It’s time to step away from the grid! There are so many good reasons why your brand or company should post Instagram Stories – they offer a more relaxed platform to have fun engaging with your audience, and the potential to reach more followers is huge.

But how to get started? If you’re not familiar with all the capabilities of Stories, it can be daunting to know where to start. So, we went along to a workshop run by Louisa Chudley, to get another perspective on how businesses and brands can use this platform to its fullest.

We’re reporting back in two separate blogs and in this first instalment, we look at content ideas, tips, tricks and simple tools and stickers to get you started…

The benefits of using Instagram Stories

  • Reach more people – Stories are hugely popular, with around 400 million people using Stories on a daily basis!
  • Instagram prioritises Stories – they appear at the very top of the screen in the app, prompting your followers to see them first.
  • Unique engagement with your audience – a wide range of stickers allow you to ask questions, gauge interest, run polls and more.
  • No time rules – your followers can continue engaging with Stories over a 24-hour period, so it doesn’t matter what time of day you post.
  • Different feel to grid – you can be more relaxed in Stories than in the grid. They don’t have to be the highest quality and you can have more fun with them.

Content ideas for Instagram Stories

There are so many ways to be playful with Stories and show your company or brand in a new light. Here are some ideas Louisa gave us to get you thinking:

  • How to’s & tutorials – if you or your company has a specific area of expertise, Stories can be a great way to showcase this. Create a series of advice in step-by-step frames, by saving and re-uploading each frame, and adding something new to each one as you go.
  • Sharing UGC – are your customers or clients talking about you on social media? Reshare their images, videos and comments as Stories.
  • Behind the Scenes – these work well as Stories because they show you ‘in the moment’ and quick, low quality videos are fine as Stories. So, if you’re going to an event or doing something interesting/unusual at work, capture and share it.
  • Offers & promotions – people love a good deal, so let them know if you’re running a sale or discount. Use the countdown sticker to show people how much longer the deal lasts for.
  • Takeovers – pair up with another person or company that shares your interests and swap accounts. This is a clever way to reach into other people’s audiences and get your account seen by them.
  • Day in the life – run a series of posts through the day to show what you’re up to – a nice way to show the faces behind the brand.
  • Q & A’s – use the question sticker or do a live video and get people to ask questions – brilliant for engagement, and you can use the ‘send to’ option to notify people in their DMs.
  • Shopping Stories – if you have a Facebook shop linked to your account (if you’re a brand or product, this is a must), you can tag your products in your Stories and encourage people to click through to your shop.
  • Sharing other accounts – seen a great post by someone else? Use the aeroplane button on their post to quickly reshare it as a Story on your account. This is a simple way to post a Story and also gets you noticed by the account you are sharing content from as they will get a notification.

Making the most of the video options in Stories

If you film a video while you are in your Story, you will see a wide range of different options to give your videos more impact:

  • Boomerang – create a shaky loop of a short bit of action.
  • Superzoom – a range of different effects to turn a few seconds’ video clip into a new style, for example a dramatic zoom in, a surprise, tv show etc. Spend some time playing with the different options to get ideas.
  • Rewind – plays videos in reverse.
  • Music – add music to your videos.
  • Type – use GIFs, text and other tools to build your own video.
  • Live – film a live video that is broadcast as you film (we’ll cover this more in part two).

Instagram Stories tools and tricks

Within the Stories tool you can access lots of interactive tools, known as ‘stickers’. Here’s a rundown of what’s at your fingertips…

  • Location – worth using if you’re at an event or posting about a specific location, as many people search by location and may discover you this way.
  • @Mention – always tag anyone featured in, or relevant to, the Story as they’ll get a notification and will be more likely to engage with it.
  • #Hashtag – you can add one hashtag sticker per Story, so find a relevant and focused one, as this is another way that you will be found via search.
  • GIFs – there are lots of fun GIFs to choose from if you click on ‘search’ in the stickers, including arrows, ‘new post’ and ‘tap here’, which can help to make your Story look more interactive.
  • Polls – a great way to ask a quick question and get some feedback from your customers. You could run a poll about your products, or about a topical subject in the news that is relevant to your organisation.
  • Slidey Poll – these are fun – you can add a question, or just leave them as a simple slider. You can also change the emoji, so you could gauge interest in how much people love something – or change the emoji to a different emotion.
  • Questions – if you have enough followers, why not use Stories to get your audience to ask you a question? Again, this could be questions about your products, or a certain area of expertise.
  • Countdown – this is a really visual way to show people how long is left. It works well if you’re running a giveaway or special offer, or selling tickets to an event etc.
  • Quiz – Instagram’s newest addition to its range of stickers, the quiz lets you start a quiz by answering it yourself and then encouraging your followers to do it too.
  • Product – as mentioned earlier, if your account is linked to a Facebook shop you can tag your products in Stories.