March 13, 2018

The Dos and Don’ts of Instagram Stories

Jenn Burgess

We’ve slowly seen the masses migrating from Snapchat to Instagram Stories—proving to be a more successful business tool with an arguably better user experience. As of November 2017, Instagram Stories had reached 300 million daily active users, with users under the age of 25 spending more than 32 minutes per day on Instagram. To better capture attention on the platform and stay up-to-date with the new features arriving seemingly every few months, take a look at our Instagram Stories best practices.

Do: Take advantage of all features

While you shouldn’t necessarily use all features at the same time, make sure to review everything that’s at your fingertips and identify which tools will best help you communicate your message.

  • Filters: Filters have become native to the way we edit photos. Instagram released a new set of filters specifically for Stories, but the great thing about Stories is the ability to upload directly from your camera roll. Of course, we highly recommend that you first pre-edit your photos using any other app (or Photoshop).
  • Text: The text tool has a new set of fonts that can help you curate a certain aesthetic. Steer clear of the “neon cursive” for long sentences and only use “strong” for one or two words—everything else is fair game.
  • Pen tool: Did you know that after selecting the pen tool and then pressing down on the screen, the entire image will fill with that color? Well, now you do! The pen tool also adds an easy way to create arrows or flourishes to images not made available with type, GIFs, or stickers.
  • Location: Want users to see exactly where you are? Use the Location sticker to link your story to that specific place as a way to provide context and increase visibility.
  • Polls: A great way to generate engagement on your Stories is through polls. Using the “this vs. that” format, polls provide a simple way to pose a question to your audience and gauge sentiment.
  • Stickers: Stickers are a great way to add some extra personality to your content.

Do: Save important stories for later

The Story Highlight feature comes at a perfect time for Instagram content that users want to last for more than 24 hours, but doesn’t feel appropriate for their profile feed. Since all Instagram Stories now archive automatically, you can add old Stories to highlights at any time. This is a huge opportunity for brands to share on-going sales, promotions, or giveaways that might have a runtime longer than a single day.

Extra Tip: You can even add cover imagery to your highlight post that will be the first frame users see when they click the view. Bloggers across the platform having been using this as an opportunity to further define what their personal brand looks like on social through iconography or stylized text.

Do: End with a CTA

Looking to drive website traffic? Prompt users to swipe up! Asking an opinion? Use the poll feature. Want users to check out similar posts or another profile? Use linkable hashtags or the “@” feature.

Just like any other ad, Instagram Stories can (and in the case of your brand, should) end in a specific call to action. This is a huge opportunity to prompt engaged users to continue to interact with your brand.

Don’t: Repost your Snapchat content

On social, creating content specifically for each channel is important. Repurposing video content in a format more native to Instagram, like Boomerangs, is a great way to make it feel unique and fresh.

Extra Tip: After capturing a video on Snapchat, save it to your camera roll immediately. After you style it and post to that platform, open it and style it differently in Instagram. This simple change will make the content feel more organic and have more “stopping power.”

Don’t: Put text too close to the edges

This is one of the more common missteps we’ve seen since Instagram released its poll feature. Polls too close to either the left or right edge are difficult to engage with since users already use those areas to tap back and forth between stories. An easy trick is to keep everything you want someone to read in a central location. Keep it a decent size and don’t use colors that are illegible over the photo or video.

Don’t: Overdo it

Unless a Lisa Frank collage from the 90’s is on brand for you, stay away from cluttering the screen with GIFs, hashtags, polls, or copy. Less is more. If you have a lot to convey, use multiple frames to help paint the picture. Breaking up text sentence by sentence is an easy way to make the content more digestible.

Want to learn more about how to optimize your content strategy? Get in touch.

Tags: Best Practices, Instagram, Strategy

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