No longer the “new kid on the block,” Instagram Stories represent an opportunity for every brand to connect in additional ways with its target audience.
Launched in 2016, Instagram Stories allow you to multiple images and/or videos in a vertical format, where you can layer on various doodles, text and/or interactive stickers. They last 24 hours before disappearing, but they can be pinned to your Instagram profile in Highlight groupings and last longer.
(If this sounds very similar to Snapchat Stories, which were launched in 2013, then you’re right.)
Incorporating Stories into your Instagram publishing strategy helps you reach your audience in two different places in the app, both in the Stories section and the traditional feed section.
Check out our 16 overall Instagram marketing tips that you can try right away. Plus, see the 14 biggest mistakes companies make on Instagram (and how to avoid them).
The following are nine tips to help you create engaging Instagram Stories that best reflect your company’s brand.
Create an Instagram Story-specific style guide
Style guides are a great tool for branding consistency. (See our nine expert tips for starting a new brand from scratch.)
They can include your font choices, preferred filters, branded colors, GIF types and so on.
While your style guide can be in any format, the key is that it can be easily shared among your team members. Your brand can then appear the same regardless of who is creating your Story content.
With so many content options to explore within Instagram Stories, a great way to get started involves trying storyboards.
This helps you fully plan out your Story before diving into the design.
And planning is everything.
Storyboards can be as simple as sketching out your ideas slide by slide.
- What multimedia do you want to use?
- How will you string your slides together to create a visual narrative?
- What call-to-action do you want to promote? How?
- Any key brand colors to include?
What you decide in advance will make your creation process more efficient and more effective.
Stay within the lines
Instagram Stories are displayed with usernames and ways to interact with the Story along the top and bottom of the screen. So, you definitely don’t want to design your Story in such a way that your content gets covered up by buttons and other features.
Fortunately, Instagram offers grid lines as a guideline to stay within. Think lines of a coloring book. You’ll want to stay within them.
While you’ll see these grid lines appear as necessary when designing within the Instagram app, keep the following spacing in mind if you’re designing outside of the app:
- Instagram Story dimensions are 1080 pixels by 1920 pixels.
- But, ideally, you’ll want to center your design elements within 1080 pixels by 1420 pixels.
- In other words, leave 250 pixels of space at the top and bottom of your Instagram Story design.
Mix up your multimedia
You have almost endless options when it comes to the types of multimedia you can use in your Stories. Don’t get stuck in a rut.
In fact, even a string of slides together can mix things up throughout your visual narration to help keep the viewer engaged.
- Photography, whether or original or stock images
- Boomerangs, which are looped video clips
Always be open to experimentation for the benefit of better connecting with your target audience. (Not sure who your target audience is? See our seven tips.)
Take advantage of stickers
Whether you’re looking to add humor or simply a touch of fun engagement, Instagram’s stickers are a great place to start on your Stories.
They range in functions, including frivolous angles, but some of the most useful include:
- Account tags
- Location tags
You also can create your own stickers and GIFs for users to add to their own Stories. You can do so by becoming a verified brand on Giphy.
Earn access to the ‘Swipe Up’ feature
It takes about 10,000 followers to earn the coveted “Swipe Up” feature, where viewers can access a link from within your Story simply by swiping up.
Until you get this feature, you must direct viewers to navigate to your bio to click a link. But once you can direct website traffic through Instagram Stories, you can level up your call-to-action by designing entirely around the idea of swiping up to take a particular action.
It’s a powerful feature once you can access it.
Create branded highlight covers
While Instagram Stories typically last for only 24 hours, you can add them to the highlights section at the top of your Instagram profile to save them beyond the 24 hours.
There is no limit to the number of highlights you can create, but users will only see the most recently updated five on your profile without having to scroll.
Once you begin using highlights, you can create and use cover images. You can design these to reflect your brand presence on Instagram.
Explore tools to create your best Instagram Stories
You don’t have to be a graphic designer or an Instagram native app designing expert to create engaging visuals for your Stories.
There are a number of templates that you can start with, but more importantly, we recommend checking out any of these 11 free graphic design tools for the non-designer.
Monitor your performance
Just like with any digital marketing tactic (especially on social media), you’ll want to keep an eye on the analytics behind your Instagram Stories.
That’s easy enough to do within Instagram Insights. The key is to know when to pivot your strategy.
You also can dive deeper into the opportunities and challenges of Instagram for small businesses. and our six tips to master Instagram hashtags.