate a few seasonal posts.

On your calendar, you might see the following post details: content pillar, publication date and time, format, caption, and hashtags. This gives you a snapshot of how each post will look and how all of your content flows together.

By looking at your content calendar, you should be able to spot any issues with your creative strategy’s execution.

For example, you might realize by looking at your monthly plan that you have way too many Reels or Stories. When you spot that, you might want to tweak it to accommodate other formats, like photos or carousel posts. The key is to have a balanced content mix to keep your posts fresh and diverse.

Someone scribbling notes on a content calendar.

Instagram Content Strategy Template: Making Your Creative Blueprint

Some brands prefer writing a playbook or PowerPoint guide to document their creative content plans for social media. But that’s not always necessary. If you have a straightforward strategy with clear goals and pillars, it should be easy to create a simple one-pager.

Not sure how to present a summary of your overall creative strategy? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Here’s an Instagram content strategy template you can fill in to see your content plans at a glance:

[Brand Name]’s Instagram Creative Strategy 2024

Key business goal for the year: [list key goals]

Target audience

  • Age range:
  • Gender:
  • Location:
  • Occupation and income:
  • Hobbies and interests:
  • Shopping habits:
  • Social media behavior:
  • Pain points in [your niche]:
  • Customer persona: [write a fictitious profile of your ideal customer here]

Grab their attention with the following content pillars:

  • [Pillar 1]: [brief definition of your pillar]
    •  Days of the week to post content under this pillar:
  • [Pillar 2]: [brief definition]
    •  Days of the week:
  • [Pillar 3]: [brief definition]
    •  Days of the week:

Other notes about content:

  • [Add a list of reminders about your content calendar, content format mix, and more]

Of course, this one-pager strategy won’t always show the nitty-gritty of your content plan. That will likely show up in your final content calendar, which you can create weekly or monthly—whichever you prefer. But feel free to use this template to simplify your strategy. That way, you can see it in one go without it being so overwhelming.

Someone writing down their creative Instagram strategy in a notebook.

Nailing Your Creative Strategy Makes Creating Content Plans Way Easier

Creative strategies are a must for any brand wanting to succeed on Instagram, whether you’re a business or an influencer. This strategy becomes your blueprint for planning out your posts, what types of content to use, and calendaring your uploads.

These content plans enhance organization and enable strategic brand storytelling with each post you publish, improving content quality. With a proper creative strategy, you’ll be able to meet your unique business goals in no time.

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