Instagram Stories: Best practices and inspiration to engage your followers

What are Instagram Stories, anyway?

First things first: let’s break down how Stories work.

Instagram Stories highlight
Twitch Instagram Stories

Why use Instagram Stories (and what makes them so special)?

The benefits of integrating Stories into your content strategy are well-documented, particularly for businesses.

IG Stories put you front-and-center in followers’ feeds

This is the big one. Wherever you post a new Story to Instagram, you automatically “skip the line” in your followers’ feeds.

showing stories content at top of feed

Stories are perfect for humanizing your brand

Keep in mind that most Instagram Stories are off-the-cuff and informal, even from brands.

Insta Stories offer endless opportunities to engage

The features baked into Stories are ideal for brands that want to go back-and-forth with followers while having a bit of fun.

Instagram polls and stickers

How to use Instagram Stories as a brand or business

Simply put, Stories should be integral to your Instagram marketing strategy.

Educate your audience with how-to’s and tutorials

Stories’ sequential format makes them perfect for step-by-step, how-to-style content. From recipes to beauty tutorials and beyond, bite-sized educational content is an engaging alternative to traditional video or blog post, as seen in Equinox‘s Stories highlight:

how to instagram stories example

Go back-and-forth with polls, quizzes and questions

Picking your followers’ brains with playful questions, Stories are a great place to carry on conversations with your customers.

interactive instagram stories

Make announcements and break your own news

Some brands use Stories as a space to make announcements. This is a smart move for the sake of keeping your followers in the loop about what your business is up to.

freddy's instagram stories announcement

Highlight the latest posts in your main feed

This is an example of how to use Stories to bypass the Instagram algorithm.

Instagram Stories new post

Post teasers of upcoming content or products

If nothing else, Stories encourage you to tease what you have coming down the pipeline.

Promote time-sensitive offers and deals

Just as you’d promote an offer via Instagram, you can do the same via Stories. Perfect for ecommerce and brick-and-mortar stores alike, Stories can be used for limited-time deals or simply to highlight a current sale.

example of promotional deal annmouncement on instagram story

Share user-generated content and customer photos

Many brands share Stories dedicated to their followers’ user-generated content such as tagged customer photos.

sprout user generated content

Take your followers behind-the-scenes

Part of the beauty of Instagram Stories is that they don’t have to be big, polished productions.

3 Instagram Stories best practices that brands should follow

While Instagram Stories don’t require a ton of optimization per se, you shouldn’t just start blasting them at random.

1. Figure out your publishing frequency

A key upside of Stories is that you can publish them frequently without worrying about spamming your followers.

2. Take full advantage of creative features, tools and formats

Beyond what we’ve discussed already, Instagram is consistently rolling out new features and functions to Stories.

Instagram Stories music

3. Keep a close eye on your Instagram Stories engagement

Watching your social analytics is a no-brainer, but Stories are often treated as an afterthought when it comes to tracking data.

  • Which types of Stories receive the most views, replies and engagement
  • How often you should publish Stories based on firsthand data
  • How engaged your total audience is versus your Stories viewers
Sprout Instagram Stories analytics

Are you making the most of your Instagram Stories?

There’s no doubt about it: Stories should be central to your Instagram strategy.

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