Unless you’ve been hibernating in a cave for the past decade, chances are you’ve at least heard about Instagram Stories. But how do you use them as a brand to increase sales and awareness?
In this article, we’ll show you why you need to use Instagram Stories, give you 8 Instagram Story post ideas (with examples!) and show you how you can create your own Instagram Story from scratch.
Let’s dive in!
What is an Instagram Story and Why Should I Use One?
Stories are a collection of content (video, polls, photos, etc) that are available for 24 hours after posting. You’ll find these at the top of your Instagram feed, and you can view them by clicking on the user’s profile photo.
Instagram Stories are a bit different from traditional posts in that they also do not feature any comments – all replies are sent as direct messages to the user.
How exactly does a post that only appears for 24 hours help your brand? Is all the time and effort really going to help your Instagram marketing efforts?
The short answer is yes. Take a look at some of these statistics:
Instagram itself reports that over 500 million (yes, million) Instagram accounts use Instagram Stories daily. Of that, roughly 1/3rd of the most popular stories are from brands.
If you’re worried that it’s all cat pictures and memes, don’t be dissuaded – nearly 1 in 4 millennials and Gen Zers use Instagram Stories to look for products or services they want to buy.
By effectively using Instagram and Instagram stories, you can easily increase your reach and target an audience who are already searching for products to purchase.
Now that we’ve shown you what an Instagram Story is and why you need one, let’s move onto the juicy part – finding inspirational Instagram story post ideas!
Instagram Story Post Idea #1 – Showcase Your Customers
One of the most impactful things you can do as a brand is to share the stories of how your customers solved their problem with your product or service.
In addition, you can use your space as a brand to highlight issues or struggles and how your company is supporting your customers through these challenges. Let’s take a look at some examples of companies doing just that.
In the post above, Converse is highlighting one of their customers who are creating are and inspiring African Americans with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Bringing black art and culture to the forefront of Instagram and other social outlets is just one way brands can be more inclusive and diverse in their content creation.
In a similar vein, Patreon is featuring one of their creators and their artwork as well. Not only does this further the BLM movement, but it also allows others to envision themselves using Patreon to showcase their own individual art.
Instagram Story Post Idea #2 – Add User-Generated Content
If you’re running out of ideas for your posts, let others do the work for you.
Showcasing User-Generated-Content (aka content that’s created by your customers or followers) will help you fill in blank spots in your content calendar as well as create a deeper relationship with your audience.
Vnyl – a subscription vinyl service – featured pictures of their latest boxes sent in by customers. The service boasts album personalization, and you can see by the different albums received by the 3 featured customers that this is the case.
Using the same example, Tomboyfeatures artists using their products and how they use them to create doodles and other art pieces. This can also help to inspire others and even encourage them to pick up other products they don’t own yet.
Instagram Story Post Idea #3 – Show Off Your Products
Have an upcoming launch, sneak peek, or just want to share off some cool shots of your products? Use an Instagram Story!
Target took a more interesting route than a direct product showcase and created a Story that was more complex than usual.
In this post, they highlighted their newest collection along with household organization tips, a poll, and even how to create your own home office with their new spring collection.
Instagram Story Post Idea #4 – Use Polls
Another great tactic is to use polls within your Stories. Not only is this interactive and engaging, but if used correctly, you can also gain some great insight into the mind of your audience that you can then use for content or product ideas.
Instagram Story Post Idea #5 – Make it Interactive
Using polls is just one way to make your Story interactive. You can also embed rich media from Spotify, choose to go Live, or use countdown timers to garner even more interest and anticipation ahead of your next launch.
Instagram Story Post Idea #6 – Create a Tutorial
In marketing, it’s easy to make the mistake of being too sales-y. After all, you want your content to inspire and inform, not to be a generic warehouse of marketing tropes.
One way you can corner the inform and educate side of your content marketing strategy is to create tutorials with your stories.
SweetAmbs is a baker who sells pre-made cookie baking and decorating kits. Using her Story, she shows a tutorial of how to make meringue cookies without any sort of gate or barrier.
This is a great way to instill trust and show your audience you care about helping them solve their issues – in this case, the issue of a sweet tooth.
Essie takes a slightly different route by not showing the tutorial directly, but showcasing a list of several tutorials following the same idea – ice cream nails for National Ice Cream Day.
Instagram Story Post Idea #7 – Highlight Your Blog
Not all of your content needs to videos or polls – it can even be as simple as showing off your weekly blog posts just like our examples below.
The Hard Times News is a faux-news outlet (much like The Onion) with a punk rock twist. They showcase some of their top content using their story and added a CTA at the end to subscribe to their newsletter.
Just like the above, The Economist also highlights their top articles of the week and gives the audience the ability to learn more on the fly.
Instagram Story Post Idea #8 – Tell a Story
Our last Instagram Story post idea is to tell a story. Sometimes a story is needed to truly get to the heart of an issue or convey meaning.
You can also use your Instagram Story posts to highlight specific issues or current events that are going on globally or at your company.
CNN used their Story to call out a recent news break – the death of Congressman John Lewis – and the story of his rise to congress and obstacles he faced along the way.
In this example by National Geographic, they tell the story of Tiger shark conservation and highlight a specific shark they've been following.
At the end, they call out their special program that will be featuring the aforementioned shark, enticing users who stayed through the Story to continue their journey with the show.
How to Create an Instagram Story
Now that we’ve seen 8 different Instagram Story post ideas and have some inspiration, we’re ready to go to work and create our own Instagram Story!
Now, there are a few ways we can do this – like by using external video editing software – but the easiest way to create a Story is right from your phone.
Instagram’s native Story editor features a ton of different tools and features you can use to create a fun Story.
To get started, navigate to the Instagram app and click on your profile on the top left-hand side of the home page.
Once you click that, you’ll be brought to the screen where you can choose from a wide range of options:
- Live – Use this option to go Live on Instagram.
- Create – Use this to create interactive posts like polls, figs, or even use pre-made templates.
- Normal – If you want to record a video or use fun face filters, you can choose from a variety of options in the Normal category
- Boomerang – This fun feature lets you create a clip of a video that plays forwards, then backward.
- Layouts – A layout tool you can use to call out several pieces of content at once.
- Superzoom- This does pretty much what you think it does – zooms in intensely (and dramatically).
- Hands-Free – If you want to create a video that uses both hands, you can use Hands-Free mode. This doesn't require you to hold down the record button, so it can make creating Stories on the fly easier than ever.
Our favorite to use by far are the tools you can find inside Create, as it allows you to work with a bunch of the top Instagram Story post ideas we mentioned here today.
By utilizing the tools we featured above and combining it with the examples listed here today, you’re finally ready to create your first Instagram Story.