Getting inspiration for social media post ideas

What content works on Instagram

Understanding the kind of content that works on social media for your handle or your competition is hard. Generally, you or your competition will be having 3-4 content themes that would get pushed simultaneously, and knowing the best and worst-performing posts for your competitors can be one effective way of generating social media post ideas. Today, if you need to find out what exactly is working for your competition or you, the process is very tedious and time-consuming.

  1. Typically, you will visit your competitor’s social media page and scroll to check the various type of posts. To examine what works for your own handle, you will examine Instagram’s Analytics.
  2. You will make mental models on the different types of post themes you have seen, and make assumptions about what post themes have generated the max engagement. This way, you’ll get content ideas for your own handle.

Why do you need to know this?

  1. While creating your content calendar for the next period of your feed, you can check what worked for you and your competition, and generate ideas.
  2. You can use this to carry out an audit for all your executed content plans and to understand what content works on Instagram for you. 
  3. Our friends at social media agencies can use this information while pitching new ideas to their clients. Having a clear data-backed strategy is always enticing. 
  4. Lastly, you gain a lot of inspiration by looking at data from slightly unrelated sources (from other industries) which are serving the same target audiences.

How we at are trying to understand what content works on Instagram.

  1. Our AI is trained to understand what content is being conveyed via the post and then group them in similar content themes. 
  2. These themes are then ordered according to their engagement and share of voice, hence giving a crystal clear view of the different strategies and more importantly strategies that are performing well. You can use these insights while creating your own Instagram posts (or even blog posts).

Note that all of the data extracted is from public Instagram APIs only. Analysing content in this manner is by no means an invasion of privacy.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Let us look at some Instagram profiles and check what inferences we can derive from them. We took the liberty to use these handles as they are popular in their niches. Again, all of the data is pulled from the official Instagram APIs only.

Example 1: Social media post ideas from Neil Patel (246k followers)

Neil Patel is an entrepreneur, author, and a well-regarded social media marketing guru. He founded Neil Patel Digital, that aids firms in improving the performance of their social media marketing strategies.

Getting social media post ideas from Neil Patel's handle
Neil Patel

These are how the content themes stand out!

Before we start, a quick brief on what you are seeing in the video:

  1. The AI segregates all posts into similar content themes.
  2. The Table has the following data points:
    • Group: Name of the content group
    • Representative Images: Some images representing the content category.
    • Share of voice: Share of voice is the percentage of posts a particular group has. Example: If Out of 100 total posts, 20 posts are about Jackets, then the Jackets group’s share of voice is 20%. It means 20% of the time you talk about Jackets.
    • Total Posts: Total number of posts in the category.
    • Engagement %: This shows how many followers engaged with this group out of your total follower base. You can also see the relative difference between the category’s engagement and the average engagement of your Instagram profile. Higher the engagement, the better the category.
    • Avg. Eng: Average comments + likes on the posts in this category.
  3. In case the video does not play automatically, please click on the play button.

We can understand the following:

  1. Neil Patel’s most engaging content is when he posts about his personal life and family. It shows the extent to which his Instagram audience likes to know more about his personal life. It provides a drastic change of his regular, social media marketing and SEO-related posts.
Neil Patel's personal/family images is the highest performing category.
The highest Engagement comes from Personal pictures.

2. In contrast, his least engaging content is when he posts infographics. Note that they generate almost one-fifth of the engagement his top-performing category gets. This is possibly because most people scrolling through Instagram are passive users indulging in mindless scrolling, and the people who would stop to read a long quote will be in the minority.

Neil Patel's infographics images is the worst performing category.
The least engagement is generated in Knowledge/Motivational Infographics

Example 2: Social media post ideas from BeerBiceps (1.4M followers)

BeerBiceps is a Mumbai-based influencer who focuses on self-improvement content, typically around physical and mental health, and entrepreneurship. He also started his podcast, The Ranveer Show, which has gone on to become the largest podcast in India by number of listeners, as of September 2021

Social media post ideas for BeerBiceps handle

This is how the content themes look like. You might want to look at this before checking the video. Please play the video in case it does not autoplay.

As you can see, we can easily understand the following things from our AI’s analysis:

  1. The highest performing category for BeerBiceps is when he puts in his family photos. We think this is because his audience loves to gain insights on more personal aspects. This is fascinating, as a fitness influencer’s best performing posts are in fact, those with fitness in the background only, and people in the foreground. This is also consistent with what we saw in Neil Patel’s handle
  2. The second-highest performing category is where he is showcasing his bodybuilding skills. The images look really good for sure and more importantly, the message it conveys is well appreciated by the users.
Highest performing post category for BeerBiceps
Personal/Family Images is the highest performing content

3. Let us look at what content does not perform relatively well for Beerbiceps. As you see, quotes and text-heavy posts generate almost 2% lesser engagement than the highest performing posts (if you were also a fitness influencer and were looking for social media post ideas, you’d know to definitely avoid this category). Thus, rather than focusing on these, BeerBiceps should work on more posts from the top-performing categories. 

