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Ecommerce, Instagram, Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Stories for Business

If you’ve ever thought about using Instagram Stories for business, now is the time!

Not only are Instagram Stories fun and creative, but they’re great for growing your engagement, building brand awareness, driving traffic to your website, and even making ecommerce sales!

Ready to get started with Instagram Stories?

In our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Stories, we cover everything from the strategies for creating Instagram Stories for business, to the tools and hacks you can use to create your own Instagram Stories. Here we go!

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Stories in 2019

Content Menu

  1. How to Use Instagram Stories for Business
  2. How to Create an Instagram Stories Strategy for your Business
  3. How Often to Post to Instagram Stories
  4. When to Post to Instagram Stories
  5. What to Post to Instagram Stories
  6. Using Location and Hashtag Stickers in Your Instagram Stories
  7. Adding Links to Your Instagram Stories
  8. Tagging Other Accounts in Your Instagram Stories
  9. Tagging Business in Your Sponsored Instagram Stories
  10. Share Polls in Your Instagram Stories for Business
  11. Ask Questions in Your Instagram Stories for Business
  12. Use the Countdown Sticker in Your Instagram Stories 
  13. Share Instagram Live Videos in Your Instagram Stories for Business
  14. Share GIFs in Your Instagram Stories
  15. Share IGTV and Instagram Posts on Instagram Stories
  16. Planning + Scheduling Your Instagram Stories for Business 
  17. Using Instagram Stories Highlights to Showcase Your Business
  18. Tools to Make Better Instagram Stories for Business
  19. How to Drive Sales with Instagram Stories for Your Business
  20. Track and Measure your Instagram Stories Performance

How to Use Instagram Stories for Business

True to Instagram’s easy-to-use interface, creating a story on Instagram is actually very simple. However, because Instagram has released so many new features for Instagram Stories in the past few months, it can be a bit difficult to keep track of them all.

We’ll get to some of those later, but for now, here’s a refresher on how to create Instagram Stories for business:

1. Swipe right from your home screen or tap the camera icon in the top left corner of the screen to open the Instagram camera. 

business instagram stories

2. Take a photo by tapping the record button or take a video by pressing down on the record button for up to 10 seconds. You also have the option of taking a type, live, boomerang, superzoom, rewind, or hands-free video.

instagram stories for business

Other buttons:

  • Photo: Select your most recently taken photo or video
  • Thunderbolt: The flash button.
  • Arrows: Switch from front-facing camera to back-facing camera and vice-versa.
  • Smiley face: Instagram’s face filters feature

3. You can also upload a previously taken photo or video from your camera roll by swiping up or down.

business instagram stories

If you select a photo from over 24 hours ago, a date sticker with the day, month, and year that the photo was taken will automatically appear. You can remove the sticker by dragging to the trash icon at the bottom of the screen.

4. Tapping anywhere on the screen will bring up the text tool. You can play with text size and color, and you can also use the “@” sign to tag another account, or the “#” sign to share a hashtag.

creating instagram stories for business

Instagram recently launched the ability to search for Instagram Stories by location and hashtag, meaning that if you include a hashtag in your story, other users can see it even if they don’t follow you!

5. Select from one of three different pen styles to doodle on your photo. You can also erase any drawings that you add to your story with the eraser brush.

using instagram stories for business

6. You can also add stickers by selecting the sticker button in the top right corner of your screen or by swiping up on your story. Some of the more important ones include the location sticker, hashtag sticker, mention sticker, selfie sticker, poll sticker, emoji slider, and question sticker!

how to use instagram stories for business

7. You can also swipe right or left to apply different filters.

instagram for business

8. When you’re done, tap the “Next” button to share!

business instagram stories

Your story will appear at the top of your followers’ feeds, but it will also be visible on your profile page by tapping your profile picture.

instagram stories for business

9. You can find out how well your Instagram story is performing by swiping up while viewing your story. This will display the number as well as the names of people who have seen each photo or video in your story.

sharing instagram stories for business

You can also view analytics for your Instagram Stories, but you have to be on an Instagram business profile!

To see insights for your Instagram story, head to your profile and select the Insights icon in the top right corner. Next, scroll down and tap “Get Started” in the Stories section.

Now when you open your business profile, impressions, reach and other metrics related to your stories will be included in your Instagram Insights under the Content heading.

instagram stories analytics for business

There are a ton of other hidden features on Instagram Stories that we haven’t mentioned. If you want to learn about some of the more popular ones, we wrote a blog post about them!

Upload Bulk Photos & Videos to Instagram Stories

If you’re publishing multiple stories, Instagram’s bulk stories uploader makes this super easy to do!

