Like any other social media on the market, Instagram has to evolve and adapt to market changes to survive – and the same can be applied to its users, as well. The addition of newer features by Instagram allows it to remain relevant and interesting, and inventing new ways to present your content with what you have is a great way to stand out for any Instagram user.
In this context, it’s possible to see two new or unusual ways of adding a banner to your Instagram account – by uploading it as a Story, which is an Instagram’s own feature, or by uploading several images that generate one, bigger image for your Instagram page (this one was invented by users themselves).
Banners in Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are one of the biggest features that Instagram ever added to the platform, allowing for instant updates for your followers with short videos or singular photos that disappear after staying for 24 hours. Stories can be added permanently to your Instagram profile page as a highlight, and it is possible to view specific people that have seen one of your Instagram Stories.
Since more and more brands are also starting to use Instagram Story banners more frequently, it’s important to keep track of what is and is not relevant when it comes to Stories – which is exactly what we’re going to go over below.
Of course, the first part of it is all the technical recommendations and restrictions that Instagram Stories have. As such, there are two types of content that can be uploaded as one of your Stories – a photo or a video.
Your Instagram Story photo is supposed to have a 1080 x 1920 px size and a 9:16 aspect ratio since Instagram’s main platform is still your regular mobile device. There are two main file formats that are supported (JPG and PNG), and the file size for one Story is supposed to be less than 30 MB.
Video content for Stories, on the other hand, keeps the same pixel size (1080 x 1920 px), but greatly raises the file size limit – up to 4 GB or less. Additionally, there are only two video formats that are accepted: MOV and MP4 (with the latter one being the preferable option).
It is very important to adhere to these recommendations since Instagram has a tendency of cropping or zooming in on your Stories if they do not meet the requirements in the first place, which can easily mess up your composition and the initial intent of a Story.
It’s relatively easy to create Instagram Stories on paper – since the main idea of Stories is that you can add any vertical photo or video from your own phone as a Story. However, brands might be more careful with their approach to stories, like using image/video editing software before uploading, among other things. Luckily enough, the majority of image editors and most video editing tools have an option to crop photos/videos to a 9:16 ratio.
When it comes to the actual content of your Stories – it is hard to give specific recommendations, especially when it comes to Instagram banner design, since the content varies greatly depending on a mixture of factors, from the target audience to the intent of a user. However, we can also point out unusual features and ideas that can be utilized using the current Instagram feature set:
CTA (Call-to-Action). Only accounts with more than 10k followers can add links to their Stories. If it is available, your viewers would be prompted to swipe up and visit your link while viewing your Story. It is a great way to promote specific products or events, for both brands and non-brand accounts.
User Content / Brand Features. While this feature is more popular for personal accounts and less so for branded ones, it’s still possible to use your Stories to repost and/or promote specific user content without ruining your regular Instagram feed.
Polls. One of the most recent features, Instagram now allows you to ask questions to your audience using a Poll function within your Stories – and you even have the ability to review users that voted for each of the options. This can be easily used as market research if worded correctly.
Behind-the-scenes Content and Sneak Peeks. Stories can be used to build up excitement, to tease things to come or to show the behind-the-scenes look on your daily life/your work process. It is a great way to make your brand seem more human and down-to-earth.
Of course, it is also possible to highlight some of the biggest mistakes that could be done when working with Stories:
Promotion. As with a lot of other sources of content that are not strictly meant for promotion, there is a need to have a healthy balance between regular content and promotional one, since too much promotion can easily turn off a lot of people away from your brand entirely.
Hashtags. While hashtags can be used for better content discovery across the entire platform, it also brings the problem of people spamming hashtags in their Stories to attract as many people as possible – and it does not work that way. It’s necessary to keep a balanced number of hashtags to avoid being perceived as one more “hashtag spam” channel – all of your hashtags must be contextualized and create value in discovery.
Text. The same rule of not being intrusive and overwhelming that works with promotion applies to the amount of text you can reasonably put into a single Story. Since it is 15 seconds long, an average person is supposed to be able to read it all without feeling the need to stop the story to finish reading. You have to bring value and entertainment to your audience with the text in Stories, but putting in too much is a great way to lose their interest immediately.
Stories Length. There is a reason why each Story is only limited to 15 seconds of content – it’s supposed to grab a person’s attention without being annoying. Spamming someone else’s Story feed with a bunch of stories on one topic is a great way to receive the “swipe away”.
