Instagram launched in 2010 and has been changing the way we look at social media ever since. One of the biggest developments in its history has been the introduction of “Stories” – completely changing how users display their pictures and connect with their audience.
If you and your business can reach even a fraction of the platform’s 500 million users then you’ll be on the right track to getting new customers and a bigger audience. Take a look at how Instagram Stories can help…
What is Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories allows you to share pictures or videos that disappear from public view after 24 hours – perfect for content you want to share but don’t want to remain on your feed. Imagery must have been taken or added to your device in the last 24 hours, and a series of photos and videos is best used to showcase current events or spontaneous moments. You can also add stickers and other features to make each story more interactive.
From a business point of view, a number of stories can be timed around important launch dates or big moments that showcase your products or facilities. They give your audience a look into what’s currently happening, and after 24 when your audience moves on, so will your images.
How to Use Instagram Stories
When on the Instagram app home page, select “YOU” from the stories section at the top; a blue + button shows where you can add a new story.
From there take your picture or upload a recently added picture. There are also a number of buttons and options along the bottom. We recommend you mess around with these to see which you like best and enjoy using.
Buttons and what they do
Half moon: Setting that helps you take warmer photos when shooting in low-light conditions
Thunderbolt: The flash button
Arrows: Switch from front-facing camera to back-facing camera and vice-versa
Smiley face: Instagram’s new Face Filters feature, which is almost an exact replica of Snapchat’s Lenses
Live: Record a live video that will be shown to your followers, many of which will get a notification advertising your activity
Boomerang: As mentioned previously, Boomerang is an embedded App that records movement for a few seconds and plays it back on repeat
A Boomerang image which can be added to Instagram Stories
You can then edit your Instagram Stories before they go live
Once you have your image or video, tagging people is easy: begin typing their names and they will appear on the screen.
Select from one of three different pen styles to doodle on your photo. Users can also erase any drawings with the eraser brush.
From there it’s also possible to add stickers by selecting the sticker button in the top right corner of the screen or by swiping up on the story. Some of the more important ones include a location sticker, which lets you tag the location of your story, a hashtag sticker, and now polls:
You can also swipe right or left to apply different filters.
Polls can be used in so many different ways, but currently a maximum of two options can be added:
Analysing your Instagram Stories Success
Find out how well a Story is performing by swiping up while viewing it. This will display the number as well as the names of people who have seen each photo or video in your story.
You can also view Instagram Insights for your Instagram Stories, but you have to opt-in to this feature first! To see insights for your Instagram Story, head to your profile and select the Insights icon in the top right corner. Next, scroll down and tap “Get Started” in the Stories section. Now when you open your business profile, impressions, reach and other metrics related to your Stories will be included in your Instagram insights.
Story Examples We Love
Cheerios use stories to shout out to random followers, with many people following them just for the chance of a mention:
Loft (a woman’s fashion brand) created challenges, like mini YouTube videos to keep audiences coming back for more:
The North Face showcased their new range of sleeping bags. Because they are an established large brand they have the facility to put shop links at the bottom – but we love the way that when you view the story images left to right, it gives a message to read.
Must-know Instagram Stories Tips
The desired image dimensions are 1080 pixels wide and 1920 pixels tall – so when taking a picture for Instagram Stories, make sure you hold your phone vertically.
Adding text, stickers, emojis and polls to a Story is a great way to build relationships with customers.
Instagram’s algorithm shows your story to more people than your uploaded material. Learn to use them to raise your brand awareness.
Real-time marketing has been the biggest trend of 2016 and 2017, and “live” footage is growing in popularity especially for Q&As, demonstrations and tutorials. Stories can show how to use your products in multiple ways.
After 24 hours stories disappear from the public eye, but the account that uploaded the images can save an entire story and re-use them again down the line.
A recognisable theme in your stories, such as the same combination of colours, can help make your brand feel more authentic.
The best way to learn about Instagram Stories is playing around and discovering what works for you and what doesn’t. If you’re having fun with it, so will your audience.