April 23, 2020

Instagram Stories are becoming more and more important as part of an effective overall Instagram strategy. But while we love the idea of a fun Story, doing them “on brand” is something many businesses fail to do. Or having a purpose or schedule is ignored in the interest of simply getting content uploaded.

This is what I want you to avoid! So I’ve put together some of my best tips for how to create well organized content for your Instagram Stories.

And before you jump into this, you may want to go check out this previous post about how to create better Instagram Stories. These two posts combine to give you the best understanding of Instagram Stories.

Alright, now let’s dive in!

Establish a Theme or Style for Your Stories

As with most of your online marketing efforts, your Instagram Stories should have a cohesive style that makes them uniquely yours. The content is visual and fast moving so you want content that appeals to your audience but that also reflects your branding and style.

When creating your Instagram Stories, you’ll want to think about:

  • Font choice
  • Font or doodle color choice
  • Filters

For example, when it comes to my Instagram account (@jenns_trends), I almost always use the Neon font which is girly, cursive font. And I incorporate a lot of pink into my text color, images, and backgrounds. I’m also partial to the “Buenos Aires” and “Oslo” Story filters. This keeps my Stories consistent and recognizable regardless if they’re text based, photo based, video based, or even when it’s more personal content.

Think about your brand colors. Which ones are most associated with your brand? Consider using these colors as your fonts, text boxes, or background colors.

Agorapulse, whose brand color is orange, also uses color and font styling in their Stories, using the classic font in white with an orange text box to add text to their images and videos while staying on brand with their color scheme. Or when they use stickers, they change the sticker color to the orange variation.

You also want to consider your brand personality. Are you more feminine? Certain colors, fonts, and filters are better suited to that style. If your brand is about strength and power, selecting “Classic” or “Strong” fonts may be a better fit for you. A brand that is classic or vintage, or perhaps even a writer, might love the “Typewriter” font. Or, if your brand is bold and modern, you might like the “Modern” font option. Pick the one that best aligns with your brand personality and make that your prominent font choice for consistency.

In addition to creating your own Stories, if someone tags you in a Story, you have the option to share that post to your Story sequence too. In keeping with your brand style, however, consider adding your own flare to the reshare, using your font choices or filters. Or, if you have a good selection of tagged Stories to choose from, select the ones that best align with your brand style and personality.

Plan Your Instagram Story Content

Now that you know how your content should look and feel, you’re ready to start planning out content ideas for your Stories! It’s important to understand your purpose for Instagram Stories first.

  • Are you looking to generate sales?
  • Are you planning to generate brand awareness?
  • Are you focused on growing your followers or generating more engagement?

Knowing why you’re using Instagram, and specifically Instagram Stories, will ensure you create content that better serves those goals. For example, including a call-to-action in a Story sequence is a powerful way to generate results. But it’s important you know what CTA to use. A brand growing sales, like is going to focus more on CTAs that encourage purchases versus a brand focused on brand awareness might use a CTA that drives traffic to an IGTV tutorial video.

Here’s a sneaky pro tip about CTAs for you to consider: Don’t always leave your CTA to the last post in the sequence. For example, if you’re using a 6-post sequence, insert the CTA at the 4th or 5th post. Story retention drops off the longer your Story goes on and leaving your CTA to the very end means less people will see it. Including it at a mid point in the sequence can ensure more people see it.

How Often Should You Post Stories?

Instagram Stories are “fun” content and may often seem very casual, but they still require a significant commitment of time and planning. Do not commit to creating a 7-post Story sequence 7 days a week if you do not have the time or resources to create that much content. Be realistic about the time commitment you have, the team members available to create content, and the resources you have to create photos and videos. Plan your Story schedule around that availability.

In general, I like the idea that more is better for Stories. At least in terms of frequency. If you can have active Stories going 7 days a week, that’s awesome. But that may not be possible for you. If you can do 3-4 times a week, great. And if you can only do once a week, that’s ok too. But people are actively looking for Stories and rapidly absorbing that content. So if you have it to share, do it.

