How to Improve Your Instagram Stories

If you put in effort, Instagram stories can be one of the most visually appealing channels of communication efforts out there. Instagram story ads offer freedom to use humor, emotion, facts, or whatever tone of voice you prefer.

Here’s the catch: you have seconds to convey those messages before viewers lose interest. The average Instagram user watches dozens upon dozens of IG stories per day – that’s a lot of competition.

How do you create stories worth sticking around for?

By spending time on the message, visuals, and strategy of your Instagram story. If you think this strategy will look exactly like other social feed strategies, think again. Here are a few tips to boost engagement with your Instagram stories!

How to Improve Instagram Stories

  1. Use Your Phone’s Native Camera or Size your Pictures and Videos 
  2. Understand the optimal posting frequency to keep your viewers interested
  3. Understand the times of day your audience is scrolling
  4. Craft your Instagram stories to grab your audience’s eye 
  5. Offer a chance to learn more
  6. Use captions and subtitles for the silent viewers
  7. Test dynamic visuals 
  8. Use interactive tools to boost engagement

Use your phone’s native camera or size your pictures and videos 

One major faux-pas you can make while setting up an IG story is thinking the image size that worked on Facebook or even your IG feed will also work in stories. The most common situation we see this is when a business runs a Facebook ad and then just checks ‘run on IG stories’ without editing anything. Yes, the ad is visible in stories now, but is it really doing anything?

What looked polished on one feed could look unfinished and sloppy on stories. You can instantly and vastly improve the quality of your Instagram stories by doing just one thing: Using custom sizing for your images. This extra step will increase the quality of your organic posts and make your ads seem more native to the platform.

These dimensions are just as important, if not more, for your video content. More than half of Instagram stories you see will be video, and that’s for good reason. Video is notoriously easier to engage with than static photos.

If your team is taking photos from a phone and uploading to stories all in one go, chances are you can skip a resizing stage. But if you are creating branded images, the optimal dimensions for stories is 1080×1920


Understand the optimal posting frequency to keep your viewers interested

Based on a study by Buffer, the optimum number of times to post to your story is one to seven times per day. This number is based on the average completion rate of each post – or the amount of posts that viewers experienced in totality. By the 7th post, people stopped engaging and completion rate dropped. 

So if you are posting 20-30 times a day, consider pumping the breaks and focus on quality over quantity. If you are posting zero-one times a day, you have room to grow! 

Understand the times of day your audience is scrolling

Think about the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning – for better or worse, it’s probably grabbing your phone. The moment your audience’s eyes open is a pretty good time to have an IG story underway to maximize visibility. 

In general, posting stories outside business hours is a good method for getting in front of your audience. Try scheduling your stories for between 5 am and 7 am, and then on the other side from 8 pm to 10 pm. Another safe bet is hitting your viewer’s lunch break social scroll between noon and 2 pm. 

Craft your Instagram stories to grab your audience’s eye 

Color scheme – the colors of your ad will be the first thing people notice about your ad. This doesn’t mean you have to have a carnivalesque color explosion, especially if that is not consistent with your branding. When you understand eye-catching aspects of your product, you can shape your ad or organic post around that visual appeal. 

People are on Instagram to find aesthetically appealing content. Any graphic designer will tell you that to create this content, you need to focus on what space you don’t use as much as the space you do. Don’t clutter your stories with stickers, text and other busy distractions. Set the right mood and your Instagram story will seem more like an art installment than product promotion. 

Offer a chance to learn more

Yes, sending your engaged viewers to the homepage of your website may seem like an obvious choice, but chances are traffic from Instagram stories won’t be high converters. 86% of women use social media as an information-gathering platform before committing to a new product.

Catering to the awareness and investigation stages of the purchase process may be more valuable to the viewer. Send engaged viewers to a quiz that uncovers the best product for their needs, or a link to an IG TV video. 

Use captions and subtitles for the silent viewers

Instagram stories are seen almost exclusively on smartphones. Most of your viewers will be scrolling through stories during their morning commute, in between classes, or out in public. That means that their sound may not be on when they experience your ad.

If you have any sort of audio dialogue in your content, you need to account for this very common situation with subtitles or at the very least, including subtitles of the most important aspects of the dialogue and message.  

Test dynamic visuals 

Maybe you don’t have a great video of your product or want to leverage some great photos. Still images are still great, but if you want to want to make a quick and eye-catching update, try creating a dynamic visual! Dynamic visuals are basically very simple videos created from your images. This can look like a mini slide show of multiple images or one image that has some dynamic quality like a falling snow overlay.

This can be as simple as taking a few photos of your product and creating a gif. This takes minutes and can lead to a more engaging and creative ad. 

Use interactive tools to boost engagement

Creating interactive ads is a great way to see which aspects of your ads, product, or brand resonates best with your audience. How? By asking them just that! 

Instagram stories aren’t held to the same standards of Instagram posts – since native posts delete in 24 hours, they have the freedom to have a more impromptu quality to them. Don’t be afraid to have a conversational tone or try out casual styles of communication. Use memes, make jokes, buy in to the current social media trend for a moment. This can be a great way to initiate an easy conversation. 

Involve your audience in the process – ask them questions on how the brand can improve in their eyes. Questions like “What color should we make these shoes in next?” or “What’s your take on our newest lip shade?” Can start an easy conversation with your audience, as well as gain some important feedback.

Instagram stories make it simple to try out interactive content with easy add-ons like:

Yes/no questions: gain insight into your audience’s opinions through yes/no questions.

Polls: Understand your viewer’s preferences

Slide scale: Slide scales are a simple way for your audience to engage in less than a second!

Questions/answers:  Get multiple word responses from your highly-engaged audience for opinions or advice.

Music: Add a little something extra to an otherwise traditional image story. 

Locations: Add your brick-and-mortar as a location on your stories – this will make your stores very easy to find!

Hashtags: Organize your posts and others who post about you through a customized hashtag. 

Go Live: Have something to say? Go live! this will send a notification to your viewers and could get more active engagement than a traditional story. 

What’s the point of spending time on this platform if you don’t take advantage of all the possibilities? This creative little temporary social resource has helpful tricks to grab your audience’s interest if you know where to look. Ready to plan a social strategy that resonates with your audience? Reach out to our team!New Call-to-action

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