Mastering Instagram Story Marketing: A Comprehensive Guide


How To Win Big On Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are one of the highest engaged pieces of content on the Instagram app. According to data, over 500 million people use Instagram stories on a daily basis.

If your brand is not posting Instagram stories on a regular basis, I'm here to tell you that it's time to pick up the phone and get to posting.

In this blog post, I'm going to walk you through everything you need to know about Instagram stories (and how they might fit into an instagram influencer marketing strategy). From what they are to creating Instagram stories that get your followers closer to purchase, and even some helpful hacks, by the time you're done reading this, you're going to have an Instagram story strategy that will propel your brand to the top of the feed.

What are Instagram Stories and How can Brands Use Them?

An Instagram story is an Instagram app feature where users can post content that has a 24-hour lifecycle. Instagram stories vary in content from photo to video, both of which are shared to an account’s follower list and disappear after 24 hours from the time it is posted. Think of Instagram stories like a piece of micro-content—it might be similar to other organic content you share on your Instagram feed, but often is off the cuff and quick, making it consumable for followers who want to see snippets of content at a rapid pace.

Instagram stories differ from Instagram posts in that they only last for a 24-hour period and then disappear unless they are saved to your Instagram stories highlight. In that case, your Instagram story will be archived into a collection of stories in your Instagram app that can be displayed on your account underneath your follower count, above the organic feed. 

In that vein, Instagram stories are used to tease out pieces of content that compel your audience and capture their attention with the hopes of creating engagement or driving users further to your Instagram account and or website. 

Instagram stories are simple and can be made in a matter of seconds. All you have to do is find the piece of content you want to share, load it into stories, add any stickers, captions, or edits you’d like, and share it to your feed. I’m going to talk about this more below. For now, all you need to know is that Instagram stories are a great way for you to share pieces of micro-content with your audience and stay at the top of their follower feed. 

As the Instagram algorithm becomes harder to penetrate with organic content, stories are a great way for brands and creators to consistently touch base with their followers and maintain steady engagement with the people who are true fans of their content. 

How can brands use Instagram stories?

This is a question I get asked by brands all the time. The answer is simple: Instagram stories share content that entertains, educates, or inspires a brand’s followers. In my experience, brands that win using stories have a combination of a carefully crafted Instagram stories strategy that taps into followers’ interest and keeps them engaged between organic posts. 

If you want to see what this looks like in real-time, go to your Instagram app right now and pick one of your favorite brands that you follow. Chances are they have a story live at this moment. Look at what they’ve posted as an Instagram story, then refer back to their organic feed to see how it fits the brand message they put out into the world.

In most cases, you’ll see this brand use stories as a means to create hype around a new product, showcase user-generated content around their products, or ask questions/pose ideas to their followers to which they will respond. 

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3 Ways Instagram Story marketing helps your brand.

1. Instagram stories inform your brand of what types of content capture your audience’s attention. 

Over the course of a week and a series of Instagram stories (somewhere between 30-40) brands can look at all the types of posts they’ve shared, analyze the data associated with each post, and see trends that highlight which performed the best and which fell short.

In context, this could be a beauty brand that posts a series of product photos, 30–second how-to videos, and customer testimonials. Of the three, the brand might see that how-to videos are watched more often and have higher engagement (shares, likes, and comments) giving them a clear path forward for their next piece of organic content.

2. Instagram stories create consistent engagement with your brand’s most loyal followers. 

Unlike organic posts that rest in the feed forever and are often lost to the algorithm, a story sits at the top of the follower feed and is pushed to the front each time a new story is uploaded. For brands, this is the type of content that keeps their name in front of followers while also creating more opportunities for engagement. 

Instagram stories can be easily shared with followers, commented on, and liked by users in seconds making it a pathway for instant connection with followers. The impact of these stories can be dramatic with 50% of Instagram users saying they’ve visited a site to make a purchase after seeing a story.

3. Instagram stories are the perfect avenue for brands to share user-generated content. 

In the social media world, every fan and follower wants to be recognized by their favorite brand—hence why you see so many people post pictures of their favorite products and tag the brands they love. In many instances, brands will not share user-generated content as organic posts because it doesn’t fit the vibe of the brand message or the brand doesn’t have a disclosed partnership with the follower. 

Instagram stories, however, are an ideal place for brands to repost a follower’s content boasting their appreciation for the brand. It shows that the brand recognizes its followers, acknowledges their appreciation, and wants to engage with it by sharing the content through Instagram stories with thousands of other followers who align with the brand. 

This also creates an ongoing cycle where users share content promoting the brand with the hopes it is shared via Instagram story and the brand gets a collection of compelling content about their products that they can share with the rest of the world. 

What you need to know about Instagram Stories Ads & Analytics

One of the most underrated features of Instagram stories is the analytics that come with them. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve worked with a brand that posts stories but never checks the analytics behind them.

In the case of Instagram stories, each one has data associated with it which you can see by tapping the informational tab under each story. In there, you’ll see a concise grouping of link clicks, profile visits, impressions, and follows. You’ll also see a navigation tab that shows you how many people clicked back, forward, and through to your next story, giving you an idea of how long they watched and if they took action based on your post.

