Instagram Stories for Businesses; All You Need to Know

Instagram is a powerhouse platform for businesses looking to connect, engage, and convert their target audience into customers. Among the many Instagram features is Instagram Stories, a dynamic and valuable tool businesses use to enhance their marketing efforts. IG Stories have the potential to give your business the visibility, engagement, and conversions it needs to stand out in a highly competitive industry.

This article discusses Instagram Stories and everything you need to know about leveraging them for your business’s Instagram marketing.

First, let’s start from the root…

What Are Stories?

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is an Instagram feature that allows Instagram users to share texts, images, music and videos that disappear after 24 hours, with their followers.

You can share as many stories as you want at a time. Sharing many stories within 24 hours forms a glowing ring around your profile picture, forming a slideshow-like presentation.

Each story will last up to 15 seconds before the viewer is automatically moved to the next story.

This presents a fantastic way for business Instagram owners to showcase their products and services to their audience.

Why You Should Use Instagram Stories For Your Business

As a business owner, the stories feature enables you to create awareness for your brand in a fun and engaging manner. This means driving traffic to your profile and website and creating compelling call-to-actions for your products while entertaining, educating, and informing your audience.

Because Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours, they create a FOMO (fear of missing out) concept, making your followers view them immediately after you post them.

This is a great money-making opportunity for your business, as you can create irresistible offers to get your followers to take a specific action fast.

And since they’d miss out on the offer if they procrastinated, you’d record a good conversion rate.

These stories on Instagram are also an excellent way to update your followers about your business activities without sharing them on your main feed. You could share certain details about your business that you wouldn’t want to leave permanently on your main feed.

One of the fascinating things about these stories is that they’re interactive, as they prompt the viewers to send you a message. This allows you to engage your customers and build a strong connection in the long run.

Are Instagram Stories Different From Posts?

Instagram stories are different from posts in many ways. One of the major differences is that stories appear only on your profile, while posts appear on your followers’ feeds.

Another thing is posts are evergreen, whereas IG stories, just like Facebook stories, are available for only 24 hours.

Apart from the placement and duration, another key difference between IG stories and posts is the images’ size. Instagram posts have a square shape, with a size of about 1080x1080px (a 1:1 aspect ratio).

However, Instagram stories are in vertical formats, with a size of about 1080x1920px (a 9:16 aspect ratio).

There are many more differences between Instagram stories and posts, such as making text-only posts and adding background styling to your videos and images, which are only available on Stories.

Table Showing the Differences Between Instagram Stories and Posts

S/N

Instagram Stories

Instagram Posts

1

Appear only on your profile

Appear on your followers’ news feed

2

Disappears after 24 hours

It is evergreen until the Instagram account is deactivated

3

Vertically shaped, with an image size of 1080x1920px

Square shaped with an image size of 1080x1080px

4

Allows text-only posts

Doesn’t allow text-only posts, except in image format

 

How To Create Instagram Stories

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating Instagram stories for your business:

  • Open your Instagram app and log in if you aren’t already.
  • Click on your profile picture from your home screen to access the Stories camera. You can also access this feature by swiping right from your home screen.
  • Tap the Shutter button at the bottom of the screen to take a photo, or tap and hold to record a short video. You can also swipe up to select a photo from your phone’s gallery or tap the gallery icon to do the same.
  • Tap the icons at the top of the screen to add text, stickers, music or drawings to your photo or video.
  • Customize your privacy settings by choosing whether to make the story visible to all your followers private or public, restrict specific people, or show it only to a select group of followers (maybe friends or family).
  • Publish your story. It can only be seen by those who follow you or those you allow to see it, and it disappears after 24 hours.
  • You can also share text-only stories using Create Mode on Instagram Stories.

Tips For Creating Engaging IG Stories For Your Business

Here are vital tips to help you create Instagram stories that generate leads for your business:

Keep It Authentic and Simple

Instagram stories should be less formal than posts. They’re vital for building a stronger connection with your audience, as you can share behind-the-scenes content, employee stories, user-generated content, etc.

Therefore, keeping your stories authentic and simple is essential to build trust with your audience.

People view stories to unwind or learn things in snapshots, not to be burdened with the bureaucracies of your business. Think about it this way. What can you do in 15 seconds to steal your followers’ attention and get them to take a specific action?

The answer should give you insights into why your stories should be kept simple and authentic.

Use High-Quality Visuals

Visual quality makes a lot of difference on Instagram. People rarely engage with your content if you use poor-quality images and videos. Therefore, you must ensure your photos and videos are high quality and visually appealing to your audience.