Previously, if you wanted to post several photos or videos to your Instagram story, you would have to go through the same process for every individual piece of content. Now when you go to upload media, there will be a new icon in the top-right corner of the screen:

Once you tap it, your phone’s gallery will display and you can select up to 10 photos and videos to post in one shot!

From here, you can add links, GIFs, or stickers for each story, and when you’re done, just click the Next button to share your story!

Looking to optimize your Instagram Stories strategy this year? In our free 45 minute Instagram Stories course, you’ll learn how to design beautiful stories, how to use the newest features, and how to optimize your stories for more followers, sales, and traffic! Ready to get started? Sign up for free! 

 

How to Create an Instagram Stories for Business Strategy

With more people using Instagram Stories every day, it’s important to have a strategy in place for sharing content if you’re using Instagram Stories for business.

But if you want to use Instagram Stories to get more followers and grow your reach, you’ll need a game plan. That’s why this year you’ll want to invest your time in creating an Instagram Stories strategy.

This is especially true if your goal is to grow your Instagram engagement. By developing a content strategy for Instagram Stories, you can make sure you never miss an opportunity to connect with your audience again.

How Often to Post on Instagram Stories for Business

Unlike regular Instagram posts, which are subject to the sometimes fickle Instagram algorithm, Instagram won’t penalize you for posting too many Instagram Stories.

This likely has to do with the ephemeral nature of Instagram Stories: because a story only exists for 24 hours, there isn’t much pressure for Instagram to prioritize some posts over others on a users’ feed.

This might change in the future as more accounts starting using Instagram Stories regularly, but until that day, it’s important to know that you won’t get penalized… by Instagram, that is.

A few months after releasing stories, Instagram introduced the ability to mute other users’ stories.

mute instagram stories for business

To mute someone’s Instagram story, all you need to do is tap and hold on their Instagram Stories avatar. This moves the story to the end of the queue and prevents it from autoplaying.

You can think of the mute tool as a way for Instagram users to block annoying accounts. Because of the way people watch stories, if you post too many stories at once and it takes your followers 15+ taps to get to the next account’s story, there’s a good chance you might get muted.

how to mute instagram stories

That’s not to say that posting a ton of Instagram Stories is a bad thing. It really comes down to your content and what your followers expect from you!

Some accounts can get away with posting 10+ Stories a day, while others are better off posting just a few times a week.

Take @wework for example. The international shared workspace company often posts 10+ stories each day. And it works for them! People love their rich content and it’s become a part of their brand:

instagram stories for business stickers

While posting multiple times a day works for some accounts, it might not work for you.

It can take a lot of time and planning to create a 10+ Instagram Stories, so if you think your time is best served elsewhere, it’s probably best to stick to just a few Stories per week!

Plus, if you consistently post a ton of stories, your followers are going to expect you to continue doing so.

At the end of the day, there’s really no “optimal” frequency for Stories, but it’s good to have enough throughout the week that people look forward to seeing yours without getting tired of your content!

When to Post on Instagram Stories

When it comes to regular Instagram posts, it’s very important to post when your followers are most active. But this isn’t the case with Instagram Stories for business.

Due to their ephemeral nature, Instagram Stories can only exist for a maximum of 24 hours. That’s 24 hours of being at the top of your followers’ feeds!

So even if you post a story at a time when the majority of your followers are asleep, they’ll still be able to see your story at the top of their feeds when they wake up.

algorithm instagram stories

In other words, don’t stress out too much about posting your Instagram Stories at optimal times. The whole point of Stories is for the content to be current!

That being said, if you’re looking for immediate engagement on your Instagram Stories, posting when your followers are most active will help.

What to Post on Instagram Stories for Business

Like with regular posts, if you’re using Instagram Stories for business, it’s good to post a mix of fun, lighthearted content and promotional content.

The great thing about Instagram Stories is that because they’ve created so many cool tools, you can really get as creative as you’d like. There’s also a ton of new apps popping up that make designing high-quality stories easier than ever.  

cool instagram stories

When you’re creating your Instagram Stories strategy, everything you post should come back to your brand goals. Once you know what your Instagram marketing goals are, you can better determine what types of content to post!

The same is true for promotional content on Instagram Stories. It’s easy to create promotional stories that are also fun and lighthearted. And there are a ton of creative ways to use Instagram stories for business.

That being said, when it comes to promotional content on Instagram Stories, there are a few things you can do to get the most bang for your buck:

Use Location and Hashtag Stickers to Increase Your Discoverability

When Instagram first introduced stickers to Instagram Stories last December, they were more fun than useful.

