You’re using Instagram Stories wrong (& how to fix it)

I’m a big believer that almost any brand or individual can benefit from using Instagram in general, not even from using Stories. Instagram is a ridiculously accessible and universal social media platform where your images can be seen by the people you want to attract, no matter the industry. Everyone from middle schoolers to pets to your grandma uses Instagram. There’s a high level of community and communication on Instagram which makes it perfect for sharing what your company or you are up to, what you’re selling, and asking for feedback and commentary on practically anything.


What’s the difference between posting on Instagram and using Instagram Stories?

There’s 2 ways to share your images and videos on Instagram – either on your feed or through Instagram Stories.

Images that you share directly to Instagram go in your feed, and in the feeds of your followers. It shows up in the 3-across grid on your profile, and allows for public likes and comments. Unless you specifically remove these images or archive them, they stay on your profile forever.

Instagram Stories are timely posts, which means that they only last 24 hours unless you save them as a highlighted story on your profile. At the time of writing this article, this feature is not yet available for all accounts. You can easily add a poll to your story, add a fun filter, and tag people, places, and hashtags. It is also possible to share live video on your Instagram Story, and it boosts your profile to the top of a user’s feed when they first open the app.

What should I keep in mind when using Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories are something that I know many accounts struggle with, so there’s 4 things to keep in mind when creating your Instagram Stories.

1. The Story

It seems silly, but a lot of people forget that Instagram Stories should, you guessed it, tell a story! What are you doing today? Are you at a cool event? Just got a huge shipment of new products in and you’re busy sorting them out? Show your followers a day in the life of you and keep them engaged and interested in what’s going on behind the scenes. The more invested your followers are, the more likely they are to purchase from and interact with your brand.

2. Consistency

The accounts that I regularly keep up with are ones that post to Instagram Stories consistently. Whether I’m keeping up with the owner of one of my favourite boutique dancewear stores & seeing what’s going on in her life (she has very funny commentaries) or joining one of my favourite photographer’s weekly Friday recap, these are the accounts I look forward to following their Stories and know when to check the app.

Instagram also knows your habits, so if it knows that you check certain account’s stories before others, it’s more likely to put those stories ahead of all the other stories, meaning that you’ll get more views and be seen first!

3. Engagement

Another thing that I know a lot of accounts seem to get wrong is that Instagram (and other social media platforms) isn’t about them. It’s about their followers and what they can do for them. So with that in mind, your Instagram Stories should have a place where your followers can take action. Whether it be a simple poll (of COURSE I want to vote on which lipstick colour I like better!) or an open “comment back your reply”, give your followers something to do when they see your Story to make them feel like they’re a part of it. They’re more likely to stick around if they’re invested and engaged – social media is a 2-way street after all!

4. Tags

Finally, Instagram Stories are the perfect place to tag things. Whether it be the person you’re watching on stage (@whoeveritis), the event you’re at (#whereveryouare) or the location, tagging your Instagram Stories is beneficial for 2 reasons. The first is that, like I said above, it gives something for your followers to do. If you’re at an awesome industry-related event that would interest your followers too, including the event’s hashtag will let them see more relevant images and videos from the event. It will also let people who aren’t following you see your Stories on their Discover tab, which groups relevant Stories by hashtag and location. Instagram doesn’t automatically know what’s in your Story, which is why hashtags and other tags can help Instagram filter content based on what’s relevant to your followers and target audience.

This whole Instagram Stories thing is confusing me. Can you help me more?

I totally get it. If you’re not used to it, Instagram Stories (and any social media, really) can be daunting and almost too much to handle, which means you’re more likely to ignore it and not use it to its full potential. Lucky for you, if you’re at the bottom of this page and reading this, I can help you. Fill out the contact form below if you’d like me to get in touch with you with more information about my Social Media Strategy Session package, where I take a look at all of your social media and work with you to create a plan for how to best use social media in the future, and what to start with now.