With over 500 million daily users, Instagram is a powerhouse platform for creating community…if you know how to do it right. From Reels to Guides and good old fashion posts, there are countless opportunities for content creation and community building. When it comes to how small businesses use social media, we have found that they struggle to take advantage of what Instagram has to offer. To help our clients energize their social media presence, we thought we’d take a deep dive into one of our favorite Instagram features: Instagram Stories.

What Is Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are interactive short videos, text posts, or images that are published for only 24-hours. These posts do not show up in the newsfeed, but instead are attached to each profile and accessed at the top of the newsfeed in the app or by going to an individual profile and clicking on that profile’s avatar. Instagram Stories are meant to be a method of sharing everyday moments with your followers. But how does a small business share everyday moments? It starts with a plan.


Creating Your Instagram Stories Plan

Like any good social media management strategy, it’s best to begin any efforts with a plan. A monthly editorial calendar will help you prioritize your efforts and make sure that you’re creating content for your target audience while also not missing an opportunity to promote an event or share your mission. Simply start with one month at a time, plotting out any new products/service launches, events, or other happenings that are aligned with the mission of your organization and your target audience’s interests. With those events down on paper, you can begin to see where you might want to create a post, publish a new blog, or go live to talk about a given topic. 

Instagram Stories fits into this plan by helping support your larger content strategy. For every single piece of content you create (think blog post or video, something that has a high time or cost investment), you want to create five supporting pieces of content that you can use to promote your big piece of content. Think of that big piece of content as your “Hero Content.” These five supplementary pieces allow you to post or share your Hero Content multiple times without it becoming fatigued on social media. Looking back at your editorial calendar, start filling in days with each of the five pieces of supplemental content that you plan to use to promote your Hero Content. Instagram Stories are a great fit as one of your supporting pieces of content. 


Anatomy of an Instagram Story

With your Hero Content planned and your Instagram stories planned, we can go a little deeper into planning out exactly what you will be posting to your stories. First, familiarize yourself with where Instagram stories are located and the features available to you within the app. (See graphic).



Depending on your type of Instagram account (personal or business) and your follower count, you will have slight variations on the features available to you. Most notably, the ability to link a story to any web page, will likely not be a feature you have unless you have a large following. However, there are still plenty of things you can do! With stickers and text, you can decorate your posts with animated gifs and give more context to what is happening.


Designing A Story

When designing your story, make sure to establish a style that falls within your brand. Be consistent and purposeful about the fonts, colors, filters, and even stickers you chose. Maintaining a strong and consistent brand is important to establish and build credibility with your social media followers.

While Instagram stories are typically viewed as more laid-back and raw compared to a post on your feed, it is still important to choose high quality photos and videos. You can do this by taking photos or videos outside of the Instagram app and importing them when you’re ready to post. Another tip to remember is to keep your stories simple! People tend to click through stories quickly so it is vital that every image or video is simple and eye-catching. Stories is not the place to post long paragraphs or extensive videos. 


Event Planning and Posting

Instagram stories are a great tool to use whenever your small business attends or hosts events! You can give your followers a glimpse into the event by posting short videos or even streaming live. Boost your reach by tagging speakers or other attendees. This gives tagged people a quick and easy way to repost your story onto theirs. Similarly, you can share posts created by speakers and other attendees. Lastly, use conference hashtags. This makes it easy for other people to discover your posts when they search that same hashtag.  


Increase Engagement and Have Fun! 

Now you can start increasing engagement while having fun with your stories! Aside from just posting images and videos, you can also utilize Instagram’s story features to create quizzes, polls, Q&A’s, and ratings.


Lastly, make sure you enable your Instagram account as a business profile to be given access to Insights. These are essentially analytics on your whole account and on specific posts. Check analytics monthly, measure drop off rates on stories, and test various content types. By following these tips, you can start increasing your engagement in no time!

Need help with your social media account? Send us a note! We would love to hear from you and help where we can. Hello@uptownstudios.net

Lizzie Carroll
By Lizzie Carroll