The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Instagram Stories

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When Instagram Stories first came to the app in August of 2016, everybody thought it was just a lame attempt at copying Snapchat. Only two years later, Stories have become a key feature of Instagram, and they’re used both by businesses and regular people to simply tell a story.

Instagram stories are very popular and vital to the app, and if we analyze them closely, we can see exactly why. Compared to other methods of interaction, Instagram Stories are more engaging and entertaining for followers.  The reason they’re so special is their ability to tell a story in the very moment, right as it’s happening. Combine that with a few other important features like stickers & tags, and you get an awesome mechanism that draws users in.

When mastered, Instagram stories can be used to build a better brand identity, drive business sales and overall attract new followers to your page. All of these benefits are important to both businesses and Instagram influencers who are looking to use Instagram to its fullest marketing potential.

Why Should Brands Use Instagram Stories?

 

Instagram Stories - Upfluence

When Instagram first introduced Stories, nobody, including businesses, took them seriously. It was written off as a lame attempt to copy Snapchat. But Instagram kept improving on the feedback and soon enough they created a better feature that can be used for multiple reasons. Because of this brands and businesses started to pay attention.

The unique features of Instagram Stories allow brands to tell a compelling story and connect with their audience on a more intimate level. One of the core marketing principles is exactly that – tell a story and connect with your audience. Stories are “in the moment” and they last only 24 hours, but that’s what makes them special. They create a sense of urgency which is exactly what helps products and services to sell better. Instagram stories influencer marketing campaigns provide a great way to compel the audience to take action, which is what brands and businesses want in the first place.

Despite all of its marketing benefits, Instagram Stories can also be used to simply stay in touch and entertain your followers. In the end, nobody likes being pushed to do something. That’s why Stories can also be used in a more lighthearted manner, to entertain the followers with humor, banter, anecdotes and connect with them on a human level. They tell the story of today, which adds up to the overall content of the page in a unique fashion.

Having a 24-hour viewing period also has its benefits, because you only have so much time to work with. This drives brands to use their creativity to come up with interesting ideas that work in such a limited time frame. Not to mention from time to time we all end up removing some of our old content anyways. With Stories, we can completely avoid this uncomfortable situation.

Although limited to 24 hours, Instagram Stories can be highlighted on the profile and brands can use this feature to tell a unique story that’s always available and highlighted on their profile. You can also stick promotional stories, one-time offers and top performing content to make it available at all times on your Instagram profile page.

Now that we’ve covered all the benefits, let’s get straight into some practical advice for brands and businesses.

How to Create and Edit Your Story

Influencer Stories - Upfluence

Everything you need to create a compelling story can be found inside of your Instagram app. There’s a lot of cool features that you can use to make sure your story is as good as it can be. However, you can still use an external Instagram management tool, such as Canva, to help you design better stories for your brand.

If you didn’t already know, you can access Instagram Stories from your app, by clicking on the Camera button in the top left corner, which will then lead you to the Instagram-specific camera app. Here, you will have the option to take a live photo by clicking the big circle in the middle, video by holding it, or you can simply swipe up and choose a photo from your image gallery that already exists on your device.

Additionally, Instagram gives you 8 different options to take a Story photo:

  • Normal – this is the standard option without any special features
  • Live –  the famous live-streaming option of Instagram, where you can host a stream in real time with comment section available to your viewers.
  • Type – allows you to post a story that contains only text.
  • Boomerang – serves as a GIF option, it records a 3-second video that loops
  • Superzoom – cool feature with different unique options, it zooms in on the target creating funny visual and sound effects
  • Rewind – a video that plays in reverse
  • Focus – allows you to focus on a specific face, blurring out the background
  • Hands-Free – lets you take a video without having to hold the circle button

Adding Filters

Prior to taking your photo, Instagram also gives you the option to choose and add different kinds of filters to your app. These are the popular “puppy ears”, “crowns” and other kinds of interactive filters that are applied to the focused face. They are fairly entertaining to the followers, so use them to do exactly that – entertain.

Once you have taken the desired photo, you can go ahead and edit it using the features within the app.

Editing Your Story

Now that you’ve pressed the big circle button to take your photo, or if you simply used one from your own gallery, you will be presented with a new interface that allows you to edit your Instagram story.

Instagram gives you 3 options here:

  • Stickers
  • Drawing
  • Text

You may combine all three of those for your story, even if you previously used other features like Superzoom or filters, which we will cover later. These options allow you to add that extra flavor to your story, so we’re going to explore all of them individually.

Stickers

Stickers are probably the most unique feature of Instagram stories, with different options to choose from. You can choose more than one sticker for your story. To add a sticker, simply click on the square smiley icon in the top right and you will have access to all of them. Once you pick your desired sticker, you will have the option to move it and change its size per your liking.

There are many types of stickers, such as geolocation tags, polls, questions, mentions, swipe metrics and other fun stuff like emojis and trendy sayings. Brands and businesses can use these interactive stickers to connect with their audience, promote a hashtag, answer their questions and ask for their opinions, which all leads to a positive outcome. Stickers can be used to greatly improve engagement rates.

Instagram keeps coming up with new stickers almost every month, so feel free to explore all of them and especially the new ones that will stand out almost for sure, so take advantage of that opportunity. Instagram’s sticker technology is just straight amazing, to a point where you can even pin a sticker to a moving part in a video. Simply hold the sticker and use it option “Pin” to make it move with the object. This kind of editing would take hours, but Instagram makes it extremely easy. Explore your creativity and experiment with it!