If you’re working with your Stories camera, ensure proper lighting and that the background adds relevant context to your story. However, if you’re using a photo or video from your gallery, ensure they meet good quality standards.

Furthermore, you can use the filter feature on your Instagram Stories editing page to make your stories more visually appealing to your audience.

Maximize Instagram Stories Features

Leverage the interactive Instagram Stories features, such as stickers, polls, countdowns, questions, quizzes, etc., to make your stories more engaging.

Followers on Instagram are wired differently from those on Twitter or Facebook. As much as they’re going through a business page, they want to be entertained and wouldn’t hesitate to leave once your stories become too long or focused on one thing.

Therefore, you can use the features to ensure your stories don’t bore your audience at any point.

Also, features like polls and quizzes encourage viewers to engage with your stories, while the countdown feature urges them to take action or miss out on important offers.

Use Captions

Your visuals might do a good job of entertaining, educating, and getting your audience to take action.

But a compelling caption goes a long way toward enhancing the effectiveness of the visuals. Adding clear and concise captions to complement your visuals helps add context and make your key points more vivid.

Captions are also a good way to make your stories more accessible to a broader audience. You can add hashtags to your stories’ captions so that when people search for those hashtags on Instagram, they can see your story.

Include a Call-to-Action (CTA)

One of the things that makes Instagram stories good business tools is their FOMO-triggering capacity. It allows you to incorporate CTAs and gets reasonable conversions, as people don’t want to miss out on offers that might expire as the Story disappears.

You can use CTAs to encourage your followers to take different actions, such as sending you a direct message (DM), clicking on a link to read a blog post, visiting your website, buying a product, or entering a contest.

CTAs increase engagement and conversions for your business, helping you achieve your business goals.

Create Story Highlights

While Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours, you can keep them permanently on your profile by turning them into Instagram Story Highlights. This is especially useful when you have stories that get many engagements and conversions within 24 hours.

Story Highlights helps you curate these stories, enabling them to attract more engagements and conversions for your business.

You can create unlimited Instagram Highlights on your profile, each with a limit of 100 photos or videos.

Story Highlights helps you curate these stories, enabling them to attract more engagements and conversions for your business. #Instagram Click To Tweet

Incorporate User-Generated Content

IG Stories is perhaps the best way to show your followers how your customers feel about your products or services. You do this by showing content your customers created after receiving your product or service, getting your followers to trust you more.

User-generated content provides social proof for your brand and incites engagement and conversion from your followers.

Be Consistent

Consistency is vital to the success of any marketing effort. If you want your stories to generate the needed results, you must be consistent with your strategy. Create a story series so you don’t exhaust all your Instagram Stories content at once.

Furthermore, use Instagram Insights to monitor the performance of your stories, then optimize accordingly and consistently to improve your results.

What Else Can You Do With a story?

Apart from posting photos and videos on your story to attract engagement or conversion, you can do lots more with them. Here are some of them:

Instagram Polls

You can add polls to your Instagram Stories to assess what your followers are interested in or get their opinion about your products and services. Poll responses come as Instagram messages (similar to Facebook Messenger).

Creating polls helps you understand and serve your customers better.

polls in stories
Add polls for engagement.

Add Fun GIF Images

Adding GIF images makes your Instagram Stories stand out, especially when they appear to a new audience searching through a hashtag’s result page. This is because GIF images are catchy and tend to pop off the screen, attracting people just scrolling through your Stories.

Geotags In Your Instagram Stories

Adding Geotags in your IG stories lets people know where you are or have been. It works well for open houses, restaurants, retail stores, etc.

If you don’t want to pinpoint your exact location, you can use a city or state and not be as specific. It also helps others know where you are from and gives your account more visibility.

Share A Link (URL)

This is the best new feature on Instagram today. Before, you needed to have 10,000 followers to share a link that users swiped up to visit a page. But now, you can add URLs to your Stories by using Instagram’s new clickable link sticker.

Since these new link stickers are much more visible, you can attract followers and direct them to your blog, product page, or destination page.

links in Instagram stories
Adding links can increase your website traffic.

How Often Should You Post Stories On Instagram?

A recent study shows that 5 stories a day are necessary to be seen and grow your Instagram account. This is because, when posting 5 stories daily on Instagram, the retention rate went up to 70%.

The study shows that most exits from stories happen within the first 3 posts.