Since that time, Instagram has added a ton of new functionalities to stickers, including the ability to see location-based stories on the Explore page, and, most recently, the ability to search for stories by location and hashtag.

location hashtags instagram

These features have made a huge difference. Whereas at first you could only share Instagram Stories with your own followers, stories are now searchable by location and hashtag, meaning anyone can see your stories now!

That’s why we recommend always using location and hashtag stickers in your stories. If you can get enough people to engage with your story, you might even end up on the Explore page.

Use Links in Your Instagram Stories for Business

If you have a business account with over 10 thousand followers, driving traffic from within your Instagram Stories is pretty straight forward.

Viewers can swipe up on story content that contains a URL and be redirected anywhere you want them to go. This means you can send viewers to your blog or website, to a landing page, your email list, or even to an affiliate or partner page.

instagram stories links

It goes without saying that the ability to send your followers to specific landing pages from your stories is extremely useful. Whether that’s a product page or a new blog post, you can use this feature to drive Instagram traffic to relevant landing pages!

 

Tag Other Accounts in Your Instagram Stories for Business

We all know how effective Instagram contests are for driving engagement and getting new followers, and with the ability to tag other accounts in Instagram Stories, there’s yet another way to drive traffic to your contests.

tag accounts instagram stories

Tagging other accounts in your stories is also useful if you’re running a takeover or influencer campaign.

Tag Businesses in Your Sponsored Instagram Stories 

Speaking of influencers, Instagram’s new paid partnership feature makes it super easy to tag businesses in your sponsored Instagram Stories!

swipe up instagram stories

Only a handful of celebrities, influencers, and businesses have been given access to the feature so far, but an larger-scale rollout is expected in the next few months.

You can learn more about the feature and disclosure in general here.

Share Polls & Emoji Sliders in Your Instagram Stories for Business

Have you ever wanted to survey your Instagram audience about their interests, likes, dislikes, and more? Well, now you can!

Instagram recently launched new interactive poll stickers on Instagram Stories which lets you ask questions and see results from your followers as they vote.

poll stickers instagram stories

The great thing about poll stickers is that there are so many business uses!

Whether you want to collect feedback on your products, crowdsource ideas, or simply entertain your followers, poll stickers offer an entirely new way to engage with your Instagram audience!

Not sure how to use Instagram Stories polls for your business? Check out our post 6 Create Ways to Use Instagram Stories Polls for some inspiration!

Ask Questions in Your Instagram Stories for Business

Unlike poll stickers and emoji sliders, both of which allow users to “vote” on questions that you submit, when you add a question sticker to your Instagram story, others users submit questions for you to answer.

question sticker instagram stories

Whether you want to collect feedback on your products or crowdsource ideas, questions stickers offer an entirely new way to engage with your Instagram audience! 

Use the Countdown Sticker in Your Instagram Stories

Now when you share a story about an upcoming something (like an in-store sale, product launch, or event), you can add a sticker that counts down to a date and time that you set.

Your followers can then subscribe to your countdown event, which will send them a reminder when the time is up and your countdown is complete!

Whether you’re looking to promote a sale, event, or something else entirely, the ability to share a countdown on your stories that your followers can get reminders about is a great way to generate better results.

Share Instagram Live Videos in Your Instagram Stories for Business

Prior to a recent update, Instagram Live videos could not be replayed or shared after the broadcast.

And while it created a sense of urgency for viewers to tune-in, there’s a ton of value in being able to share your live videos post-broadcast! In fact, this feature could make Instagram Live as big as Facebook Live!

instagram live for business

Once your Instagram Live video ends, you can share a replay of it. But like other photos and videos you share to Instagram Stories, live video replays will disappear after 24 hours!

Share GIFs in Your Instagram Stories

Last year, Instagram teamed up with GIPHY to build a library of high-quality GIFs on Instagram Stories. Now you can add fun, expressive GIF stickers to any photo or video in your story!

Adding GIFs on Instagram Stories is easy — when you tap to add a sticker to a photo or video in stories, you’ll now see a new GIF option. Tap it and you’ll find a library full of hundreds of thousands of moving stickers powered by GIPHY.

Using this feature in a consistent way can add a ton of personality to your Instagram Stories and help you build a loyal following. You can get a step-by-step Instagram tutorial about how to add GIFs to Instagram Stories here.

Share IGTV and Instagram Posts on Instagram Stories

Did you know you can share IGTV and Instagram posts in Stories too? 

Posts or IGTV videos shared to Instagram Stories will display the original poster’s username, letting users tap it to check out the original post:

With more and more users shifting their attention to Instagram Stories, users have been using stories to cross-promote their posts and IGTV videos. Now, instead of including a screenshot of their feed to stories, users can easily share the post with the new re-share feature.

