My favorite part of Instagram? Instagram stories. I feel like Instagram Stories give an authentic and direct connection to your followers and it helps paint a better picture of what people are truly like. Instead of just a carefully edited and formulated snapshot on your Instagram feed, Stories provide a more accurate view of life, behind the scenes, and give you more opportunities to influence your audience. Not only can using Instagram Stories be fun, it's a great tool to get more people to follow you, read your blog, buy your product, or just gain more influence. This post intends to show you the tips, tricks, apps, ideas to share, get more views, and ultimately guide you to dominating with Instagram Stories.

Instagram can often feel stressful. That nagging pressure to post and share perfect pictures is sometimes overwhelming. Instagram Stories is the OPPOSITE of that. Share the grainy, funny, fuzzy images and videos and do it when YOU please. No need to worry about the perfect time to post or if what you share fits your feed.

For me, Instagram Stories are the best way to interact with my followers and have people read my blog. Since Instagram released the “swipe up” feature, to allow users with 10,000 followers or more and business accounts to add a link to their Instagram Story, I've increased pageviews on my blog and had more sales. Using live video is one of the most important ways to connect in our ever changing digital world. Strategically using Instagram Stories is a great way to grow online and be discovered.

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Stories

Why Use Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are simple. They are easy to upload, watch, and interact with those you follow. You get a realistic, often unfiltered look into your friends and accounts you love. If you are posting to Stories, you get a direct connection with those that follow you. It gives you a way to explain your content, share behind the scenes, tell a story, and build your brand.

Think of Instagram Stories as additional branding for your online persona. Be sure to show off your personality, your life, your thoughts, and what you have going on. I believe that the more realistic you can be, the more interesting you are. I love sharing carefully curated Instagram photos, but I love keeping it real on Instagram Stories. People want to see the real you and feel like they can connect with you.

Using Instagram Stories is one of the best ways to keep your audience engaged and interested in you, your blog, or your brand. There are millions of people on Instagram and Instagram Stories are featured at the TOP of the app. So, using your Instagram Stories can be a huge benefit to growing your blog or business. If you want to increase your visibility Instagram Stories will definitely do that.

Instagram stories are featured at the top of Instagram and are one of the best ways to increase engagement and visibility Click To Tweet

I think video is one of the most important ways to connect with your audience, so Instagram Stories is providing an additional outlet to do so. It's also tons of fun.

What are Instagram Stories?

Stories allow you to upload videos, pictures, and even photos and videos stored on your camera roll that play like a slideshow from everyone you follow at the top of your Instagram. The stories only last for 24 hours and after that time they disappear. There is no limit to how many you share but I suggest to not bombard people with too many (ex. 50 is overkill) otherwise they might skip your stories.

In case you're wondering, Instagram has won the battle against Snapchat. Yes, Snapchat might have introduced a similar concept, but Instagram Stories are now more popular and has more users that Snapchat. Though the apps are eerily similar (24 hour disappearing videos) Instagram now boasts 300 million people using the Stories feature everyday.

I believe that Instagram is one of the best tools to grow your blog and business, especially with the rise of Instagram Stories. To create a truly powerful Instagram I believe in creating an Instagram theme or aesthetic. But sometimes your content doesn't always fit your theme. That's why you can use stories to share. You also have the opportunity to share your personality and learn what works on Instagram.

Instagram stories allow you to share photos and 15 second videos to your feed in a quick and easy way. I'll also be showing you my favorite tips, tricks, and the apps I use to really take your stories up a notch.

How to Use Instagram Stories

To upload your stories you can simply remain in the app, click on the camera icon on the top left. You'll see options at the bottom: live (to go live) normal (to take a photo or take a video), boomerang, superzoom, rewind, hands-free, or stop-motion. Above this you'll see options to upload from the camera roll, turn on the flash, the button to record (tap once for a photo or press and hold for video), front or back facing camera, and filters.

After you take the video or photo you can also add options from the top right such as a link to swipe up (if you have 10,000 or more followers), stickers such as emojis, gifs, location, a poll, hashtags, and you can also draw or type on the image. You can also swipe left or right on the screen to add filters such as “black and white” to your photos and videos.



Next you have the option to save the image, add it to “Your Story” meaning, anyone who follows you can see it, or select to “Send to” to only selected people on Instagram.

To watch someone's Story on Instagram just click on the red circle from any profile you follow at the top of the home screen. To leave stories just swipe down.

The key is to make your stories interactive. Adding a poll to ask questions from your followers will help them to engage even more. I also like to add a location when applicable so that people can see where I am in real time.

Using hashtags is another way to engage your audience and also be found through the app. I'll explain more of that below!

Adding Gifs to Instagram Stories

One of my favorite things to add to Instagram stories are gifs! I think these help illuminate my stories and keep people interested. Plus, they are so much fun!