Small brands with fewer than 5000 followers post, on average, 3 IG stories per month. However, posting several stories per day drives better results on Instagram.

And, like on most other social networks, video content does best!

Keep in mind that using IG Stories also helps with the Instagram algorithm and increases your visibility. However, you can also share your Instagram Reels on your Stories and messages to increase your visibility on Instagram.

How To Watch Competitors’ Instagram Stories Anonymously

While only your followers can see your stories, others can also view them without following you, especially if your account isn’t private or you’re using a Business Instagram account.

There are different ways people can view Instagram Stories anonymously.

Even you can adapt these ways to your Instagram marketing strategy to spy on your competitors and learn from their marketing efforts and mistakes.

Here are some ways you can view Instagram Stories anonymously:

  • Create a new Instagram account and conceal your identity.
  • Switch to airplane mode before watching a preloaded story
  • Use free Instagram Private Story Viewer apps.

These methods only work for public accounts or Instagram business accounts. However, there are ways you can view a private Instagram account anonymously.

Instagram Stories FAQs

Can you View Others’ Instagram Stories Anonymously?

Yes, you can view people’s Instagram Stories anonymously in a few ways. But the most common is with Glassagram, Instagram Private Story Viewer tools like InstaStories, IgAnony, StoriesIG, Ghostify, etc.

Can you View a Story of People whose Instagram Accounts are Private?

No, they must have a public profile or an Instagram Business profile.

How does Instagram Stories work?

As the name implies, Instagram Stories allow users to share their business stories through texts, images, and videos within 24 hours.

To access Instagram Stories, log into your Instagram account, tap on your profile picture at the top left of the home screen, or swipe right from your feed.

You can now take photos or videos or select from your gallery. Or, you can also share text-only stories using Create Mode on Instagram Stories background.

How do you make a Good IG Story?

Making a good IG Story requires you to have a clear objective of what you want, then use high-quality images and videos visually appealing to your target audience. Use Stories to tell stories about your business, especially the behind-the-scenes that shows your audience the extent you go to provide them quality service.

How can I Promote my Instagram Stories for Free?

Here are vital ways to promote your Instagram Stories for free:

  • Create compelling stories
  • Use hashtags
  • Leverage location tags (geotags)
  • Share user-generated content
  • Share polls
  • Tag relevant accounts, etc.

How do you Get Attention on Instagram Stories?

Here are a few ways you can get attention on your Instagram stories:

  • Begin with a captivating text, image, or video that grabs attention
  • Tell a story
  • Leverage interactive features like polls, quizzes, etc
  • Add animation and effects

Why Stories Instead of Posts?

Stories’ key advantage over posts is that they allow you to temporarily share events and stories, especially those you don’t want to keep permanently on your news feed.

Can I see who Viewed my Instagram Stories?

Yes. You can see who viewed your Instagram Stories by opening them and swiping up on your screen. However, you won’t see them if they view your Stories anonymously.

How can I Increase my Story Views?

You can increase your story views by:

  • Creating high-quality content
  • Posting consistently
  • Using hashtags and location tags
  • Sharing user-generated content
  • Posting at optimal times
  • Using visually appealing images and videos
  • Leveraging interactive elements like polls, and quizzes

How do Instagram Stories differ from Instagram Reels?

The major difference between Instagram Reels and Stories is that Reels are public, while Instagram Stories are visible only to your followers.

You can edit and add more effects to your Instagram Reels than you can to your Instagram Stories.
What’s more? Reels are longer than Stories, as they can last up to 90 seconds.

How Long Can an Instagram Story Video be?

Your Instagram Stories video can only last 15 seconds. However, you can keep adding them to form a slideshow-like presentation until you exhaust the video.

Start Using Instagram Stories for Your Business

Have you started using Stories on Instagram for your account yet? I’d love to know more about your experience in the comments below. If you haven’t, I hope this serves as a guide to help you make the most of Instagram Stories for your business.

Sign up for my online Udemy Instagram for Beginners class below to learn more about using Instagram for your small business. This online class gets updated occasionally with newer strategies and tools for Instagram.

Lisa Sicard
  • Sushma says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I’m a regular Instagram user, but I didn’t know there was a way to see stories without being tracked. An eye-opener for me, to say the least. Thanks for sharing this article!

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Sushma, you are very welcome. Yes, I was surprised too when I did the research for this blog post! Makes you think twice now before posting your stories. Have a great day Sushma and thanks for coming by Inspire To Thrive.

