October 3, 2020

Maximise Your Instagram Stories

Considering Instagram Stories only last for 24 hours – unless you save them as a ‘Highlight’ but more on that later, it’s hard to comprehend how impactful they can be on your businesses success. The best way to get an answer is to look at your analytics. Data shows that approximately half of Instagram’s monthly users are using Stories, which likely includes your target audience and your competitors. Therefore, if you’re not currently utilising this feature, then you should be.

Here’s how…

Posting or Uploading A Story

If you’re new to Instagram, or Instagram Stories, then you may wish to practise with a few uploads on your personal account before sharing straight from your brand. To share a Story, launch the Instagram App on your device and either swipe to the right or click on the blue + button at the top left of the screen.

Instagram will default to ‘Create’ and ‘Story’ however you will be able to choose ‘Live’, ‘Story’ or ‘Reels’ along the bottom and ‘Create’, ‘Boomerang’, ‘Layout’, ‘Superzoom’, or ‘Hands-Free’ along the left-hand side of the screen.

Share A Story 

Your Story can be made up of photographs, videos and GIFS. To share a picture, you can either take one from within the Instagram App or swipe up and upload one that is in your camera roll. If you want to add a touch of creativity to your post, swipe through the filters and backgrounds along the bottom of the screen and see what works best.

Once you have taken your picture, you can overlay it with stickers, text or draw. You can also save the image to your camera roll to reuse later.

  • Adding Text

Click on the ‘Aa’ button on the top right of your screen and use your keyboard to type out your text. Alternatively, you can paste in something that you have copied, which may be the safest option as you’ll have had time to proofread before posting. There are different fonts, sizes, positionings and colours available so you can get creative.

  • Drawing

By selecting the squiggly line at the top of your screen, you can draw over your image or photograph. Many users utilise this to highlight a point or break up sections of text. Drawings can be in any colour, thick or thin, and you can even add a neon glow by selecting this option from the top of your screen. Click on the up arrow button to turn your line into an arrow or select the eraser button to rub out any mistakes.

  • GIFs

By clicking on the stickers icon, which looks like a smiley face sticker peeling up at one corner, at the top of your screen, you’ll see a range of options to add to your Story. One of these is ‘GIF’. Click the button and search GIPHY for a relevant GIF to compliment your post.


  • Layout

If you’re looking to share more than one image in your post, then you can now do this within the Instagram App. When you first open the Stories feature, you can choose ‘Layout’ on the left-hand side. You will be able to scroll through and select from several layouts to find the one that suits what you’re trying to achieve the best. Now, either take your photographs from within Instagram or swipe up to upload images from your camera roll.

  • Boomerang

An Instagram Boomerang is a series of images that are looped to play forwards and then backwards, and they can be a lot of fun… or simply a disaster. Boomerangs are definitely one feature to practice! The most recent update for Boomerangs is the new effects available. Once you’ve captured your clip, select the infinity symbol from the top of the screen, and you’ll be able to choose from ‘Classic’, ‘Slo-Mo’, ‘Echo’ or Duo’. You can also trim your clips.

  • Superzoom

The Superzoom effect does what it says on the tin and ‘zooms’ in on the subject of your choice. Superzoom can be overlaid with graphics such as Hearts, Fire, Bummer, TV Programme, Dramatic, Beats, Paparazzi, Surprise, Nope or Bounce.

  • Hands-Free

Traditionally, if you’d like to capture a video on Instagram Stories, you would need to hold down the capture button at the centre of the screen. However, Hands-Free has been introduced, which means you simply have to click the button once to start and once again to stop. This means, as the name suggests, you don’t need to be holding your device to capture a video.

Go Live

You can also use Instagram Stories to ‘Go Live’ on Instagram. Before going Live you can add a title so that your audience know what it’s in aid of and once you start, your followers will receive a notification to watch you. Instagram Live is a great way to engage with your audience in real-time as they can ask you questions while you’re online and get an answer from you instantly. While going Live, you can select a charity to promote and encourage your followers to donate.

