Are you wondering how to use Instagram Stories effectively? Maybe you’re ready to level up your brand’s Stories. Or perhaps you’re making your first Story for a new social media client.
Whatever your reason, you need to know how to create engaging Stories, so you can use this type of content to your advantage.
That’s why we compiled everything you need to know about Instagram Stories into one complete guide.
Learn the basics of Stories, find out how to make them, and discover best practices that could improve your workflow and your social media metrics.
How Do Instagram Stories Work?
Instagram Stories are ephemeral content, meaning they exist for a limited period of time only. How long does an Instagram Story last exactly? Stories disappear from public view after 24 hours, but you can always find the ones you’ve published in your private Story Archive.
An Instagram Story can include anywhere from one to 100 frames. Instagram automatically shows every frame in chronological order a bit like a slide show, displaying them for a few seconds each. Users can also navigate manually by tapping to move on to the next frame or by swiping to advance to the next Story.
Unlike photo and video posts, Stories don’t appear in your account’s grid or on your followers’ timelines. Instead, Stories get their own feed at the top of the app. You can tap any of the profiles in this feed to view and engage with their Stories.
Users can also access your Story directly by navigating to your profile and tapping your icon in the upper left corner. A pink and orange ring around an account’s icon indicates that it has an active Story to view.
In some cases, Stories can also appear in Instagram’s Explore tab. This placement can help users discover and engage with your account, even if they don’t follow it (yet).
5 Types of Instagram Stories
Because Instagram Stories support so many different types of content, they allow for a ton of creativity. You can enhance each of these Story types with stickers and GIFs to make them more eye-catching and interactive.
Do you want to share big news or a special message? You can use the text tool to announce it in your Story. Just make sure your text is short enough for people to read quickly or compelling enough for them to pause, as Instagram automatically flips to the next frame or Story after a few seconds. (Pssst, these writing tips can help you create more captivating social captions.)
Would you rather show than tell? You can upload photos to create image-based Stories. If you use Instagram’s built-in layout tool, you can add up to six images to a single Story frame—allowing you to add a grid format to your content.
If still images aren’t dynamic enough, consider making a video-based Story instead. You can upload prerecorded content or film a new video in the moment. Each Story frame can include up to 15 seconds of video. If yours is longer, the app automatically breaks it down into multiple frame of up to 15 seconds.
4. Shared content
You don’t always have to create original content for a Story. Instead, you can easily share content from your own or other accounts.
To share Instagram content to Stories, open a post or Reel and click the paper airplane icon. then tap the Add to your story link.
Sharing content from other accounts’ Stories is a little trickier, but it’s still possible. If another Instagram account tags you in their Story, you’ll see a white Add to your story button at the bottom, allowing you to share.
To reach a larger audience and connect with your target audience at scale, you can create a sponsored Story that appears between organic Stories. Select this placement at the ad set level in Facebook Ads to run a paid Story.
Why You Should Use Instagram Stories
Now you know what Instagram Stories are and how they can look. But why are they so important and how can benefit your business?
Here are just a few of the reasons to use Instagram Stories.
Create authentic content
Authenticity is increasingly important to every brand’s social media followers. In fact, 90% of consumers consider authenticity critical when choosing which brands to support—which means it matters to your target audience.
Consumers overwhelmingly believe that branded content—like the sleek photoshoots you share in your Instagram feed—doesn’t look particularly genuine. But Stories have the opposite effect.
Because of Instagram Stories’ temporary nature and unfiltered look, they appear more authentic.
Studies have shown that about 40% of users became more interested in a brand or product after learning about it in a Story.
The temporary nature of Instagram Stories can be a good thing for many brands. Users know that they have a limited amount of time to view Stories. That can lead to fear of missing out (FOMO), which can encourage followers to view Stories before they’re gone.
Although you don’t have to leverage the temporary nature of Stories, you certainly can. Consider publishing content you know your followers will want to see—such as an exclusive sale—in Stories to amplify the sense of urgency.
When you post photos, videos, or Reels on Instagram, you can expect to get likes and comments. If you’re lucky, you might entice people to save your post or tap your bio to visit a link outside of Instagram. But there aren’t really any other options for engagement.
With Stories, you can use interactive stickers to generate completely different types of engagement. You can ask questions, host quizzes, and even include links that users can click to learn more or shop your e-commerce store.
If your Stories appear in the Explore tab, your content could achieve exponentially higher reach and drive discovery among new customers. But even if they don’t make it to the Explore tab, your Stories can still improve visibility.
By appearing in the Stories feed, this type of content gets a prominent placement in every follower’s Instagram app. That means Stories give you an added opportunity to keep your brand on followers’ radar.
How to Storyboard Instagram Stories Efficiently
Instagram Stories offer tons of options, from the variety of content types to the multiple frame capabilities. That means deciding how to create Stories and choosing all the elements to add can take what seems like forever.
So how can you save time on storyboarding yet still create engaging Stories? Use these tips to plan and create Stories more efficiently.
1. Plan ahead
No matter how many social media accounts you manage, planning ahead allows you to batch tasks and execute more smoothly. So for Stories, plan in advance just as you would with static content like photos, videos, and links.
Look ahead to your brand’s marketing calendar for the next month or quarter and identify opportunities to create engaging Stories. For example, you may want to produce Stories to highlight holidays, events, sales, or launches.
Consider creating Stories that complement other social media content you’ve already share. For example, you may want to plan a Story that feature some great user-generated content (UGC) that you intend to share.
2. Divide the narrative into parts
Next, think about how to get your message across effectively. Is one frame enough, or do you need a series of frames to convey your message? Remember that if you plan to share more than 15 seconds of video, you’ll need more than one frame.
