Instagram Stories: How to Watch Instagram Stories Anonymous

What Are Instagram Stories?

Instagram stories are a vertical feature on Instagram that can increase your reach on the network. They can a picture or a video for up to 15 seconds. You can add stickers, text, polls, to make them more interactive, and now even add a URL!  

These stories disappear within 24 hours off of your profile area.

However, people can view your Instagram stories anonymously with tools. (Something to keep in mind if you are sharing more personal things.)

Stories are a vertical feature where you can insert an image or video. For example, a story may be a “behind the scenes” look at your business. You can use the same image as an Instagram post for the story, though I prefer to mix them up.

Instagram stories

Finally, you can add stickers, gifs, polls, locations, and hashtags to these vertical images to make them more fun and engaging.

The more you add, the more engaging these stories will be. The idea is to make a short story – showing what’s happening in your world. What is new in your business that would interest your customers? This helps you get people more interested in what YOU do.

With Instagram stories, people can respond via an Instagram message. It’s a great way to engage your customers with your business! You can give a FREE offer or offer a special within the story itself.

Of course, you may also make your stories into reels and extend the reach on Instagram.

With Instagram stories, people can respond via an Instagram message. It’s a great way to engage your customers with your business! #Instagramtips Click To Tweet

Instagram Stories Anonymous Viewing

Did you know Instagram stories anonymous viewing is available?  However, not only do people who follow you see your stories but now people can watch your Instagram stories anonymously too.

There is a site online you can do it from and there are several apps you can download for your mobile device to also spy on others’ stories without following them.

You can use it from your browser on computers, tablets, and smartphones (iPhone, Android).

For example, if you wanted to spy on your competitors this is a great tool to see how often and how they are using stories feature on the Instagram platform.

Did you know Instagram stories anonymous viewing is available? #Instagramstoriesanonymous Click To Tweet

Instagram Story Anonymous – What Tool to Use

InstaStories is a free service for anonymous reading of public Instagram profiles.

With the help of their platform, you can secretly track stories and highlights, live broadcasts (online broadcasts, streams, recordings of broadcasts), posts (photos, videos, text publications), likes, comments, subscribers.

This tool is a great way to watch Instagram stories anonymously online and do research for your business. Business accounts on Instagram are public accounts.

Not only that but you can download Instagram stories anonymously online too. For example, if you are doing research on competitive businesses you could download the info and keep a file as time goes on.

instagram stories anonymous

How Instagram Stories Differ From Posts

When I started talking about Instagram stories, I noticed many puzzled faces throughout the room. Seems they were not grasping the difference from actual posts on Instagram.

How I wished I had a slide showing the difference. (And, yes, it will be there for future classes!)

Then, we talked about Facebook stories and many admitted they’ve seen them but had not tried them or used them.

Notice how they are front and center in the feed and that you can view 3 Instagram stories at a time. If you click on the one you can read them individually and sometimes respond if there is a poll or give them love, like, etc.

Instagram Story Sizes

An Instagram story is a vertical format. They are sized differently as they are a vertical format – 1080px by 1920px (a 9:16 aspect ratio).

Regular Instagram posts are square and 1080x1080px (a 1:1 aspect ratio).

Instagram Stories Background

With the background feature on a story, you can change up how your image or video looks and change colors. Furthermore, you can even give your background a scratch card effect as it opens up by using the erase tool in the story’s background tools.

Now, everyone has different phones so each one may do things a little differently but you can certainly play with your Instagram stories background tools and make your stories stand out.

Fear of Missing Out on Social Media

Fear of Missing Out or FOMO drives stories. People using social media don’t want to miss out on their friends’ lives but stories disappear within 24 hours so they grab attention! Yes, Instagram stories disappear in 24 hours. If you don’t look when you see a story in your feed it may be lost forever 🙁

These stories are not like posts on Instagram or Facebook that stay forever unless you delete them.  However, you can archive stories for yourself or add put them to “highlights” to keep them even longer.

See the circles underneath my profile in the image below with a word in them? You can use images, etc. for your highlights. I used the logo color of Inspire To Thrive for most of my Instagram stories highlight covers as you can see from the image below:


The younger generation on Snapchat and Instagram don’t like waiting so the disappearing stories features are perfect for them! Not only do stories disappear in 24 hours but they appear in the feed initially, front and center.

Stories are teasing everyone to click and look at them today. You may even do a story ad now on both Instagram and Facebook.

Not only do they disappear in 24 hours but they appear in the feed now, front and center. #Instagramstories Click To Tweet

What Else Can You Do With Your Stories?

Polls – Even making a simple poll helps your business to better serve your customers along the way. You can add polls to your story –  So, these stories are great to see what your followers are interested in or not. You get responses from people via an Instagram message (similar to the Facebook messenger).

Add fun GIF images – Because GIF images pop out off the screen. They make your stories stand out from others especially in the 3 screen image view shown that appears in your Instagram stream.

Geotags in your story – Allows people to know where you are or have been. This 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 often gives your account more visibility.

