When Instagram rolled out its story feature in August of 2016, it was initially met with mixed reviews. By some, it was perceived as a direct response to the success Snapchat was amassing at the time, as the two possessed very similar features. For others, stories were seen as a useful extension to the pre-existing platform that Instagram had created. Fast forward almost three years later, it can be seen that the latter opinion has become the majority. With sunset-colored rings illuminating nearly everyone’s profile photos, many have come to enjoy this feature, possibly even more so than its competitor’s platform.
However, beyond just posting decorative, multi-photo compilations for your best friend’s birthday, Instagram Stories open up a whole new arena of opportunities for businesses specifically. So, let us walk you through ten of the industry’s best-kept secrets on how to utilize this feature to maximize your company’s digital reach and engagement.
#1 Create amazing Instagram stories for business with Canva
Similar to the care that you put into the photos posted on your company’s main Instagram feed, stories should be given an equal amount of attention. This means going beyond just snapping a photo, adding in-app text, and a few pen scribbles to your image.
We encourage you to design your story content outside of Instagram. This will give you much more control over the design and vision you have in mind. Even if you’re not well versed in Photoshop or Illustrator, you can still design your own story-worthy spreads.
“Canva” is a free, graphic-design tool website that allows any skill level to create eye-catching digital content. With pre-made story layouts and friendly user interface, this tool will allow you to create spreads that look professional and refined.
#2 Add your brand fonts to your stories with Over.
When designing Instagram stories for businesses, your “brand” should always be kept in mind. This means utilizing similar color palettes, filters, font types, and imagery across your posts to maintain consistency and cohesion.
One way to drive this home is by using your company’s own font in your story posts. Using the mobile app “Over”, you can add a little more “brand” to your stories.
Once you have downloaded the Over app:
Airdrop the font’s .OFT file to your phone.
Select “Open with… Over” and your font will automatically be imported into the app.
From here, you can upload any image to overlay your company’s font on it.
#3 Use Instagram story highlights to showcase your business.
If you’re dedicating a fair amount of time to design your stories, why not feature them for longer than 24 hours? Instagram’s story highlight tool is a fantastic way to enshrine your creations and enhance your overall profile.
Start by thinking of which highlights suit your company’s content best. Some business-related highlights that are commonly used are “About”, “Services”, “Products”, “Community”, “Inspiration”, “Shop”, “Office Life”, and “News”.
Regardless of whichever you choose to feature, make sure you are using a highlight cover image that is cohesive with the rest of your page. You can easily create these in “Canva” as well. Their platform contains numerous, free elements to use.
Simply search for an image related to your highlight’s topic in the “Elements” section of the design page. Also, don’t forget to change the background and element’s colors to match your brand… remember, consistency is key!
#4 Copy a photo from your camera roll.
This is another insider tip to keep a cohesive look throughout your story posts. Start by creating colorful story backgrounds that match your brand's logo or imagery. You can easily create these in Canva.
Start by going to the “Instagram Story” templates (1080 x 1920 px) and making the entire background one color (if you know the HTML color codes to your brand colors, you can directly input these into Canva. Or, you can simply select related colors using the color wheel feature).
Save your backgrounds, airdrop them to your phone, and upload one to stories.
Go to an image in your camera roll you would like to feature and “copy” it from the pop-up menu in the bottom, left-hand corner.
Back in Instagram, hold down on your colored background, and select “paste”. You now have your featured image framed by a colorful background that accurately reflects your brand!
Also, if you would like to repost a photo from Instagram, but still maintain continuity, simply screenshot the image, crop it in your Photos app, and go through the upload process listed above (don’t forget to tag the featured account!).
#5 Use a storyboard to create structure.
Using multiple story posts to create a cohesive storyboard is a fantastic way to maximize engagement of this feature.
Having a post that builds on itself, commonly through additional text on each succeeding post, encourages your audience to click through your entire story to get the full picture. Additionally, if you are featuring a new release of a product or collection, creating a storyboard is a great way to highlight new features and items.
