The how-to guide to creating Instagram Stories like a pro

Since Instagram launched its Stories feature in August 2016, it has changed the way we use Instagram. What was once an online photo album now offers a new breed of photo and video sharing in a more authentic way. As more people take to social media to share glimpses of their lives, the ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ nature of Instagram Stories is fast becoming an essential part of Instagram marketing.

Today, Instagram Stories is quickly gaining ground as one of the most effective ways for brands to keep their loyal followers engaged while leaving their content open for new audiences to discover. And there’s little wonder why. 

According to Instagram, there are currently 500 million daily users of Instagram Stories. More importantly, one third of the most viewed Stories are from businesses and one in five Stories triggers at least one message from viewers.

With such impressive statistics, it’s clear that brands have much to gain from adding Instagram Stories to their marketing mix. Here’s how you can start creating Instagram Stories like a pro.

Plan ahead
Just because Instagram Stories only last for 24 hours doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put some thought and planning into them. Thinking in advance about what sort of content you’ll be sharing and how your Stories will flow creates a more addictive and consistent experience for your viewers.   

Start by creating an editorial calendar of different topics you want to cover. If you’ve run out of inspiration, consider seeking feedback from your viewers on the type of content they’re interested in. For greater engagement, you can also prompt your audience to reach you through comments or by sending a direct message.

With a proper plan in place, you can even post teasers on what’s coming up so your followers know when to tune in.

Add stickers for more interactivity
Instagram Stories stickers are a great way to jazz up your stories and make them less static and boring. And with different types of stickers available, there are plenty of opportunities for you to add them to your Stories.

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Hashtag stickers
As the name suggests, these stickers allow you to share your hashtag, which viewers can click to view the hashtag’s feed and see all other user-generated content with the same hashtag. These stickers are best used if you’re running a contest or organising a product campaign with a specific branded hashtag.

Location tags
Location stickers are perfect for when you’re sharing Stories about your physical store or the area you’re located. Clicking on the stickers lets viewers see other photos and Stories tagged at your location, making it an excellent way to build brand awareness. More importantly, location tags make it easy for you to be discovered by users who might be checking in on that particular spot. It’s particularly useful if you are at an event or managing a pop-up store.

If you’re looking to give certain members of your audience a shoutout or recognise your most loyal fans, you can tag them in your Stories using Mentions. This will trigger a notification in their Direct Messages with a link to add it to their own Stories and share to their followers. 

Poll stickers
Curious about what your viewers think about a particular topic? Find out by asking a question using the poll stickers. Not only can you see the results of your poll in real time, your followers can also see how other users are responding.

Emoji slider
Another fun way to engage with your audience is with the emoji slider. Operating on a sliding scale with an emoji on either end, viewers can respond to your questions simply by dragging the slider.

Save your best Stories to Highlights
Stories might have a short shelf life, but they can live on permanently as Stories Highlights. This nifty little feature lets you save and pin your top Stories to your profile to be viewed at any time. Stories that work best as Highlights include trailers for your account, product features, tutorials and Q&As.

Use CTAs
Many brands make the mistake of not adding a call-to-action (CTA) to their Stories and that’s a shame. As a brand, the last thing you want is your viewers to watch your Stories and just leave. That’s why you need to tell them what to do next – whether it’s liking your Stories, sharing them, leaving a comment or even making a purchase.

Here’s a great example of Instagram Stories complete with a CTA by The North Face.

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Bonus tip
If your Instagram Business profile has more than 10,000 followers, remember to add the “Swipe Up” CTA to your Stories. This exclusive CTA not only makes your Stories clickable, it allows you to send viewers to your website including specific landing pages or product pages that are relevant to your Stories.

While Stories are still a relatively new content format, it’s fast becoming a staple of Instagram marketing. Tons of users are watching Stories at increasingly high rates and newer features are continuously rolling out. The only way to stand out is to start creating killer Instagram Stories that your viewers won’t be able to stop watching. So follow these tips, keep creating and happy ‘gramming!