instagram stories best practices feature

9 Instagram Stories Best Practices to Grow Your Business

What happens on Instagram stays on Instagram… for 24 hours with the transient Snapchat-esque “Stories.” Over 500 million active users are on Stories every day, and your business can capitalize on this largely untapped funnel with Instagram Stories best practices

Surprisingly, many marketers are still struggling to incorporate Stories into a digital marketing sales funnel, flywheel, or whatever your lead gen model is. As many as 55% of marketers aren’t even sure how to add a link to Instagram Stories. 

That all changed in February 2021. Now you can easily add a link to your Stories, automate responses, and DMs from a single inbox with an Instagram sanctioned tool.

That’s right, the Facebook and Instagram powers-at-be have blessed us with Messenger API support.😇 These are 100% Instagram-approved engagement tools that you can rest easy knowing you will never be penalized for taking advantage of.

instagram stories best practices

We’ve been waiting for this — is currently transforming popular influencers, celebrities, and brands stories and DMs into leads that convert!🎉

Here are the Instagram Stories best practices to grow your brand or business online: 

  1. Auto reply to mentions in Stories.
  2. Add a link to Instagram Stories.
  3. Use Instagram Stories highlights.
  4. Master the Art of Instagram Stickers.
  5. Be consistent to stay on top.
  6. Short Stories for short attention spans.
  7. Always shoot vertically.
  8. Create consecutive Stories that flow.
  9. Follow the experts and official IG accounts.

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Why You Should Use Instagram Stories for Business

If you still aren’t sure about using Instagram Stories for business accounts, here are a few fun facts that are anything but foo foo… these numbers translate to very real (and potentially very large amounts of) dollars for your business or brand. 

5 fun Instagram statistics that will get you excited about using Instagram Stories for Business:

  • Digital agencies report up to 2-3X more engagement using Instagram Stories versus other post types or forms of social media content. 
  • Over one-third of Stories with the most views are posted by businesses. 
  • 81% of people utilize Instagram to inform and guide their purchases for both products and services.  
  • After seeing stories, 58% say they become more interested in purchasing a product or service from a brand. 
  • It’s almost an entirely mobile platform. With 50% of global web traffic in 2021 being mobile, plus 98% of active Facebook users on mobile — it’s an important place to be for brand awareness and customer engagement. 

As digital marketing trends of 2021 have pointed towards the import of developing authentic connections with customers via engagement, i.e., social media. 

Stories have arguably become the best place to do this. Since the Instagram Stories released in 2016, influencers have posted less each year on the newsfeed and directed their efforts towards Stories. 

instagram stories best practices

If you’re ready to use Instagram for marketing, sales, customer support, and more, Instagram Stories is a great place to start. Let’s begin!

How to Use Instagram Stories Effectively

First, a few of the very basic Instagram Stories best practices basics for the uninitiated.

Why are Instagram Stories so popular? The underlying reason for Instagram Stories driving outrageous engagement for businesses and brands is… it’s fun

To put it simply, the light-hearted and fun nature of Stories appeals to the 500 million active Stories users. By using a few simple Instagram Stories best practices you can effectively show the story, people, and personality behind a brand in a more human way.

instagram stories best practices

There are a lot of awesome extras that make Stories so special, from Stickers to Instagram Live, Boomerang, and Superzooms. But don’t let all of the fun bonuses and options overwhelm you. We’ll get to that later. Keep it simple when starting on Stories. 

instagram stories best practices

If during your first few Instagram Stories, you find yourself asking, “why are my Instagram Stories blurry?” first check your camera lens, of course, and wipe it clean. Then, check your internet connection. You might need to wait to upload that off-the-cuff moment until you hit a stable Wi-Fi signal. 

Algorithms schmalgorithms, who needs to worry about the newsfeed algorithm when your Stories are always at the top! Keep posting Stories daily to stay at the top of your follower’s newsfeeds. 

instagram stories best practices

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Instagram Stories is not for overly-refined and curated visuals and aesthetics. The largest companies in the world are posting goofy stories of their pets or office humor. 

When the first-ever post was a dog and flip-flop, it’s safe to say the original intent and persona of Instagram has significantly been maintained.

instagram stories best practices

Pictured above: the first-ever Instagram upload by Kevin Systrome, former CEO & Co-founder Of Instagram.

Let your hair down and be yourself on Stories for the best reaction. Stiff and perfected is boring — it’s perfectly okay to be a little rough around the edges with Stories. 

