How to Create a Content Plan for Instagram: A Beginner’s Guide
Posted Aug 16, 2018 by Anna Koneva, Ecwid Team

How to Create a Content Plan for Instagram: A Beginner’s Guide

Instagram’s visual, mobile-only format prompts get millions of people to make impulsive purchases from their feeds every day. Selling on Instagram is easier than ever before — you just need to show up with awesome content regularly.

Amateurish users can spend over an hour crafting a single post. Most of us can’t afford such a luxury. A content plan will save you time and frustration so that you can get to Instagram’s top benefit: selling!

What’s inside:

What Makes a Great Content Plan?

Your content plan documents your advertising posts, as well as the entertaining and informative materials that you plan to distribute through your marketing channels.

It creates consumer trust by:

  • Ensuring consistent messaging
  • Creating a positive image of your business.

It reduces your confusion, stress, and marketing costs by:

  • Building automated interactions with your existing audience and acquisition of new customers
  • Saving your time
  • Documenting marketing goals, working content to meet them and analyzing content performance.

Simply, a content plan prevents you from nail-biting when it’s time to publish a new post. With your plan in place, you always know what to post to get your likes and sales, and the right time to do it.

A great content plan is:

  • Structured and informative
  • Written in clear language
  • Planned at least month ahead, preferably 90 days.

In this post, we’ll look into different content plans, using a new Instagram profile launch as an example.

Note that it can be challenging to promote a new Instagram profile organically and fast. Those who are most effective create viral content or sell hot, trending products. Both are hard to achieve. They depend on followers spreading the word about products without extra effort on their side. Typically, it takes an experienced ecommerce merchant to create and execute a program like this.

If you gauge that the genuinely “hot, new” appeal may not work for you, you can always order sponsored posts from Instagram bloggers to speed up your page promotion from the start.

How to Design a Content Plan

A content plan consists of regular, planned content that is open to additional topics that arise while the standard content plan is being rolled out. Add timely posts or advertisements when these unexpected opportunities arise. Typically, these include holiday greetings, changes in the store open hours, ideas stemming from recent news topics and more.

You can make a content plan in excel, pdf, or even a simple notebook. There’s also a more professional way to do it: use mobile apps like Later, CoSchedule, Evernote, Any.do, etc. Among other key features, they notify you about upcoming publications. They even automate the process for you.

Later


Later

Write your Instagram content plan in simple and clear language. Here’s an example of what you can do (using a fictional cosmetic brand):

  • 13.05.2018, 8:00. Good morning. Corresponding pic to set the mood, unobtrusive advertising of your products.
  • 13.05.2018, 13:00. Presentation of new arrivals.
  • 13.05.2018, 16:00. Poll: how often do you refresh your cosmetic bag?
  • 13.05.2018, 19:00. Presenting promotional offers for loyal customers.
  • 13.05.2018, 22:00. History of cosmetics.

You can easily understand just by looking at these topics, exactly what you need to prepare.

When you start to create a content plan, pay attention to the activity peaks of your followers. There’s no sense in working away when everybody is asleep or too busy.

Related: How to Develop a Visual Theme for Your Instagram Business Profile

Making Content Plans for Different Purposes

If you are just starting out with your Instagram profile, your content plan will include two parts.

Part #1 will work during the first 1-2 weeks and include the following items:

  • Company information: history, employees, contacts
  • Proposed product descriptions, their advantages, materials, production technologies, features, cost
  • How to buy your goods: selection, order, payment, delivery.

Instagram post example


An example of a post with company info

As your brand evolves, you can make Plan #2 with the selected topics. We cover long-term content planning below.

How long should your content plan be?

It’s enough to make a content plan for a month and then add to it every week.

You can make a separate content plan for summer vacations, Christmas (or other) holidays, the beginning and end of an academic year, etc. Don’t forget to develop your content strategy beforehand. For example, if you own an online store of carnival costumes for kids, you should start working on your content plan in the end of summer.

