Instagram Marketing Social Media Marketing

The Complete Guide to Using Instagram Stories

A photo that describes the titl of the blog witha picture of someone creating a story on Instagram

Instagram Stories are a great way to share photos and videos with your followers. Just like in Snaps, Stories disappear after 24 hours.

Did you know that more than 500 million people use Instagram Stories every single day? The huge number isn’t it? Well, those users are eager to discover new products and trends and when they see new products in stories 58% of them become more interested in buying them. Half of them say they have actually visited a website after seeing it in stories. So I guess it’s no surprise that 4 million businesses advertise on Instagram stories monthly.

Although you probably know the basic steps of sharing photos and videos in Instagram Stories, there are some hidden tools in the app that allow you to make them more creative and engaging.

In this post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get started with Instagram Stories and use them for your business.

How do Instagram Stories work and why should you use them?

Instagram Stories is a feature that lets users create short videos and images to a “Story”. You can add different stickers, time stamps, as well as apply various effects and filters. However, if your account is private, it will only show up to those who follow you.

To see who viewed your story, open up your story and swipe up on your screen. Viewers can also directly reply to your Story through direct message (DM) but you can turn off replies in your settings. 

a screenshot showing how to turn off reply on your stories in Instagram settings

Stories are incredibly valuable to brands and individuals. They can drive engagement and value through their personal profile or through a brand account.

Instagram Stories has helped a lot of publishers and brands reach out to their target audience and grow their brand awareness. It also allows publishers to create engaging content that can be shared across various platforms that infuses brand voice. This is especially true for fast-growing brands like Bombas and Doritos who are already seeing success with this platform due to the use of stories.

And the fact that Instagram stories are short helped brands in many ways especially that now they can share the brand’s personality without taking up too much of the average user’s dwindling attention span.

How long are Instagram stories? 

Videos and photos in Story have a time limit. They can only be played for 24 hours after they were first posted.

As a blanket rule, all videos in Story will play for 15 seconds. If you add a video that has a shorter or longer duration, it will play for up to 15 seconds regardless of its original length.

Despite the ephemeral nature of Instagram Stories’ 15-second limit, there are ways to extend videos into longer segments. You can split a video into 15-second segments by adding each segment to your Story. There are a number of apps that can help you make this happen:

Continual is an app for iOs only that automatically splits videos into 15-second segments to upload them on your stories. You can also trim videos for Facebook Stories.

Story Cutter Android app is similar to the iOS app but it will allow you to split videos into smaller segments and upload them to your Instagram Story.

CutStory is a utility that features an editor and a trimmer, and it will automatically add effects and templates to your Story before it’s uploaded.

How to make Instagram stories? 

There are a lot of ways to make Instagram Stories successful, but it requires some work and a few tweaks to get the most out of them and make them look pretty similar to the posts of established influencers and brands.

To start a Story, open the Instagram app and swipe right or click the plus button on the upper right of the screen or click on your profile photo on the upper left of the screen. After taking a picture or a video or choosing from your media an existing one, you can customize the filter and image capture mode by clicking the “Filter” button at the bottom of the screen.

a picture showing 3 ways to post your story on Instagram

Aside from a filter, there are also a variety of capture modes that allow users to customize their photos and videos: 

  • Normal: Just tap once on the camera button to take a photo or when recording a video in Instagram stories, hold down the camera button so you can start. The app will then record a 15-second video. Or split your videos into 15-second installments.
  • Create: In Create mode, you can create a story from scratch by choosing various options, such as stickers, text, and gifs.
  • Boomerang: Boomerangs are small videos that are up to 3 seconds in length
  • Layout: The layout mode allows you to create a grid with four quadrants, so you can capture multiple photos.
  • Multi-capture: It allows you to capture multiple photos and videos simultaneously.
  • Photo Booth: The photobooth mode allows you to take multiple photos and then have them appear in the same order in your Story.
  • Hands-Free: If you’re planning on creating a video for you or for someone, then use hands-free mode. Make sure that the camera is positioned properly before you start recording.
  • Level: The level option overlays a grid over your camera so that objects are aligned properly. It can be combined with other image capture modes.
Picture showing the capture mode of Instagram Stories

Once done, it’s time to start creating content. Just hold down the camera button to record a video and then tap once to capture one photo.

