How to Use Instagram Stories to Build Your Brand

How to Use Instagram Stories to Build Your Brand
Jay Gross

colored drawing of instagram logo

So, you’ve heard a lot about Instagram Stories, but you’re not sure exactly what they are.

Or maybe you know what they are but aren’t sure how they can be of value to your business – heck, maybe you’re not even sure if they can be a value to your business.

Or maybe you’re a veteran of the popular photo and video app but aren’t gaining the traction you need using it as a tool for marketing.

No matter your level, you can use some key strategies to get the most out of your account and engage with your followers. With a few simple tweaks, you can better your IG stories and increase your engagement on the app. 

Read on, and we’ll explain why you should consider using this fairly new platform as part of your social media marketing plan (if you’re on the fence.) And we’ll go in-depth on Instagram Stories filters, polls, and tips to help you implement a strategy that enables you to grow your audience and engage with your followers.

Should You Use Instagram Stories for Your Business?

man in business suit using Instagram with a football field in the background

Instagram Stories are a great way to capture your audience’s attention and connect with your followers visually (with either video or photo content). 

They give you a chance to show your brand personality, connect more intimately with your audience, and reach out to them in ways they don’t expect. And that will help drive followers back to your main Instagram account.  

Oh, and over 500 million users using Instagram Stories and 1.7 billion accounts using the format daily, so there’s a huge built-in audience for you.

But how do you set it up? What do you include? 

If you’re interested in creating an Instagram story for your business (and you should be!) or even if you simply want to view them, we’ve got you covered. 

Follow this guide to learn everything you need to know about Instagram Stories, including how to set them up and post to them in a way that will get you the engagement you want.

How to Post an Instagram Story

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To create an Instagram Story, open the app and either swipe left or tap the ‘Your Story’ image at the top left of your feed (with the “plus sign” next to it.)

First, a question you may be asking yourself:

How long do Instagram stories last?

Instagram Stories allows Instagram accounts to post a photo or video that vanishes after 24 hours.

How to View an Instagram Story

Everyone can share stories, and believe me, nearly everyone does – from your best friends to the brands you follow

To view a story, just look for your friend’s Instagram profile picture. Does it have a colorful ring around it?

If so, then they’ve had a story (or many stories) to share over the past 24-hours.

To view it, simply tap on their profile picture, and it will show you, in chronological order from oldest to newest, everything they’ve posted in the last 24-hours.

Once you’re in, you can simply watch Instagram stories pass you by every fifteen seconds, or you can tap back or forward to move around as you wish. 

That is – until the time limit is up.

How to Use Instagram Stories Filters and Stickers (and More)

influencer with instagram and social media logos in the background

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Instagram Stories has many fun and creative things you can do with filters and stickers.

Below we’ll go through a handful of them.

But be sure to test it out and see all the fun things you can do, as they’re always adding more.

Remember, think of creative ways you can use the Instagram Stories filters, effects, and many stickers as a way to engage with your audience.

Instagram Stories Filters

Once you’re ready to take a photo or video, there are many filters you can choose from.

Before you take the photo or video, swipe left on the bottom “circular swipe menu,” and you will scroll through the many different effects you can use.

Instagram Stories Stickers

To add stickers to your Instagram Story, take a photo or video and tap the smiley face at the bottom of the screen (aka the Stickers button).

Once you click the stickers button, you will see customizable stickers for your current location, the time, the weather, and more.

You can also add a hashtag to your story by tapping the (you guessed it) hashtag sticker. Once you click it, you can then enter your hashtag.

Once you’ve added any sticker, you can simply move them by dragging and dropping across your screen and resize them by using your favorite two fingers to expand or pinch the image to the size you prefer.

Instagram Stories Poll and Quiz

People love polls, and Instagram didn’t let you down.

There’s also a poll sticker you can use.

After you’ve taken a photo or video, just select the poll sticker. 

You can then write a question and customize the answers you want.

Once you post your story, people will begin voting on the poll.

In much the same way, you can create a multiple-choice quiz, ask questions, mention another Instagram user, and more.

There are so many fun options with stickers; your best bet is getting in there and playing around.

So, Then What Are Instagram Stories Highlights?

Within your Instagram profile, you can now create “highlights.”

These will stay in your Instagram profile for as long as you want. So if you have a new product or service or even interviewed someone within your company and think people will love it, then stick it in your profile so your audience can see it anytime.

Instagram Stories Archive

Instagram also added an archive feature, so your stories are archived once your 24-hours are up. 

This way, you can repost a story at any time. Which could come in handy with any evergreen content you put out there.

Who Can See Your Stories?

You’ll want to make sure your Instagram privacy settings reflect who you want to see your story.

If you set your account to private, only your approved followers can see it; however, it should be set to public if you want everyone to see your story.

You can also hide your stories from certain people.

Creating Your Instagram Story Strategy

man writing on white dry erase board

Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

If you’re one of the many who decided to add stories to your Instagram marketing campaign, congratulations!

