Remember way back in 2016 when Instagram Stories were considered a Snapchat rip-off that wouldn’t last? Well, with more than 500 million people now viewing Instagram Stories every day, it could be argued that Stories are becoming the most important part of Instagram. While many brands have adopted Stories into their social media content calendar, few are actually using them to their full potential.

If you’ve been struggling to garner solid engagement on your Instagram Stories, this post will provide a few ideas to help.

1. Design Specifically for Stories

Are you trying to put the same content on Instagram Stories that you’re putting on all other social channels? How boring! The Instagram audience expects your brand’s Instagram Stories to deliver something special.

This includes everything from ensuring your video has captions (for those who want to watch discreetly), to adhering to the 9:16 aspect ratio, to designing multiple screens to encourage taps instead of trying to fit too much on a single image that appears for only a few seconds. Design your Stories in a storyboard-like format and aim to post photos and graphics that match your brand aesthetic.

2. Stickers, Polls, and Tags

Not only are Instagram Stories stickers fun, they also boost engagement. Do a search for just about any sticker you can think of, and I bet you’ll be surprised to find something that fits. From emojis to gifs, to moving text — there is so much to choose from to help liven up your Stories.

There are also various interactive ways to use Instagram Story features. I’ve found that most audiences LOVE sharing their opinion, so try the Stories poll sticker to get in on your audience’s preferences, and let them help you make choices in your business (like the next product in your line), or provide general feedback. As an added bonus, poll stickers provide easy access to a list of people who’ve answered your poll. You can then send them a direct message after the poll has concluded and takes the conversation to the next level!

You can also prompt your audience to ask you a question in your Stories using the question sticker. When you repost the question submitted, the person who asked gets a notification that their question has been answered (giving you an automatic view on your story).

It’s also important to not forget about tags. From adding your location to mentioning other users to adding hashtags or tagging items from your product feed, the more relevant tags you add to your story, the greater chance of getting more eyeballs on it.

3. Use Instagram Story Highlights

The 24-hour expiration of an Instagram Story is long gone. Stories can (and should) be saved to your profile indefinitely and categorized into various highlights with custom names. Some common Instagram Highlights categories that brands use include blogs, company news, behind-the-scenes, new products, and upcoming events.

Design custom thumbnails for your Instagram Highlights to help your profile look consistent and on-brand. Then, when posting your story, simply select which highlight it should appear under. Now when people come to your Instagram profile, they can easily see your past Stories and continue to engage with them for as long as you have them highlighted.

Don’t forget to regularly check your Instagram Story analytics to see how your audience is engaging with your content. Is there one type of content they seem to prefer most? Take that information and run with it! Coupled with these Instagram Stories tactics, your engagement will soar.

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