Create A Reel

Reels are new to Instagram and are designed to help users create short videos without leaving the app. Simply select Reels from the bottom of your screen and start shooting! There are several AR Effects available to utilise in Instagram’s effect gallery, and you can record multiple clips with different effects. Once again, this is a feature that could do with some practice before you go public!

Add To Highlights

Although Instagram Stories are only active on your profile for 24 hours, you can save them to your ‘Highlights’ so that they stay on your account permanently. You can add images or videos to your Highlights at any time by selecting the Highlight and then ‘Edit Highlight’. Your Highlights can have their own icon photo and name so that you can segment them into relevant categories, and you can even share a whole Highlight with a follower.

Great Stories to share to Highlights could be meet the team, product demonstrations or events. Anything that is ‘evergreen’ and will be relevant for the foreseeable future will work well.

Save or Search Filters

You may wonder why some Instagram Stories seem more striking than others, and this is often down to a cool filter. You can search for filters, or effects, by scrolling all the way to the right on Instagram Stories or, if you see someone using something you like you can click the text at the top of their stories and save the filter for yourself and future use. 

Content Strategy

One of the most appealing aspects of Instagram Stories is the 24-hour deadline which means you’re not committing to sharing something to your grid (which opens up issues with themes and formats) and it can be more on the spontaneous side.

However, if you leave Stories purely up to impulsive posting, then you are more likely to either forget and be left with nothing or find yourself with embarrassing errors such as typos. By planning your core content strategy, you can mix these in with your sporadic posting but always ensure that you have consistent, quality content going out on your Instagram Stories as well as your grid.

Be Creative

With just 15 seconds per segment, you need to consider how best to get any essential information across on your Story while keeping your audience engaged. For example, if you have a lot of text that you need to share, try breaking this up into colourful sections or bullet points across several clips. Alternatively, video is a great tool to share a large amount of information in one go, and it’s super easy for your audience to retain it.

If you have text overlay on your Story, then remind your viewers that they can ‘tap and hold’ to read or if you have a video with audio tell them to turn the volume up!

Encourage Engagement 

There are specific stickers than you can add to your stories to drive engagement from your customers. Increased engagement will help build rapport quicker and will allow your audience to feel a connection with yourself and the business.

Key stickers to utilise are:

  • Poll

Poll stickers allow you to ask your audience a question with two possible answers. The default options are ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, but you can type over these to make them more relevant to what you’re asking. You’ll be able to see the responses straight away.

  • Slider

Adding a Slider sticker is similar to your audience voting ‘low to high’ on something. The default emoji is love heart eyes, but you can change this to something more relevant if needed such as the fire, laughing face or thumbs up emojis. After a few responses, you and your audience will be able to see the average answer.

  • Questions

The Questions sticker will give your audience a chance to ask you a question. This could be the answer to a specific question that you type into the box or just a generic ‘ask us anything’ for relationship building. If you’re encouraging your customers to spend the time to ask you a question make sure you take the time to answer as many as possible

  • Countdown

Adding a Countdown to your Story may seem bizarre considering they only last 24 hours, but actually, people will be able to turn on reminders and share the countdown to their own Story. Therefore, it’s worthwhile if you’re planning a big reveal or something special and relevant. The Countdown sticker can have a name, date and time.

Analyse and Amend 

If you have a Professional Instagram Account, for businesses or creators, then you will be able to see your Instagram Insights, including key data around your stories. Here you can view metrics such as Impressions, Reach, Replies, Profile Visits, Link Clicks, Shares and many more. When reviewing analytics, it’s essential to understand what you as a business are trying to achieve.

For example, reach, and impressions are all well and good if you’re looking for exposure but if you want to engage with your audience actively then replies and profile visits would be a better ‘result’ to track. By looking at the same metrics for each Story, you will be able to benchmark results against yourself and understand what your audience responds to the most. Your more successful Stories should influence your future content planning.

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