Stop fretting about your engagement rates, start thinking outside the box of your traditionalistic Instagram story ideas!
While you find yourself striving for perfection while designing your primary Instagram feed, you can be a little freer and a little more current on Instagram Stories. The idea for Instagram Stories was inspired by Snapchat Stories, which were very popular a few years ago amongst young adults. Essentially, Instagram stories allow you to share disappearing media that will be visible to your followers above their scrolling feed, in a distinctly different section.
As Stories disappear after 24-hours, you don’t really have to make them look professional or perfect in any way. You can just have fun with it. Traditional Insta Stories contain pictures, videos, or other posts that the manager of the handle would want to share. Over time though, people have figured out new ways to use Stories using Instagram’s various overlays and their creativity.
Let’s discuss some creative Instagram story ideas that will keep things fresh for your handle, and will lead to higher than ever swipe-up numbers and profile views!
Instagram Poll Questions and Quizzes
Occasionally, Instagram releases new stickers and overlays for Stories, to keep the platform fresh and new. Two of these are the ‘Question’ sticker and the ‘Poll’ sticker. Here’s how you can use them!
Company history and background
If you’re still in the phase of introducing yourself to your following or are a relatively new brand, one of your key marketing objectives would be to establish a relationship with your target audience. Acquaintance to the brand’s history and the people behind it establishes a level of trust and attachment towards the brand. Plainly reading about the brand’s history sounds boring, so be creative with your Instagram story ideas instead!
If you post a question and a quiz or poll, even if your viewers are unlikely to know the answer, they’ll take a guess out of curiosity. For this reason, adding an Instagram poll question or quiz can be a fun, Gen Z way of telling people who you are. If you’re an influencer or celebrity, you can also share more personal details through polls.
As a slick tool for market research
Just like you use polls to inform your audience about yourself, you can use them to gain knowledge about them. While results from polls or questions on Instagram should absolutely not be used as conclusive evidence for anything, you can still identify general trends and patterns from these.
Market research on Insta stories won’t be the most accurate, but it’s quick. It’s cheap (technically free). And you don’t have to be a qualified, seasoned researcher! You just need to identify the right questions to ask, and how to ask them so viewers of your Insta stories will be tempted to watch them.
The above question about the general industry preferences of the audience can result in very valuable insights. If most customers respond by stating competitor brands, Beautycon now has a reference point for what its customers want. They also can begin to identify what the competitor brands are doing better than them.
Pop culture opinions/quizzes
If there’s one broad theme that ties our society together, its pop culture. Virtually everyone engages in pop culture discussions, with the only variable being the topic. Some spend their days in debates about which hip-hop artist is superior, whereas others theorize about the next big Marvel supervillain.
Pop culture themes can make for some very engaging Instagram polls, even if they aren’t related, or are only remotely related to your brand. After all, it’s nice to take your focus away from your products sometimes. Expressing instead, that you/your brand have similar interests as your target audience, can establish a strong sense of solidarity and unity. This is why pop culture polls can be such a valuable addition to your Instagram story ideas folder!
Take this a step further to actively engage in public discussions about current events and pop culture, to show your audience that you are more than your products.
Frequently asked questions
If you have identified recurring questions from customers/prospects, it might be a good idea to resolve them on Insta stories. This way your entire audience can get more clarity.
Instead of presenting it as a simple question-answer format, you can first ask your audience’s opinion on the question (and maybe make the answer obvious, as seen above), and then present your answer and an explanation.
Other great Instagram Story ideas
Quizzes and polls are great, but you need not confine yourself to them. There are plenty of other ways to keep Instagram stories fresh and engaging.
Sharing user-generated content is not a bad idea in any context, and it looks particularly good on Instagram stories. TJ Maxx, an off-price retailer in the United States, does this particularly well.
They recently held a #Maxx50Challenge, and prompted their followers to fix a Spring look for themselves at TJ Maxx, using only $50. Insta stories of people taking this challenge and using the branded hashtag were featured on TJ Maxx’s own Instagram. This challenge went viral, and the brand got a brilliant response.
Note: Now, finding branded Instagram hashtags is not at all a tedious process! Get more clicks and engagements on your posts with the help of our free Instagram hashtag generator tool!
UGC-related Instagram story ideas are also great because they turn your account into a medium through which your prospects can hear from your current customers. This will add a new level of validation to your product!
Also, posting UGC consistently on your profile can create a wonderful multiplier effect! When your followers see you appreciating the works of other followers of your brand, they’ll be encouraged to create content as well. In the hope that their work is featured on your profile, they may even share it on their profile, tagging/mentioning you. So now you have more content, and your brand is exposed to more people!
Showing glimpses of a product before its launch generates a buzz like little else. It also prompts your followers to keep an eye on your profile for more future updates. A good teaser campaign can get a lot of people talking.
