Guide to Instagram Stories

How to use Instagram Stories to Grow Your Brand

Instagram stories are used by 500 million users every single day. They’re clearly a super popular medium, but why are they important for businesses?

Well, over 1/3 of the most viewed Instagram Stories are from businesses. What’s more, 62% of people say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in their Instagram Stories.

That’s right, Instagram Stories are a popular and powerful tool for brands – it’s no wonder that brands post an average of 2.5 Instagram Stories per week. Instagram Stories allow brands to connect with and expand their audience, promote their products and services and drive traffic to their site.

Whether you’re new to the world of Instagram Stories, or are looking to up your Stories game, this guide will offer everything you need to know in order to create a killer Instagram Stories strategy for your brand.

How do Instagram Stories work?

Instagram Stories let users share photos and videos to their ‘story’ which is made available to followers for 24 hours. Instagram Stories don’t show up in the news feed and instead appear in the gallery to the top of a user’s Instagram profile. Stories themselves have a time limit of 15 seconds.

That’s the basics of how Instagram Stories work, so how do you go about making them?

  • Within the Instagram app, select the camera icon in the top left corner of the screen to open the Instagram Stories camera
  • Now, you can tap the white circle at the bottle of the screen to take a picture or hold it down to record a video
  • Alternatively, you can swipe up to select a photo or video you already have on your camera roll

Instagram stories have rapidly developed over the years and now more than ever feature tons of handy ways for businesses to encourage engagement with their audience and boost sales – from fun filters to product stickers.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of Story features, let’s look at what businesses should be sharing on their stories.

What content should brands share on Instagram Stories?

When it comes to what content brands should be sharing on their Stories, there’s no one size fits all answer.

Every brand and business is different and what is appropriate and effective for some brands to share is not for others. A thorough understanding of your brand, tone and audience should make it obvious what content will be appropriate and impactful for your specific audience.

However, there are some general content ideas that have proven effective on Stories that most brands can take on-board, including:

  • Tell a story: engaging your audience through storytelling is a great way to catch and keep their attention. Whether you’re telling the story of your own brand, sharing an inspiring figure from your industry or are sharing mini documentary type clips from your sector, this is a great way to engage with your audiences’ emotions and spike their curiosity.
  • Offer value: another thing all businesses can do via Instagram Stories is provide their audience with value. Giving your audience meaningful, valuable content that improves their lives is a sure-fire way to gain more clicks and engagement. Let’s say you are a brand based in the food industry – sharing quick and easy recipe video clip demos in your stories, or including a swipe to a link of a killer desert recipe from your website is a great way to deliver value to your audience. How-to’s and product demonstrations are also great ways to help your audience and drive engagement.
  • Show off your products: although your stories don’t want to be a constant sales pitch, stories are a great place to show off your products, build up hype around a product launch and explain more about your products. After all, 1 in 3 users say they have become interested in a product they saw on Instagram Stories. When doing these types of stories, a great feature for brands to use is the product sticker which allows you to tag the featured product which users can tap through and shop there and then.
  • Get behind-the-scenes: stories are a great place to add a human touch to your business, whether that’s through doing a ‘meet the team’ feature or a behind the scenes of your studio or offices.
  • Share user generated content: stories are a great platform to share user generated content your followers have tagged you in. If your customers tag you in their photos of them using your products, share it with your own audience. This is great for building trust, engaging with your audience and showing your products in action.
  • Offers, deals and promotions: stories are the perfect way to quickly let your audience know about a current offer or promotion you are running.
  • Special announcements: whether you have some exciting news to share or a business update to let your audience know about, stories are a great way to draw your audiences’ attention to your special announcement.

That’s what kind of content you should be sharing on Stories, so how can you optimise your stories to drive results?

Using Instagram Stories to drive engagement

There are loads of easy-to-use features within Instagram stories that encourage your audience to engage with your brand which include, amongst other things, Instagram stickers. Easy to easy but highly effective, story stickers have been found to enhance the performance of a story 83% of the time.

Embellishing your stories with Instagram Stickers is a great way to make them fun, entertaining or informative, whilst driving more interactions which is not only great in terms of engaging with your audience, it’s also a big green tick from the Instagram algorithm.