Here Are a Few Brands That Are Doing Instagram Stories Exceptionally Well

Not exactly sure where to begin or hating the idea of being on camera? Find your next Instagram story ideas or inspo from some of these large organizations and popular influencers effectively using Instagram Stories best practices. 

1. NPR – Utilize Animations and Graphics

Are you camera shy? You don’t have to be the smiling face in your business or brand’s Instagram Stories. An Instagram Stories best practice is to take advantage of animations and graphics whenever possible. 

A great example of this is the independent and non-profit National Public Radio @NPR. They are killing it by telling a visual story utilizing graphics. 

instagram stories best practices

2. Nike – Blend Magazine Style With Interactive Questions

Of course, the marketing team behind Nike has invested heavily in executing Instagram Stories best practices. Responsible for some of the most iconic marketing campaigns in history, they know how to strike a balance between serious and informative with fun and interaction. 

Notice the geolocation tag on the 2nd story and how Nike included a poll on the 4th story image? These are simple and powerful features to have in your stories that can boost engagement and help get your Stories on the Explore page. Just do it. 

3. Ed Mylett – Share Resources and Ask Questions

Here is a prime example of an influencer that knows how to engage his audience. Ed Mylett strikes the perfect balance between motivational and helpful tips and engaging personal questions. 

4. Gary Vaynerchuk – Always Include Some Motion

Have you ever noticed influencers making selfie Stories and video ads that involve a lot of subtle camera movement and instability? It’s probably because a little motion stands out in the newsfeed during your daily scroll-a-thon.

instagram stories best practices

Of course, Gary Vee is nailing Instagram Stories best practices. If you ever need some story inspo, check to see what Gary is up to. 

5. Airbnb – Innovate and Add Link to Instagram Story to Drive Massive Traffic

The vacation rental and tourism experience marketplace has evolved into a global empire and household name. They continue their explosive growth by always being on the leading edge of digital innovation. 

So, when the pandemic hit the U.S. in March 2020, Airbnb pivoted its Experiences, and utilizing Instagram Stories best practices helped them get the word out. 

instagram stories best practices

The fact that they are driving traffic and their team knows how to add a link to their Instagram Story is above and beyond most companies who are mostly missing out on the vast growth opportunities with Instagram Stories. 

You might be shocked to learn that over 55% of marketers don’t know how to add a link to Instagram Stories, posts, or anywhere beyond their Instagram bio. Not to mention how to take advantage of recently released API updates that empower brands and influencers with Instagram tools that can auto-respond to Story mentions and DMs, for example. 

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Break the Ice with Your Best Practice Instagram Stories

You’re ready to rock and roll and post your best practice Instagram stories, but you keep tapping around in circles. Here is a simple step-by-step guide to posting your first Instagram Story.

  1. Tap the camera icon or ‘Your Story’ in the top left corner to access your Instagram Stories camera.
  2. Tap the circle at the center of the bottom of your screen to snap a photo, 
instagram stories best practices
  1. Or tap and hold down the circle to record a video.
  2. You can also Swipe up (or tap the gallery icon on the left) to use images from your photo library. 
instagram stories best practices

Choose one of the following fun formats to add a little extra oomph to your Stories: Type, Music, Live, Boomerang, Superzoom, Focus, or Hands-free.

instagram stories best practices

Check the Analytics: Who Are Your Instagram Story Viewers?

Although your Stories a destined for deletion in 24 hours, you can still check who viewed your Stories for up to 48 hours. 

If you have a business account, you can enjoy access to Instagram’s in-app analytics, Insights

To get there, follow these easy steps:

  1. Tap ‘Your Story’ at the top corner of your screen. 
  2. Find the View Count at the bottom right. 
  3. Swipe Up to see a detailed list of your Instagram Story viewers. 
  4. With an Instagram Business account, you have access to Insights which offers graphs and more in-depth analysis.
instagram stories best practices

Now that you’ve broken the ice with Instagram Stories study up on these Instagram Stories best practices for up to 7X better ROAs, 10X engagement, and 20X more clicks.

Instagram Stories Best Practices for Marketers and Influencers

From the best methods to convert your Instagram Story viewers into leads and loyal customers to simple etiquette, here is the ultimate list of Instagram Stories best practices. 