Perhaps the best recent example of this is Mahindra, an Indian automobile manufacturer, promoting its new vehicle, the XUV700.
Teaser images and videos like the one above, went around for months before the vehicle was fully revealed. The teasers got all the automobile enthusiasts in the country excitedly talking and theorizing. The brand’s Instagram following count increased significantly as well, and it all ended with a very successful launch.
That’s how you do a great teaser.
You can also tease new products on your Instagram Stories and reveal them on your website. If you have over 10,000 followers on Instagram, this can be easily done through swipe-up links. If you want ideas and inspiration for effective product teaser designs, Pinterest is always a great source! Here is an attractive teaser I found for the launch of a new makeup product.
Teasers like this one are effective ways of driving valuable traffic to your website during a product launch.
The importance of Instagram Story Highlight covers
It’s been a few years now since the Highlights feature was introduced. HIghlights are extremely nifty if you want to group similar-themed stories and save them. It’s just a boon for people that don’t wish for certain content to be on their primary feed, but also don’t want it disappearing in 24 hours.
One underrated aspect of an Instagram profile is highlight covers. First-time viewers will notice these even before your post grid, so you have to pay particular attention to designing them. Here are a few general points for attractive Instagram Story Highlight covers:
1. Use little or no text: Highlight covers appear in tiny circles under the feed, so any small text you add will be illegible.
2. Make them colourful: Instagram’s native background is black or white, depending on whether you’ve got light or dark mode on. Use colours that will stand out against these backgrounds. Also, ensure your colours go well with each other. This is to prevent your Highlights section from looking like a random, tacky mish-mash of bright shades.
3. Use a good representative to all the Story contents: Don’t add a random image that does not represent the particular highlights group just because it’s catchy or attractive. It could evoke negative feelings (disappointment) when users actually proceed to check out the highlights.
Best practices for Instagram Highlights
1. Organise them strategically: If your main focus on Instagram is to generate sales, you could try creating separate highlights for different products, or product groups. This way, viewers of your account can know a lot about your offerings with just a quick glance. If you’re taking this route, it’s always advisable to not have purely product-related content; you don’t want to sound too sales-y after all. Throw in some humour, BTS, contest highlights, user-generated content etc. to make your profile more diverse.
2. Include FAQs: Again, if you want your Instagram Highlights to accurately describe your brand, it’s a great idea to devote an entire highlight to discussing FAQs, and general facts about your brand. For example, through your feed, viewers may be able to tell what products you’re selling, but may not be able to figure out where you’re based, and thus not gauging your relevance to them. This aspect can be avoided by adding all relevant particulars in your bio (use the full character quota, seriously), and other details in FAQs
3. Customer/client testimonials: If you are a startup, you’ll know that it is a huge challenge to gain the trust of the public. You can push posts and communications all you want, but there will still be a bit of scepticism. This uncertainty can be reduced by a huge extent when your prospects hear from existing customers/clients, as they have no motive to lie about your brand. You can greatly benefit from obtaining testimonials from established brands or public figures. These entities sometimes act as opinion leaders, and their reviews will bring a whole new level of trustworthiness.
Use these tips to develop your own Instagram Story ideas!
You could prioritize your posts as much as you want, but you can’t deny the value of Instagram Stories. There are many ways of keeping things fresh on Instagram Stories, and it helps to experiment with these to see what clicks for your audience. Apart from deciding on what to post, also ensure you’re posting your Insta Stories at the right times of the day.
With super-interactive overlays and stickers, you can let your imagination run wild when you’re pushing out a Story. Let us know how these tips worked for you! For other great ways to increase engagement for your Instagram profile, check out this blog.
It’s also important to note that Stories shouldn’t be used too extensively or too sparingly. If you only post one Story randomly every few days, it will look awkward and come off as poorly planned. It also may not show up in the first few Stories for many people, and they may have to swipe for a while to see your content. Not ideal.
On the other hand, if you post too many Stories in a day, you’re giving your followers far too much to digest at once. They may even get bored while viewing your Stories and swipe to the next contact.
Thus, it is important to find a good balance between the two.
New to social media management or Instagram?
Instagram Stories increase engagement for sure, but creating Stories is only scratching the surface of what a social media manager does. These blogs listed below will get you started, and provide helpful insights on best practices to follow (and those to avoid) on social media:
- How to get more Instagram followers
- How to get your Instagram hashtags to perform
- Tricks to generate engagement on Instagram
- Choosing the right Instagram profile picture for your handle
- Generating inspiration for Instagram content ideas
- Finding out the best time to post on Instagram
- How to choose the right Instagram hashtags for likes and engagement
- Things to avoid doing with your Instagram business account
- Why you need a content calendar if you’re a social media manager
- How to never miss trending topics on social media