  • Nice breakdown as always Lisa. Stories on this network do tend to get more attention than the posts themselves in some regards. People usually scan their stories and stop in to check it out and maybe give you a like too. In a way, when you post a story it is almost like emailing your list through either Instagram or Facebook. Folks see a story prominently and you usually don’t get buried as long as there’s some level of engagement. Excellent post.

    Ryan

    • Lisa says:

      Thank you Ryan. Yes, stories are the “thing” now but “Reels” are even more engaging and getting more eyeballs. Sometimes I’ll share a reel to a story for an extra push. I never got traction with the story feature on Facebook but am using it more for clients to re-test it once again. I appreciate your input and have a great day and new week Ryan. I’m watching it snow here this morning 🙂

      • I definitely think reels are way more effective in reaching out to the right audience than stories. Of course adding your reel to your story will boost it even more since your followers are made aware of story updates in a prominent way.

        I am not much on Instagram, have to check out this anonymous feature though, sounds interesting 🙂

        • Lisa says:

          Hi Praveen, Yes, I love sharing reels to my stories as it helps to generate more eyeballs. The anonymous feature is surely interesting. Thanks for coming by Praveen and have a wonderful day.

  • Amit Garg says:

    Hi Lisa

    This is a very helpful post around Instagram stories.

    The Instagram Story Anonymous tool is like a cherry on the cake.

    Though I am not active on Instagram, I will definitely give it a try soon.

    Thanks for sharing
    Amit Garg

    • Lisa says:

      H Amit, thank you. I found it very interesting and gave me more to think about when posting stories. You are most welcome. I’d love to know how you like it after you use it. Have a great day Amit.

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Jeenalyne, You are most welcome. Congratulations on your new account on Instagram. Have patience with it and don’t give up! I do have more articles here as well on Instagram. And of course my class you can sign up for. http://inspiretothrive.com/category/social-media/instagram/ Have a great day.

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Jones, you are most welcome. I believe many are not aware of the impact of stories unless they are “in” social media. Good luck with yours and love to hear how you make out with them. Have a great day!

  • Rijhu Sinha says:

    Hey Lisa,

    Truly awesome. Very well said and completely agree with you lisa, Instagram stories has number of benefits – it is one of the best place to build strong network, and helps in increasing traffic and sales.

    Instagram stories are definitely an incredible marketing tool that provides you number of benefits.

    Thanks for sharing this informative piece of article. Keep sharing more similar and useful post.

    Have a nice weekend.

    Thanks & Regards,
    -Rijhu.

    • Lisa says:

      Thank you Rijhu 🙂 Do you use them and how often? I try to but it’s hard to be consistent with them with all else that I do. I’m working on finding more ways to make it quick so stay tuned! I hope you have a great day and weekend ahead!

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Daniel, Welcome to Inspire To Thrive. That’s good compared to smaller accounts. Photography can do well on that network. How long have you been on it? Thanks for coming by and have a great day!

  • Thanks for this post. I am struggling to utilise my Instagram effectively at the moment. I watch other people get mountains of interaction etc. Do you know how regular business accounts should be posting? I’ve seen some people say don’t post images on your story, only videos with your own closed captioning, but it just seems like such a random statistic. Sorry if thats a random question, I am interested to know what the ‘ideal’ is. Thanks again.
    Keiran

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Keiran, welcome to Inspire To Thrive. You can post a few times a week and then do stories more often, even daily. You can use images and images that tell a story. Many do behind the scenes of their business or something relateable. Videos work well too. Try to make several images/videos into a story, each one a different chapter per say. Some different types of business do better than others there as well. Thanks for coming by and good luck! Let me know how it goes for you after a month of implementing it.

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Mohammed, If you have a website or are selling something Instagram may be for you. The target audience there is younger and more female. So it does depend if that is your audience or NOT. You are welcome. Do have a great day and I appreciate your coming by.

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Joseph, welcome to Inspire To Thrive. Instagram has started to generate more traffic here this year than ever before. It has not caught up to my Twitter yet though 🙂 Stories have really helped, they keep you out there and visible on the Instagram network. You have to do them daily for a few weeks to notice a difference. I’d love to know if you try how you make out with that. Thanks for coming by and have a great day!

  • Hamza Hashim says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing this amazing piece fo content. Social Media really helps to grow a business and its visibility to people. Instagram and Facebook are the best sources to grow a business and build relatioship with peoples.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Hamza, welcome to Inspire To Thrive. You are most welcome. Even though I generate more from Instagram today than ever before Twitter is still my #1 source of traffic. Are you on that platform as well? It’s amazing how things change quickly with each of the big social networks. Thanks for coming and have yourself a great day and new week!