But how do you implement an Instagram story strategy for your business?

Here’s an excellent place to start.

1. Post at Least Once Per Day

With stress on, “at least.” 

The general rule of thumb for social media is to post 1-3 times per day, but Instagram Stories is the exception and not the rule.

Once per day is the lowest bar you should set, but also don’t post 100 stories a day just because you can, either (some do…oh yes, some do.)

The rule of thumb: Make sure the content you do post as a story adds value.

Plus, you’re too busy to be at it all day.

I’d shoot for 3-7 quality stories and call it a day.

2. Post Content When Your Audience Wants It

Per Hubspot:

On average, the best time to post on Instagram is between 10 AM and 3 PM CDT. However, the level of engagement you get can change dramatically depending on what day of the week you post. The best days to post on Instagram are Wednesday throughout the day, but particularly around 11 AM, and Friday from 10 AM to 11 AM.

But that’s general – it could also depend on your audience. As you begin posting, when does your audience respond and engage the most? 

Maybe a lot of your audience is located in Europe or a different generation than the typical users of Instagram Stories. So take into account your ideal customer avatar (ICA) as well.

Note: Are you familiar with your ideal customer avatar? If not, read more about it in our in-depth article on social media marketing.

Start with Hubspot’s data-driven suggestion, then alter as you see fit.

3. Build a Relationship with Your Audience

It’s all about the relationships you build. Ask them questions, prompt them to respond, and respond back to them when they do.

4. Be Consistent

As with all social media channels, there’s something about consistency. 

Your audience (and your eventual fans) will become used to you posting at certain times daily, so stick to that routine.

5. Add Value, but Avoid Being Too Promotional

Sure, promote your products and services. Add calls-to-action; just don’t overdo it. People will stop following you really fast if that’s all you do.

Instead, mix it in with enjoyable and fun things; just make it relevant to you, your business, and your audience.

6. Add Some Flair

Remember all those filters and stickers we talked about? Incorporate them in your campaigns.

Change things up, ask questions, get feedback, and many more things we’ll discuss in the tips section just below.

Instagram Stories Tips and Ideas

woman with instagram sunglasses on covering her mouth

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Didn’t think we’d leave you cold without some Instagram story tips, did ya?

Go through this list and you’re bound to come away with some great options to get started, or even to fill in your entire social media strategy if you’re ambitions.

  • Build anticipation for a new product – Do you have a new product or service? Build anticipation up to the eventual reveal.
  • Promote your latest content – Do you have a new blog post? Podcast episode? YouTube video? Promote it on a story.
  • Promote your latest Instagram post – Heck, if you use Instagram marketing in your business, promote your latest post as a story, too.
  • Answer questions your audience is asking – Maybe they’re asking you directly, maybe (if you are familiar with your ideal customer avatar) you can find questions they’re asking on Reddit or Quora.
  • Ask your audience questions – Your audience loves to answer questions, and if you ask the right questions, it can also help your product, service, or even business plan.
  • Share tips and tricks – If you have tips or tricks about your product or service, or even industry, share away.
  • Do a how-to or tutorial – Share a tutorial of your product or service.
  • Pop quiz hotshot – Quiz your audience. Make it entertaining and engaging (and about your brand), but also make it informational for you.
  • Give a shout-out – Shout out other Instagram Story accounts or even someone from your audience.
  • Spotlight a client – Have a great client? Showcase them. 
  • Highlight a team member – People enjoy knowing people who work for your business and like to know that your employees are valued. Highlight a new member, an anniversary, even a birthday celebration.
  • Behind-the-scenes – Have anything interesting going on? People enjoy seeing the inner workings.
  • Inspire with quotes – Inspirational quotes are always a good thing to post (on any platform).
  • How about a review – Do you have a great review that you would love to share? Get it out there.
  • Time for a poll – People enjoy doing polls.
  • Icebreakers – Get to know your audience by asking icebreaker questions.

Now you should have a list of epic ideas for your Instagram Stories, now create a plan. Many of these could be a weekly (or more) thing.

Have other great content ideas to share with your audience via this great app? Please leave them in the comment section, below.

Here’s one more tip for the road…

Took a Picture but Forgot to Add it to Your Story?

There’s a trick for that.

As long as you took the picture within the past 24-hours, you can upload your content directly from your camera roll.

Just swipe up on your Stories camera, and your latest content will magically appear.

Then simply select the content you want to add to your story, and voila!

Time for You to Dominate the Instagram Stories World

man entrepreneur having success

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Are you still a little hesitant to get started, or are you ready to start rockin’ and rollin’ with your shiny new and fun toy?

If you think Instagram Stories could fit nicely into your social media marketing plan, then it’s time to take action.

Go through the how-to’s, best practices, and tips above, and set your strategy in motion.

Not only will your audience love it, but with the strategy you put together, you just may have fun (and gain valuable information from your customer, or future customers, as well.)

What are you waiting for?


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