Instagram Stories are a great place to insert all kinds of banners for many types of content – but there are some things that you have to keep track of, and some technological limitations included, as well. Additionally, Stories were implemented by Instagram itself, while our next topic was pretty much invented by the community.
Multi-picture banners for your Instagram page
As we’ve mentioned before, Instagram users always strive to invent some new form of presenting their content, to stand out and look different among many other users of the same service. One of the most popular tendencies in this context has been the invention of “Instagram banners”, or “IG banners” – uploading not one single picture, but a combination of pictures that, when looked at from your profile page, create one massive image.
It’s a great way to stand out and it does attract a lot of attention – when done correctly. Nowadays, Instagram banner photos are used quite commonly by many influencers and companies in different fields to spotlight their recent achievements or to advertise things to come.
There are several reasons to try and make an Instagram banner of your own. Some of the biggest ones we’ll go over below:
Importance. Creating an Instagram banner takes an effort, and while it’s not a particularly complicated task – it still looks like it took a lot of effort to make. This makes each banner look even more important than it would’ve been as a regular single image.
Variety. Each banner can usually take from three to twelve (or more) images in a row for your feed, which gives your followers a break from regular image or video posts.
Uniqueness. The distinctive design of such a banner makes it stand out more in the field of regular image/video posts from everyone else.
As we’ve mentioned before, creating an Instagram photo banner like that is slightly different from your regular process of taking a photo, editing it, and uploading to social media. First of all, you have to choose the shape of your future banner – since the shape will define how many parts you’ll be splitting your image into.
Since the usual Instagram profile page shows only three images in a row, you’re forced to keep that in mind and pick one of the four main banner shapes:
3×1, or a straight-up line, the smallest one out of the four;
3×2, or a smaller rectangle, the middle-sized shape;
3×3, or a square, the easiest one to figure dimensions for;
3×4, or a bigger rectangle, the biggest one out of the four.
While it is possible to create bigger Instagram account banners with this template, some of the mobile phone screens might not fit more than twelve images at once without scrolling – which would ruin the purpose of a banner in the first place.
Figuring out dimensions if you have the shape in mind is relatively easy – since Instagram might crop or zoom one of your images of an unusual shape, it’s recommended to use 1080 px for both height and width of each image. With that in mind, we can figure out basic dimensions for all four of the banner types above:
3×1 = 3240 х 1080 px
3×2 = 3240 x 2160 px
3×3 = 3240 x 3240 px
3×4 = 3240 x 4320 px
As soon as you’re done with choosing the shape of your banner, it’s the moment to start designing your Instagram banner post – decorating and changing it just like your regular Instagram post or Story, with the usage of photo editors, special effects, and so on.
However, the process does not end with designing the image – you still have to split it into several images to upload to Instagram. Luckily enough, there are several ways to do that – with the help of some of the more complex photo editing software or with one of many applications from either Google Play Market or Apple App Store.
Splitting your Instagram banner image into several parts with software like Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator is more difficult and requires some knowledge of the software, but allows you to do both the design and the splitting in a single application. Mobile apps that split images in parts for you, on the other hand, are easy to work with and require little to no effort in the first place in most cases.
After that, all you have to do is upload, either manually or using a scheduler. Instagram profile banners are a great way to diversify your content in this social media, and it’s way easier to do than it might look at the first glance.
How to create Instagram banners?
We just went over two distinct cases of Instagram banners – be it Stories or multi-part images that comprise an Instagram banner post. Both of these cases involve some form of photo editing to create Instagram banners– and while it is quite common to use full-fledged solutions like Photoshop, it’s not the only option available.
For people that have not studied the art of doing everything in Photoshop, there’s always an abundance of online banner creators – such as Viewst. It can be used to perform many different operations, including coloring, adding objects, adding text boxes, and other means of designing a banner for yourself.
It’s a great tool that requires little to no knowledge to work with and is compatible with both of the cases we’ve described above – since it allows you to set the image dimensions manually (for Instagram banners) and offers a pre-made template for your Stories that is already sized perfectly, allowing you to create banner for Instagram in no time.
Instagram banners have a wide variety of use cases, but the biggest one has to be some sort of promotion – be it personal or corporate, for some event or about a new product. Luckily enough, both of the banner “types” we’ve discussed above are not particularly hard to create, and would be even easier to work with if this article is used as a reference – as such, the original goal of this article can be deemed complete.