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8 ways to lift your Instagram Stories game

By May 18, 2021 Stories
Media Mortar_Instagram Stories_Phone and laptop

With over 500,000 million people interacting with Instagram Stories, or Instastories, every day, the question isn’t whether you should be on Instagram Stories but rather, are you doing enough with them?

If not, you’re missing out on a key part of consumer’s purchasing patterns, with research indicating 58% of consumer’s purchase decisions are made by something they’ve seen on Instagram Stories.

Since launching in 2010, Instagram Stories have provided a welcome rugged and raw alternative to the polished pictures found on Instagram feeds.

Before you start uploading your photos, videos or GIFs to your Instagram Stories, check out these eight ways to lift your Instastory game.

1. Create and design your Highlight Reels

If you’re going to invest time, energy and potentially moola pimping up your Instagram Stories, you’ll want to have somewhere to put them proudly on display.

Enter the Highlight Reels aka the row of circles that live below your bio, where Instastories can be saved on display forever rather than disappearing 24 hours later.

So how do you determine what type of content should live in your Highlight Reels?

Depending on your brand, you could group these based on your content pillars, different services, locations or products sold.

For example, a café might design its highlight reels around key services like breakfast, lunch or dinner, while a fashion boutique might opt for spring/summer and autumn/winter.

Remember – you need to upload an image as an Instagram Story before creating a Highlights Reel. If you get stuck, you’ll find a step by step plan in our Social Media Handbook.

Psst – don’t forget to revisit your Highlight Reels each quarter to ensure the content is still relevant. There’s nothing worse than an outdated highlight reel.

2. Create an Instagram Stories storyboard prior to posting

If you’ve been following Media Mortar for a while, you’ll know we are passionate storysellers and truly believe the power of stories is what drives sales.

Just like blogs, website copy and social media posts, Instagram Stories rely on 98% preparation and 2% actually posting.

When planning Stories for our clients, we storyboard on a Word document or PowerPoint to ensure they have a start, middle and end like a real story.

For example, if we are planning Stories for a tourism operator, we would pick five to eight images from one service and support each image with a short caption about what a visitor can experience.

By doing this, we’re taking the customer on the journey through the region and showing them (rather than just telling them) what they can experience.

The goal is to use short, sharp and informative copy to help paint the picture in the customer’s mind and let the image do the heavy lifting.

3. Schedule your Instagram Stories

Media Mortar_Instagram Stories_Instagram on iPhone“I don’t have time to do Instagram Stories” – said every small business owner ever.

But there is an easier way.

If you’re not yet scheduling your content, we recommend reading this post before you scroll any further.

For those already in the practice of pre-planning your content calendars, pre-planning Instagram Stories works almost the same way – if your scheduling tool allows it.

We use Later to manage all of our client social media accounts, and this platform allows us to plan Instagram Stories – including the selected image and copy.

While it’s not fully automated, we receive a notification when an Instagram Story is scheduled to post. In a few clicks, the image is downloaded to our phone along with the copy (caption), ready to be uploaded to the client’s social media account.

Top Tip: we recommend resizing the image to 1080px by 1920px before scheduling them in Later. This ensures your images are the perfect size when downloaded to your phone ready to post.

4. Understanding the different types of Instagram Stories

What kind of Instagram Stories are you telling? One that’s curated, re-shared or behind-the-scenes?

While curated and planned Stories are great for educating your customers or sharing key messages with them (these will likely be saved to your Highlight Reels) don’t forget about how Stories all started – unfiltered, unedited and authentic BTS images and videos.

These are a great way to get your face in front of the camera too – whether it’s popping in to say Happy Friday to your followers or sharing a snippet of your team in action.

Don’t forget possibly the easiest Stories of all – re-shared Stories. Each time your brand is tagged in an Instastory, you have the ability to reshare this to your feed, which brings us to our next point.

5. Community Management is key

Media Mortar_Instagram Stories_Open phone on notebooksJust like any organic or paid social media content, community management is essential for Instagram Stories too.

Think about your own experience, have you ever tagged a brand or business in your own Instagram Story and they either re-shared or responded? How did you feel?

I love when Brendan Pang from MasterChef responds to Stories when I’m making dumplings from his cookbook or when a restaurant re-grams my photo of dinner and drinks while I’m eating it.

You have the same power to make someone’s day by double-tapping, responding or resharing their content to your own Stories when they tag your brand or business.

6. Get creative with Instagram interactive tools

Want to engage with your community through Instagram Stories? Get them tapping with polls and quizzes.

Interactive tools (all built into Instagram Stories) can not only boost engagement with your followers, they can be used to learn more about your customers and their preferences.

If you’re a café owner and looking to try a new menu item, why not ask your audience using polls in your Stories to gauge interest in the new dish.

Seriously, brands used to have to pay good money for a focus group as effective as what you’ll find on Instagram Stories.

7. Reshare on Facebook Stories too

Do you only post your Instagram Stories to Instagram and not Facebook? Like the Old El Paso ad, “Porque no los dos?”

Since the platform allows for automatic sharing to Facebook Stories, there is zero additional work required to extend the reach of your stories to your Facebook followers too.

Facebook Stories may not be as widely used as Instagram ones, but who is going to say no to free exposure?

8. Share the workload between your team

We’re not going to sugar coat it, Instagram Stories can leave you feeling like you’re tied to your phone – but you don’t need to bear the burden of Stories alone.

Why not share the workload between your team members?

Create a weekly, fortnightly or monthly roster for posting and community management – whichever is best for your organisation.

After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.


Do you have any other top tips for Instagram Stories? Share them below.

By Rochelle Vaisanen

When not climbing mountains on two wheels, Rochelle can be found on the hunt for the best almond croissant around town. A lover of good coffee, food and wine, and with a passion for travel, Rochelle is always on the lookout for new adventures locally and abroad.