  1. Use an image or video or create a new one.
  2. On the top right click the smiley face “sticker” button.
  3. Click On “GIF”
  4. Check out trending GIFs or search for one that fits your story
  5. Click to add it to your story!

Here's how:

Using Filters on Instagram Stories

Instagram came out with fun filters that you can use on your photos and videos that you create inside of Instagram Stories. This is one of my favorite features! You have filters similar to Lightroom that add pretty colors or almost “edit” your photos and videos. You also have funky filters that add glitter or fun effects to your stories. There are also stories that offer game like qualities such as guessing what Disney character you are.

You can use Instagram Story Filters by creators that have made them and shared them to the app. There are two ways to get them.

To access Instagram Story Filters:

  1. Go to a profile of a creator you like (for example I have Instagram Story Filters on my profile @heleneinbetween)
  2. Click on the Smiley face right under my Instagram story highlights
  3. This will show you all the different story filters offered
  4. Click on a filter and click to “Try it” on the left OR click on the download button on the right to save the effect so it will be on your story when you go to shoot a photo or video

Another way to access Instagram Story Features:

  1. If you're watching someone's Instagram story abnd you like the filter they are using it will name the filter on their story in the top left
  2. Click on the name
  3. Click Try it or Save it
  4. Now you have access to the filter!

Sharing Stories with Close Friends

Instagram came up with a new option to choose close friends. This way you can share more personal stories to them! To do this, first add close friends. Go to the person's profile. Click on the “following” button on the left, just after their bio. Click “Add to Close Friends List”.  This is a GREAT way to  share certain things with your best friends or when you don't need/want your whole audience to see.

How to Add an Instagram Stories Highlight

One of my favorite features is Instagram Story “Highlights.” Here, you can choose stories to save on your profile that can be viewed longer than 24 hours. This is especially great if you have a promotion, a blog post, or just something special you want people to be able to see for longer than 24 hours. Let's say you took a really cool trip, you could highlight this and share it with your followers for days, or even weeks.

To share a “highlight” make sure you have the Instagram Stories Archive feature turned on. Do this in Settings > Story Settings > and click “Save to Archive.” On your profile, below your bio, click the “+ New” to add a new Highlight. Choose from archived and live stories to add to your highlighted stories. Now they'll be featured on your profile. *Here's how to add Instagram story highlight “covers” basically so the Instagram stories look branded with your profile.



How to add a link to your Instagram Story

To add a link to your Instagram story simply click on the “link” icon on the top right once you have recorded or uploaded your content. There, you can type in or paste in a link.

I suggest reminding people to “Swipe Up” to access the content you've linked. Every time I publish a new post on my blog I share a “Swipe Up” link. Also, if I'm getting a lot of questions I'll often share the answer with a link to a specific blog post or helpful article. Remember, you do need at least 10,000 followers and a business account to access this feature.

How to Share Instagram Stories You're Tagged (mentioned) In

Now, when an Instagrammer tags you in you in their story, if their profile is public you can share that post on your stories! I think this is a great way to boost  engagement and recognize those that are tagging you. It's easy to do!

  1. On your Instagram on the bottom right click the heart, this is where all your activity and notifications are kept
  2. At the top it will have “mentions”
  3. Click to view your mentions and at the bottom of the story it will say “Add to your story”
  4. Click that, and you can now add a mention to your story!

Ideas for what to share on Instagram Stories

Let's look at some ways you can share an Instagram Story:

– Share a behind the scenes look at a project or blog post.

– Showcase a tutorial or how-to. Whether you share your night routine or a simple recipe this is a great way to do so.

– Share your thoughts on something trending.

– Ask a poll: Which outfit your audience likes better or what they want to read next on your blog.

– Tag your favorite users. Share some of your favorite Instagrammers and tag them by typing “@” and then their username to tag them.

– Share the highs or lows of your day.

– Let people know you have a new blog post coming up.

– Share a Instagram Stories only special. Since you can have it go live for only 24 hours this is the perfect way to have a sale or promotion.

Consistency is key on Instagram Stories, so try to share something everyday. Don't worry about being perfect, that's the beauty of stories. You will stay top of mind when you share regularly and offer an interesting point of view, personality, or behind the scenes.

Instagram Stories Tips and Tricks

When I first started using Instagram stories I wasn't sure I liked it. I was still on the Snapchat bandwagon. But now I barely even check Snapchat and it's been mere months since I've sent a snap. Instagram stories just makes it SO much easier. Plus, there are some fun tips and tricks that will make sharing even more fun.

I like adding a little pizzazz to my Instagram stories because I think it makes them more interactive and engaging. Adding your own personal touches helps keep your branding aligned and helps followers to recognize you even more. Here are some of my favorite hacks for Instagram Stories:

Create a solid background on your photo or video. Press on the top right for the pencil icon. Choose your color. Press and hold with your finger for a few seconds and your background is now solid. You can also use the eraser to remove part of the solid background you changed.

