Can you imagine a time before Instagram stories? It’s hard to believe but these beloved 15-second shots have only been around since 2016! Today, it’s hard to imagine a world where brands and creators weren’t focused on Instagram stories. They have become overwhelmingly popular with Instagrammers. 500 million people post to stories every day and 33% of the most viewed stories come from businesses.
Do you know how to create an Instagram story? Why is everyone so obsessed with making Instagram stories?
Well, for one thing, they work. They increase awareness. 62% of people say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in stories. They also increase engagement. 1 in 5 stories gets a direct message! And let’s face it, they’re just plain fun.
So, let’s talk about how to how to create Instagram story strategies that help you with those goals of a bigger following or higher engagement rate.
Even if those aren’t your goals and you just want to have a little bit more fun with your Instagram story marketing and learn more about how to create content for Instagram, then this article is for you.
Need more inspiration? Download 13 Customizable Instagram Stories Templates
How to create an Instagram story
First things first, let’s double-check you know how to create stories on Instagram.
When you are on your Instagram home page, swipe to the right, or click on the little + in the top right-hand corner or the blue + symbol where it says ‘your story.’
You will be taken to a screen where you have the option to upload a photo or video to story or select create mode (you’ll see it on the left of this screen) where you can write something or share a poll or quiz. It will look like this:
Once you’re happy with your creation you can select the circle profile picture in the bottom left-hand corner which says ‘your story’ to upload it:
If you use an Instagram business account linked to your Facebook page, you will have the option to share the content to your Facebook page too.
What content should you share when creating Instagram stories?
This is, of course, the first question everyone has about social media: what the heck am I supposed to talk about on social media?
You may be thinking about how to create content for Instagram people genuinely want to engage with. Coming up with consistent high-quality content isn’t easy but we like to create categories to build a well-balanced content plan and you can do the same!
Categorizing your content, like your Instagram stories, is all about identifying the core components of your messaging and brand.
- What topics do you want to be known for?
- What is your expertise?
- What do you want your audience to feel, think, learn and do when they consume your content?
If you are struggling to come up with some ideas for content categories, we recommend referring to four goals of content marketing.
- Educate – Share your expertise and knowledge.
- Entertain – Share content your audience will enjoy. This will demonstrate you understand them for who they are as people, not just as potential customers.
- Engage – Social media is all about interactions! You should be asking questions, having conversations and encouraging your audience to share their thoughts.
- Inspire – Inspire people to take action, think bigger or try harder.
Here are some different categories for your story planner template we’ve used in the past:
- Social Media Tips (Educate)
- Polls (Engage)
- Entrepreneur quotes (Inspire)
- Behind the scenes shots (Entertain)
- Content Ideas (Educate)
- Quizzes (Engage)
- Customer spotlights (Inspire)
- Marketing Memes (Entertain)
When thinking about what you want to post, you should also consider the nature of stories. As opposed to posts in the main feed which can be one photo, stories are designed to be a sequence.
(Spoiler alert!) You’re telling a story so you should think about creating a beginning a middle and an end with your stories. The ideal sequence is 3-7 posts in your stories. Structuring your stories into multiple sequences can take a little bit of imagination but you’re sure to have a more quality story if you do it this way. Let’s look at two examples for some ideas.
We love this example from Harvard Business Review. They blend education with engagement and a little bit of inspiration before adding a call to action.
AirBnB is another great example of using the poll feature to engage their audience and creating a 3-sequence story out of it.
Here are some other great examples of how to create Instagram stories well:
Share limited-time discount codes
Reward your most loyal followers with discounts for your products. Running an Instagram Stories deal is a great way to get your followers to click over to your website (where the real magic happens)!
Not a big enough audience for See More? No problem – just drop the link in your profile’s description!
Go behind the scenes
Throwing together a new recipe? Writing a fresh blog post? Skydiving in Antarctica? Whatever you’re up to, taking your followers behind the scenes gets them connected to the final product!
When Minimalist Baker Dana Shultz shares her behind-the-scenes Stories, her followers see that she’s putting tons of effort into her work, and it builds excitement for whatever recipes are going to appear on her blog next!
(It also has a tendency to make us super hungry.)
Link to your brand from your personal account
Have a bunch of followers on your personal account, but trying to start a fresh new Instagram account for your brand? Link up that newer account with an @-tag, and your personal followers can click on over and give you a follow on your brand, too! (Tagging someone – including yourself – is ridiculously easy.)
Link to other brands
Speaking of @-tags in Instagram Stories, don’t forget to link to other brands – it’s a great way to branch out and embrace the community aspect of Instagram!
Check out how Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income did it in this example: he tagged another blogger and the conference they were both attending, which told his followers what he’s up to and who he’s hanging around with.
(Hooray for making new friends, too!)
Make your product pop
Want to catch someone’s attention as they’re tapping their way through their Stories? Make your product pop by setting it in motion!
Instagram Stories allows you to share bursts of video up to 15 seconds long each, or to capture GIF-like moving images with its Boomerang feature. Try these options so you can show someone dancing in the clothes you designed, washing up with your all-natural sugar scrubs, or posing for one of your most sensational wedding photos!
Pump up events
Use Stories to take your audience from IG to IRL!
