Instagram Stories: top tips on using the feature

Since launching the Stories feature in late 2016, Instagram has seen the feature go from strength to strength. Within a year, the tool had already overtaken its “rival” service Snapchat in daily active users. With more features constantly being added, it’s clear that Stories are here to stay in a major way. 

Similarly, Facebook Stories are slowly gaining more traction; Twitter is also testing its own version called “Fleets”. So if you’re not already using Stories – or you’re just getting started – here’s some tips that will help yours stand out on the list. 

Compelling content works best 

Much like your general Instagram feed, Stories work based on an algorithm. While it’s not known exactly what the algorithm entails, audience retention seems to be particularly important for Stories. 

It’s pretty obvious that you wouldn’t want people to be skipping through your Stories without really viewing them – and Instagram doesn’t want that either. Content that encourages people to engage, or grabs their attention, is therefore the best to run on Stories. 

Instagram offers a number of tools to help with this. The Poll, Question and Quiz options are all great to use. 

Make sure, though, that if you use these, you’re keeping them related to your business. Also, don’t overuse them: if there’s a poll in every Story you put up, then you run the risk of turning people off from engaging.

Similarly, GIFs can be a fun way of adding some life to your Stories, but be careful about using too many. The recommendation is to use a maximum of two GIFs on a single Story.

Finally, remember that you can always upload custom layouts for your Instagram Stories, along with text and logos. Apps such as Unfold, Adobe Spark or Canva have templates you can use to get creative with your Story designs. Many of them are free or have free elements.

Sound off

As with all social media, video is a big winner on Stories as well. Stats by Socialinsider show that video has a 6% lower “tap-forward” rate than images. This will add up considerably over time, which is vitally important for the algorithm.

One way to increase this retention on video even more is to add text explaining what is being said. Many people watch Instagram Stories with sound off, which could mean the context of your videos is lost. Use the text tools to add some key quotes from each section of your video to encourage people to keep watching.

Read about the pros and cons of outsourcing social media for your salon or where to find the best digital skills courses for salon owners.