The Blog

All the Instagram Features and How To Use Them

There is the Instagram Grid, Stories, IGTV, Instagram Live, and Reels.  


What’s the difference between all of them? Do I use them all or focus on one? Can I cross promote?

Common questions I often get asked!

Instagram Grid

This is where it all started. With just a grid and pictures.

People could scroll through their feed and your pictures would be displayed. Or they could click on your profile and see a grid of your posts (aka the 3×3 squares).

If your followers like your graphic, then they will usually read the caption.  This means you should make sure to add a keyword-rich caption, hashtags, and a catchy opening line. 

 A lot of people like to add aesthetics to it so there is a pattern throughout the posts. This is a great way to show off your brand, images of yourself, products, services, etc.  


IGTV is Instagram’s way of getting on the video train while disrupting the traditional TV and YouTube experience. It’s been a little bit slow to adopt, but it is a really great way to take your video to a new crowd and followers.  

Currently, videos can be up to 10 minutes long, so it’s a little bit longer form of content. If you are verified on IG, then you may be allotted up to 1 hour for your videos. Instagram has said that there eventually won’t be a time limit, but we shall see!

Last year, IG added the feature to include a 60-second preview of your video in your grid to improve discoverability. It’s a great way to let your audience know that you are posting content there too!

One of the things I like most about IGTV is that you can create a Series.  So you can group videos, kind of like a series on TV.  You could use it for tutorials, products, or event events.

As with any video, make sure you catch the viewer’s attention in just a few seconds. We are forever scrolling, so you want to hook them as soon as possible. Don’t give them a reason to swipe to the next thing.

They are also discoverable using hashtags, so add a few of those too!

Instagram Stories

Stories are ridiculously fun. And a great way to build community with your followers.  They disappear after 24 hours and doesn’t show up in the newsfeed. Images are shown for 5 seconds and video up to 15 seconds. 

Compared to the aesthetic of the grid or the strategy of IGTV, they are more casual and forgiving. There are all sorts of filters, stickers, gifs, polls, music, hashtags, and other fun stuff to make them entertaining and catchy.

Stories are great for increasing reach, expressing a mood, encouraging engagement, and they are even shoppable!

A few tips:

  • Videos typically get more attention but add some words to the screen for those that want to get the gist quickly
  • Use gifs, not too much text, engage emotion, and make them highly visual
  • Keep consistent with your brand and messaging
  • Watch your analytics so you know what your audience responds to
  • Most of all: keep them snappy!

Experiment with it and have fun!  If you are brand new to stories, try using them a few times a week and work your way up to a few times a day. 

And as with all things content, have a plan. Don’t just post sporadically.  Following your content calendar will improve metrics, engagement, and reach. 

Instagram Live

Here’s the best thing about using Instagram Live.  When you use it, you are bumped to the first place in the Stories line up that’s shown in your feed. You literally are moved to the front of the line.  

What does that tell us?

IG wants us to use live video!

It’s very similar to Facebook Live or LinkedIn Live. You can interact with viewers in real-time, respond to comments, and is a great way to build community. Especially on a platform that doesn’t really have groups.

You can stream from your mobile device or desktop (that’s a fairly new feature that makes it easy to use). You can also “Go Live With A Friend.” This is a great option for interviews.

And guess what? 80% of people would rather watch a live video than read a blog. #Truth

As with any other video strategy, set a time to go live and stick with it. The consistency will help you build strong relationships with your audience. Talk to your ideal audience, use keywords, and promote that you’ll be live!

Instagram Reels

These are 15-30 second clips set to music. They are very similar to TikTok.  They are a fun and new way to create content to share with your audience.  They are meant to be short, fun videos to help you expand your reach. 

It’s really a creative opportunity to showcase your personality and brand.  

Reels are still really new, so there is a ton of opportunity here!

Which features should you use?

Well, honestly, it depends on how much time you have, if you have a team to help implement, and where you are at with creating content – aka do you do it often or just occasionally?

I am starting to love Instagram stories. It took me a few months, but I feel like I’m really catching on there.  I haven’t much with Reels beyond watching them, but I’ll probably branch out soon.

If IG is your main platform, then you should be using at least a couple of these features. It will take a few months of using them to get comfortable with it, figure out your strategy, and get some traction.  So don’t’ give up!

Instagram is a great place to play in 2021 and I hope this was helpful to understand the difference between all things Instagram.

And keep me posted! I would love to hear what you are using and how it’s working for you!