Share a short video on Instagram – Videos can be used in stories for up to 15 seconds but not one second longer!

Expand Your Reach – Become an influencer and make money with Instagram. 

Share a URL – This is the best new feature on Instagram today. Before you needed to have 10,000 followers to share a link where users swiped up. No more! Now, you can share your URL in a sticker so people can go to your product, your latest blog post, or wherever you want the URL to take them to.

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Tracking Your Content

On your Instagram professional dashboard, you can see how many people view your Instagram stories or reels. If they view it more than one time you will not know that, but you do get a count of how many people actually view them.

After you do many of these Instagram stories you may notice a pattern of which ones perform the best. And then, of course, do more of those!  Just be aware, you can only view the past 14 days of stories.

Bonus Tip: Katie Lance recently spoke about taking a day off of doing stories and how it helped generate more views the next day you got on Instagram.

What Makes Stories Different Than Posts?

Posts are not as interactive as stories are. You can interact more with your audience via the story feature. Instagram users find stories fun, appealing, and oftentimes will engage with them. You can publish stories more often than posts and not annoy your audience.

what are Instagram stories?

If you want help with designing your Instagram stories do try out Canva – they have templates all ready for you to use and customize! Plus, Canva offers a FREE 30 day trial on the premium version.

How Often Should You Post Stories on Instagram?

The answer to this one may surprise you. There was a recent study that shows 5 stories per day are necessary to be seen and grow your Instagram account!

When posting 5 stories per day on Instagram the retention rate went to 70%! They show that most exits from stories happen within the first 3 posts.

Small brands with fewer than 5,000 followers post on average 3 stories per month. However, posting several stories per day drives better results on Instagram. And like most other social media networks, videos do best!

Keep in mind, using stories may also help with the Instagram algorithm and increase your visibility at the same time. Why not try them today?

You can use the Reel feature as well for your story and messages.

How Often Should You Post Stories on Instagram? The answer to this one may surprise you. #Instagram Click To Tweet

In Conclusion

Have you started using stories on Instagram for your account? I’d love to know more in the comments below.

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 from time to time with newer strategies and tools for Instagram.


What are Instagram stories?

Instagram stories are a vertical format on Instagram. They can a picture or a video for up to 30 seconds. You can add stickers, text, polls, and now a URL!  They disappear within 24 hours.

Can you view others’ Instagram stories of people anonymously who you don’t follow?

Yes with a tool called Instastories.

Why would you view others’ stories anonymously?

To see what your competition is doing.

Can you view a story of people whose Instagram accounts are private?

No, they must have a public profile or a business Instagram profile.

Why are these a must-feature on Instagram?

Stories help spread your Instagram posts and account further into the algorithm giving you more views and possibly more followers.

How do stories differ from reels?

Reels appear in the reels area of Instagram and you can add different effects to them. Reels can be longer than 15 seconds. (Instagram reels can be up to 60 seconds.)

How long can an Instagram story video be?

Your video can be up to 15 seconds long on a story.

What is FOMA?

FOMA is Fear of Missing Out. That is what makes this feature so hot. People don’t want to miss out on these disappearing images or videos.

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Lisa loves helping others to thrive online through Social Media, Blogging, and SEO. What good is knowledge if you cannot share it with others? She has 30+ years of experience in marketing/advertising with 10 years of experience in content marketing, social media, blogging, and SEO. You can purchase her eBook about Twitter on Amazon, or take her Instagram class on Udemy.

  • 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!

    • 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.


    • 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 🙂

        • 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.

  • 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

    • 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.

  • Hi Lisa,
    Thank you for sharing these tips. I’m new to Instagram, and I even signed up for the business account yet I never knew I could do so much with it. I have been struggling to grow my page but will definitely apply what you’ve mentioned here. Thanks once again.

  • 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,

    • 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!

  • Thanks lisa for the article, i am not much into instagram stories, your article is such an eye opener, Am gonna try out from insta stories with polls to get an audience feedback about my product. keep up the good work

    • 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!

  • I’m using Instagram stories, got only 15k viewers on each one. My Instagram profile is about photography and I think is not so popular like other.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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,

    I am a hardly user of Instagram, didn’t know the true value of Instagram, reading your blog it really help me to know the real value of Instagram, Right now there’s no doubt that Instagram Stories are incredible marketing tools that i can use.
    Thanks for such a sharing.

    will be following you..

    • 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.

  • Instagram is one of the best place an generating traffic and sales to my website. I had once tried my hands on the Instagram stories but it didn’t work the way I planned.

    After reading your posts , am having a rethink now.

    Thanks madam

    • 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!

  • 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.

    Jeangam Kahmei

    • 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.

  • 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!!!

    • 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

    • 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.


    • 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?

    • 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.

    • 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!

  • This is fabulous, Lisa. And look at you! All professional and stuff! LOL I don’t use Instagram stories but I do look at others. I can definitely see the benefits in it. Thank you for sharing this!

    • 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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