Instagram Stories reaches more than 300 million users daily, and an estimated 20% of Stories will generate a private message between a private user and the profile sharing it. Instagram view counts are higher than those of Snapchat’s counterpart feature, and they get an estimated 3-5x more engagement.
It’s not surprising that influencers are jumping ship and brands are following, heading to Instagram in flocks. Those are pretty good numbers.
As more and more brands start using Stories more frequently, it will becoming increasingly important to make content great enough to stand out from the rest. Are you up to the task?
In this post, we’re going to look at the 6 native Instagram Stories tools you should be using to maximize the results you’re getting from them.
1. All of the Polling Stickers
Stickers were an early addition to Instagram Stories, and the polling stickers are some of the best when you want to drive engagement and get users excited about your content. The stickers were so successful, in fact, that there are now multiple versions of them.
The original polling sticker lets you ask users a question, and give them two different answers to choose from. You aren’t limited to “Yes” and “No,” either; you can ask which of two products users prefer, for example. Users can answer and you’ll see the answers reflected in real time, making this format engaging and an excellent way to get social proof.
The second type of polling sticker is the new sliding emoji version. This allows you to ask users a question, and users can move the emoji of your choice up and down on a sliding scale. You can ask users how excited they are for a new product or upcoming event, or whether they feel like they know enough about a service you offer. The answers for this won’t be public, but you’ll be able to see how each users answers, giving you insight and the chance to generate discussion with your most engaged followers.
2. Mention Stickers
Mention stickers let you tag other users in your Stories. When someone clicks on the tagged username, they’ll be taken to their profile.
There are several great ways to use these. The first is to ask users to tag you in their Stories, which gives you plenty of great user-generated content.
The others involve you tagging other users, and include:
- Tagging influencers in Stories somehow related to them, like a picture featuring them, a Story announcing a Q&A in a live with them later, or a review they wrote
- Tagging users in images or videos of user-generated content that you’re sharing
- Tagging employees in employee-generated content
Mentions are most beneficial when other users are mentioning your business, but it definitely has its benefits when you’re using the sticker to tag others, too. Use it to build relationships and generate discussion, and you’ll be good to go.
3. Camera Effects
There are some incredible camera effects that are available natively through the Stories creation process. Using these every so often to heighten the effect of your Stories is a great way to go, and can instantly help your content stand out.
Examples of how to use these include:
- Superzoom to dramatically announce a new product
- Boomerang to show how a product or service works, or employee reaction in video
- Stopmotion to countdown to an announcement, show multiple angles of a product, demonstrate different products at once, or show a customer reaction
Note that while these effects are great, you don’t want to overuse them. Use them sparingly and shake it up to keep things interesting without overdoing it.
4. Stories Highlights
Stories Highlights aren’t the flashiest Stories tool that we’ve been given, but they’re still my personal favorite because they let you hold on to that hard work you put into your Stories long term.
You can now add Stories to different Highlights categories, which appear on your profile and give them life long after their previous 24-hour expiration date. I recommend sorting them into multiple different Highlights based on subject for best results, giving users a quick way to get to know your brand and find any information they may be looking for about a product, event, testimonials, or your business.
Want to learn more about Stories Highlights? We covered them in-depth here.
5. Swipe Up
This feature is currently only available for Business profiles that have at least 10,000 followers if you want to use it organically. If that’s you, great! If it’s not, skip to the next section to see how you can take advantage of you anyways.
Being able to use the “See More” or “Learn More” CTAs that allow users to swipe up to get more info about your Story is a huge asset. It allows you to place links in your Stories and send real traffic directly to your site, landing page, or other social media pages (like Facebook event pages). Using this very so often to send users can allow you to optimize for real sales, event registrations, and more in a quantifiable way.
6. Stories Ads
I get that this one doesn’t really count because it’s not an organic feature, but I’m adding it to the list anyways. We can call it a bonus tip if you want, but I’m going to go ahead and put it at number 6.
Instagram Stories Ads can be run through Facebook Ads, and allows you to broadcast your Stories content to audiences you aren’t currently connected to. These ads will be placed the Stories of the users your viewers are following, making them fit seamlessly into the experience.
Don’t have the Swipe Up feature yet organically and want to take advantage of it? Or want to just get more reach on your best performing content? Stories can give you the ability to do both of these things, so test out some campaigns and get ready to see the results come pouring in.
Instagram Stories isn’t going to be a powerhouse of engagement and social proof overall, but if you know how to use them, you can still drive very real and very significant results by using them. One of the keys to doing this is mixing things up, taking advantage of each of these beneficial native tools for best results. Remember to track your Stories results in the Insights tab so you can keep an eye on what’s working and optimize for that moving forward.
Want to create your Stories in advance, or have your Stories Ads content ready to go? Check out StoriesAds, which lets you create fully-edited Stories content for free.