Instagram Stories are a feature on the app that lets users share photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. They’re a great way to share everyday moments with your followers, without cluttering up your main feed with too many posts. (Related Blog Post – How to Use Instagram: Posting 101)
Small business owners can use Instagram Stories in a variety of ways. They can post photos and videos of their products, behind-the-scenes footage of their business, or even snippets of customer testimonials. You can also use Instagram Stories to communicate with your clients. For example, if you’re running a sale, you can post a story announcing the sale and providing a discount code. Or, if you have any new products or services, you can post a story about them.
Written by Abby Schiano
Why would I want to post something that disappears after 24 hours?
One of the great things about Instagram Stories is that they’re only up for 24 hours. This means that you can post more casual, everyday content without worrying that it will take up space in your main feed. It also means that you can be more experimental and try out new things without worrying that they’ll be a permanent part of your profile.
The above barely scratches the surface on why you should use Instagram stories for your small business. Before we get into more, let’s move away from the “why” and get into the “how”.
How do I get to stories?
You can get to the stories screen in two ways. The first is to swipe right on your home screen. This should bring you to your camera. If not, make sure you’ve allowed the app access to your camera. The second way to get to stories is by tapping the plus icon at the top right of your home screen. You’ll see a list of options and you’re going to tap story. This will bring you to your camera as well.
To take a picture for your story, just tap the white circle button at the bottom of the screen. To record a video, hold the button down.
What are all the little circles I can scroll through at the bottom?
Those are filters! Instagram has a ton, and I mean a ton, of special filters you can use before you take a picture or a video for your story. You can slide through the filters and whichever one you land on will be applied to your camera. When you find one you like, just tap the circle at the bottom to take a picture or record a video. If you don’t want to use a filter, just scroll back until you see the home symbol.
If the special Instagram filters are too much for you, there’s also the option to add a less intense filter once you’ve already taken a photo or a video. Just swipe your screen to go through the filter options until you find one you like.
I like how my photo/video turned out, now what?
Once you have your photo/video for your story, you have a few options.
At the top of your screen, you’ll see five circles. The first one is for branded content which is typically for influencers/bigger brands, so we’ll ignore that.
The second circle is probably the most important. This allows you to add text to your photo/video. For example, if you took a photo of your product, adding text would be a good way to explain what it is, and how much it costs.
How do I change the appearance of the text?
You’re in luck! Instagram has a lot of customization options for text. You can change the font, the color, the size, and how it’s aligned on the page.
First, choose your font. Do this by swiping through the options that will appear above your keyboard. Once you choose one, look to the top of your screen for the other options. The first option will control how it’s aligned, the second will pick the color, the third allows you to add an effect to the text, and the fourth will animate it.
For the text colors, Instagram has a handful of colors to choose from. If you don’t like any of them, you can use the color drop tool to select a color directly from your photo/video.
I’ve got my text figured out, what’s next?
Great! Now it’s time to introduce you to the expansive world of Instagram stickers. Stickers are not only a fun addition to jazz up your story, but they can also drive audience engagement.
To add a sticker, tap the smiley face icon at the top of your screen. Then, select the sticker you want to use. You can scroll through all of them or use the search bar at the top. Once you find the sticker you want, just drag, and drop it into your photo/video.
There are all sorts of stickers you can use:
- Location – Use this to tag the location of your story.
- Mention – Tag another Instagram user in your story so they can share it with their own followers.
- Questions – Ask your followers a question and they can send in their answer when they see your story.
- GIF- Add a GIF to your story to make it more fun.
- Music – Want a song to play over your photo/video? Search for the perfect tune with this sticker.
- Emoji slider – Another question option, but this time people will use an emoji to answer by sliding it one way or the other.
- Poll – Yet another question, but with only two options for your followers to choose from. You can customize the question and the answers.
- Quiz – A fun interactive way to quiz your followers.
- Link – This is a great sticker to use especially if you can find your product online. Direct your followers directly to your site.
- Hashtag – A great way to increase visibility.
- Countdown – If your story is about a sale or another timely event, use this sticker to countdown to it.
- Gallery – This allows you to add another photo to your story. You’ll see the last photo in your camera roll as the little icon and when you tap it, it will open all your photos to choose from.
There are other stickers such as the time and the weather that you can add to your story. Instagram also creates stickers for events like Black History Month or movements like “Shop Small”.
Change your mind about a special filter?
There’s a button for it! You’ll see three sparkles next to the sticker button. Tap that and it’ll bring up all the special filters you saw when you were about to take your photo/video. Just choose the one you want and hit done!
Is there anything else?
Yes, there’s one last circle at the top. It has three dots on it. Tap that and you’ll see an option to draw and an option to save. The drawing function lets you doodle on your photo/video. This is useful if you want to emphasize anything that you want your followers to pay special attention to. The save options lets you save your photo/video directly to your camera roll, so you can have it forever.
I’m happy with my story and I’m ready to post!
Great! All you’ve got to do is tap the arrow at the bottom and then hit share to your story.
Remember, you don’t need to add everything to your story that we went over. Just try to think of why you’re sharing something, and which story feature will help the most with that.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Instagram stories are only up for 24 hours. If you want your followers to still see it the next day but don’t want to share it to your feed, there’s another option for you.
These bad boys sit on your profile for anyone that visits it to see. They’re located right above your grid, and they consist of stories that are no longer active.
Creating a highlight is simple.
- When you’re on your profile, tap the icon with three lines on the top right of your screen. This will pull up a menu with lots of different options.
- Tap archive. You’ll see all of your expired stories.
- On the top right corner of your screen again, hit the three dots and select create highlight. It will show you all your achieved stories again but will give you the option to select the ones you want to add to your highlight.
- Once you’ve picked them all, tap next. You’ll be given the option to name your highlight and select a cover.
- When everything looks good, hit add and the highlight will now exist on your profile!
Highlights are useful because they can act as a portfolio. If you’re a small business and you want to show off your products, Instagram highlights are the perfect way to do it! You can also use them to communicate with your followers. If you have an event or sale coming up, create a highlight and add all the information there. This is a great way to keep your followers in the loop.
The best part about Highlights? They never expire! So even if you don’t have anything new to share, your followers can always go back and check out what you’ve posted in the past.
You’re ready to make an Instagram story!
If you’re a small business, Instagram stories are a great way to connect with your customers. Try using them to announce sales and events. You can also use them to show off your products. This is a great way to engage with your followers and get them excited about what you have to offer.
If you’re not sure where to start, try creating a story about your day. Share behind-the-scenes photos and videos of what you’re up to. This is a great way for your followers to get to know you and it’s a fun way to connect with them.