Unlike regular Instagram feed posts where one post stands on its own, Instagram Stories are designed to be done in a sequence of multiple posts. While you can post a single photo or video to your Stories, viewers are conditioned to watch through multiple posts. A single post can make it easier for you to create more content more often. But, it is a STORY and is meant to be shared in multiple components.

The ideal sequence length is 3-7 posts. Most people lose interest after 7 posts. Depending on which combination of photos and videos, 7 Stories can be anywhere from 35 seconds to almost 2 minutes. Those longer time frames push the boundaries of attention span for Story viewers.

What Should Stories Consist Of?

You also need to think about what you’re going to do in all of those Story posts.

Of course, using “push” content to include a CTA that will generate traffic, leads, or sales is always something a business wants to do. But if your Stories are always pushing things on your audience, they aren’t going to stick around for very long. You have to give them a variety of content that they want too! This can include things like:

  • Entertainment like bloopers or funny videos
  • Personal posts that show the human side of your brand
  • Behind the scenes of your business
  • Tips or tutorials that help your customers
  • Answers to commonly asked questions in your industry or business

As you’re determining the type of content you want to share to your Stories, it’s also important to plan that content out in advance. It is called a “Story” and should ideally have a flow with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

For many businesses, it can help to plan out your Story sequence in advance. For example, if you were going to share a Story series about a live networking event you’re attending, you might want the following items:

  1. A photo of the front of the venue with all of the signage for the event
  2. A video of the pre-event networking or gathering
  3. A photo of the tables or décor
  4. A video of the chairman recognizing the success of the event
  5. A selfie photo with one of the speakers
  6. A text post wrapping up the key takeaways

By planning this content flow in advance, you can make sure to grab the photos and videos at the right intervals and not miss out on them, but also not be stuck behind your phone the entire event attempting to document everything.

When Should You Post Your Stories?

Now that you’ve figured out the types of posts, and how many posts, you want to share to your Instagram Stories, you have to determine when to post them. There is no secret recipe to picking the right time to share Stories. Sometimes it will come down to your audience and when they’re most likely to be engaged. Other times it will come down to when you have the content to publish.

It’s important to remember that Stories only live on your profile for 24 hours. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to posting times and days of the week to maximize your reach, views, and engagement. If you know from your insights that your audience is most active on weekends, you would most likely be better off posting your Stories on Friday through Sunday rather than on a Monday or Tuesday.

If you’re posting a Stories sequence with all posts being shared at the same time, then you’ll want to pick an ideal time of the day. In these situations, the Story is meant to flow as one consecutive sequence with each post building on the previous one. You have created the content in advance of uploading it and want it all available together.

In this example from Kate Spade, all four images are part of one clear sequence and you would want them uploaded together in order to convey the whole message. In these situations, you want to pick an ideal time of the day and day of the week based on your audience insights to ensure as many people see the Story as possible.

But you won’t always have the ability to post a sequence in unison. If you consider the example above where you want to post about a live event, and you are posting from the actual event, not after the fact, your Story posts will be uploaded in real time intervals. Once the sequence is complete at the end of the evening, however, any new viewers will still be able to see the Story in its full sequence. At least until the first posts start to disappear after the 24 hour interval.

Unfortunately, the ideal time for you to share your Story posts may come at a time of the day that isn’t convenient for you to post that content.

Instagram Stories are still designed to be posted organically, without scheduling functionality. However, that’s not ideal for all brands. If it would be beneficial to you to schedule your Instagram Stories, there are a number of third party tools that help with this. The API restrictions as to what constitutes “scheduling” is that you currently need to use a tool that sends you a push notification to schedule. You can create and queue up your Story in the third party tool, get a reminder, and then push it out to your Stories via the app. So you still have to be present and online at the time you scheduled.

This is a general overview of Stories strategies to get you in the right direction. One of the great things about Stories is that they are so open to creative ideas and execution. I encourage you to have FUN with your content while keeping it consistent with things we talked about in this post.

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Once again, a detailed and interesting blog I must say! My concern is for users with less than 10k followers. Specifically, those who do not believe in getting followers using bots. How can they still get people on bio and hence to their landing page?

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