Are you using Instagram Stories? If you’re not — or you are, but you’re not seeing any results — then you might want to reconsider building or restructuring your strategy using the Instagram Story best practices we’re outlining in this blog.
Over 500 million accounts use Instagram Stories every day. That’s a serious number, especially considering the platform’s got over 500 million daily active users. To those who aren’t yet utilizing this fantastic feature, prepare to jump on the bandwagon. And to those who think they’re not getting the most out of this awesome tool, brace yourselves. We’re rounding up a few helpful tips to successfully expand your Instagram audience reach.
Table of Contents
Instagram Stories 101
While it can be tempting to cut corners using the same content you post on your regular Instagram feed in your Stories, the two features function quite differently. How you present your content is a significant factor in gaining your audience’s attention.
Here are a few points that might help you decide on what types of content to use:
Instagram stories are visible for 24 hours
Unlike the content you post on your feed, Instagram stories only last for 24 hours. After that time frame, they’ll be removed – unless you add them to your Instagram Story Highlights.
If you want to post something that’s particularly important and of great value to your followers, relying solely on a 24-hour Story that could, at most, be tucked away in a Story Highlight might not be the better option.
It’s a more casual venue for showing your brand’s personality
While you might need to be extra meticulous when editing and enhancing your Instagram feed photos, that’s appreciated but not really necessary when it comes to creating an Instagram Story.
You will still need to edit photos, and there are a lot of stickers, filters, and other fun items you can add to make your image shine, but essentially, it’s more of a casual space and one in which people upload content very quickly and spur-of-the-moment, so you get a bit more leeway for experimentation.
Instagram Stories are discoverable
Your followers aren’t the only people who can see what you’ve uploaded to your Story. Any Instagram user can view your Story whenever they click on a similar hashtag or location tag.
This means you should take into consideration that you could very well be attracting new people to your page when you post a Story.
They’re at the top of the Home Feed
No need for SEO or algorithms! You’re listed at the top of your followers’ feeds whenever you upload something new. This is especially cool because unlike getting buried in your followers’ feeds when you share a regular Instagram post, Stories put you right in the spotlight. Use that attention wisely!
Okay, enough said. Here are the 12 Instagram best practices we promised.
12 Instagram Story Best Practices to Implement in Your Own IG Strategy
Ready? Here are 12 excellent Instagram Story best practices to get your views and engagement through the roof!
- Get creative by adding stickers, gifs, and other extras
- Stay consistent with your aesthetics
- Engage viewers by asking questions or running a poll
- Use stories consistently so you’re always at the top of people’s news feeds
- Save important stories to your highlights
- Prepare your content ahead of time
- Hide hashtags you don’t want people to see with a sticker
- Use location stickers to improve brand awareness
- Run a stories ad
- Go live to interact with your followers
- Share user-generated content
- Track your insights
1. Get creative by adding stickers, GIFs, and other extras
IG offers all sorts of extra goodies that make it easy for you to get creative when posting your Stories — like GIFs and emojis. But make no mistake about it: They’re not just there to look pretty.
Stickers come in different types and functions. Among these are regular stickers, location stickers, mention stickers, hashtag stickers, emoji sliders, polls, GIFs, questions, chat, and shopping. There are a lot of them, and knowing when to utilize each type can help a lot with your engagement.
We’ll delve deeper into this later.
2. Stay consistent with your aesthetics
You can experiment with your graphics or videos to your heart’s content, but as much as possible, keep it close to your brand’s image — just like you should be doing with your social media across the board.
Staying consistent with your aesthetics can be helpful in improving your brand’s recognition. One way to do this is to maintain a color scheme or text font style on your Story images and videos.
People should be able to look at your Stories and know that it’s your brand that posted them. You want to be recognizable and familiar.
Give your Instagram Stories a professional and consistent look with these Instagram Story templates from Envato Elements.
3. Engage viewers by asking questions or running a poll
We all want to increase engagement. It’s the door to a large number of opportunities. Instagram Stories present many ways for your brand to engage with your audience, like asking questions and running polls, or by adding a question or poll sticker.