Content types for online stores

The buyer journey in your store takes these steps:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Purchase
  4. Feedback.

Ideally, you need to create content for each stage. For example, if you have an apparel store, take a bunch of product pictures and make a collection to showcase your product line. This step creates initial awareness of your products.

Create content that meets a prospect’s needs while he or she browses the internet looking for more information about your product and your competitors as well. Users’ guides, competitive comparisons and more serve this purpose. You can also develop content for your customer’s purchase and feedback stages. Feedback surveys can provide critical ways to improve the buyer’s journey.

Next, you need to distribute content to categories. Try to combine your promotional posts with informative, entertaining, and educational content.

The general rule of content attraction is to provide four useful or fun posts to one promotional or selling post. Consumers read 11 to 13 pieces of content before they directly contact a merchant. The free content you provide that helps them understand and use the product builds goodwill towards your brand.

Try to spread content out among the following categories:

  • Promotional: new product arrivals, lucrative offers, promotions, discounts, a bonus program.
  • Educational: tips, life hacks, masterclasses, advice for the use and care of your products.
  • Informative: company news, achievements, plans.
  • Entertaining: interesting facts, historical and pop culture references, jokes, events from the life of celebrities, surveys, quizzes.

entertaining Instagram post example


An example of an entertaining Instagram post

Spice all that up with information about yourself as a business owner. Your photos and exciting stories will make your Instagram profile more “social” and approachable. However, don’t overdo it, because diving deep into your personal life can look obsessive and inappropriate.

Still hot to add your sports or family photos? Here are examples of how to blend personal photos in your business profile:

  • If you are into sales of souvenirs, you can post some pictures of original craftsmen’s works from your vacation location.
  • Do you sell kids’ clothes? Share your child’s photo, dressed up in the new wear from your catalog.
  • Do you make custom furniture? Readers will be curious to see what kind of kitchen or furniture you have in your place.

personal Instagram post example


This personal post is relevant to the profile’s main topic — design

Pictures and texts: use 80/20 rule

Instagram’s model of prioritizing visual content like photos and movies has rewarded it well. Text written under the image has just a secondary purpose: they’re limited to 2000 characters, these posts reveal only two lines.

Don’t spend a lot of time writing long posts. The channel does not prioritize text. While you can add 2000 characters, only two lines appear.

Related: 10 Free Ways to Get More Followers on Instagram

Content Plan: Examples

Content plans change according to your goals, the season and your stage in business. These ready-to-go examples of content plans should help you shape yours.

A content plan for a brand new business

Let’s make a content plan for a new online handcrafted soap store. At our starting point, the profile is already filled with store info, the catalog is clearly structured by categories. We just need to schedule content for the next few days.

Step 1. Decide on the frequency and time of posts.

You will need to maintain close contact with the potential buyer from the beginning. That’s why we will update our feed no less than three times a day.

The best time to start posting is the weekend because your followers are not busy with other things. But weekends won’t work for breaking or crucial news.The best time to post during the weekend is after 11 a.m. On weekdays, start to post usually at 7-9 a.m. Almost everyone checks his/her feed on the road to work/study.

Step 2. Create a table or spreadsheet. Enter Content Type, Topic and Time in columns.

Step 3. Enter the data in the table. The content plan will look something like this:

content plan example

Step 4. Describe necessary photos. The image size should be 1080px by 1080px to look great on retina screens. Also pick filters, a color palette, and effects and stick to them. , it’s a brief description, the use of filters, inscriptions.

Step 5. Add popular hashtags. You can add up to 30 hashtags but research shows that 2 to 5 hashtags are ideal. You don’t want to come across as spam. Post the hashtags separately from any comments you have in your post.

A content plan for an existing profile

Let’s prepare a 2-3 week content plan for an online store that sells phone cases. To keep up the audience’s interest, you can get away with just one publication a day. It’s best to alternate content types:

  • Informational
  • Advertising
  • Gadget news/life hacks.