To create multi-frame Instagram Stories, identify the natural break points. For a Q&A, you might create a separate frame for each question and answer pair. To highlight your product line, you might design a different frame for every product.
For each frame, think about how you can maximize engagement. For example, you may want to add a different interactive sticker to every frame so you can ask questions, gauge opinions, and encourage users to keep tapping through your Stories.
3. Use a design app
Some types of Instagram Stories require you to create content in the moment. For example, if you plan to film video footage of an event and share it to Stories right away, you’ll have to wait for the event to happen before you can create.
But you can create other Story content in advance. Whether or not you have a dedicated design team, you can use apps like Canva to ensure your Stories look great. With Canva, you can create reusable templates, multi-frame Stories, and one-off designs.
All you need to access these layout tools is a free Canva account. If you also have an Agorapulse account, you can link the two to streamline Story design and planning. From Agorapulse, you can click to access preexisting Canva designs or create new ones.
How to Make an Instagram Story
To create a Story, you can use the Instagram app, the Facebook Business Suite app, or Agorapulse’s desktop app.
Let’s look at the workflow and advantages of all three.
Publish a Story with the Instagram app
If you want to publish a Story in the moment and you don’t mind using a mobile device, stick with the Instagram app.
- Open the Instagram app, click the plus icon in the upper right, and select Story.
- Create new content or upload a photo or video that’s already in your gallery.
- Add stickers, GIFs, or text to your Story.
- Share the content to your Story to publish it immediately.
Schedule a Story with the Facebook Business Suite app
If you’d prefer to schedule content in advance, use the Business Suite app instead. Here’s how:
- Open the Business Suite app and select your Instagram account.
- Click the blue plus icon at the bottom of the screen, and tap Story.
- Choose photos and videos to add or tap the camera icon in the upper right to film something new. Note that you can’t create text-only Stories with this app.
- Add your choice of decorative and interactive elements to your Story.
- Publish right away or choose a time to schedule your Story. Note that you have the option to publish your Story on Facebook simultaneously.
Plan a Story with the desktop version of Agorapulse
Do you want to plan Stories with a desktop app instead? Although Agorapulse doesn’t support Story scheduling at this time, you can design and plan content with the app and receive a notification when it’s time to publish.
- Create the image or video you want to share to Stories, following the recommended dimensions for Instagram Stories (1920 x 1080 pixels).
- Open the Agorapulse desktop app and navigate to the publishing calendar for your Instagram account.
- Upload the content you created or find it in your Agorapulse library. Alternatively, you can design with Canva directly, thanks to its integration with Agorapulse.
- Toggle the Send to mobile switch and choose the team member who should receive a notification to publish the Story. Choose a day and time to complete the scheduling workflow and get the Story on your calendar.
- Tap the Agorapulse notification on your mobile device and share it as a Story. The Agorapulse app automatically directs you to Instagram, where you can add stickers and GIFs before publishing to your profile.
How to Check Instagram Story Analytics
With Agorapulse, it’s easy to review Story analytics.
Open the Reports portal and select your Instagram profile. Then click on the Stories tab to see an overview of key social metrics as well as stats for top content during the time period you selected.
If you add interactive stickers to your Stories, open the Instagram app to check specifics. Navigate to your profile and tap the Insights button. Tap any Story and swipe up to see the results from your poll or quiz or to see how many people followed your profile.
Best Practices for Instagram Stories
Are your Instagram Stories failing to meet the goals you set? Use these Instagram Stories tips to improve your results and increase your return on investment (ROI).
Use interactive stickers
Stories have interactive capabilities that standard posts don’t—and you’ll find most of this functionality in the sticker tray. Here are a few options that you can add to your Stories, either on their own or alongside other stickers:
- Hashtag stickers add up to 10 hashtags to improve discovery.
- Mention stickers tag other accounts, such as the creator of the UGC you feature.
- Location stickers tag a location so your audience can follow along.
- Link stickers add a clickable URL that your audience can visit—even if your account never qualified for swipe-up links.
- Poll and quiz stickers request your followers’ opinions.
- Add Yours stickers encourage followers to contribute a photo.
Create Story highlights
You don’t necessarily have to let your Stories disappear from view after 24 hours. Instead, you can add them to highlight albums that appear on your profile until you delete them.
To create an album, go to your profile and tap the plus icon under Story Highlights. Your Story Archive automatically loads, allowing you to add all the highlights you want. Alternatively, you can tap the heart icon in the lower right corner of any active or archived Story to add it directly to a highlight.
Once you create a highlight, you can give it a name and upload an icon. You can go back and remove or add Story frames to your highlights at any time.
Test out content types
Like any type of social media content, Stories work best when they don’t fall into a rut. Creating templates or having go-to layouts is a great idea for saving time and giving your content a distinct look. But don’t let efficiency cause your Stories to look the same.
Instead of posting photo Stories every time, experiment with creating videos or sharing other accounts’ content. Test out various designs, GIFs, and stickers to see what works best to increase reach and improve engagement.
Although Stories can give your social media metrics a major boost, it’s important not to take them too seriously. Remember that the genuine, unfiltered appearance of Stories is what tends to draw people to them in the first place.
Rather than trying to create a perfectly produced video, embrace the nature of the feature and focus on using the available elements effectively.
Then review your Stories analytics regularly and do more of what works best for your account.
No matter your social media goals, there’s a good chance that Instagram Stories can help you achieve them. With their authentic appeal and enhanced engagement options, this type of content has the potential to do anything from driving discovery to increasing sales.
With this guide to Instagram Stories, you can create an efficient workflow and start getting more from your brand’s or clients’ content.