Using Instagram Stories For Your Business: The Basics

From everyday Instagram users to celebrities and influencers, Instagram Stories has 500 million daily active users. This feature allows users to share photos and videos with followers in a vertical, full-screen format. Because IG stories only stay live for 24 hours, they are often used as a way to post authentic and in-the-moment content that is less polished than what would be featured on the main feed. 

But stories aren’t just for personal use, or keeping up with your favourite influencers: 80% of accounts follow a business on Instagram, and one-third of the most viewed Instagram Stories are from businesses.

The Background

Facebook introduced stories for Instagram in August 2016 and rolled them out to stories rolled out to Facebook, Messenger, and Whatsapp in 2017. All Facebook-owned platforms with a Stories format have over half a billion daily active users each.

Should My Business Use Stories?

Here are a few reasons why your business should consider using Stories:

  • 59% of millennials and 70% of Gen Z users watch Instagram Stories.
  • 1 in 5 organic stories gets a direct message.
  • 1 in 4 Millennials and Gen Z-ers look for Stories of the products and services they want to buy.
  • With reply options, polls, and chats, there are plenty of ways for your story’s viewers to interact with you.

The Basics – Commonly Asked Questions About Stories

What dimensions does my IG story need to have?

Your story should have a ratio of 9:16.

  • Both your photos and videos should be at least 1080 pixels wide by 1920 pixels high if you would like them to take up the whole screen. 

Smaller photos and videos can be added, but Instagram will add a background of matching colour, and your image will not take up the whole screen.

Instagram notes that by keeping the vertical format in mind during photo shoots, you can make sure that your stories look amazing.

Our Tip: When shooting photos on a phone for later, take the photo directly in the Instagram camera, download it for later, and exit Snapchat without posting it. This will save the post to your camera roll. 

How long will my story remain visible? 

Your story will remain visible for 24 hours; however, you can delete it sooner if you choose to.  

Note: If you have your Instagram and Facebook stories synced, and you delete the post from one, it will not automatically delete from the other.

How many story posts should I create?

  • Quality is more important than quantity. One to seven stories is the optimal posting length, however, top brands can often post more
  • Creating highly-produced custom video is likely more time consuming than sharing an in-the-moment video or boomerang, so keep this in mind when creating and planning your stories.  

Tip: To ensure your story always has content posted to it, you can add new content at the same time each day, or you can stagger your stories by approximately 10 hours. This overlap can ensure that there is always fresh content on your feed. 

What kind of content should I use in my story?

Photos are a quick way to add items into your story. However, the videos are more engaging by a significant margin. 

How Can I Enhance My Story?

There are many features to help you increase your engagement and views.

Video Options

When you open your story, in the tray along the bottom you can choose between several options.

  • Live allows you to share a video in real-time. Your followers will be notified when you go live, so they don’t miss out on any of the action. 
  • Create allows you to choose from popular sticker options such as polls.
  • Boomerang stitches photos together to create a video that plays forward and backward.
  • Superzoom zooms in, and offers a range of themed sounds and visual effects. 
  • Hands-Free mode simply means that you don’t need to hold down the record button while filming a video: simply tap to start and tap again to stop. 

Gifs and Stickers

Typing a keyword in the search field at the top can easily bring up static stickers, emojis, and gifs related to that keyword. 

Basic Draw Tools 

Tapping the pen in the upper right corner of the screen will bring up drawing, highlighting, and eraser tools. 

Location 

Tag where your story is happening. Your Story will also show up in that location’s Story, and can be viewed by people watching stories for that location. 

Mention

Mention another Instagram user using the mention sticker. You can mention up to 10 accounts. This can be useful for boldy announcing partnerships or tagging someone else, but you can subtly include mentions by matching the colour of the text to your background.  

Hashtag

This allows you to tag your post with a hashtag. While you can only use one hashtag sticker, you can use up to a total of 10 hashtags in your story post, meaning up to 9 -10 in your text. Similar to mentions, you can match them to the colour of your background to keep your hashtags subtle.

Time

Add the time to your post. This sticker will add the time the photo was taken, so be aware of this if you’re posting an image that was taken some time ago. 

Poll

Ask your audience to choose between two options.

Questions

Ask your audience a question.

Countdown 

Countdown to an event. Once you activate a countdown, it will be saved and next time you tap the “countdown sticker”, it will show up there until it runs out. This can be handy if you are creating a countdown multiple days ahead of an event.

Meter 

How much does your audience love something? You can also add other emojis

Quiz

Set up a quiz (with a correct answer) to test your audience. Unlike a poll, you set the correct answer of the poll in advance. 

Chat

Adding a chat sticker allows your viewers to tap it and be invited to a chat.

Additional Features 

Swipe-up 

When an account has over 10k followers, users can swipe up to be directed to an outbound link. Story ads, which we’ll cover in more depth in a later post, can also contain a swipe-up link, even if the account doesn’t meet the 10k follower threshold.

Filters 

When taking a photo, you can swipe along the bottom tray to use filters. While you may not find all of them appropriate for your business, there are typically also seasonal and subtle filters that can enhance your story. 

You can also swipe left on the image itself, which will allow you to cycle through further options. 

You can save Instagram’s filters, as well as filters created by other IG users. If you want to take things to the next level, you can work with a creator or designer to create a custom AR filter for your business.  

Which apps can help me create more appealing stories? 

Adobe Spark Post

This app lets you create story-sized images or collages. This app comes with preset colour palettes, as well as the option to animate either the text or an image. The paid version provides more options, such as adding your company’s logo as a watermark.

Mojo 

If you ask us, Mojo offers more robust animation options than Adobe Spark. It comes with a variety of photo/video templates, along with plenty of animated text options which can be edited independently of one another, as well as timed. While many of the more advanced options require a premium subscription, free users still get plenty of valuable options. 

StoryLuxe 

StoryLuxe offers a range of photo themes and templates–it’s perfect for anyone looking to create a trendy-looking story. 

Putting It Together

Now that you’re familiar with all of the basic aspects of an Instagram Stories, you’re ready to go ahead and create your first story.

Got a question about levelling up your Instagram story or engaging with your followers on Social? Don’t hesitate to give us a shout on Facebook or email maria@advoz.com. 


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