Instagram Stories are an essential way to connect with your businesses’ target audience and boost engagement on a daily basis. Make sure you’re up to date by checking out this guide to the best Story features.

Instagram Stories allow users and brands to interact with their followers in real-time, more often. For businesses, stories provide an easy way to remain more “top of mind” to their consumers and fans.

Instagram Stories have lots of great built-in features that can enhance the look and feel of your posts. To increase brand awareness and audience growth, follow along to learn about all the best Instagram Story features for businesses. These will get you noticed by your audience and help you create a more comprehensive Instagram marketing strategy that stands out from the crowd. Be sure to check out our Instagram channels @shutterstock and @shutterstockcontributors to see how we put these features to use.

1. Instagram Story Templates

IG Stories Features Your Business Might Not Be Using (and Should Be!) — Story Templates

Image by PremiumVector.

Creating aesthetically-pleasing Instagram stories content day after day can be both time consuming and taxing. Luckily, more and more template applications are popping up to simplify the process and help you make killer designs.

Apps like Shutterstock Editor and Over provide users with curated templates that can be easily customized to fit any brand’s voice and look. With a small time investment you can make any template feel like your own by adding your brand colors and fonts. These seemingly small additions signal to your target audience that your Instagram content aligns with your business’ overall digital strategy and voice.

2. GIFs

The ability to add gifs and stickers to Instagram stories was introduced in January 2018 and has been one of the Instagram community’s favorite features to use ever since. GIFs provide are an easy way to make relatable and culturally relevant content, plus they inject a bit of fun into any story. You can add simple animations to embellish the story, like moving arrows around the customary “Swipe up” CTA. In the example below, we created a GIF with the Shutterstock logo so that we can easily add it to any story.

Camera animation

Not finding any GIFs that fit your businesses’ aesthetic? Good news! Businesses actually have the ability to create their own branded GIFs through Giphy and upload them to the platform. This is a hack we’ve noticed many brands haven’t tapped into yet. Some of our favorite accounts that have created their own branded GIFs are Ritual, Girlboss, and of course, our own!

3. Hashtags and Tags

One of the most valuable Instagram story “hacks” businesses can use for increasing their content’s reach is using hashtags and mentioning other accounts in stories.

Adding hashtags to your stories anchors it to a public pool of other content that can be easily discoverable by your target market. Above, you’ll see that we used descriptive hashtags, but also the popular #picoftheday.

Additionally, mentioning another account in your story (with the @ symbol) automatically sends your story into the inbox of the other account tagged. From there, the account mentioned can choose whether or not to repost the story to their account. The potential for amplifying your story’s reach grows exponentially when hashtags and mentions are used strategically.

Ever wanted to add a hashtag or mention a brand in your story but don’t want to ruin the story’s aesthetic? Here’s a hack: type out a hashtag or mention. Then, use the eyedropper tool to select an exact color from your story. The hashtag or mention will appear invisible to story viewers and blend seamlessly into the image, but you’ll still reap the benefits of it on your end.

4. Stickers

IG Stories Features Your Business Might Not Be Using (and Should Be!) — Embellish with Stickers

Screenshot via Shutterstock Blog.

Stickers allow you to interact with your audience in a variety of different ways. For example: you can ask them a question and receive responses, post a poll to gather opinions, or start a countdown. The opportunities are endless.

IG Stories Features Your Business Might Not Be Using (and Should Be!) — Re-Engage Your Audience

Image by Ice_AisberG.

For businesses, however, stickers are more than just a creative way to spice up your stories. Sticker features like polls allow you to collect valuable information from your customers, which can help your audience feel closer and more connected to your business. Additionally, customers can feel like they are being heard and that their opinion matters. Stickers will help to re-engage your audience. And, since Instagram’s algorithm collects information based on interactions, adding stickers will increase your ranking in your followers’ feeds.

IG Stories Features Your Business Might Not Be Using (and Should Be!) — Get Input from Your Customers

Image by Ice_AisberG.

Looking for more information about boosting your business’ social media? Check out these articles:

Top image by AngieYeoh