You can also save your edited video or photo to your gallery by clicking the “Download” icon up top.

Knowing how to post to Instagram is one thing, but knowing what to promote and what to post is another and also has a different connotation. For businesses that are looking to tell their story on the platform, knowing what to post is essential. That’s why it is ideal to know who your followers are and what they’re expecting to see from you.

Below are some ideas to help you create compelling Instagram Stories that will attract more followers and build a loyal following for your business:

Office event footage:

Sometimes, the best way to promote on Instagram is to be as human as possible. Whether it’s a holiday party or an award ceremony, posting a short video of a company function will allow your followers to see how much fun it is to be a part of and that you’re a relatable and friendly voice in your market.

Breaking news about your business:

With the right design, you can create a story about any news event that’s happening in your industry. From breaking news to exclusive interviews, your Instagram Story can easily transform mundane events into meaningful ones.

This is a great way to keep users engaged with the latest trends in the industry. You can also ask users what they think about a topic or a news event.

Product Description:

Your product may not be the most popular, but it’s still a great format to show potential customers how it’s used. Create a short video that shows how your product or service helps users.

For instance, if you sell software, you could record a video of your desktop computer and show how to log in using the software’s dashboard.

But before creating a video, make sure to modify the dimensions of the image because Instagram stories’ dimensions are 1920px high and 1080px wide.

Event promoting:

If you’re planning on attending a conference or event, use your Instagram Story to promote it. Work with a graphic designer or create your own flyer.

You can also add various details about the event to your stories, such as its name, dates, and booth number.

Preview your business’s blog posts:

Even if your blog doesn’t get much traffic from social media, your Instagram Story can still help readers discover new posts and videos.

Mention other businesses that follow or work with you:

It’s a good idea to follow other businesses to keep up with them and grow your relationships with them. Creating a shout-out to these accounts will help keep them engaged and motivated.

Instagram story tricks

Include a CTA

Like all good marketing creatives, Instagram Stories should have a call to action.

Swipe-up is a fine example of a good call to action, but it can also be a good idea to make it more clear.

When running Instagram Stories ads, you can replace Swipe Up with a more specific text message like Shop Now or Learn More.

Schedule Stories in advance

Stories are a great way to keep your audience engaged, but they can also become disruptive.

You can schedule and create your Stories in advance so they can be seamlessly integrated with any existing campaigns and social media posts. 

Maximize the first three seconds

Stories that are effective at conveying their message in the first three seconds are usually well-received.

A well-branded story with a unique selling proposition will engage the audience and keep them watching. So make the most out of your first three seconds.

Describe your brand identity

Brand identity is the cornerstone of any story. It should be defined and maintained throughout the duration of the story.

Even though low production value is acceptable, visual branding fundamentals are still important. Creating a style guide is a great way to keep everyone on the same page. It can help you keep track of all your design decisions and provide a visual framework for everyone.

Shoot vertical 

If you’re just starting out, there’s nothing wrong with using existing creative assets for Instagram Stories.

But, in order to get the most out of it, you should start shooting Stories content in vertical format as soon as possible. According to Instagram, mobile ads shots are more effective than studio ads shots by 63%.

By blending in with the content that users expect to see, mobile-shot Stories can create a more immersive experience.

Use motion for attention

Stories show you still images for five seconds, and videos last up to 15 seconds. But how often have you looked at them for a full five seconds?

According to Facebook, the average time spent on top-performing Stories ads is just 2.8 seconds

That’s why animated GIFs or text stickers are great for holding your viewer’s attention.

Article Name
The Complete Guide to Using Instagram Stories
Learn in this blog the basics of how to use Instagram Stories and move on to some Instagram Stories tips and tricks to help you stand out from the crowd.
Publisher Name
Moe Abdallah
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