Instagram Stories Best Practices #1: Always (and Automatically!) Reply to Mentions on Your Stories 

You’ve probably seen a fair amount of businesses using this line in their captions, “link in bio.” It’s not efficient, sexy, or cool by any marketing measures. There has got to be a better way, right?

Yes! Enter the trailblazing Instagram Story Mention Tool. 

instagram stories best practices

As one of the first fully functional digital marketing tools available for Instagram, the Instagram Story Mention Tool empowers you to respond to Story mentions automatically and adds links to your Stories! 

Gone are the days of hunting down your mentions. Set up the easy-to-use Instagram Story Mention Tool once, and it will automatically DM reply to every mention. It gets even better.

Now, you’ve got this engaged fan in a DM, with OmniChat®, your autoresponder can kick into action. 

Your autoresponder can walk them through a pre-qualify, Q&A, or other chatbot drip sequence that grabs leads email addresses and directs traffic to your business pages, all automatically — you never lift a finger after the initial setup. 🍰

Forget the “link in bio” and drop a clickable link right into your DM chatbot sequence that will garner 10X more action than the non-interactive and downright difficult “link in bio.” Get started by signing up for a free account

instagram stories best practices

Although we briefly covered how to add a link to your Instagram Story in the previous Instagram Stories Best Practice, adding links is a big deal for effective marketing funnels on Instagram and deserves its own section. 

So what are the best practices to add a link to your Instagram Story? First of all, there is more than one way to add a link to an Instagram Story: 

  • Basic link sharing: Curating trending articles and helpful industry insights or news is a great way to become a go-to source for followers looking to learn. Another best practice for Instagram Stories is to share your latest blog post or link to your Ecommerce site. 
  • Product info: These shoppable links provide your followers a one-tap CTA where they can learn more about your product without leaving IG. 
  • Instagram Shop: If you are taking advantage of an Instagram profile shop, this is a fantastic option to drive more conversions
  • Product gallery: Show people your entire selection of products in a convenient format within IG. Create custom collections by going to Commerce Manager in your Business Settings

Instagram Stories Best Practices Tip: Make sure you have Instagram Shopping enabled before trying out the above best practices to add a link to your Instagram Story.

Instagram Stories Best Practices #3: Use Instagram Stories Highlights

You’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into creating some amazing stories that flow like a Dan Brown novel. How do you keep them from disappearing in 24 hours? Highlights! 

With Instagram Stories Highlights, you can pin your best stories to the top of your profile. Not only that, but you can organize them in an aesthetically pleasing categorical way.

Check out how SEMrush incorporated their logo elements to create buttons or push pins for their Story Highlights categories. 

instagram stories best practices

Here’s another excellent example of how to categorize and feature your best Instagram stories.

Instagram Stories Best Practices #4: Use Instagram Stickers

Although the emojis and stickers you see plastered all over your favorite influencer’s Instagram Stories look fun — they have real functional value. You will likely not receive much engagement from your Instagram Story viewers without these “extras.” 

There are so many different stickers to choose from, and we’ll cover the staples next. But first, how do you add Instagram stickers to your Stories? 

How to Add a Sticker to Your Instagram Story: 

  1. Follow the steps mentioned earlier to post to your Story. 
  2. Tap the smiling square sticker icon at the top of your screen.
  1. Choose your sticker type! There are Instagram Stories best practices for each form of sticker but stick to the basics before trying to become an Instagram sticker ninja.

Instagram Stories Best Practices Pro Tip: Try not to overwhelm your audience with too many stickers at once. Stick to one type per story and optimize it. 

instagram stories best practices

The Many Different Types of Instagram Stories Stickers

Here is your encyclopedia of different types of Instagram Stories. You’ll have to stay on top of them as they are always changing and being updated. For example, in April 2020, IG released a special sticker for small businesses to sell gift cards and online orders.

Poll Stickers

instagram stories best practices

Your followers will be more likely to engage with your Stories when you make it easy for them to do so. Polls are fun to get people to engage and react with your Stories by simply tapping A or B. 

Hashtag and Location Stickers

The geolocation sticker feature is a fantastic way to build brand awareness. If an Instagram Story viewer clicks on a similar location, they may also see your story. 

instagram stories best practices

You can probably imagine that this is highly effective when promoting in-person events.

Similarly, the Hashtag sticker will organically put your Instagram Stories in front of exponentially more people. 

Emoji Slider Stickers

instagram stories best practices

These fun and straightforward sliders are another great way to get some easy engagement on your Instagram Story. Everyone loves emojis, and there are tons to choose from to make your slider stand out. 