BeerBiceps's infographics images is the worst performing category.
The least performing content theme is Motivational quotes/infographics.

Example 3: Mumbai Indians (7.1M followers)

Mumbai Indians in an Indian Premier League franchise. The Indian Premier League, or IPL, is the most prominent cricket league today, and Mumbai Indians have won the most IPL trophies to date. The franchise is owned by Mukesh Ambani, the richest individual in Asia.

Social media content ideas for Mumbai Indians' handle

This is how the content themes play out. We can understand the following things:

  1. Mumbai Indians fans engage the most when they see behind-the-scenes images of their team. This is evident in the top 2 performing content categories.
Behind the scenes stuff works the best.
Behind-the-scenes is the best engagement generator

2. The least performing categories are those where the handle shares collaboration announcements/infographics etc. More important to note is that these generate just One-Fifth of the engagement generated by the highest performing categories. The content of these infographics may play a role in this, but as you can see, the creatives are quite bland as well. And overall, the least-performing posts seem to have very little to do with cricket. This makes sense, since followers of a cricket league franchise will be more interested in content around cricket and the team players.

Announcements, Infographics work the least for MI.
Announcements are the least engaging content.

There you have it. A simpler, more intuitive way of understanding the content that works for you and your competitors, and of generating post ideas. Remember, great content also needs the right hashtags for optimum reach. Use hashtags that go with your content.

What do you think about this tool? We are hoping this would bring about a positive change to your Instagram marketing strategy, and we’re happy to chat about :

  1. Any other data point that can be added in the analysis
  2. Any scope for improvement, or any features we can add to ease the process of generating social media post ideas.

Do reach out to us to chat about this. You can click here to try this out for your handles too!

Other great ways to generate social media post ideas

At any given point in time, there are many content opportunities around you. All you have to do is look, and you’ll have some brilliant social media post ideas in your roster.

Being current with your content is a sign of your proactivity, and your audience will seriously appreciate this. It is also telling of the nature of your brand; you want to be seen as outward-looking, rather than self-absorbed and selling-oriented. Discussing current events helps in this regard. Talking about ideas that are trending will lead to increases in your post interactions as well. Here are some ways to stay on top of social media trends and current events:

For its quality and amazing usability, Google Trends is used surprisingly rarely in social media marketing. Navigate to the Google Trends homepage, and you’ll see a distant section for Trending Searches. Here, you’ll see a list of trending topics in a very intuitive and minimal interface.


Essentially, Feedly lets you input your topics of interest (for example, you can add the name of your industry, or competitor brands) and then aggregates relevant articles from around the web. You can also create different feeds for each topic you’d like to be informed about, and adjust your sources separately for each. Convenience is the name of the game with Feedly.

Discussion forums:

When it comes to current events, you can count on discussion forums like Reddit and Quora, to not only keep you informed but to give you a variety of perspectives on recent events and trends. Perspectives from different users can give you unique content ideas that you would not have thought of prior. For the purpose of finding content, these groups are definitely worth a look.

Twitter Streams:

Create a Twitter stream of hashtags that are relevant to your brand, and Twitter will start showing you all Tweets from across the platform that contains the particular hashtag.

After all, Twitterati are the quickest bunch of people to react to events and news.

Keep browsing the socials

This simple step is possibly the most important in your search for current events that you can make content around. It’s amazing how much info can be found by proactively scrolling through different social media platforms. The word ‘proactively’ is key here though, so ensure you don’t passively scroll.

For more detailed information about how you can stay on top of social media, check out this blog!

2. Ask your followers what they’d like to see!

If you follow influencers or small brands on Instagram, you would have noticed that they often post polls on Stories, asking their followers about what kind of content they would like to see in the future. You’ll be surprised by the kind of social media post ideas (and constructive feedback) you can get by simply asking your followers.

This is also a very direct way of getting to know your followers, and what they expect or wish to see from your end. Apart from this, it conveys to them that you’re listening to their opinions, and care about what they actually want to see.

As a brand or influencer, you should not miss a single opportunity to connect with your followers, and directly asking them what they want to see from you is a great way of doing exactly that.

The Instagram algorithm is concerned with more than just great content to increase your reach and engagement. Check out this blog to find out ways to increase your followers! If you’re struggling to keep up with trends on social media, these handy tips will surely help!

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Tanmay Ratnaparkhe

Co-founder, 2X Entrepreneur, tech enthusiast, and SaaS expert, specializing in Instagram marketing and AI. With a knack for leveraging technology for marketing success, they share valuable insights and strategies to boost your digital presence and productivity.