This feature makes it easy to see what your audience thinks about a particular subject, and it helps you connect with them. You’ll be able to quickly and easily collect valuable information from your audience that can help you improve not only your digital marketing strategy but also your brand as a whole.
Furthermore, a lot of people enjoy sharing their thoughts, opinions, and viewpoints on various topics, so you’ll be able to receive a lot of new engagement.
Additionally, this method can also make people feel that their opinions matter to your brand (which they should!).
4. Use Stories consistently so you’re always at the top of people’s news feeds
This is one of the most impactful Instagram Story best practices. If you want to be visible and stay at the top of the news feed, then you have to update or upload Stories regularly. This is because the Stories feed sort things by “freshness” first. So, if you upload something new, your little profile picture will bump its way to the top of that coveted spot.
The more you appear in Stories, the better the opportunity for receiving traffic. Just bear in mind that quality is still as important as quantity! Don’t add a new Story just for the sake of having it. Make sure it’s high-quality and valuable to your followers.
5. Save important Stories to your Highlights
Instagram Stories only have a 24-hour lifespan, but if you want people to see it (or engage with it) for a longer period, then you can do so by adding the Story to your Highlights. Highlights are accessible until you decide to take them down if you so wish.
To improve the overall look of your Instagram profile page and draw more attention to your Highlights, you can modify their appearance to match the theme of your brand. You can change the colors, choose images, or add labels to make it easy for your audience to navigate.
6. Prepare your content ahead of time
Like with other social media platforms, planning your content ahead of time can help you strategize better. This allows you more freedom to design your next Story to improve reach and engagement.
Plus, planning Stories in advance can help ensure you’re maintaining brand consistency from one Story to the next. It’s quick and easy to upload that brands sometimes forget to keep their voice consistent. Preparing content ahead of time helps avoid this.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do this task manually since there are tools you can use to schedule your next Instagram Story upload.
7. Hide hashtags you don’t want people to see with a sticker
Hashtags can increase exposure, but adding too many of them could affect your Story’s visual appeal. The solution: hiding them behind a sticker. It’s easy to do, it can improve the look of your image, and at the same time, it’ll allow your Story more means to show up in hashtag searches.
Just be careful not to shrink your hashtags too much. While we can’t say for sure, the word on the street is that when your hashtags are too small, IG can’t read them properly.
8. Use location stickers to improve brand awareness
Adding location stickers to your Insta story can increase the chances of your story showing up whenever a user taps on a similar location. This is especially helpful whenever you’re holding events.
You “check-in” to a location the same way you would in a regular post. The feature functions very similarly.
9. Run an Instagram stories ad
Another way to increase your exposure and promote your brand is by running an Instagram Story ad. It’s quite simple to do. You can set your target audience manually to ensure that the ad shows up to the audience that you want to market your brand to, and the IG ad can run for as long as you want.
Organic traffic is always a great thing, but don’t be hesitant to “pay to play.” Advertising on social media isn’t just an “extra.” Sometimes, it’s an absolute necessity.
10. Go live to interact with your followers
Another fantastic way to connect with your followers is through utilizing Instagram Live. Now, before you open the Instagram app and start broadcasting, it’s good to take note of a few important things.
Determine the main purpose before you go live
While you can create a live video for almost anything, it’s good to identify a goal or a purpose for your video. This will help you determine if it’s something your followers will really find valuable.
What is your live video for? Will you be launching a new product? Answering your followers’ questions? Do you want to show what’s happening behind the scenes?
Sharing exclusive content could be an excellent incentive to encourage your followers to watch. Just don’t wing it too much.
Promote, Promote, Promote
To get a lot of engagement, you have to have a substantial number of viewers. And if you want viewers, then you have to let people know that you’re doing a live video and when you’re doing it. Promoting your live video ahead of time is essential. Try uploading teasers on your Instagram Story and feed to build hype.
Configure your live video
Do you want the video to be seen by everyone, or would you prefer to showcase it exclusively to your followers? Are you comfortable with comments or not? You can change the settings of your live video to suit your preferences and requirements.
