By now you’ve likely joined the 200 million people who use Instagram Stories daily. The filters, effects, and native discoverability turn this Snapchat-esque content stream into your own interactive TV network, making it easy to lose an hour tapping through user-generated photos, videos, boomerangs, polls, and live streams.
But there are few other other reasons your brand should leverage the platform as part of your social media marketing strategy. For one, being active on Instagram Stories makes you more discoverable on the social network, even for people who don’t follow you—especially if you add hashtags and location tags on your Story. And for current followers, every time you share a Story, your account will appear at the top of the feed. There are also early signs that brands of all sizes are getting more engagement on Stories than the feed, which tends to be noisy and mired in algorithms. While Instagram has kept engagement stats on Stories close to the vest, the interactive nature of the platform means that there are more opportunities for your audience to interact with you via polls, Q&As, outbound links (if you have more than 10,000 followers), and direct messages. Anecdotally, we see a spike in messages from our users (we love hearing from you!) and an increase in views on our profile whenever we’re active on IG Stories.
So we’re sharing some of our learnings with this quick guide to branding yourself on Instagram Stories. Read on for fun brand-boosting activities you can do and Spark templates that help you stand out with polished design (just tap to make them your own). Pair these templates with Instagram‘s native features, such as geotags and hashtags, gifs, and polls to slay the Instagame.
Create a Clean, Pro Look with Highlight Covers
Instagram Stories highlights allow you to save your best moments from Stories and present them in curated collections on your profile for as long as you like. Appearing in the prime real estate on your profile below your bio but above your grid, Highlights are a great tool for guiding viewers to exactly what you want them to see and telling your brand story in highly engaging, themed clusters. Quickly give your audience an idea of what your account is about by visually representing each of the themes you cover most.
Pro-tip: Use your brand colors, fonts, and watermark to go the extra professional mile.
Brand Yourself with an About-Me Section
While regular introductions on your Instagram Stories and as a recurring feature on your feed can help orient new followers, another great tactic is using the Highlights section for an About Me feature. The following playful templates we used for Spark’s own Instagram can help get you started. Remix the content with your own brand style, change up the text, and then use Instagram’s native text features to fill it in with engagement-boosting hashtags and location tags.
Pro-tip: If you have a lot of information to communicate such as the list above, consider having the design build on itself as the user taps through your Story. It will make for an easier reading experience and keep followers engaged and tapping. To do this, start by building the final design in Spark Post and saving it to your camera roll. This will be your last share. Then use the duplicate button and remove one aspect of the design and save that image to your camera roll. Continue this process until you’ve broken your design into bite-sized pieces and post them in order to your Story.
Use this “This or That” template to create a fun game between you and your followers by editing the copy in each section. Then use Instagram’s native drawing abilities to make your selection. Encourage your audience to join in the fun by sharing a remixable copy of the design you create. In Spark Post, tap “share” on your finished design and then “create remix copy.” This will generate a link to a copy of your design that your audience can edit with their own This or That options. If your account has the ability to add links to your Stories, you can use the swipe up feature to share the link. Encourage your followers to tag you in their own stories to boost engagement and conversation.
Similarly this template allows you to use Instagram’s native text edits, stickers, or gifs to complete the template.
Increase Content Velocity with a Series
Want to showcase your travel photography? Launching a new product? Showcasing your cooking adventures? Create a visual theme for these endeavors to connect them all and save you time! Take the series below as an example, which uses the same layout and concept for each design, but the color changes to complement the photo and place. The result is a visually arresting experience your viewers will love to tap through and an easy way for you to share your photos in a cool way.
An introductory design to an Instagram Story series, such as a recipe or epic travel itinerary, can help quickly orient the viewer to what’s to come and get them invested in the content. Get people tapping through your story by adding a button icon on your first Story share, such as the one above. This lends an interactivity to your content and will help hook your audience.
Another trick to adding extra allure to your Stories is to use Spark Post’s one-tap animations. Quickly add slide-ins, fades, pans, zooms, blurs and more to automatically turn any photo or graphic into a 4-second video. These only look like they took you a lot of time.
Say More with Video
Instagram Stories is optimized for vertical video, but you can share square and landscape videos on the platform by pinching the video until it fits. It will create blurred bars above and below your video, which is a great place to add hashtags, location tags, and even stickers and gifs using Instagram’s native design ingredients. The Spark Video team is working hard on creating a vertical video aspect ratio, but in the meantime you can use square video in your Instagram Stories to create polished video.
How are you standing out on Instagram Stories? Tag @adobespark so we can follow along.
Photo by Erik Lucatero on Unsplash