7 Tips to Get Started with Instagram Stories

If you’re ready to join Instagram Stories’ over 500 million daily active users but aren’t sure where to start, then this blog is for you.

Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you already know Instagram Stories are important for - ahem - telling your story and connecting with potential customers, but you don’t know how to start. 


Allow us to help. 


What You Need to Know About Instagram Stories

Stories are geared toward behind-the-scenes style content. These can be more “raw” and “in-the-moment.” It’s content that, for the most part, is only relevant for a short time, as they only stay up for 24 hours.  


Here are a Few Tips and Tricks to Get the Most Out of Instagram Stories:


1. Capture in vertical format (9:16 ratio).


Since 99% of users view social platforms from a mobile device make sure content is formatted for the typical vertical mobile view of 9:16.


Image Caption

Create content for Instagram Stories in 9:16 ratio.

Photo Credit: LouiseM.com 


2. Aim for 6 to 8 frames, centered around a theme.

Instagram Stories were designed to help you, well, tell a story. Use multiple frames, but don’t go overboard. Instead of randomly posting clips throughout the day, try to center content around strategic themes. Generally speaking, 6 to 8 frames is enough to get your point across without fatiguing your audience.


For example, if you’re a mom-and-pop ice cream shop, you could create a Story about your best-selling flavor:

  • Frame 1: Introduce the flavor, and tell us what people love about it.

  • Frame 2: Tell us how it’s made.

  • Frame 3: Pick your cone.

  • Frame 4: Share the best toppings pairings 

  • Frame 5: Add drizzles and syrups. 

  • Frame 6: Give users an opportunity to chime in with their favorite toppings via the question box

  • Frame 7: Offer a takeaway, like a current special, upcoming event, or general CTA to stop by.


Or you could feature one of your employees:

  • Frame 1: Introduce the employee.

  • Frame 2: Tell us where he’s from.

  • Frame 3: How long has he worked there?

  • Frame 4: What does he like to do in his free time?

  • Frame 5: What’s his favorite ice cream flavor?

  • Frame 6: His favorite toppings?

  • Frame 7: If he was an ice cream flavor, which flavor would he be?

  • Frame 8: Thank people for viewing, sign off. 


3. Use a combination of photo and video…

… but keep in mind that some of your users may consume Stories with sounds off. With that in mind, opt for simple photos with clean backgrounds and foregrounds so that you can easily add text without impeding the photo. 


This Instagram Story frame from our client TETRA leverages in-app fonts and interactive elements like brand mentions and hashtags to maintain a uniform brand appearance while encouraging engagement. 

Photo Credit: TETRA Hearing


4. Keep things uniform.

Your screen real estate is small, so let’s maximize it for the best user experience possible. 


  • You don’t have to be a designer to pull this off. Use in-app fonts for on-screen text, and stay consistent with your colors throughout.

  • Limit to no more than 4 lines of text so it doesn't impede the photo.

  • Instagram offers several different font choices, but “strong” is complementary to most brands, and will keep things clean and easy to read. 

  • When experimenting with text colors, we recommend using a white font paired with a background color that best compliments your brand. 

  • You could also consider applying a black-and-white filter on the images themselves, and making the text a brand color. If you do this, though, stay consistent and use the filter throughout the duration of the story.


5. Increase discoverability with hashtags and brand mentions.

#Hashtags will help you show up in the app discovery sections, while @mentions allow tagged brands to reshare your content with their following. 


Same as the point above: You have a limited amount of screen real estate, so make the most of it and insert only the best ones. We’d limit to only 1 or 2 #hashtags and @mentions per frame so that the text does not take attention away from the story itself.


Leave space at the top and bottom of your Instagram Stories for native elements like your profile photo, and a call to action to “send message” or “swipe up.” 

Photo Credit: Gray Loon


6. Avoid placing critical text outside the “live” area. 

If you’ve consumed Stories content, you know there are two small, non-live areas at the very top and bottom of the screen. These areas are occupied by native elements like the profile name and message box. Do yourself a favor and don’t put any text there; people won’t be able to read - or click - it. 


7. Stretch your content farther.

Don’t forget to reshare your story to Facebook, and - if it has staying power - save it to your highlights. Stories around brand or product education are topics customers will likely want to come back to on a repeat basis, so save it to your profile so it’s easily accessible.


Your story highlights are a great place to save evergreen Instagram Story content, like FAQs, customer reviews, and how-tos. This content will remain visible on your profile even after 24 hours.


Bonus Tips and Tricks:

You can capture natively (in app), then download to your phone to save for posting to Stories later when you have enough frames to tell a story. However, always insert hashtags, mentions, etc. natively upon upload so they’re clickable. Otherwise, you’ve wasted time and space.


You can capture a video outside of the app, then upload to Stories and IG will automatically split it into clips for you.


There you have it: 7 quick, easy tips you can use to implement Instagram Stories for your brand right now. When you're ready to get more advanced with IG stories, contact us.



Katelyn Phillips

Ready to see what Gray Loon can do for your business?

Contact Us Today