Blog Home Business The Business Owner’s Quick-Start Guide to Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are Instagram’s latest feature, allowing users to post videos or photos that disappear after 24 hours. Here’s our quick guide to set your business on the fast-track to success.

Similar to Snapchat Stories and the new Facebook Stories feature, Instagram Stories are temporary, and don’t remain in the user’s Instagram grid or in the main feed after the time has elapsed.

Both business and personal account users can create Instagram Stories. This makes it both a fun feature for personal users and a potentially valuable marketing tool for businesses.

So, how can you create your own Instagram Stories, and what is their use for social media marketing?


How to View a User’s Instagram Story

In Instagram, if an individual has created a story, this will be marked by a colored ring around the user’s profile picture at the top of the screen.

The Business Owner's Quick-Start Guide to Instagram Stories — How to View a Story

Clicking on this opens the story directly. The story can be in the form of a slideshow (like in the V&A Museum’s example below), which scrolls through a series of photos from oldest to newest. It could also be a video.

The Business Owner's Quick-Start Guide to Instagram Stories — V&A Museum

Similar to Snapchat Stories, users can embellish photos and videos with text, drawings, stickers, and even create polls. Viewers can’t comment or like the story, which means it’s a completely different and direct way of engaging with followers compared to the interactive engagement you’d have with posts.


How to Create Your Own Instagram Story

Whether you’re wild about dogs or avocado on toast, an Instagram Story can help you connect to your followers in an immediate, engaging way. Instagram Stories call for your followers’ attention from the main home page, making it more likely they’ll engage with your content.

1. How to Get Started

Creating an Instagram Story is quick and easy. Click on your own profile picture at the top-left of the screen, which will feature a “+” button and a “Your story” caption.

The Business Owner's Quick-Start Guide to Instagram Stories — Your Story

This opens a window from which you can either take a photo or a video, as you would normally do in Instagram. You can also choose multiple photos to upload as part of a slideshow.

The Business Owner's Quick-Start Guide to Instagram Stories — Try a Slideshow

2. How to Add Text to Your Story

Once you’ve taken or selected the photo or video, an editing window will open.

At the top-right, you can click on the “Aa” symbol, which allows you to add text over the top of the content.

Use the scale on the left side to adjust the font size. You can apply one of the colors running along the bottom of the screen to adjust the font color. You can also pick up a color from the image by using the eyedropper tool on the left side of the swatches row.

Once you’ve formatted your text click “Done” at the top-right. Then, touch and drag the text to adjust its position.

The Business Owner's Quick-Start Guide to Instagram Stories — How to Add Text

3. How to Add Drawings to Your Story

Adding doodles to your content mimics the carefree, friendly tone of Snapchat Stories, and is a great way to make your content more personal and approachable.

Select the drawing tool in the center of the three options at the top-right of the screen. From here, you can choose from a range of drawing tools and color swatches, and doodle away.

The Business Owner's Quick-Start Guide to Instagram Stories — How to Add Drawings

4. How to Add Stickers to Your Story

You can also add stickers, emojis and other graphics to your content.

Click on the face icon at the top-right of the screen (to the left of the drawing tool option). You can scroll down and choose from a wide range of stickers and emojis. Use the search bar at the top to bring up graphics with a particular theme.

You can then scale, rotate, and reposition your sticker by using the touch screen.

The Business Owner's Quick-Start Guide to Instagram Stories — Adding Stickers to Your Story

5. How to Add a Location to Your Story

Go to the same face icon menu as the last step. You’ll find the option to add a location to your content at the top of the menu.

Your phone will automatically list your current location. You can also search for a different location and add it to the image instead.

The Business Owner's Quick-Start Guide to Instagram Stories — Include a Location

6. How to Add a Poll to Your Story

Polls are a great way to add more interactivity to your Instagram Story. You can find the option to add a poll from the face icon menu as before, to the right of the second row.

Give the poll an opening line. You can keep or adjust the default “Yes/No” options by tapping your cursor into the text box and typing.

The Business Owner's Quick-Start Guide to Instagram Stories — Add a Poll

7. How to Add a Hashtag to Your Story

You can make your Instagram Stories more discoverable to the relevant people by adding a hashtag to your content.

Find the hashtag option in the face icon menu, on the top row. Type in your hashtag and suggested hashtags will appear along the bottom of the screen.

The Business Owner's Quick-Start Guide to Instagram Stories — Use Suggested Hashtags

8. How to Share Your Story

With your content embellished, you’re ready to share your story with your followers. Simply click on the Send to button at the bottom-right of the screen. To share your story with all followers choose Share to the right of the “Your story” option at the top. Alternatively, you can share your story with select followers by choosing from the list below.

Not sure whether you’re ready to put your story out into the world quite yet? You can wait to publish your story by clicking on the Save icon at the bottom-left of the screen.

The Business Owner's Quick-Start Guide to Instagram Stories — Share or Save Your Stories

What’s the Value of Instagram Stories for Marketers?

For personal users, Instagram Stories are a fun and novel way to communicate with friends. For marketers, the Stories feature presents some potentially exciting new ways for consumers to engage with the brands they already follow.

Here are a few advantages of using Stories from a marketing perspective, as well as some ideas about how to use the feature to its full advantage.

  • You can use Instagram Stories to create a multi-layered brand experience for your followers. Use it to take viewers behind the scenes of how a product is made, or take a tour of the company’s offices. You can use stories as a way of involving your target customer in the workings of your brand more directly. Try either immersive videos or witty slideshows.
  • Prioritize your most important content in an Instagram Story. While users can miss content in your normal Instagram feed, the fact that a story takes priority at the top of the Instagram home page or the brand’s grid means that it’s more accessible and enticing for busy viewers. So, whether you’re advertising an exhibition opening, a guest makeup demo, or a sports event, make sure to put the really important information in the story. Preferably place it in the first image of your slideshow.
  • Use the 24-hour time limit to your advantage. Stories allow you to create and deliver content that is completely up-to-date and time-relevant. So, if you’re doing an event for your brand in the evening, creating a story in the morning will create buzz by the time the event kicks off.
  • Remember to stay attention-grabbing and authentic. Don’t allow a dull image to let down your slideshow. Viewers can get bored of content in under a second, so make sure to keep your content lively and engaging. Stories are a great place to build the authenticity and integrity of your brand. Since viewers who click are likely to be existing fans, make sure your content is exclusive and feels authentic.

All in all, Instagram Stories is an integral part of the Instagram user experience. In the same way that Snapchat Stories helped the Snapchat brand to grow extremely quickly, the addictive and immediate feel of the Instagram Stories feature adds a new dimension to Instagram’s existing interface. While it’s an entertaining novelty for personal users, the impact for marketers might be much more significant, so watch this space!


Don’t miss these top tips for making better Instagram Stories for your business. Plus, create your own Instagram story images in 7 easy steps.