Want it to be see-through? Press the pencil icon, the tap the marker icon (second from the left in the middle) and now it creates a screen where you can still see the image.

Use Instagram Stories like a pro by utilizing the full color wheel. To select any color in the color wheel click on the pencil icon on the top right. Then press and hold on any color to access the color wheel. Voila! You can choose any color you like. Don't forget to change the size of the brush on the left side to draw whatever you'd like.

If you really want to keep your branding in line on Instagram you can actually use the colors in the image. Press and hold on the color wheel and then move your finger to the part of the image to change the color.

I also like to erase part of the background with the eraser tool.

Change the size of your text in two ways. Type, then on the left you'll see the option to increase the font. Or, once you're done typing grab what you typed and use two fingers to expand it. You can also do this with stickers too.

Speaking of stickers… once you select a sticker you can tap it to see the other options. For example, a coffee mug turns into a cup of tea. Check out the different colors and options available by tapping! You can also “pin” your stickers. If you want the stickers to be featured in parts of a video then press and hold to pin them. For example, you can use an arrow sticker to point something out.

Add music by playing it on your phone while you record a video. OR use an app!

Find out my 5 favorite (SECRET) apps to up your Instagram game. You'll find 5 free apps that let you: record music, add moving text, capture live video, record your screen, and more!

You can also save your story to your camera. Once you take a photo or video, click on the bottom left “save”. You can also view your story and click on save anytime to save “video” to just save the video or “save story” to save the whole story. I often use that same story on Facebook later.

Instagram Stories Analytics

A topic up for discussion as of late is whether or not users should use a business Instagram account. I've had a business account since I can remember and I haven't seen any less engagement because of this. (See this post on understanding Instagram engagement and the Instagram Shadowban.)

When you have a business Instagram account you're able to more clearly look at your analytics on the app and stories. This can be a great tool to see what's working and what doesn't. For example: are people swiping away from your story? Who is visiting your profile? Clicking on your website? Following you? And who is replying from what you shared?

Here's a look at my Impressions from the past 14 days of my Instagram stories:


Here's a glance at what you'll see on Instagram Stories Analytics to see which resonates most with your audience.

Tap Forward: The number of times a viewer taps right to go to your next story.

Tap Backward: The number of times a viewer tapped the left side of the screen to rewatch the previous story.

Exit: The number of times a viewer swipes down to stop watching stories and go back to the main feed.

Reply: The number of times a viewer swipes up and responds to a story. The reply feature starts a direct message conversation between you and the viewer.

Analytics give a deeper perspective to see what's working or what to change up. You can see when people are more actively viewing your story or interacting. Let's say Mondays are a good day for you. So you'll know to share your best content then or get people to read your blog on that day as well.

In case I haven't convinced you, take a look at the number of “swipe ups” I received for people to click through to read my blog post. This is an additional 1,100 views on my blog post, all from Instagram Stories!

How to get more views on Instagram Stories

If you're loving Instagram Stories as much as me, chances are you want to show up in your followers news feeds. To get more people to see your Instagram Stories the first tip is to vary it up. Using different apps to create interesting stories that people want to watch and engage with. The more often people watch your stories, the more often your stories will show up in their newsfeed. Using polls is a great way to get people to interact with your stories. But also asking questions and feedback is a great way too.

Mention or tag influencers or people you like. Posts get 56% more engagement when tagging others. A great way to do this is share about an account you like. Wanna test it out? Grab a pic from this post, upload it to your story, and tag me letting me know you like this post (@heleneinbetween). Hint hint!

Next, use hashtags. You can use up to 10 hashtags on Instagram Stories. Just start typing “#” then start typing the hashtag you'd like to use. This will help you to show up in that hashtag. For example, if I use #travelblog, then click on that hashtag you'll see at the top I can view people that use that hashtag for that story!

Space out your stories. I like to try and post every few hours on my Instagram story. Posting at intervals throughout the day ensures that I'm featured more often at the top of Instagram Stories.

Bonus tip: I'll be sharing my favorite bonus tip on my Instagram @heleneinbetween! Check it out so you can see one of my favorite and easiest ways to get more views on Instagram Stories.

I think Instagram stories are a great ways to connect and engage with your audience. It doesn't have to feel scary because it's a natural, unfiltered way to share. Showcasing your personality and behind the scenes is all you really need to do. I think utilizing Instagram stories is one of the best ways to grow your blog or business and grab your followers attention.

Want to see the exact apps I use to create my Instagram stories pop? Grab the freebie below! These 5 apps CHANGED my Instagram game. I'm showing you how to use the apps to record video, cut your story, add cool effects, text, and even record you screen. You won't wanna miss this! I can't believe I'm revealing my secret apps…

The BEST Apps for Instagram Stories

Find out the best apps to up your game on Instagram Stories. Learn how to add moving text, record your phone screen, add effects, music, and more!

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