If you’re attending or hosting an event for your brand, tell your followers where they can meet up with you in person, and score some real-life face time with you.
Katie Dalebout regularly meets up with her followers, and Instagram Stories is a great place for her to remind people when and where they can see her very soon:
(And remember, you can follow up by posting Stories of the actual meetup, too!)
Because Instagram Stories are temporary, they’re perfect for sharing things like this that you don’t necessarily want cluttering up your profile when the event has come and gone!
Share a goofy moment
Let’s be real.
Behind every brand is at least one real, live human – or at least a fairly convincing animatronic one – and Instagram Stories is a great place to embrace that! Dance, play, sing a song – just do the things that come naturally to you. Your followers will love connecting with you on a more personal level, and that connection helps turn followers into customers.
Lewis Howes regularly hops on Instagram Stories and shares real glimpses into his life in a perfectly imperfect way:
Is it perfect for literally every type of business? Probably not – but pulling back the curtain and getting a little lighthearted with the people behind your brand can go a long way when you’re forging emotional connections with your followers!
IG Story takeover
Instagram takeovers – where you give a special guest control of your account for a short period – have been popular for years. Hosting one as an Instagram Stories takeover can be an even better fit because the content is only available for about as long as the event lasts!
Invite another brand to take over your Instagram Stories for a day or so, so they can share what they’re up to with your followers – and you can do the same with theirs.
This can be more of a special occasion sort of event, because otherwise, it can get a little confusing – but if you’re looking for an in-depth guide on how to set up your own, this post from Social Media Examiner has you covered!
Promote other brands you love
Did you notice something going on with another brand that your followers just have to know about? They already know and trust you, and they’re tuning in to your Stories to hear what you have to say!
Point them to that must-know piece of info like The Everygirl does for their own loyal followers:
(Just remember that if you do something like this as part of an affiliate marketing plan, offering full disclosure can make a big difference!)
Run a contest
Want to use Instagram to grow your email list?
Run a contest!
Use your Stories to show the prize, share the deets, and tell people how to enter – if you’ve got that Show More dealie we mentioned earlier, you can even use that to carve out a shortcut to the entry form!
You can arrange for people to enter via an email list signup, or even by following a certain account, like in this example from Studio DIY:
(This slide doesn’t even say what they’re giving away, and we still want to swipe up!)
Going live on Instagram might sound nerve-racking, but it sounds a lot scarier than it is – especially because unlike Facebook, which automatically saves live broadcasts after they end, Instagram allows you to easily and automatically make them disappear.
Live video on Instagram makes your profile more discoverable in the Explore tab, and even makes you stand out to your followers in the Stories section at the top of the screen.
Once your broadcast ends, a few taps will allow you to publish that video to your Stories, where people who missed it can tune in for the next 24 hours!
Promote your blog
Want some front-and-center visual content that’ll get people curious about your latest blog posts? Instagram Stories is the perfect place to publish it!
Take a look at how Brit + Co uses multiple images in a series to promote their newest posts:
Put together a quick template that you can use week after week, and promoting your blog content via Stories will be a snap!
How often do you want to post?
After you figure out what you want to post and how you want to structure those stories, you have to determine the frequency of your stories.
Stories last 24 hours and you can always save them to your highlights for future viewing. This should give you a little leeway in the pressure to post.
The most important thing about determining your frequency is understanding your bandwidth. Posting five 7-sequence stories every week can burn you out quickly. When you burn out, your content tends to decrease in quality so it’s best to adjust your frequency.
If you find that you have extra creative energy, you can always share more stories but it’s best to start planning and scheduling at a lower frequency.
How can you make creating and posting Instagram stories easier?
We get it. Managing social media is a ton of work and Instagram stories might feel like one more place you have to post.
But you can structure your planning, creation, and scheduling so that it’s much easier to manage all these social posts.
1. Follow content categories and create a set schedule
Listen, you don’t need so much think work in your social schedule. Instead of over-complicating it, divide your content into categories and pick a day for each category.
Designate Tuesdays as your poll days, Thursdays as your tips, and Saturdays for your personal videos. Eliminating the guesswork of what types of content to post and when will free up your headspace for the actual creation of the content.
2. Use templates
Using similar fonts and colors will give your stories a professional polish and using templates will cut down on design time! You can use Canva, Crello, Photoshop, or any other design tool to create your templates and then you can reuse & repeat as often as needed!
Pro-Tip for Edgar users: You can reuse templates and create different variations with each template for your stories! Learn more about variations here.
Need some creative inspiration for Instagram story templates? Download our free pack of 13 customizable Instagram stories templates!
3. Prioritize engagement
One way to feel excited about your Instagram stories plan is to prioritize engagement and get yourself in an engaging mindset when posting.
There’s no auto-post to Instagram story available so you have the opportunity to spend time messaging, commenting, and chatting with your audience when you post stories. You can be active in the app, which can improve your standing in the algorithm and increase your engagement. Not to mention, social media is just more fun when you’re engaging!
So how are you going to tell your story?
(Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves with that one!)
We want to hear your questions or ideas about Instagram stories! Do you have a preferred style of Instagram stories or find a certain content type that increases engagement? Let us know in the comments below or on social media @MeetEdgar.