Use Instagram Stories to Increase Engagement

Instagram Stories playing on iphone

Stories are an Instagram feature that allows users to post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours. Your followers’ Instagram Stories show up at the top of your timeline. You can also view an account’s individual story by clicking on the profile photo (provided the photo has a colored border around it, denoting they have a current story posted).

IG Stories Timeline

IG Profile

Since stories vanish in 24 hours, they don’t have to be perfect and polished like the photos that live on your profile grid. Stories are a great way to have a casual conversation with your audience and showcase your personality. Stories are prioritized at the top of your followers’ newsfeeds, so this is a great way to grab your audience’s attention.

To post a story, open the Instagram app and tap on the camera icon in the top left corner of your screen or swipe left. You’ll see some options for different types of stories that you can post:

  • Type – This type of story is text on a colored background. You can choose from different font options and colored backgrounds.
  • Live – Live stories are broadcast live as they are filmed. Your followers will be notified when you start a live video, plus your profile will show at the head of your followers’ feeds. Live sessions are a great way to drive engagement because followers can ask questions and comment in real time – and you can respond in real time. Engaging in authentic face-to-face interactions helps to build trust. You can also use live sessions to show your brand personality.
  • Normal – Take a photo or post a photo or video from your camera roll on your phone. You can add text and a variety of different stickers (keep reading for ore info on the sticker choices that are available).
  • Boomerang – Boomerang takes a burst of photos, then speeds them up and plays them forward and backward to create a looping Boomerang video.
  • Superzoom – A cheesy but fun zooming effect.
  • Focus – Focus is similar to iphone’s “portrait” mode. The person stays in focus while the background softly blurs, giving the photo a more professional look.
  • Rewind – Allows you to film a video which will be played backward.
  • Hands-Free – Allows you to place your phone on a tripod (or prop it up somewhere) and film a video hands free. You are limited to only one minute of filming, however.

A video for Instagram stories can only be 15 seconds long (or less) – except for live videos, which can be up to 60 minutes long. If you’d like to post a longer video, you can shoot the video using your native phone camera then use an app (like CutStory) to chop the video into 15 second increments. Then you’ll upload those 15 second increments to your story, in the order in which they were filmed.

Adding Stickers to Your Story:

When creating a new story, click on the smiley face in the upper right corner to choose from a variety of stickers.

instagram Stories Stickers

The types of stickers available are:

  • Location – Choose a specific location (like a restaurant) or a general location, like your city.
  • Mention – Use this sticker to tag another Instagram account.
  • Hashtag – You can use one hashtag sticker per story.
  • GIF – Search through a variety of GIF images, animated images, arrows, etc.
  • Time – Allows you to post the current time.
  • Poll – Ask your followers a question and give them 2 answers to choose from.
  • Questions – Let your followers ask you a question.
  • Countdown – Allows you to create a countdown to a certain date & time. This is a great feature for building up excitement before a big product launch or announcement.
  • Emoji Slider – Lets you ask your followers a question that can be responded to on a sliding scale.
  • Temperature – Allows you to post the current temperature.
  • Selfie Sticker – Allows you to take and post a selfie as a “sticker.”
  • There’s also a variety of standard stickers & emojis.

Keeping Your Instagram Stories “On Brand”:

Even though your stories disappear from your profile after 24 hours, you still want to make sure the look and feel of your stories matches your brand. There are several tricks for staying on brand, including using brand colors and logos in your stories and importing your own custom GIFs. One of the easiest ways to make sure your stories are consistent with your brand is by creating your stories in a program or app outside of Instagram. You can create template images using brand colors, shapes, and fonts then just switch up the photos and text when creating a new post. Unfold (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/unfold-create-stories/id1247275033?mt=8) and Canva (https://www.canva.com) are a couple of popular apps that can be used for designing Instagram stories. Of course, you can always create a story image in your favorite image editor program – just create an image that is 1080 pixels wide by 1920 pixels tall and upload it to your story.*

* Instagram Stories dimensions are 1080px wide by 1920px tall, with an aspect ratio of 9:16.

Some Content Ideas for Instagram Stories are:

    • Promote your latest Instagram post
    • Share a preview of your IGTV videos
    • Behind the scenes footage
    • Do a studio tour
    • Post a rant or review
    • Q&A session
    • A day in the life
    • Teach something that is relevant to your brand
    • Promote blog posts
    • Ask for feedback
    • Ask your followers a question
    • Host a contest/giveaway
    • Post an interview or guest takeover
    • Post any news or press you’d like to share
    • Share other’s posts that resonate with your brand
    • Share User Generated Content (UGC) – happy customers, positive reviews, etc.
    • Create shoppable stories
    • Talk about your personal journey and/or the story of your brand

How to Generate Engagement with Stories:

  • Use Hashtags – You can add (up to 10) hashtags into your story two different ways: One way is by using the hashtag sticker, and the other is by using the text tool and simply typing your hashtags out. *Idea: make the hashtags small or hide under a sticker. Instagram users can search for Stories by hashtag, meaning that if you include a hashtag and/or location in your story, other users can see it even if they don’t follow you.
  • Use the Location Sticker – Instagram users can see location-based stories on the Explore page, plus they can search for Stories by location. Including a location sticker gives you more opportunities for your story to be seen.
  • Encourage people to DM you or answer a question.
  • Use a clear and concise formula for your stories so that viewers are clear on the information and clear about what action you’d like them to take. A great formula for stories is:
    • Beginning: Introduce what you are about to share.
    • Middle: Share your content.
    • End: End with a call-to-action (CTA), such as “visit the link in my profile,” “swipe up,” a poll, or ask them to DM you.

Instagram Story Analytics

Instagram records some basic analytics so that you can get an idea of how many people are viewing your stories. To view analytics of a story, you’ll first need to open that story (view it from your current stories or find it in your stories archive) and then swipe up.

IG Stories Analytics Insights

You will see:

  • Interactions
    • Swipe-Up refers to how many people swiped up on your story. FYI, Instagram requires you have 10,000 followers before you get access to this feature.
    • Replies refers to how many people replied to your story via DM (Direct Message).
    • Sticker Taps measures how many people clicked on your location and hashtag stickers.
  • Discovery is the number of unique accounts that viewed your story.
  • Impressions is the number of times your story was viewed (it could be viewed multiple times by the same account).
  • Follows refers to how many follows
  • Navigation tells you how people navigated through your story, “Back” or “Forward” through your story or skipped to the “Next Story” in their timeline or exited out completely.

When people tap “Back” to re-watch a story, that shows you that the story was of interest to them because they want to watch it again. You can monitor which stories people are tapping “Forward” on to see what content is of most interest to them.

While “Next Story” and “Exited” are similar, the “Exited” analytic has a more positive connotation. If a user exited, this could just mean that she ran out of time to view stories or she may have “swiped up” on your story to visit your website. “Next Story” usually means that the user skipped over watching your story and moved on to another account.

Viewing your Instagram Story metrics can help you determine how your content is preforming and what sorts of content your followers prefer. You can use this information to help improve your content strategy. Your goal is to create interesting content that keeps your followers’ attention, provokes them to engage, and keeps them coming back for more.

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