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Instagram Stories for Business

It’s been two years since Instagram first launched ‘Instagram Stories’, a feature which quickly exploded to become an essential Instagram highlight for many of Instagram user’s daily users. Instagram describes Stories as, “The home for self-expression and casual sharing for more than 400 million “Instagrammers” every day.” and evidence shows that the use of Stories is growing in popularity. With each new iteration of the Instagram app, the Stories element is also updated offering new features which allow individuals and businesses a playful way to express themselves and to connect with one another.

Recently, Instagram noted that engagement on Instagram Stories would soon eclipse that of Instagram galleries; for this reason, savvy business owners should include Instagram Stories within their marketing portfolio and organize a plan to create higher quality content formatted specifically for the Stories environment.

Why Should Your Business Create Instagram Stories?

Stories allow brands to connect with their target audiences in a fresh and authentic way. In addition to building a relationship, businesses can increase their brand awareness, drive website traffic, promote products or services and interact with their followers.

Stories give you a chance to show your followers a behind-the-scenes look at what makes your business unique and how you stand out from your competitors. With the option to add a link to your site, you’re just one swipe away from having your followers browse your latest product, promotion or news on your website.

From the perspective of your customers, consumers enjoy the authenticity Stories creates with a brand. This is great news for businesses looking for new ways to reach consumers, especially because one in five organic stories receives a direct message. Essentially, you have just obtained a new lead! With more than half of Instagram’s daily active users on Stories, the potential for new customers is endless.

Even though Stories are created to disappear with in 24 hours, Instagram recently came out with an update where you can add your stories to your Instagram profile as highlights. Highlights allows you to share your best and most important stories with your followers forever. When new followers come across your Instagram page, they can see these Stories you have shared (and saved) to your profile. These highlights are a great way to showcase your brand, who you are behind the scenes and of course your products/services.

Instagram Stories is More Than Pretty Pictures

Using Instagram Stories for your business isn’t just about uploading and posting videos or pictures. Just like any other marketing you do, you have to apply an appropriate strategy that matches with your brand and resonates with your audience. Since Instagrammers have a tendency to tap through stories relatively fast, you want to make sure that you are effective with your Stories, drawing people in right away. To do so, you will want to come up with a solid strategy to match your brand voice while showing your authentic side.

Define Your Instagram Goals

Start with defining your goal for your stories. Without goals you’re just going through the motions in hopes that people won’t skip through:

  • WHY are you creating stories for your business?
  • HOW are you planning to use Stories? Note it’s important that your Stories are captivating, funny and engaging to retain your viewers attention.
  • WHAT are you offering to your target audience?


Once you have these questions answered, look at your demographic. Who are they? What are the current trends that they like? What really grabs their attention? Knowing your demographic and as much as you can gather about them allows you to be far more effective when creating ideas for your stories.


Since stories are available and show for 24 hours above a followers newsfeed, there is no perfect time to post. Followers will see your story no matter what time you post, there is no special algorithm to get your followers to see your story. However you can schedule your story for when you know most your followers are online.

People are hungry for new content. A tricky part about stories is how often to post. You want to find the sweet spot where you are engaging followers (but not annoying them). If followers feel they’re being overwhelmed or annoyed by your Stories, they have the option of muting your Stories all together, which means they will no longer see ANY of your stories going forward.


Looking at what your competitors are doing can give you some insight as to what you should do with your stories. Look at how often they are posting, what they are posting, if they use stickers, and their calls to action (CTA’s).

What to Share?

Deciding what to post can be the biggest challenge of creating Instagram Stories. Since Stories have generally been used as a more authentic version of posts, users find interest in watching. However, you want to maximize on engagement and keep your viewers interested by crafting unique and fresh content. With Stories you have about a second to grab the viewers attention before they move onto the next story. The real challenge is grabbing the attention of those who speed tap through watching Stories. So the question becomes what content to post that will create engaging content. Plan ahead by generating a list or calendar of ideas.

Story Ideas

  • Create visual ‘How to’ tutorials
  • Provide free tips and tricks
  • Present the latest news about your products, service or industry
  • Share ‘Behind the scene’ content
  • Showcase an event
  • Share your latest blog post
  • Set up a profile takeover featuring an influencer your audience respects
  • Offer special promotions, discount codes, or last minute offers

Keep It Engaging

Instagram wants businesses to engage with customers so they have created ways for you to do to in your Stories. Here are a few ways you can do this:

    • Add stickers to your organic stories
    • Add a link to your organic story (if you have more than 10K followers or a verifed account)
    • Add music
    • Add a Call to Action (CTA)
    • Share stories you were mentioned in
    • Play with Boomerang or mix it up  with videos and images.

To keep someone’s attention, it is important to create a good mix of fun, lighthearted and promotional material.

Organic Instagram Stories only allow you to post pictures from your phone from the last 24 hours. This doesn’t mean that you have to have taken the photo with in the last 24 hours. You can use online programs like Canva, Adobe Spark and many more to create an Instagram Story for your business and add it to your camera roll then post it within 24 hours. When designing your Stories keep in mind that the ideal dimensions for Instagram Stories are 1080px wide by 1920px tall.


With Stories analytics you can see how viewers engage with your content. Analytics will give you a break down of how may accounts have been reached by each story, any interactions with the story and when a user has responded to your poll or question. A few metrics to familiarize yourself with are tap forward, tap backward, next story and exits.

Tap Forward: The number of times a viewer tapped the right side of the screen to go to the next story.

Tap Backward: The number of times a viewer tapped the left side of the screen to rewatch the previous story. Tap backs can be a great sign that your story is working!

Exits: The number of times a viewer swipes down to stop watching stories and go back to the main feed. Exits aren’t always a negative metric. Some viewers may have exited a story because they were running out of time to watch the Story.

Next Story: The number of times a viewer swiped right to watch the next story. This is a good indicator that the viewer was over watching your story. This metric is key in knowing how long your optimal story should be weather its 3 slides or 10 slides.

Once you add stickers, such as the poll, link, hashtag or location  to your story, you will see the data of who is engaging with the stickers in your analytics. You will be given a break down of who swiped up to your link, who clicked on each sticker, and who replied to your poll or question.

Paid vs. Organic

Once you have a handle on organic stories and have a grasp on a strategy, you can take these practices and start using paid Instagram stories as another form of advertising.

In March 2017, Instagram released the option of advertising in Stories as a global feature, offering brands yet another paid opportunity to reach more people. You will be able to create paid Stories through your Facebook Business Manager Ad Account.

When crafting a paid story, remember to create content that grabs the attention of viewers within the first second. Paid Stories are sandwiched in between the organic Stories of Instagrammers.

The biggest difference when it comes to paid Stories is that you’re limited to the number of story panels you can create. With paid stories you are limited to 3 panels, whereas for organic you can create an unlimited amount of Stories; however, this may result in your stories being muted. A link for viewers to ‘Swipe Up’ will automatically be added, so even if you don’t have 10K followers you will be able to drive website traffic and product promotions this way.

With a paid ad, you won’t be able to add more stickers to your story so you need to make sure that the story itself is compelling enough.

With these tips you will be able to take your Instagram story to the next level and engage your potential customers in a new and authentic way.

Apps That Will Help You Create Better Instagram Stories

Unfold - Unfold is a clean, minimalist app that provides Stories templates to help you tell better stories.

About Us
Full Blast Creative is an award-winning, full service, Calgary marketing agency. We help brands excel in marketing and sales through web development, e-commerce solutions, social media management, SEO & SEM, email marketing, print design, and photo & video production.