In my experience working with brands, I’ve always encouraged them to use this data to inform how they go about posting organic content on Instagram as well as using their best-performing stories as Instagram story ads. What are Instagram Stories Ads? I’m glad you asked. This is paid content that appears like any other Instagram story, the only difference is that it’s an advertisement driving users to a product or service. 

With these ads, you can take the best performing Instagram stories, save them to your highlight reel, and pull from them at any time to create an advertisement via Instagram story. 

This gives you the ability to test ad concepts before you put money behind them by uploading content as a story, collecting information, and then repurposing that same story as an advertisement. Just to give you a juicy tidbit of information on Instagram story ads, brands have reported that they spend $0.06 per click compared to $ 0.30-0.60 per click on Facebook feed ads.

A great way to think about Instagram stories as a whole is to consider them the testing grounds for both organic and paid content that you want to invest in. Using them as such will save you time and money in your marketing efforts, which every CMO wants to hear from their social media strategy team. 

How to create stories on Instagram - and how to create compelling instagram stories.

Before I share the hacks that will put your Instagram stories in front of millions, let’s walk through the basics of posting Instagram stories. 

Step 1. Choose the piece of content you want to share.

I tell brands to make sure that the content is vertically shot and lo-fi meaning lower production quality. This is not me giving you permission to put up pixelated images and videos that look like they came off a Motorola Razor in 2007, please don’t do that. This suggestion comes from experience working with brands and discovering that Instagram users prefer images and videos that feel organic to the feed, not overproduced. Save the studio shots for commercials and ads and stick to content shot on the phone when it comes to creating content for Instagram stories.

Step 2. From the Instagram homepage, select your profile icon in the top right corner of the screen.

From here you’ll be prompted to select the image or video you want to use for this story or create one in real time using your camera.

Step 3. Craft a caption.

Once you’ve loaded your Instagram story content, it’s time to create a caption by tapping the text featured marked by Aa. Here you can choose from a variety of fonts and colors and I recommend using the same colors you’ve established for your brand. When it comes to captions, keep it short and sweet, with the goal of enticing your audience to engage with your story.

Step 4. Pick your Instagram story features.

Stickers are a great way to amplify your content with additional graphics, music, questions/quizzes, polls, effects, and more. This is one area that I tell all brands to explore more as Instagram stories stickers can prove to be a major catalyst for engagement on Instagram stories. I’m going to talk more about these below so keep reading.

Step 5. Review and post.

Before you go sharing these Instagram stories with the world, do one final run-through to ensure your image or video is set, captions are spelled correctly, and stickers are in place. Once you’ve done a final check, it’s time to hit share and watch the views rack up. 

Helpful tips for creating compelling Instagram stories

Use stickers to create Instagram stories.

Stickers allow you to add creative elements to your Instagram story. Stickers range from gifs to music, animations to #hashtags, and even location, temperature, and time, all of which you can choose from using the simple search function. Stickers give you the ability to enhance your content and separate yourself from other brands that stick to the basic Instagram story functions. In that vein, stickers also make your Instagram story dynamic helping it stand out when followers click on it. There are thousands of stickers to choose from, so my recommendation is to test out everything and find what resonates with your audience

Consistently post Instagram stories.

This one is obvious, but I tell brands this every time we collaborate: stay consistent. The way to win on any social media platform is to post daily. For Instagram stories, it’s recommended to post somewhere between 5-7 stories daily. While this might seem like a lot, doing this will keep your Instagram stories at the front of the feed and show your followers that you want to engage with them.

Engage your audience with questions, quizzes, and polls.

Speaking of engagement, Instagram stories are the best way to touch your audience on a regular basis. There are 4 distinct engagement stickers that I tell brands to use: mentions, questions, quizzes, and polls. All of these stickers allow you to bring your audience into the fold and get their opinions, thoughts, and responses. The more you do this, the higher your engagement will be across Instagram. 

Use Instagram Stories Link & Shop to drive users to your website and content.

Before 2021, you needed to have over 10k followers to drive followers back to your website and products. Now you can add the Instagram story link or Instagram Shop to any Instagram story and take users directly from the feed to your website. This seamless transition makes it easier for followers to convert into customers, and helps move them further down your marketing funnel.

Take your best-performing Instagram stories and run Instagram stories ads.

I mentioned Instagram story ads once but I’m going to reinforce the impact they can have on your conversions. Every Instagram story you post can be saved into an archive that displays as Story Highlights. From these story highlights you can choose any piece of content and turn it into an Instagram stories ad that displays just like a regular story, but drives users to a product or service. This is the perfect testing ground to establish what compels your audience to click and what doesn’t, arming you with more data to make informed decisions about your next social media marketing strategy. 

It’s time to take over the Instagram feed with stories.

I know I speak for the whole team here at Ubiquitous when I say we're eager to help you win the favor of followers on Instagram. We’ve partnered with brands of all sizes to create compelling campaigns that scale and move your business forward. Whether that's your Instagram stories strategy or a full influencer marketing campaign, we've got the chops to bring your brand to the top of the feed. If that’s something that gets your marketing juices flowing, drop us a line right here and we’ll set up a call with our team of marketing experts.

Here's where you get the stuff we don't  put  on the blog. Learn how to craft an entire TikTok marketing strategy from scratch, plus get access to our proprietary data on the top 100 creators and brands on TikTok by industry— and a lot more.

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