For example, with a new clothing line release, feature a new piece in each post with a link to shop at the end of the storyboard. This can then be added as a highlight to your main page. Then, visitors can easily browse the items under the “Collections” highlight on your page, for example.
However, we advise you to use this tip with moderation in mind, as no one wants to click through 20+ images all posted at once to your story. Being strategic and concise are the key factors when utilizing this tip.
#6 Add shoppable stickers to your content.
If your company features an e-Commerce site, Instagram has made it easier than ever for your audience to not only view your products but directly buy them as well!
Shoppable Instagram stories take your content to the next level, as they are not only enjoyable but actionable. Tagging products on shoppable stories makes for a very organic promotional experience. They can also be seamlessly integrated into your story’s layout, without seeming too sales-y.
So, when a follower watches your story, they can view the product, learn more about it, and ultimately make a purchase without even leaving the Instagram app!
#7 Use poll, quiz, & question stickers to make your stories engaging.
Even if you don’t have an online store doesn’t mean that your story content can’t be engaging as well. Recently, Instagram has added numerous features that allow your followers to interact with your story posts more than ever.
Interested in learning which design style your consumers prefer? Get instant responses from them using the “poll” feature.
Looking for direct feedback from your audience pertaining to a recent product release? The “question” sticker will allow them to directly connect with you and get a response surrounding any questions or comments they may have. When you answer these questions, you can then post the question and your answer back to your story for the rest of your followers to see.
Lastly, looking to test your followers’ knowledge of a certain area of your services? Quizzes are a fun and creative way to drive engagement on your posts.
#8 Use location and hashtag stickers to increase your discoverability.
Similar to the photos on your company’s main Instagram feed, you should be implementing location tags and hashtag stickers to amplify the reach of your content.
Did you know that if you tag a location on your story posts, that they will then be featured on that cities community Instagram story?
This great feature also applies to any hashtags that you include in your stories.
However, are you worried that hashtags or location widgets will ruin the aesthetic of your content? Well, you are able to pinch up to 10 hashtags for every post to make them smaller. Then, place a GIF or sticker over to hide them. You can also change the text color of your hashtags that matches your Instagram story background using the color dropper tool from the text option.
Additionally, location tags can be made transparent by simply clicking them, ensuring they go with any design scheme.
Strategically camouflaging these elements upholds your contents visual appeal while still maximizing its discoverability.
#9 Cross-promote your content.
With Instagram’s complex algorithm, your main feed’s content very well may be going unseen by your followers. Therefore, promoting any new feed posts on your story is a free form of promotion that you can implement yourself. We encourage you to use the instructions from our fourth tip when doing this for cohesion purposes.
However, cross-promoting your content isn’t a one-way street! Encourage your followers to check out your story in the caption of one of your feed posts. This can be for them to either learn more about your post or take action, such as direct linking them to a product they can purchase since active links are not supporting in Instagram captions.
Posting on your story when you also post on your main feed is a strategy that allows you to gain maximum attention from your audience.
#10 Know when your audience is most engaged on Instagram stories.
You’ve followed these steps to create incredibly unique and eye-catching content for your story. Now, you need to know when is the best time to post it for your followers.
Instagram Analytics serves as a great platform for you to see the days and hours in which your audience is the most active. Even though these analytics are fairly rudimentary, they can provide great baseline information regarding your audience.
However, if you’re looking for a more thorough and strategic posting strategy, we encourage you to reach out to us to discuss our extensive social media services. Data and analytics are what drive our actions at Optmira, so we serve as the ideal partner to collaborate with if dissecting analytics just isn’t your thing, because we can assure you that it’s ours.
Instagram Stories are one of the first things people see when they visit your page, so ensure that you are devoting an appropriate amount of time and care when designing them. By incorporating a few, outside resources with a dash of strategy and a heaping amount of creativity, you will be on your way to crafting the perfect recipe for Instagram success!
There’s still one secret ingredient we left out that will take your social media strategy from sweet to irresistible… and that’s working with us! So, get in touch with us to collaborate!