Instagram introduced their 24-hour Instagram Stories feature in August 2016 with ‘Live’ Stories added later in November the same year. Since then, nearly 1.7 billion accounts use Stories daily, with stats showing 15-25% of users ‘swiping up’ on a link in branded stories.

Use Time Wisely

An Instagram user will likely quickly flick through the stories of those they follow until something catches their eye. As with all Social Media posts, you’re aiming for that ‘thumb-stopping’ moment when a user takes the time to stop and engage with your content. This means you need to make every second count.

Here’s how long each upload adds to your total story length:

Photograph: 7 Seconds

Video: 15 Seconds

Live: 60 Minutes

Step One: Format

A great way to utilise Instagram stories is to post daily, genuine and personal updates. For example, this could be behind the scenes, product tutorials or meet the team. The more natural the content feels, the closer your audience will feel to you and your brand.

However, posting spontaneous and unplanned content is risky business on Social Media. Although Instagram Stories may only last for 24 hours, that’s still plenty of time to potentially do some damage. The best way to avoid this whilst still being fun and creative on Stories is to know your way around the app.

Instagram Live

Scroll to the far left of the screen and you will see the option to go live on Instagram. You can see how many of the people you follow are currently online plus Instagram will alert your followers that you’re live, so they don’t miss out.

Create

If you’re looking for a snazzy background for your update you can click on ‘create’ at the bottom of the screen and choose to add:

  • Text
  • Shout Outs
  • GIFs
  • On This Day
  • Use Templates
  • Start A Poll
  • Ask A Question
  • Donations
  • Countdown
  • Quiz

Remember, this is to do the above on an Instagram background. You can also use these features over your own images. For full details on the size of the images you should use read our earlier blog “Image sizes for Social Media

Normal

This third option is also the default option when you first go to add to your story. Here you can click the round capture button at the bottom of the screen once to take a picture or hold it down to take a video. You will be able to see how many 15second clips you’re going to add to your story as you go. 

We’ll explain how to make your ‘Normal’ updates more engaging in step two.

Boomerang

In October 2015 Instagram released a Boomerang App that captured short videos and played them back-and-forth in a loop. This was later added to the main Instagram App as a fun feature for stories. Once you’ve captured your boomerang, you can click on the infinity icon at the top of the screen to edit it before you add to your story.

Layout

Layout is a new feature to Instagram Stories that also replaces the need to use a second app. Simply choose the template depending on how you’d like your images to appear and take your pictures as normal.

Superzoom

Capture a video ‘zooming’ in on something or someone using one of the following filters:

  • Hearts
  • Fire
  • Bummer
  • TV Programme
  • Dramatic Beats
  • Paparazzi
  • Surprise
  • Nope
  • Bounce

Hands-Free

If you’re unable, or just don’t want to, take a video on ‘Normal’ mode by holding down the capture button, you can click it once on hands-free and Instagram will keep in filming for you.

Remember, with all of the above options you can choose to add to your story, share with your close friends or send to selected users.

Step Two: Engagement

A great way to encourage your followers to engage with you on Instagram Stories is to click on the square smiley face button at the top of the screen (once you’ve taken your photograph/video) and select a sticker. Some of the most popular, engagement driving ones are:

  • @Mention
  • Donation
  • Hashtag
  • Countdown
  • Questions
  • Quiz
  • Poll

You may have seen accounts include a link to ‘swipe up’ on their Instagram Stories. This feature is only enabled for accounts with 10,000+ followers. If you need to include a link then one way to get around this is to run a paid-for Ad on Instagram.

Step Three: Stand Out

As above, you have a small timeframe to capture the attention of your followers. You can add additional stickers to your stories to help you stand out including:

  • GIF
  • Location
  • Time
  • Music
  • Temperature
  • Picture
  • Stamp

When adding these to your stories, make sure they are still relevant to your post and on-brand. For example, be extra careful when selecting music! As always, don’t forget to keep it fun and Social Media friendly.