Week #1:

  • Advantages and disadvantages of different materials for case production
  • 10% discount for genuine leather covers and cases in your store
  • How to care for the case so that it serve as long as possible
  • Video: phone case hacks for travelers
  • A total fashion look featuring one of your phone cases
  • Customer review.

Week #2:

  • How to choose a phone case for a specific phone model in your store
  • Personalized phone cases: how to place an order correctly
  • The review of the new Samsung phone and available cases for it
  • Video: crush test, drop a phone in one of your most reliable phone cases
  • Eco-friendly phone cases: how to choose one
  • How to paint your phone case: tutorial.

Week #3:

  • Phone cases that look good with a wedding outfit
  • Examples of covers that local and foreign celebrities have
  • Special offer: buy a phone case and get a free microfiber cloth
  • Tutorial: How to decorate a phone case for Christmas
  • A customer review
  • What locations you deliver to.

A content plan for the holiday season

Let’s make a content plan for the holiday season for an online store selling custom bakery and pastry products. Let’s assume we’ll post once per day.

Your customers will start browsing for your products organically as they need gifts. Just remind them of your brand. Combine advertising, informational, personal and professional components in each post:

  • How to serve a table for Christmas. A custom-ordered cake is the best decoration for a New Year’s table.
  • How to stay fit after the holidays. Dietary sweets in our online store.
  • Making a holiday for kids. Gifts. Sweets. Cakes for children: light and fresh, with fruit and berries.
  • How to DIY beautiful decorations for a cake. Learn in our video tutorial or simply order a cake from our online store.

holiday Instagram post example


A beautiful holiday-themed Instagram post

A content plan to make sales fast

Let’s analyze this content plan type by the example of an online furniture store. Particularly if this is a new store, the main goal is to increase sales fast.

By analyzing the activity of users on different days of the week, we find out that weekdays work better for informative and advertising content, and weekends are for entertaining. Let’s open Instagram Insights (for business profiles) and check at what time on different days your subscribers are most active.

Focusing on the information received and our task, we compose an approximate weekly content plan:

  • Monday: Afternoon. Advertising post with seasonal discounts. A photo collage/a gallery of the most popular products.
  • Tuesday: Evening. How to care about furniture made from leather, suede, and textiles properly. Products from the store are used to illustrate materials.
  • Wednesday: Morning. Informational post. A new armchair for a living room. Product pictures.
  • Thursday: Afternoon. Company’s news. Now you can make custom orders. Measurements are free of charge. Photo of furniture in a creative interior.
  • Friday: Evening. Entertaining content. Interesting facts about the history of upholstered furniture. Relevant products from your store.
  • Saturday: Invitation to order in an online store. Brief information about the assortment, shipping, prices.
  • Sunday: Customer reviews and photos.

Later


A straightforward, but cool post can work well

Related: How to Use Instagram for Business: New Tools and Proven Practices

Measuring the Results

Measurement is key if you want to save marketing dollars and increase reach to your ideal prospect. Your content performs on several levels of the sales funnel:

  • Grows awareness
  • Gets your followers engaged
  • Generates leads
  • Makes sales

So, your metrics should help you analyze content performance on all these stages. On Instagram, keep an eye on:

  • Profile visits and tags of your profile in other accounts, the use of your branded hashtags
  • Likes, comments, tagging friends on your posts
  • Leads
  • Purchases (with Shoppable posts, or via the link in bio).

Set clear goals for each metric and review the profile performance each week. Then, choose top performing posts and think of why they did well. Consider replicating them.

You can do the same to create a content plan for any other social media platform or website where you share content. If you have your own effective content planning methods, we’d love to hear about them. Add a comment below so we can see what you’re doing!

About the author
Anna is a content creator at Ecwid. She loves big cities, pasta and Woody Allen's films.