Make the necessary preparations
It’s no secret that live streams can be a challenge to execute. If you want to create a seamless (or close to seamless) live video, then you have to make the necessary preparations to minimize errors.
Take note of what’s going to appear in the background. Adjust your lighting for the best results. (Tip: Natural lighting is almost always a safe bet.) You also have to prepare your audio so it’s clear and not harsh on the ears. Will you be outside? Consider the elements – especially wind.
Having an outline of your program beside you (or in front of you) as a guide for the flow of the video can also be a great help when you start streaming. This can help you move from one segment to another smoothly. And, if you can, practice a few runs before you go live.
11. Share user-generated content (UGC)
Sharing user-generated content is a great way to promote your brand. It can help increase your audience engagement rate by 28%, and studies show that customers trust them more than company-initiated advertisements.
Sharing user-generated content on your Instagram Story can help increase exposure and, at the same time, build a connection with your audience. People love to be recognized, and what better way to do it than to show the world that you’ve seen their content and appreciate the work they’ve put into it?
Just a reminder: Whenever posting user-generated content, always credit the source. In Instagram Stories, you can do this by keeping the content creator’s profile picture on the image you’ll upload on your Story, and adding a mention sticker with his or her Instagram username. A short note of appreciation is always a good Instagram Story idea, too.
12. Track your insights
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: You have to check your analytics. Instagram Story insights enable you to know your reach, see how many views you got for each Story you upload, the number of times people tapped forward or backward, how many times people swiped out of your story, swiped up, and so on.
These metrics provide quantitative data that can help you understand what your audience wants, what type of content they’re engaging with, what time they’re active on the platform, how your strategies are performing, how you can improve, and so much more.
How to Create and Post an Instagram Story: A Step-by-Step Guide
Creating and posting an Instagram story is a no-brainer, especially for today’s youth.
The challenge, then, lies in creating one that engages your followers. The above best practices can help you do that.
With these tips in mind, let’s create and post an Instagram story.
Step 1: Sign in to your Instagram account, and click on your profile picture at the top left-hand corner of the screen. You will have the option to create your Instagram Story.
Step 2: Click on the Camera button from the Add to Story view. You can also choose a video or image from your camera roll. Another way to record a video or capture an image directly from Instagram → swipe right from the home screen to open the camera app.
Step 3: In the current screen, you can add filters to new images/videos at the bottom. You also get more options by clicking on the arrow on the right-hand side — Dual, Hand’s-free, Layout, Boomerang, and Create. The Create option lets you create a text-based Story.
Step 4: Click on the Camera button to capture a photo or hold the Camera button to record a video.
Step 5: Once done, click the text button at the top of the screen to add a text overlay to your Story. Customize your text by changing the color, font, and effects.
Step 6: You can also add stickers to your Story. Click on the sticker icon to open the dashboard. You can add mentions, location info, music, polls, countdown timers, hashtags, and more here.
Step 7: Editing’s done! You can now click on the arrow button at the bottom and choose the option to share your Story. Want to share your story with a select few? You can choose the option to share with your Close Friends list.
Step 8: Click on Share, and your Story is live.
Step 9: Enjoy!
Instagram Story Dimensions and Duration
To make the most of your IG story and ensure that your audience views it as you intended, you should take into account the correct dimensions and duration.
Instagram Story dimensions: Dimensions are 1080 pixels wide and 1920 pixels tall (resolution: 1080p), with an aspect ratio of 9:16. The minimum width is 500 pixels. If you shoot through the Instagram app, you don’t have to worry about dimensions. Otherwise, using a video editing application is a good way to get the dimensions right.
- Dimensions: 1080 × 1920 (W × H)
- Aspect ratio: 9:16
Instagram Story duration: A video Story can be as long as 60 seconds, but Stories with a picture will only play for 7 seconds.
Instagram Stories are a powerful and effective tool for reaching your audience. Using this feature consistently, along with your regular feed uploads, can help improve your Instagram performance substantially. It’s free of charge – unless you run ads, of course – and it’s fairly simple to use.
Are you ready to start posting? Get your creative juices flowing and try out the Instagram Story best practices we’ve listed above to improve your reach and engagement.
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