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The Ultimate Guide on How to Use Instagram Stories

Martes 21 de agosto de 2018, por Brent Barnhart">

It’s no secret that Stories are a big deal on Instagram.

But the fact that over 400 million people use Stories daily may come as a surprise to anyone who’s been sleeping on them.

The recent explosion of storytelling content is no accident, though.

In fact, Instagram has been pushing hard for brands and users alike to hop on the Stories bandwagon.

Engaging features such as the Questions Sticker and creative touches like Music make Stories truly one-of-a-kind in terms of content on Instagram. Meanwhile, the introduction of Stories ads for brands is also telling in terms of Stories’ selling power.

Brands can share the results of polls via Stories with their followers

The takeaway here? Stories are no longer seen as a novelty. At this point, they’re a staple of Instagram itself.

But if you don’t quite “get” Stories or how they work, their popularity might leave you scratching your head a bit.

Don’t fret. In this guide, we’re going to break down how to use Instagram Stories for your business or brand. From what makes a proper post to best practices to ensure your Stories don’t go unnoticed, we’ve got you covered.

What’s So Special About Instagram Stories, Anyway?

First thing’s first: let’s break down how Stories work in plain English.

Introduced as a sort of successor to Snapchat’s “self-destruct” style of content, the concept of Stories is actually pretty simple.

In short, Stories allow users to create a feed of sequential content that disappears within 24 hours of being posted. Story content can either be static photos or video, including video created via Boomerang.

Instagram Stories can be crafted from photos or videos, including those made from Boomerang

Think of Stories as a sort of secondary, exclusive feed of content for your most dedicated followers. Creative touches such as unique captions and overlays make Stories totally different from traditional posts.

Story content is also prioritized in the sense that Instagram highlights updated stories upfront in your feed. The purple circle around your profile photo lets followers know that you’ve recently added to your Story.

Instagram highlights fresh Story content via the purple ring around your profile picture

This creates a sense of urgency and scarcity around your Stories, making them a sort of must-see, for-your-eyes-only content that’s exclusive for followers in the know.

That said, you can save stories to your homepage to turn them into static content in the form of “Highlights.” Here’s an example from Funko’s page which promotes tons of highlighted past stories under their bio.

Through Highlights, Stories can be treated as static content on your Instagram page rather than disappearing


Between their time-sensitive nature and creative freedom, there’s plenty that businesses can do to take advantage of this format.

That said, you might still have trouble wrapping your heads around how to use Instagram stories for business.

After all, creative freedom can be daunting. Also, with no tagging or captions available, where do you even start with Stories?

Fair question!

5 Types of Instagram Stories for Businesses to Try

Stories’ creative quirks and sequential style actually make it prime for a variety of campaigns for businesses. Below we’ve highlighted five different types of Stories which are popular with brands of all shapes and sizes.

How-To’s and Tutorials

Stories’ sequential format makes them perfect for step-by-step, how-to style content. From recipes to beauty tutorials and beyond, bite-sized educational content is an engaging alternative to traditional video or blog post.

Brands like Samsung understand how to use Instagram stories to engage and educate at the same time. This tutorial Story breaks down step-by-step how to take the perfect photo using a Galaxy device:

Stories are unique in that they can be used as bite-sized lessons and how-to's for followers

And as a sort of call-to-action, Samsung encourages followers to share their creations using the #withGalaxy hashtag for the opportunity to be featured in their feed:

Samsung uses their Stories hashtag to encourage customer photos

And hey, that leads us directly to our next point!

Sharing User Generated Content (UGC)

Many brands share Stories dedicated to their followers’ user-generated content such as tagged customer photos. For example, Converse uses their #FOREVERCHUCK hashtag to show off follower photos in a massive Story slideshow.

Instagram Stories are a prime place to show off UGC via hashtags

Stories represent a fantastic place to publish UGC if you don’t want it to dominate your main feed. This is especially important as you don’t want your valuable shout-outs from followers to go to waste.

Behind-the-Scenes Stories

Part of the beauty of Instagram stories is that they don’t have to be big, polished productions.

In fact, many brands create stories that are sort of off-the-cuff while attending public events or industry conferences. In a sense, Stories allow brands to take their followers along for the ride.

Here’s a recent example from Salesforce’s recent Story from their TrailheaDX 2018 conference. Promoted with the #TDX18 hashtag, Salesforce showcased everything from real-time presentations to happenings at booths around the conference.

Events and conferences are practically made for Stories, taking followers on a journey

And for brands who want to go behind-the-scenes without taking up any valuable real estate on their feed, look no further than your latest Story.

Fashion giant Uniqlo‘s main feed is dedicated to showing off their latest styles and fits. To show their team some love, the brand has dedicated Highlights to celebrating their public service and community outreach.

Stories allow brands to take followers "behind the scenes" to show off the personality of their teams

If you’re struggling to figure out how to use Instagram Stories, consider putting the human side of your business on display.

Time-Sensitive Offers, Deals and Promos

Just as you’d promote an offer via Instagram, you can do the same via Stories. Perfect for ecommerce and brick-and-mortar stores alike, Stories can be used for limited-time deals or simply to highlight a current sale.

For example, Whole Foods‘ “Delish Deals” Story shows off items which are on sale at their stores and provides an end-date so there’s no confusion for followers.

Brands can promote deals and discounts via Stories

Story-specific offers are a smart move to encourage people to stay glued to your Instagram for fresh deals and updates on a regular basis.

Special Announcements

Announcements that keep your followers guessing through every step of your Story represents one of the most creative ways to use the format.

For example, Southwest used a Story to tease their recent Shark Week promotion. Their initial post hyped that something special was going on with someone in a shark costume and little context. This playful sort of content is perfect for piquing people’s interest.

Brands can keep followers guessing through Stories

The Story went on to eventually reveal their hashtag promotion #SharksTakeFlight to spot their fleet of Shark Week planes in the air.

Stories can help brand hype specific announcements and promotions

As you can see, there’s no “right” approach for those trying to figure out how to use Instagram Stories for business. In fact, any combination of these types of posts is totally fair game.

That said, just because you understand the types of Stories available doesn’t mean your content is must-see.

In order to get more eyeballs on your Stories, let’s quickly touch on the format’s best practices.

Best Practices of Instagram Stories for Business

So, what should businesses focus on if they want to squeeze the most out of their Stories?

Point Followers to Your Stories

Here’s some food for thought: the 400 million people using Stories daily represents about 40% of Instagram’s base of active users (1 billion). In other words, although Stories are wildly popular, not everyone is on board quite yet.

So if you’re posting fresh content to your Stories, don’t be afraid to let your followers know about it.

Occasionally asking your followers to check out your stories isn’t spammy at all, especially if you’re posting exclusive content there. From time to time, simply post a reminder like this one from Shake Shack:

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