Planning + Scheduling Your Instagram Stories for Business

Posting regularly on Instagram Stories is key to building an audience and increasing your views, and you can plan your stories just like you would plan other social posts in your  content calendar.

Planning both your regular Instagram feed content along with your Instagram Stories will help you keep things cohesive and clear.

A great way to get started is to create a quick storyboard of your Instagram story to make sure it flows. By outlining a beginning, middle, and end to your story, you can make sure to cover all the important points, while still making sure everything flows naturally.

Scheduling Instagram Stories for Business

Instagram Stories are a great way to connect with your followers, drive traffic to your posts, and they can help you take back control of your reach.

Planning and scheduling your Instagram Stories won’t just save you time, it can also take a lot of the headache out of creating a successful Instagram marketing strategy and ensure that you’re posting your very best content!

Now instead of coming up with new stories daily, you can add your photos and text directly to your Instagram Stories scheduler. By scheduling your content in advance, you can make sure you’re posting consistently, and staying top of mind with your followers.

Here’s how to schedule Instagram Stories with Later:

1. Start by dragging & dropping your stories on to the storyboard tool, and then re-arrange them to fit the order and look that you want.

You can also easily crop and resize images to fit Instagram Stories 9:16 ratio.

2. Next, you can add links or captions to your scheduled stories, which will be copied to your phone when it’s time to post. This helps you drive more traffic and sales by taking the time to write compelling captions and CTAs from your desktop.

3. Next, schedule your Instagram Stories by selecting the time and date from the drop down menu beside the Save Story button.

4. When it’s time to post, you’ll receive a notification on your phone. And once you open the notification, your stories will be downloaded to your phone and caption or links copied to your clipboard, making it easy to post Instagram Stories in seconds.

Scheduling Instagram Stories is one of the best things you can do to grow your business on Instagram in 2019! Later is free to use, but you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan to schedule stories.

Using Instagram Stories Highlights to Showcase Your Business

Instagram Stories Highlights are an awesome way to share important information front and center on your profile.

They appear directly under your bio and above your Instagram feed and play as a stand-alone story when someone taps on it.

As long as you keep the auto-archiving feature turned on, your stories will save automatically.

This means you can re-share your very best Instagram Stories content after the 24-hour period has passed without needing to set a reminder to save it manually.

Grouping your Instagram Stories Highlights together into categories makes it super easy for your audience to watch the stories content that they’re interested in.

By treating your Instagram profile like a landing page for all things related to your brand, you can create Instagram Stories Highlights that share your most important information with your audience. And because your highlights are up indefinitely, you can continue to drive traffic and sales with your stories!

To help you create your own Instagram Stories covers, we created free Instagram Stories Highlights icons. These icons are fully customizable so you can make them fit your profile! Get yours by filling out the form below:

 

Tools to Make Better Instagram Stories for Business

There’s no question that Instagram Stories is a great place to show off your business’ personality. But if you’re looking to make even better Instagram Stories for business, these four tools can help:

Use Unfold for Clean & Minimalist Instagram Stories Templates

Unfold exploded onto the scene this year with its library of clean and modern templates. It’s now one of the most popular template apps for Instagram Stories!  

Using Instagram Stories templates is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your stories content! By using a set of templates for your Instagram Stories, you can create cohesive, on-brand content that aligns with your brand as a whole.

Add a Background to Your Instagram Stories Content with InShot

Have you ever wanted to post a video but it wasn’t quite the right size? The InShot Video Editor is a photo and video editing app specially designed to make your content a perfect fit for an Instagram Stories post (or any other video platform!).

Before getting started on your project, just make sure to select “Canvas” to adjust the size for Instagram Stories:

Apps For Instagram Stories

The InShot Video Editor takes your existing video and allows you to change it into various aspect ratios, and you can easily resize and crop it to fit Instagram Stories – which is a serious challenge sometimes!

You can also place your video on a background; choose a plain colored background within the app, or upload an image from your device.

It means great footage will never go to waste and you can easily share it with your followers on Instagram Stories!

Share Text Graphics That Stand Out with Over

Whether you’re sharing tips, inspirational quotes, or want to add a creative twist to your campaign, Over is a great app for Instagram Stories that lets you overlay text and graphics onto your photos and videos!

Apps-For-Instagram-Stories

Over has a “gazillion” photos, fonts, graphics, templates and tools to choose from to help you create high-quality, on-brand content.

Create Amazing Instagram Stories for Business with Canva

Canva’s mobile app is fantastic for creating stunning social media graphics. But did you know that you can also use Canva to create amazing Instagram Stories for business?

