Instagram eats into more of the internet with Guides, its new publishing tool

Guides are currently only available to organizations, select influencers, and publishers.

Instagram announced Guides on Monday, a new feature that allows certain users to group posts covering a single topic together. Unlike the service's Highlights feature, this curation isn’t restricted to Stories and will live in its own profile tab. Guides can be shared to users Stories, via Direct, or linked externally. In addition to organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Indonesian anti-bullying campaign, publishers like Buzzfeed and Refinery29 can create Guides, as can select influencers who provide guidance on wellness.

One of these things is not like the other — At first glance, this new feature feels like the latest push from Instagram to create a more positive environment and provide resources for those bullied on the platform. Looks can be deceiving, though, because Guides was initially imagined as a travel-centric tool in a pre-pandemic world. Now, the folded-in influencers are those focused on wellness and who inexplicably own several singing bowls. Given its origins, however, Guides could have a more varied set of use cases in the future, from bespoke city must-sees to DIY tutorials.

The Guides tab, a mindfulness Guide, and a Guide shared to Stories.Instagram

The pandemic has undoubtedly shifted culture at large, while also changing what engagement looks like on Instagram. In the farthest reaches of the platform, most people have witnessed a transition to guided meditations and yoga from celebrities and lifestyle-oriented influencers. While you might not get the same level of clinical nuance on mental health, influencer Guides are a surefire way to package posts in an easy-to-consume format for an extremely captive audience.

Profiles are getting crowded for publishers — The Guides pamphlet icon is yet another to add to profile pages for publishers taking advantage of Instagram’s features. Buzzfeed is a great example now that Guides joins IGTV and Effects between the traditional grid and tagged photos tab sandwich. This doesn’t even account for publishers that use Instagram Shopping. We haven’t uncovered a profile with all six, which would outnumber the overall Instagram menu footer.

Buzzfeed's Guides tab.Input

What to expect — For now, you can only access Guides directly on profiles, but the feature will be accessible from the Explore page in a few days. Within each Guide, photos and videos are grouped in a list format, and users can add written tips or descriptions for each. When you think of Guides as a listicle content management system, the choices for early access start to make sense. If there ever was a holy trinity of clickable list makers, it’s mental health organizations, lifestyle bloggers, and Buzzfeed.