Tips for Instagram Stories

Chuck Forbes - August 17, 2016

Instagram announced last week they are rolling out “Stories” in what seems to be an effort to keep up with SnapChat in the social landscape. Instagram Stories will now let you share highlights of your day with your followers. Like SnapChat, you can record a video or take a picture equipped with filters and a text overlay if you wish to customize your post. Your Instagram Stories will be available for your audience to see for 24 hours and then they will disappear permanently. When you log-in to Instagram you will notice your followers Stories at the top of your newsfeed, prominently displayed by their default profile picture.

Tips for Marketers

While advertising has not yet rolled out for Instagram Stories, I recommend getting on the platform and using the new feature to become familiar with it.

Default Image

Most Instagram profiles will feature a default profile image of the person who’s account you’re viewing – that’s fine. However, as a business making your default image your logo can really make you stand out amongst other profiles on the Instagram Story timeline.

Instagram profile pictures with business logos

Content Strategy

Repurposing the same images on your timeline in your Instagram Stories is not a best practice – instead, give the user a reason to always view your timeline and your stories by making your stories more personal and behind the scenes. If I am the manager of a bowling alley, my timeline may feature an image of the bowling alley set-up for a birthday party on Friday evening. However, my stories may consist of the actual birthday party bowling, eating and celebrating. Since your stories will disappear in 24 hours, this is a great way to highlight moments your business has that are better suited for a short video than an image post.


After you post your story, watch it again and while watching swipe up or click the “eye” icon on the bottom of your post:

Instagram Eye Icon in a Post

This will bring you to a screen that shows users who have watched your story. While you cannot target specific users for advertising within stories as of yet, it is a good idea to view the users who have watched your post and get an idea of the audience that consistently checks your stories. This audience is likely who you want to target for advertising on the Instagram platform. Companies who have a smaller following will find this useful. Companies that have thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers will likely not scroll through and view every user who has watched their story each time. For larger businesses, make sure you sign up for an Instagram business account which will give you features to view insights, such as weekly impressions.

While not everyone is a fan of marketing their business on SnapChat, there is a reason Instagram built a new feature that resembles SnapChat – it works, it’s a great brand experience and engagement numbers on short videos or images that disappear after a certain time period are very high. Log-in to Instagram, post stories and master your strategy so if advertising does become available – you’re ready to go.

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