Instagram StoriesInstagram stories have taken off since the app launched the feature in August of 2016.  And if you are a business owner, you should absolutely add this feature to your social media strategy.  

What started as a simple way to compete with the popular app Snapchat, Instagram stories have become a phenomenon for everyday users, celebrities and brands. And if you’re wondering which app users prefer nowadays, the numbers speak for themselves.  

As of June 2018, Instagram counted 400 million daily users versus Snapchat’s 191 million.

So what exactly is a ‘story’? In simplest terms, stories are a feature that allow users to take photos or videos, add various effects and add them to their ‘story’ rather than creating a post.  Any uploaded story disappears after 24 hours.

So what makes Instagram stories better than Snapchat? Although Snapchat did start the trend of ‘stories’ in 2012 with the still popular phrase ‘Snapchat story’, Instagram stories have taken “real momentum away from Snapchat, which saw its user growth rate slow soon after Instagram Stories launched.”

Two years after Instagram’s launch, in August 2018, Snap announced it lost three million users in the last quarter, which was the apps first decline ever.


So why are users taking to Instagram to share their ‘stories’? There are so many unique features that make Instagram stories, fun, engaging and different for users.

As a business, you can really use the popularity and vast amount of features to your advantage, while branding yourself through stories and engaging your followers.

So how can you build your brand and engage your audience through Instagram stories? Here are 3 simple ways to get started with some of Instagram stories best features:


1. Photos, Boomerangs and Live Videos on Instagram Stories

If you have absolutely no clue where to even start when it comes to Instagram stories, have no fear!

There are so many super simple creative effects you can add that will help you get started in the world of ‘stories.’ These effects will make them more interesting for your followers and enhance their experience while on your page.

Instagram offers a lot of effects you can add to a simple photo.

Let’s say you’re a restaurant and you take a picture of your Thursday night special board. The photo is just a simple list of some food and drink specials for the evening.

This is a great thing to post on your story! You can add your location, throw in some fun stickers or emojis and there you have it! Restaurant specials make for a great ‘story’ because you can put it there on the fly, without having to create a post and still reach all of your followers. (And possibly more so than you would with just an organic Instagram post!)

Boomerangs are moving pictures and they also make for fun and creative stories! Using the restaurant example again, you could easily have your bartenders or servers clink two beers together with the caption ‘Come in and see us tonight!’ and post it on your story! It’s really that simple! Instagram is all about being creative and with so many features, how can you not make the most of it?!

Live videos is another great option! If you are a business owner and want to connect with your audience in real time, live videos really help you to do so. It can be as simple as standing in your store or restaurant and showing off a new product or item.

When you go live, tell your followers you want to answer any questions they may have as well! It’s an intimate way to connect with your audience and have a ‘conversation.’ You’re also showing your followers and customers you care and want to listen to their questions or comments.

In addition to live videos, you can also do a ‘story takeover’ or a day in the life by having one person post a series of videos throughout the day for a fun ‘behind the scenes’ look of your business.

These are all very simple and basic things you can do that will engage your audience while really enhancing their experience on your Instagram page!

Credit: Brandwatch

2. Polls and Questions

Polls and questions are two other features on Instagram stories that allow for more interactivity with your followers.  

For example, if you own a clothing store and have a new product, you can engage with your audience and see what they really like by creating a poll on your story. It’s a great way to see how engaged your followers are with your social content and what they really like about your new or existing products.

You can also engage with your followers by letting them ask you questions or asking for their input. Your followers will absolutely see that you are passionate about your business and care about your customers if you are offering to do a ‘Q & A’ session or asking for their opinion on social media.




The third and probably most important feature to get started with on Instagram is the infamous ‘swipe up!’

If you are avid Instagram story viewer, you have absolutely seen a ‘Swipe up to buy!’ when clicking through some stories. It’s a great feature and if you are looking to drive traffic back to your website and increase sales (Which you absolutely should be!) you should definitely get started with this!

With 300 million users interacting with Instagram stories on a daily basis, 15-20% of story viewers actually do ‘swipe up’ to follow a link and engage directly with a brand’s website.

It is important to note that there there are some guidelines for your account in order to add in this ‘swipe up’ feature:

  • If you have a business account with more than 10,000 followers, you can run organic story ads to your followers. 
  • If you don’t have over 10,000 followers, your only option now is to run ‘stories ads’ on Instagram, which are targeted to the audience you want to view and swipe/click on your stories ad.

The beauty of the swipe up link is that you have full control over where your viewers will be led to. Whether you want them to go directly to a product, a blog or your website, you have complete control!

By adding this feature in, your viewers will be able to swipe up on your story content that contains a URL and be redirected anywhere you want them to go.  Again this can include your blog or website, a landing page, your email list, or even a partner page.

Although it is crucial to have a great call to action caption with all of your stories, it is especially true with these.

If you just simply add a link in, it most likely isn’t going to entice them enough to click it.

Also, the link button is a little small and at the very bottom of the screen, so you need to tell your followers that they need to ‘swipe up’ to learn more and where exactly they are going to be directed to.

Overall, the ability to send your followers to any specific page is useful and very beneficial. Getting your followers from your social accounts to your website (especially Instagram) can sometimes be the hardest part and now all you have to ask your followers to do is‘ swipe up!’




Are you a business owner? Do you use Instagram stories? Comment below and let us know!