In this article, we explore what Instagram stories are, how they can be leveraged to further your brand, and the steps involved in making a story that will resonate with your customers. You will also learn:
- How to add a text shadow
- How to use design elements to make your stories pop
- How to use question and poll stickers
When Snapchat came out in 2013, users were delighted to post pictures and content on their “Snapchat Story”, a feed which shows a picture for 24 hours and then disappears. Three years later, Instagram made a smart business move by adding “Instagram stories” to their app.
While other social media apps like Facebook (which owns Instagram) and Twitter have also added stories to their feeds, there is something unique and interesting about Instagram and the creativity one can apply to their stories. Applying Instagram stories to your marketing strategy is an effective and fun way to reach new users.
What are Instagram Stories?
Instagram stories let accounts post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours. When you post a story to your profile, your followers will see your stories at the top of their feed when they log into Instagram, alongside the stories of anyone else they follow. A red/pink ring around a profile indicates a new story that can be viewed.
Since its launch in August of 2016, Instagram stories have proven incredibly popular, with more that 500 million active accounts using the function daily. One study by EmbededSocial stated that 1/3 of the most viewed Instagram stories were from businesses.
Why are Instagram Stories important for your brand?
Instagram stories are effective for many reasons, but a big one is their location within the app. Stories are located right at the top of the screen when someone signs into Instagram, making them the first thing that they see.
Many users start their day by cycling through the stories of the accounts that they follow, before they ever begin to scroll through the rest of their feed. If you’re running stories, this gives you the chance to get in front of your followers’ eyeballs before the rest of the noise they encounter in the app.
Download our free Social Media Checklist for a list of other questions you should be asking yourself every time you post!
In addition to this, Instagram stories are perfect for your marketing strategy because they offer multiple unique ways of engaging and interacting with your followers. For example, you might use stories to:
- Run a poll or ask questions as a means of market testing before launching a new product or service
- Promote a sale that you want to make sure is seen by all of your followers
- Highlight your location or members of your team to make your brand feel more humanized and trustworthy
The list goes on.
If you’ve ever thought about experimenting with Instagram stories to help boost your reach and engagement, now is the perfect time.
How to Create Unique Instagram Stories
Creating an Instagram story is easy by design. All you need to do is:
- Go to your home feed page and swipe left. The camera will pop up and you will see a list of Instagram filters at the bottom and a list of design layouts on the left hand side.
- Take a photo or video to be featured in your story.
- Once you’ve taken your photo or video, you can add text, filters and drawings to your content.
- Click “Send To” at the bottom of the right hand side and then click the blue “Share” button and your content will be shared on your story.
Instagram Story Tips
1. Stay within the lines.
Like all design basics, staying within the lines is important for your Instagram story.
When creating an Instagram story, you will notice a faint blue line on top, bottom, left and right sides of the screen. Instagram has created auto lines to help users stay within the lines. If you look at the image to the left, you will see an example of the blue outside lines and the blue cross focal center point.
Staying within the lines aids your Instagram story visually. It also helps make sure that none of your texts or graphics is going beyond a point where users won’t see.
2. Add a text shadow.
If your story will include text of some kind, consider adding a text shadow to add a bit more personality to your post and help the text stand out from the background image.
First type out your text. This will be the top portion of your text. Then, type out your text a second time, in a different color and a slightly larger size. This will be the shadow. Finally, drag the smaller version of the text on top of the larger version in order to create the shadow illusion.
The sunset post below is a great example.
You will also notice an eyedropper icon when you text a caption on your Instagram story. This tool is useful if you are trying to match colors to your text from the photo used in the story.
3. Incorporate photography.
While it’s good to create your own graphics for your Instagram story, using photos of your own products or services is also an excellent way of sparking interest amongst your customers. A compelling photo can often help you sell more than a graphic ever will.
For example, this Instagram story is displaying jewelry from a local business. By suggesting to visit their bio for more information, the account is creating a call-to-action for users to click the link.
4. Take Boomerangs.
A boomerang is a quick 1 to 2 second clip that loops. It’s a fun way to create content and add personality to your Instagram story.
To create a boomerang, open the camera for your Instagram story. On the left hand side, you will see an infinity symbol, that is the boomerang option. All you have to do is tap the infinity button at the bottom of the page and it will start filming. Move your camera slightly to capture and create the perfect loop.
5. Create your own design elements.
This one of the most creative marketing strategies you can take to boost your Instagram stories.
Instagram has five different type fonts. They are Typewriter, Classic, Strong, Neon, and Modern. Because each font is different, you can get creative using them to create different symbols and design elements.
For example, by using the Modern font and typing the vowel I, you can create custom bar graphics. For a more rounded bar, use the Typewriter font and type the letter I. Using the font Modern, you can create asterisks that can look like snowflakes, flowers, stars, etc. Typing a period mark in the Typewriter font creates the perfect circle, which can then become a component in a different image.
6. Use stickers and GIFS.
Stickers and GIFS are creative ways to make your Instagram stories pop! By tapping on the square smiley-face icon you can search a wide variety of stickers and GIFS.
For example, look at this glass of wine pictured at a vineyard. Adding a sticker saying “Cheers” and some white squiggles makes the post stand out more and add dimension to the content.
7. Create polls and ask questions.
Instagram stories offer a poll sticker for users. It’s quite simple: Ask your followers a question and they can choose between two choices. Polls are a great way to engage with your audience and build your brand. Refer to our cake Instagram story example!
Another great way to engage with your followers is to use Instagram’s question sticker. This allows you to pose a question to your followers and they can answer with whatever they want. You can then share their answers on your Instagram story. This is great for building engagement and having fun with your followers. With the question sticker, there are multiple options to get creative with your followers. You can ask for new ideas, requests or quiz your followers. Look at how this restaurant is asking their followers what their favorite item on their menu is. This is a great way to respond to the audience’s answers with pictures of their food.
Making Your Brand Creative
The world is a competitive place and businesses have to do all that they can to stand out from the crowd. Creating unique visuals and leveraging them in both your Instagram posts, stories, and paid ads is a sure-fire way to attract new customers and maintain brand loyalty.
Downloading our free Social Media Checklist can help your marketing strategy or reach out to one of our consultants for more information.