Let’s have a look at some of the stickers you should be using:

  • Poll Stickers: these are a quick and easy way to encourage your audience to get involved with your brand and drive more interactions. Brands can share polls asking their audience for their opinion on their chosen question – whether you’re asking which product type they prefer or whether they’d like to see more of certain types of content. These are a great way to get your audience involved and create a sense of community.
  • Emoji slider stickers: emoji slider stickers let your brand ask its followers a question and gauge their response by how far they slide the emoji on the scale. Take a look at this quick guide by Instagram to understand the full extent of the emoji slider sticker.
  • Question stickers: another super easy way to ask your audience questions and allow them to share their responses is by posting a question box. This is a great way to gather feedback or opinions and make your audience feel involved.
  • Quiz stickers: a fun way to get more clicks and engagement from your audience is using Quiz Stickers. Whether you do quiz stickers based on your industry or niche or your specific products, this is a great way to have some fun whilst engaging with users.
  • Chat stickers: this is a good way to open and start a two-way conversation with your audience. Within the chat forum you can select 32 participants to join, meaning you can lead an intimate chat on a topic that matters to your brand with highly engaged audience members.


 Using Instagram Stories to increase views

As well as helping to increase engagement, there are also Instagram stickers that help to boost views, including:

  • Hashtag stickers: just like you’d use hashtags in your Instagram posts to increase its reach, using hashtags in Instagram Stories is a great way to the story in front of more people. When users search for hashtags, as well seeing as in-feed posts that have used that hashtags, stories that have used the hashtag also appear in the results.
  • Location stickers: if it’s appropriate to add a location to your stories, adding a location sticker it is a great way to help increase the number of views your stories receives. When a user searches for posts taken in a specific location, stories attached to that location will appear too. This can be especially handy for businesses with a physical location to increase their discoverability.

Using Instagram Stories to boost sales

The great news for businesses is that Instagram Stories offer tons of features that make it super easy to turn audience members into buying customers.

These include:

  • Product stickers: this lets you tag specific products featured in your stories, just like shoppable Instagram posts. This makes it super easy for your audience to tap the product sticker and shop the product there and then.
  • Countdown stickers: this is a great way to build up hype around a product launch and in turn generate more sales. Remember, tell your followers to tap the sticker and set a reminder for when the countdown ends so they won’t miss out.
  • Swipe up feature: users with over 10K followers have the option to add direct links to their stories which your followers can swipe up to visit. This is great for directing followers to specific landing pages or products. Make sure you tell your followers that you have included a link and include a ‘swipe up’ call to action. Accounts that don’t have 10K followers will have to place their link in URL section of their bio and direct their followers to their profile to click this.

Use Instagram Story Highlights

By adding your stories to a story highlight on your profile, you keep them pinned for your audience to view whenever they want, getting rid of the 24-hour shelf-life stories usually have.

Each highlight can contain as many stories as you choose. Highlights are a great way to categorise your story content and make them easily accessible to your audience at all times. For example, a food store might have highlights such as ‘Healthy Recipes’ ’30 Minute Meals’ ‘Desserts’ etc.

To create story highlights:

  • Open the story you want to highlight
  • In the lower right side corner select the highlight icon
  • Choose which stories you want to add to the highlight
  • Create a name and cover image for the highlight

 Instagram Story Top Tips

That’s how every brand can drive engagement, views and sales through Instagram Stories, but when it comes to really nailing your brand’s Instagram Stories, there are a few Instagram hacks every business should follow.

Keep stories on-brand

As with the rest of your marketing strategy, your Instagram stories should be on-brand and therefore instantly recognisable to your audience. Make sure you use your branded colours, fonts and imagery across all your stories.

For help with levelling-up your stories and keeping them consistent there are loads of free apps that can help, including:

  • Unfold: this app offers tons of professional templates to use on your Instagram stories. With lots of colour, font and layout options available, this is a great way to make your Stories appear more professional whilst keeping them on brand.
  • Canva Stories: also offering tons of free templates for brands to use, this is a great way for businesses to create awesome Instagram Stories that fit in with their own personal style.
  • A Design Kit: this app is great for adding stickers, backgrounde and text to your stories, helping you create killer stories in line with your branding.

Think story-first

Just as every social media platform is different, your content should be unique for stories.

Instagram recommends businesses stick to two types of stories:

  • Stories-first: this includes full-screen, vertical visuals that lend themselves to Instagram Stories’ unique design and interactive features
  • Stories-optimised: this is content repurposed from other users, but is cropped and made relevant for stories.

According to Instagram, stories that adopt these formats consistently perform well and drive better results.

The take-away for all brands is that you should be creating fresh content solely for Stories, even if it does take a little more time and effort, it will pay off.

 Next Steps – ready to ace your Instagram Stories Strategy?

With millions of Instagram users watching brand’s stories every single day, Instagram Stories is a feature that can drive big results – from increased brand exposure, more web traffic, increased engagement and more sales.

If your brand would like more help with their Instagram strategy, Report Central are here to help. Unlike most corporate social media pages that lack engagement and bore your socks off, we champion customer focused engaging content that leaves your audience coming back for more.

learn how report central drives results

Request a free consultation with our team of experts.


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