The best part is that your audience will feel like they are involved, and you are effectively building a stronger relationship with them.

Questions Stickers

Asking questions is key to engaging content, but this one comes loaded with a secret lead gen tool. 

When you ask a question, whether it’s regarding a product or service or just for fun, something as simple as “do you prefer beaches or mountains?” or ”who is your favorite Instagram influencer?” can effectively increase engagement on Instagram

Not only that, but when Instagram Story viewers answer your question sticker, you can now automatically reply to them via DM with OmniChat®, which makes for a stellar user experience that generates fans and leads. 

Countdown Stickers

instagram stories best practices

A countdown is a perfect way to keep the momentum going for a new product launch or upcoming event or webinar. Don’t forget to encourage your followers to tap the sticker to set a reminder when the countdown is finished. 

Chat Stickers

These stickers offer a cool way to create an exclusive and intimate forum for up to 32 participants. Set up a mastermind group of your top followers to beta test a new offering, gather feedback and generate ideas. 

It’s like a micro Clubhouse-esque pop-up focus group, sweet! 

Product Stickers

Include a CTA to buy your products directly from within your IG Story. If you have something to sell, this should be screaming obvious “sales, sales, sales!”

They work on either video or static image/graphic, and businesses with under 10k followers can enjoy this easy-conversion Instagram Stories best practice.

Become an Instagram Stories Sticker Ninja 

There are many more ways to benefit from using these engaging little stickers, and each deserves its research and mastery to get the most benefit. 

Utilize the best practice for each to become an engagement boosting, lead generating, funnel filling Instagram Stories sticker ninja.

Instagram Stories Best Practices #5: Be Consistent to Stay On Top

One of the best things about Instagram Stories is that they are always at the top of your screen. But, how do you ensure your brand’s Stories remain in your followers’ coveted Stories reel? 


Although you need always to be churning out Stories to stay on top, be sure not to fall into the trap of posting sloppy content. It’s probably safe to say that the Insta algo favors quality over quantity and is smart enough to weed out cheaters. 

Instagram Stories Best Practices #6: Be Quick or Be Last

These days you have to get to the point very quickly in any messaging. We’re bombarded with so much information and technology that any ad that takes more than a few seconds will be ignored, skipped, and missed.

Facebook says users scroll 41% faster on mobile feeds. 😅Phew! That means you probably have appx—3 seconds to get your message to hit home with Instagram Story viewers. 

Instagram Stories Best Practices #7: Always Go Vertical

Instagram has reported that content explicitly designed for Stories almost always performs better than “cross-posted” or non-optimized Stories. 

One easy way to get in sync with your Stories is to shoot your photos and videos vertically. Nothing looks less polished than the black bars of death on a non-optimized horizontal video. 

Instagram Stories Best Practices #8: Create Consecutive Stories That Flow

People engage with Stories that tell a real story frame by frame, or in this case, “Story by Story.” When each post reveals the next step or phase to a project or brand story, it’s irresistible to click through. 

Tell your brand story, talk about the early days, and show your business “through the years.”  

Instagram Stories Best Practices #9: Follow the Best Digital Marketers and Official Instagram Accounts

Just when you thought you had all the cool Instagram Stories best practices mastered, they come out with something new. 

instagram stories best practices

With every update, all of us in the marketing world have a ball trying to exploit and take advantage of these tricks and tools. Where do you think growth hacks come from? You can bet on some digital marketer somewhere is burning the midnight oil tinkering with the latest IG features release. 

Stay on your toes! The best way to keep up, besides following the official Instagram accounts (which you will miss out on all of the 3rd party deep insights and growth hacks), is to keep an eye on the best digital marketers to follow in 2021

How to Get More Views on Instagram Stories and Leads That Convert

Instagram Stories is the place to let your brand’s voice shine, and that means having consistency from your branding to the tone of your messaging. You probably already have a brand style guide to incorporate into your Stories, and if you don’t… get to work on that! 

By maintaining strong brand consistency, Instagram says your Stories have a better chance of ending up on the Explore page. 
After you’ve mastered the Instagram Stories best practices and you’re ready to maximize your social media’s ROI, check out Larry Kim’s brand spanking new 10 Best Instagram Growth Hacks. These wildly engaging Instagram tools are legitimately monetizing business and brand IG accounts. You can grow your revenue with IG too!

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