Instagram Stories first launched in August 2016, and since its creation, its popularity has skyrocketed.

The original idea behind Instagram Stories was to allow users to share moments of their day quickly and easily. You can share one or a series of videos and photos, which are shown in a slideshow format and stay on your account for 24 hours.

Originally created by Snapchat, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger admitted that they had noticed a lot of people were linking to their Snapchat accounts from their Instagram bio.

Systrom said that “It was clear that people were trying to bridge the two products. So we gave them what they wanted.”

This rival story feature has proved to be the making of Insta’s success, and since its creation, the social platform has experienced exponential growth. Unbelievably, in 2018 their active user base hit 1 billion. Of these 1 billion users, the Instagram story feature is used by a whopping 500 million users each day, and approximately one-third of the most viewed stories are from business accounts!

It’s clear that Instagram is a great place to reach potential customers, but how can you use Instagram stories to reach the people who matter?

We’ll show you the tips, tricks and hacks that you can use on Instagram Stories to maximise your reach and engagement.


Create rich, engaging and varied content

This may sound like a challenging task, but with some of the newer features on Instagram stories, this has never been easier.

There are now a variety of different content options that you can put on your Instagram Stories, including photos, videos, boomerangs and even live video streaming.

The story feature is the perfect place to announce giveaways, sales, new products, testimonials, or any other content that is quick and easy to translate to users.

As well as this, there are numerous additional features that you can use to engage with users which we’ve outlined below.



Polls are a great way of engaging with your audience as they can reveal preferences such as their favourite design in a newly-launched product range on your store. This insightful feedback can then be used to tweak and tailor future content you post.

You can also use polls to create games or in tangent with other features. For example, you could determine the winner of a prize giveaway through a quiz.



There are a number of sticker designs that can be used for generating brand awareness or for building more of a buzz around an event.

The countdown sticker is ideal for drawing attention to new releases, sales, giveaways or any other events.

Other stickers such as the questions stickers can be used to gauge what it is that your users want.

You can also use stickers to tag other users in your stories. This feature is used extensively by businesses to announce the winners of giveaways or to tag social influencers who may have used their product or service.



If you are trying to increase engagement rates, then Gifs can be perfect for this as they can portray your brand as accessible and human. These short animated images and have grown in popularity recently and adding them to your Instagram stories can make your content more engaging to your followers.



Another exciting feature Instagram Stories has is the ability to stream live video and connect with your followers and other users in real-time. You’re able to live stream a video for up to an hour, and it’s estimated that the best time to ‘go live’ is of an evening at around 8pm.

Live videos are a slightly trickier form of content to produce as it can be nerve wracking to stream yourself live on the internet, but if you can get over the initial nerves, it can be a great way of showing off product demos or talking about upcoming events in a more casual manner.

During live videos, watchers are able to post comments and you can respond to these on the video in real-time. Some businesses use this feature to their advantage and host question and answer sessions over live video.

The personal nature of Instagram Live allows you to build relationships with your following and in turn, this relationship can turn into a brand identity.


Story highlights

Unlike regular Instagram Stories that vanish after 24 hours, Instagram Stories Highlights can live permanently on your profile. Not only do they provide a snapshot for new visitors to see what you’re all about, but it can also mean that any great content you are pushing out on your stories can be viewed again.

You can group different stories together, which can be a great way of showcasing featured products or stories related to a particular event.

You can also choose the holding image on the front of each story highlight, so make sure you pick something engaging that’ll encourage people to click through.


Make decisions based on data

Instagram has changed significantly in the last few years and to have any sort of meaningful impact, either paid or organic, it’s important to adapt to prevent your account from being forgotten and left behind.

In 2018, Instagram made an algorithm update which meant that the latest posts were more likely to appear first in users Instagram feed and many businesses saw a drop in reach. Since this update, Instagram decides on where your posts appear in people’s feed based on:


  • When you post
  • How many people are engaging with the post
  • How often you post
  • Whether you have a relationship with your followers (do you respond to comments and messages?)
  • Individual users’ preferences


It’s unlikely that you’ll have a 100% success rate with the content posted on your story straight away, and it’s also unlikely that something that shows a huge level of engagement and success will continue to do so forever. The algorithm is constantly changing and evolving, so what’s successful will inevitably change too!

So, the best way to ensure that you are getting the best results from your Instagram Stories is to continually make decisions based on data.

The Instagram insights area is a great place to see how much engagement your posts are getting. You can gather some really useful insights on the best times to post and the best formats to use.


Here are some key metrics to look out for:

  • Interactions – This section of Instagram insights will show you the different ways that users interacted with your Instagram profile and posts. There will be data on how many people visited your profile, how many people clicked on the link to your website and how many clicks there were on the email and telephone links in your Instagram bio.
  • Discoverability – This focuses on two key areas; reach and impressions. Impressions refer to the number of people who may have seen your post, and reach is the number of unique accounts that could have viewed it. Reach is an important metric as it gives you an idea of the success of your posts.
  • Stories – There is an area in Instagram insights that is specifically for Stories. Here you can see all metrics that involve any sort of interactions with your stories, as well as viewing how discoverable your stories have been. You can then use this information to replicate any content types that have been successful in future posts.
  • Success – What you deem as being successful will depend entirely on the intention of the story. For example, if you’re creating a story that has a strong call to action such as ‘swipe up’, then you would look at the interaction metrics to see how many people did this. For stories that are focused on building brand awareness, you should focus on the metrics centred around discoverability.


Instagram Stories Ads

Gaining organic reach on Instagram can be challenging, particularly if the product or service that you provide has a very niche target market, so a great way of being seen is through the use of the Instagram Story Ads.

These full-screen vertical ads can be targeted at your key demographic and are peppered in between organic Stories (which makes it difficult to tell that they are in fact an advert). They can be a maximum of 15 seconds long – though users do not have to watch the ad, and they are free to skip past it at any point.

Although this may sound negative, this feature will allow you to see what percentage of your audience was engaged enough to watch – ideal when it comes to retargeting.

For example, you could retarget those users who watched at least 75% of the first ad with a second ad that offers them a promotional code to encourage an action, as this audience is more likely to engage and interact.

This can lead to higher conversions = #instastoriesforthewin



There are a number of ways to increase your reach with Instagram Stories, and many businesses are taking full advantage of this platform as a way of increasing their customer base.

The most important thing you need to execute when trying to target people through Instagram is consistency. Having a consistent brand, design, tone of voice and schedule for posts is essential if you want to have a successful organic reach and build a strong and memorable brand.

Post too often and you’ll annoy the hell out of everyone; post too little and you’ll soon become old news.


Remember what social media is for

It’s important that you don’t see social media as an extension of your sales team – a constant sales message will not work here.

Social media is meant to be social so your Instagram account needs to be people-centric and sharing content that’s relatable and interesting.

Using Instagram to promote your products is a given, but this is not the only messaging that you should be putting out there. Showcase your business and your brand, but make it human and exciting to your followers. They’ll be far more likely to engage with your product and service in a meaningful way.

For advice on how you can make a digital impact on Instagram, or if you would like to discuss one of our social media packages, get in touch with us today!