Making Better Instagram Stories

The verdict is in: Instagram Stories is here to stay. 300 million people actively use Instagram Stories everyday (take that, Snapchat). And since the addition of Instagram Stories, users under 25 are spending upwards of 32 minutes a day on Instagram – and people say we don’t have hobbies.

Instagram Stories is a great way to share more content and engage more with your audience. Especially with the recent Instagram algorithm shift (just let the players play, Instagram), it’s more difficult to reach your target audience – only about 10 percent of your followers actually see your posts. The algorithm pushes down posts with low engagement, and rewards posts with lots of engagement so more people will see it. In theory, this is to give users a more intuitive experience – they are supposed to be more likely to see something they’re interested in, from an account they care about. But in practice, it drops your reach and impressions like nobody’s business. Instagram Stories helps combat this – your followers will see your story at the top of their feed, keeping your brand top-of-mind. The algorithm also takes engagement with your Instagram Stories  into account – ultimately rewarding you with a higher-up slot on the feed if your Story gets views.

After all that, what we’re trying to say is that Instagram Stories is important. With that in mind, here are some tips for making the most of the new(ish) medium.


Stay on Brand

Your Instagram Stories feed isn’t just a throwaway place for pictures that are ok, but not good enough for your feed. Everything you post – yes, everything – contributes to your audience’s understanding of your brand. So while a more behind-the-scenes approach can really excel on Stories, posting a video of one of your co-workers sleeping at their desk probably isn’t the best choice. Showing client work, new products you have in store, or a company lunch, for example, helps your audience connect with your brand on a more personal level. It’s like watching a DVD (remember those?) with the commentary on – you learn more about the people behind the movie and by the end, you feel like you’re best friends with Tom Hanks.


Tell a Story

It’s called Instagram Stories for a reason. Make sure you have a beginning, middle, and end, as well as a purpose to your Story. Each post should add value or context. Have a new blog post out? Use your Story to drive people to your blog by including a call to action. Are you on location? Give your followers a behind-the-scenes shot. And if you’re feeling really bold, try your hand at Instagram Live.


Use Location and Hashtag Stickers

Just like with regular posts, you can include geotags and hashtags to increase your discoverability in Instagram Stories. Obviously, don’t go overboard – the inclusion of location and hashtag stickers shouldn’t be at the cost of good design. You can also change the colour of a sticker by tapping it – the default sticker has a white background and bold purple text, but you can change it to a more subtle transparent gray background with white text.


Make it Look Good

Pay attention to detail – your Instagram Story is a little piece of art. Make sure the colours match and are consistent with your branding, don’t block important details with your text or stickers, and pay attention to the balance and composition – basic elements of design matter. Even though your story will only be available for 24 hours (unless you save it as a highlight), lots of people will see it.

Take advantage of the new fonts Instagram added (there’s FIVE!), play around with the colour of the text to make it stand out, use the custom colour selector feature, add stickers and GIFs! Instagram users expect you to use the new features to improve the quality of your Story, so make something exciting and engaging. Bonus: Instagram lets you pull from your camera roll to post in your Story, so you can create Stories ahead of time –  which means you really have no excuse for an ugly layout or illegible text.


Need some inspiration? Here are some accounts crushing the Instagram Stories game.

Air BnB


Thom Bargen

Coal and Canary

Margot and Maude