  • Hi Lisa,

    Indeed, Instagram stories are so good and more people are switching to Instagram whether it is for business purpose or personal.

    Personally, I love using Instagram than any other social media platforms. It is easy and could engage more people whom we like.

    Instagram even have three options, business, private and public account, which is really helpful for every kind of users.

    I hope many people will learn about the benefits of Instagram from you.

    Thanks,
    Jeangam Kahmei

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Jeangam, Yes, more people are using and spending more time on Instagram than ever before. I don’t understand in some cases why some use private accounts if they are in business. I’ll have to do more research on that and maybe do another post 🙂 Thanks for inspiring me! Are you using stories often yourself there? Thanks for coming by and for your input Jeangam.

  • Moss Clement says:

    Hi Lisa,

    There’s no doubt that Instagram Stories are incredible marketing tools that marketers should be using. And since I’ve not been paying much attention to the site, your article is a reminder that I should. Thanks a lot for the insights. However, I didn’t know you’re a fantastic speaker as well.
    Good job!!!

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Moss, Yes, indeed. They are another tool for marketers on Instagram that works well. You are most welcome. I’m not sure if I’m a great speaker but I can teach in front of many 🙂 Thanks and have a great day.

  • Hi Lisa!

    It’s been a pleasure watching your Instagram stories these past few weeks and also watching you carry out the class.

    I have been looking for opportunities to utilize them more and more, so I’ve been doing a lot of analysis on how some of the big brands and influencers in my markets are utilizing them.

    Often times I find that the stories don’t seem that large or thought-out at all. Many of them are simple, spontaneous, and aren’t all that glamorous, for lack of a better word. Even something as simple as showing people what you’re up to, or sharing a thought that popped into your head can be enough.

    One thing’s for certain – the power stories can have to keep you top-of-mind and build a deeper connection with your following is very powerful!

    – James McAllister

    • Lisa says:

      Hi James, thank you 🙂 You are correct about some not being thought-out and uninteresting. I try not to do them for the sake of just doing them. Sharing about your day in a creative way is a great way to use them. It does keep folks top of mind as they are seen more in the Instagram stream. Thanks for coming by on this one Janes and have a wonderful day!

  • Hello Lisa,

    I have recently started using Instagram especially after the shut down of Google+. However, I have used Instagram Stories until now as I am playing with its features. Thanks for updating us with these great practices. Will definitely try them.

    Regards,
    Vishwajeet

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Vishwajeet, glad to hear you are using Instagram now. There are so many features, I just found one today for new blog posts, It’s a GIF and looks cool. You can also share others stories quite easily. So much to them I may need to update this post or do a follow up for advances. Thank you for coming by and cmmenting. Have a nice day Vishwajeet.

  • Hi Lisa,
    Thank you for giving me that “push” to do Instagram stories. It is on my to do list, but it’s time I jump on it. I used to think that after 24 hours it will be gone so what’s the use? But now, through better understanding with this article, I can see how interactive it is and that’s what I love. A short video would work hugh?
    -Donna

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Donna, You are welcome for the “push”. Oh yes, they are valuable indeed. I’ve been noticing in the insights more views from the stories vs. some posts! And the profile visits are picking up too. You can do up to 15 seconds for video. I’d stop at 14 just to be safe before uploading it. You can also do these on Facebook as well. They do give you more visibility there but I don’t believe as much as Instagram at the moment 🙂 Thanks for coming by and have a great day Donna.

  • Instagram stories are gems Lisa. I have slowly been using them a wee bit more. Here and there. Excellent advice and hey, you look good on stage. Keep up the great work.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Ryan, yes, indeed. The Instagram stories are a gem! I just found a new GIF today showcasing a new blog post 🙂 How cool is that? Thank you. It was a fun class to teach. Hope to be doing more of them. Thanks for coming by on this and have a great day Ryan!

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Bren, thank you. Yes, stories are quite amazing and can do a lot. The more I teach, the more I learn and the more I teach. There is so much to stories but I don’t want to overwhelm people at the same time with everything.
    The way in which they are done also depends on which mobile device you have though more tools like Agorapulse are allowing posting from the app vs. Instagram itself which is nice! Did you see my story yesterday with the butterfly on the sunflower? It was a video.
    Thanks for coming by on this post and have a great day Bren 🙂

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