How to use all of Instagram’s features in 2021

From Reels to Lives, learn which content thrives across Instagram's different features to master them in 2021.

Remember the days you could only post images to Instagram? And your only editing options were a limited set of filters?

Oh how times have changed.

Instagram’s latest feature, Reels, now joins a whole host of sharing options. Alongside posts, Stories, Lives, IGTV, users are spoilt for choice. But for brands and creators planning their 2021 sharing strategy, it can feel a little overwhelming.

Instagram’s Product Marketing Lead confirmed that users who use all of Instagram’s features stand a better chance of engaging with audiences and building strong followers. Alexander De Leon told us: “Instagram has found that the most successful creators on the platform are those who use all of the different features available. This includes in-feed posts, Stories, IGTV’s, Lives and in some markets, Reels.”

So we know sharing content across multiple features helps our performance. But what should you be posting where?

Learning which content thrives across the different features will help you master them. Each can be used to show a different side of your personality, or your brand’s personality. They also all have something slightly different to offer in terms of outcome and analytics. So let’s break it down.




What to share: Fun short form videos and viral challenges. Take advantage of the in app editing tools to create something that will entertain your followers in less than 30 seconds.

How to measure it: Only views can be measured at the moment.

Hot tip: Keep an eye on trends and viral challenges. Entering into a trending challenge and using the related hashtag gives you a better chance at being discovered.

Did you know: After initially launching with a 15 second limit, Instagram quickly increased this to 30 seconds, just a few weeks later. Creators can also extend the timer when recording to 10 seconds, making it easier to trim and delete any clip during the editing process.

Instagram Stories


What to share: Behind-the-scenes videos, instant updates and your post outtakes. This feature is perfect for having multiple conversations with your followers in a day, without bombarding their feeds – or your own.

How to measure it: Business and Creator accounts offer plenty of Story insights, so dig deeper than your view rate. If you added a call to action, see how effective it was by checking out how many followers visited your profile after seeing your Story.

Hot tip: Encourage interactivity with stickers. The more you can get your followers to interact with your content, the more the algorithm will get hints that they like it. Once it knows that, it will show your content to them more often.

Did you know: Instagram is currently testing a ‘timer’ display on Stories. It will show users how long they have left to view that Story before it expires and hopes to spark some FOMO.



What to share: Your highlights reel. High-quality images, cinema graphs and videos (under 60 seconds) that will stand out will stop a social scroller in their tracks.

How to measure it: If you have a Business or Creator account you can measure every performance aspect of your post. Our two favourite metrics to check on are:

Saves: This is a key indicator your followers are finding value in your posts and want to refer back to them later. It’s also super valuable in signalling to the Instagram algorithm that your content is good and worth showing to more people.

Discovery: This section will tell you how post viewers discovered it. Was it via the location tag you used or via hashtags? A high proportion of traffic via hashtags shows you are using them correctly.

Hot tip: Tag people, places, brands. Not only will this add more value for your curious followers, you’ll notify each account you tag and increase your engagement levels.

Did you know: The maximum number of hashtags you can use in a feed post is 30 and the most popular hashtag is…you guessed it: #love!



What to share: Authentic, interactive content. These are often tutorial or interview-based and can be up to 4 hours long.

How to measure it: You can check out how many people watched and what the engagement was like during the live. You can also add a reminder countdown sticker on your Instagram Stories. The number of people that tap to be reminded is a good early indicator of how interested your followers are in this type of content.

Hot tip: Use Instagram’s other posting features to support a successful live. Promote it beforehand using posts and Stories, then allow it to live on by saving it to your IGTV channel and posting a preview to your feed.

Did you know: Instagram saw a 70% increase in use of the Live feature in the early weeks of lockdown. At this difficult time it offered a way for people to connect and engage in real-time.




What to share: Long form videos, reviews and tutorials to deliver storytelling and education. IGTV videos must be between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long. However if you have a verified or larger account can upload videos up to 60 min long.

How to measure it: Be sure to check our your audience retention graph. It shows the percentage of views of your video at each moment, expressed as a percentage of all views. The drop-off graph makes it really easy to see at what point people are swiping off of your video and gives you a chance to refine your style.

Hot tip: Produce with Purpose. Regardless of your format, there are certain elements that make for a great video on IGTV. According to Jon Youshaei, Product Marketing Manager at Instagram, this can broken down into 4 parts: teaser, title screen, cliff hanger and call to action.

Did you know: Instagram IGTV previews can be shared as a post or a Story. In 2020, Instagram changed the IGTV Story preview sp instead of a freeze-frame, 15 seconds of content will play.

click to follow us on social copy 2

Download the free Vamp guide and learn how your brand can succeed on the original influencer marketing platform, Instagram.

Download this free Vamp guide and learn how to succeed on the world’s most viral platform.