Drawing

Drawing is the second option which can be accessed by clicking on the pen icon in the top right. This allows you to draw lines with your own fingers, which serve as a marker pen. It’s a great feature that allows you to connect in a more human way, like in my case – by drawing terrible stick-figures all over the screen.

You can change the pen types and colors as well. You are also given the option to erase your mistakes which, talking from experience, comes in handy. You can change the colors at the bottom of the screen, and you can swipe right for even more color options. There’s also a button that allows you to pick a specific color from the image to use it with your marker, and it can be found in the bottom left corner.

Holding the desired colors will give you the option to pick a different contrast of that same color – try it out.

Additionally, at the very top, you can have different options to change the marker, add a highlight color to it, or simply erase the color. On the left side, you can swipe up or down to adjust the size of the marker.

Text

Finally, you can also add text to your Instagram story by clicking the “Aa” button in the top right. It brings up the keyboard with different color types options, size options, and various fonts. Simply write some words and edit them so they look perfectly in line with your image.

Instagram gives you these font options:

  • Classic – standard
  • Modern – large letters with a slightly different look
  • Neon – is basically a hand-written font, slightly thinner  in general
  • Typewriter – very small font size, mainly used to express edginess
  • Strong – large, bolded text

You can change the text size by using two fingers to enlarge the text.

You may also use different colors with your text, which works similar to the drawing option. This is a great feature that allows you to use different colors with different backgrounds, as a white text is difficult to see on lighter backgrounds. Much like stickers, you can also pin text to a video and make it move together with the object.

Finally, you can also add a background color to a text, and align it per your liking with options in the top left.

Adding Links to Your Story

Adding links is one of the newest features of Instagram Stories, and it’s very much a welcome one for brands and businesses. In past, brands had to refer to links in their Bio to get users to click, but now they can simply add links to their stories and the audience is automatically redirected to the desired page.

In order to qualify for this feature, your business account has to be either verified or followed by 10,000+ people before you can use it. This feature changed the marketing game for brands and businesses, as it allowed them to include call-to-action buttons which improved conversion rates by a whole lot.

If your page is qualified, you will have the option to add the link after you’ve taken a photo, next to the stickers button. Once you click it, you have to enter the desired link and that’s it – your followers will be able to simply swipe-up and be redirected to your desired link!

When doing this, make sure you write a short call-to-action explaining to your audience what will happen once they click the link – this will make them feel secure and also more likely to follow through.

Tagging

You can also tag other Instagram users on your story by using “@” and writing down their username. This is a great way to mention influencers if you’re working with them on some influencer marketing campaigns.

Instagram Stories Analytics

Instagram Analytics - Upfluence

If you want to get more engagement out of your Instagram Stories, it all comes down to understanding your story analytics. Analyzing your story data will allow you to evaluate your performance, better understand your audience, and finally optimize content for better results. Business accounts can access story analytics by tapping the “Insights” button in the top right of your profile.

Once there, you will be taken to a page where you can explore each one of your feed posts or stories, with a lot of useful data detailed just below. Instagram analytics tools provide you with data such as story views, impressions, interaction and more. If you want to know how to measure Instagram engagement, this is it.

The first part is interaction – how many people have interacted with your story through replies, poll answers, link follows or emoji swipes. You want to have this number as high as possible, as it displays high engagement rate, which is always a good thing.

The second part is discovery – which tells you how many people viewed your story and how many impressions have you received. Impressions are further split into back, forward, next and exited categories which show how your audience reacted to it. As an example, it tells you whether they moved on to the next story or simply exited. Impressions can tell you whether your content is well-received or not, simply by watching the “exited” metric, the less you have, the better.

It is very important to study and experiment with this option, as it can lead you to better results down the line. Many users use social influencer analytics to improve their strategy and grow a large influencer brand.

As an example of this, you should experiment with different call-to-action texts to determine which one gets more swipe-ups from your audience. By analyzing trends like this, you can optimize your content for maximum interaction, which will result in more profit for your brand or business.

Collaborating with Influencers

Upfluence - Instagram Marketing

Many businesses decide to collaborate with influencers when it comes to using this feature for marketing. Influencers can use Instagram Stories to yield great results, especially if your audience is familiar with them. If you’re still unsure of using Instagram as a marketing tool, check out these 20 stats that show just how powerful Instagram is.

How to Find Influencers?

Finding Instagram influencers is not that hard. The search is easy, but it all comes down to choosing the right fit. It’s easy to find a lot of different influencer demographics that you want to work with, but in the end, you have to choose only the best, and that can be a tough decision to make. It will mostly come down to influencer follower demographics, where you want to pick someone who has a similar audience that fits your target market. Once you’ve found an influencer that you’d love to work with, feel free to reach out with your business proposal, and don’t worry or feel uncomfortable – they’re used to it.

If you’re not sure how to properly reach out to Instagram influencers about promoting your brand or business, feel free to check this article out.  

Conclusion

Although it seemed like a futile attempt at copying Snapchat, Instagram Stories slowly but surely turned out to be one of the best features for brands, businesses and influencers to use in order to grow their following. With plenty of different options and a way to use creativity to come up with unique content – Instagram Stories became the best method of interacting with your audience.

There’s a lot of room for individual creativity and exploration, so each brand can create their own unique story campaign that will allow them to stand out in a sea of millions. We put a lot of effort to create this guide that will allow people like you to master Instagram Stories and use them to your full advantage.

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