Thanks to their library of Instagram Stories templates, Canva has become one of our favorite tools for designing unique, and eye-catching Stories!

Instagram Stories Branding: Canva Templates

Once you’ve downloaded the Canva mobile app, you can browse their library of professionally created templates.

For a list of our favorite apps for creating high-quality Instagram Stories content, check out the full roundup here.

How to Drive Sales with Instagram Stories for Business

In the past year, Instagram has added a ton of new features to improve how people shop on the app.

This opens up a huge opportunity for online retailers and ecommerce brands to tap into new audiences, show off their products, and ultimately drive more traffic back to their website!

Here are a few ways you can use Instagram Stories to generate more sales:

Shoppable Stickers in Instagram Stories

The new shoppable stickers for Instagram Stories are similar to the regular Instagram shoppable posts: businesses are able to tag physical products from their inventory or ecommerce platform.

And you want to know what makes the new shopping stickers so great? You don’t need to be verified or have 10,000 followers to use them!

Prior to this release, there was no way for businesses with less than 10,000 followers to drive traffic from Instagram Stories.

But thanks to Instagram Stories shopping stickers, businesses of all sizes can start using Instagram Stories to generate sales.

When you click on an item in Instagram, you’re able to view the item name, price, description and a link to the website:

Shoppable Instagram Stories stickers can be placed on both images and videos, and there are 4 different types of stickers: a shopping bag icon, a sticker with the product name in rainbow or grey, and translucent text.

Instagram Stories Ads

Instagram Stories ads are the perfect way to reach new audiences and showcase your brand, business, and products to an already engaged audience. Engagement rates for Instagram Stories are already high, with Instagram revealing one in five stories gets a direct message from viewers.

In fact, according to Instagram, 75 percent of Instagram users take action, such as visiting a website or making a purchase, after looking at Instagram ads.

If you want to use Instagram Stories to make more sales, you may want to think about investing in an Instagram Stories ads strategy!

Using Facebook’s Ads manager, you can create Instagram ads that show up within Instagram Stories.

Once you’ve determined the audience that you want to target and the objective of your campaign, make sure you select Instagram Stories as your ad placement and follow the prompts to set up your ad.

Luckily, Instagram ads have all the same targeting options as Facebook ads, including targeting based on location, demographics, interests, behavior, and more.

To learn more about setting up your own Instagram Stories ad strategy, check out our post 9 Tips for Creating Instagram Stories Ads that Convert.

Promoted Instagram Stories

If you’re not ready to take the plunge into Instagram Stories ads, businesses now have the option to try out Instagram’s new Promoted Stories.

Promote offers businesses an easy way to turn their existing Stories into ads, it’s kind of like paying to boost your organic Facebook post.

All you have to do is post your story as usual and then tap the Promote button.

Promoted Instagram Stories

Now you can choose where you want to send people — this can be your profile, website, or Direct Messages.

Next, select your target audience. You have the option to create an automatic audience, based off people like your followers, or create a list from scratch.

Finally, select your budget and duration, and then hit Next to review your promotion before setting it live.

Whichever type of promotion you choose, getting started with Instagram Stories ads is easy and could make a real difference to your Instagram profile’s growth and business sales.

This year, start experimenting with different Instagram Stories ads formats and styles to find out which resonate with your audience the most!  

Track and Measure your Instagram Stories Performance with Later Analytics

Did you know that with Later, you can track and measure your Instagram Stories anayltics and performance?

If you want to optimize your stories and get more views, check out Later’s Instagram Stories analytics!

And unlike the analytics in the Instagram app, which only saves your stories metrics for 2 weeks, you’ll be able to analyze up to 3 months’ worth of Instagram Stories with Later!

With Later, you can track and rank stories by impressions, reach, completion rate, average views per user, and the number of replies each story received. It’s never been easier to pinpoint what type of content works best for your brand and audience!

Upgrade to a Later paid plan for access to Instagram Stories analytics and all the other Pro Analytics features, like engagement rates, audience analytics, and Linkin.bio tracking. 

Instagram Stories is quickly becoming one of the best channels to drive engagement, build brand awareness, drive traffic, and even make ecommerce sales!

If you haven’t started with Instagram Stories for business yet, hopefully this guide gives you some motivation and direction for creating your own Instagram Stories for business.

Sign up for our free Instagram Stories Course today!

 

Written By

Lexie Carbone

Lexie is the Marketing Campaigns Lead at Later. She’s helped dozens of brands build their social presence and take their content strategy to the next level. You can connect with her on Instagram @lexiecarbone.