Using Instagram Stories to Engage Your Audience

Instagram Stories, Instagram’s answer to ephemeral content, have been very beneficial to the social strategies of many brands. They are fun, in-the-moment, interactive posts that can compliment any Instagram account.

Getting the most out of Instagram Stories means creating a posting strategy (yes, another strategy). Though not as intense as an overall social strategy, you will need to be able to answer the following questions on a consistent basis:

  • What goal do we want to accomplish with stories?
  • What types of content we will post to our stories?
  • How often will we post?
  • Will the content rotate?

Instagram Story Basics

Getting familiar with how to post an Instagram story is the first step. There are two different ways to add to your story.

Option 1: Go to your profile page and click the plus sign next to your profile photo.

Option 2: Navigate to your main feed and click on the camera in the top left corner.

Then you will choose your media, add tags/stickers where you wish, and upload your masterpiece to the story feed!  

Hashtags, Location Tags, & Account Tags in Instagram Stories

You can use up to five hashtags in one story, one location tag, and 10 account tags. Nothing official has determined how a story ends up in a story featured hashtag, but we’ve noticed that video stories, stories that tag larger accounts, and stories that use location tags are more likely to be featured (but not always).

Tip: multiple hashtags can clutter your image and actually make your story look like it doesn’t have a focus. If you are going to use multiple hashtags, try hiding them under a sticker or GIF.

Create a Poll

A valued audience is a loyal audience. People want to be heard, and really, who is better to provide honest feedback than the people that support you?

Even the biggest brands run into content fatigue. Chances are, you don’t have a seemingly endless team of creatives to get you through, but the good news is that you can poll your audience! Find out what they like best.

Advertise your latest post

If you’re looking to generate more engagement and/or website traffic from a post, promoting the post in your Story is another way to get eyes on it. If you’re fortunate enough to have the Swipe Up option (usually restricted to accounts with more than 10,000 followers), you can use that to drive traffic to a specific offer on your site.

Give a shout out to your favorite brands/accounts

Did you have a great experience at a restaurant, retailer, dentist, etc.? Give them a little love in your Instagram story! Mention them with an “@ tag” and a relevant hashtag.

In the Moment

If you’re on a group outing or team building event, snap a photo, video, or Boomerang to share in your story. This type of content gives your fans a behind-the-scenes, organic look into what your day looks like.

It might not even seem that interesting to you, but your fans like having that exclusive peek into your day-to-day. It gives your brand personality!

Go Live

While we’re on the topic of in the moment posts, going live on Instagram is a great way to show your audience what you’re up to. Bonus: your followers will get a notification when you go live. If they missed the opportunity to see you in action, your video will be available in your Instagram Stories for 24 hours.

GIF Challenges/Templates

One of the most popular new Instagram story trends is the (with good reason) GIF challenge and any template that allows you to fill in information about yourself and things you like. Remember MySpace bulletins (showing my age here)? This is Instagram’s version of those! Tagging businesses relevant to your niche gives your brand the potential to find influencers.


Instagram Story Highlights are stories that live on your profile page. They serve as an extension of your bio. You create them as a regular story and then save them as page highlights. Some ideas for your Highlights content:

  • General information about your brand
  • Services offered
  • Special sales
  • Featured products
  • Featured services
  • Pain points + solutions

How are you using Instagram Stories for your brand? Let us know!