Best Practices: Instagram Stories

Best Practices: Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are popular with users because they’re ephemeral—they make it possible to share memorable moments with followers without having those moments live on in perpetuity. An alternative to the often polished, planned and carefully crafted images found in most Instagram feeds, stories are intended to provide a glimpse into everyday life. They’re viewed as more realistic, authentic and simple. And that’s their greatest appeal.

Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours and can be shared in a variety of formats, from a single image to a string of images to vertical video that takes up the entire phone screen. They can be geo-tagged, overlaid with text and emojis, and—most importantly—you can use them to inspire the 500 million users that create and engage with stories every day. Of that number, one-third of the most viewed stories come from businesses, and one in five stories receive direct messages from viewers.

The temporary nature of Instagram Stories creates a sense of urgency among users, as they only have a limited time frame within which they can view the content before it disappears from their feed. Because of this, Instagram Stories act as a type of exclusive content privy only to followers who are “in the know”.

As well as participating in stories, Instagram allows brands the option to create stories ads as well. These ads are like mini-commercials that auto-play in between organic stories and do not expire after 24 hours. The more “natural” they look, the more likely a user will view the entire ad rather than skip to the next story. The ads can be targeted by reach, video views, traffic, conversions, app installs, and brand awareness. And with their full-screen, vertical format, the viewing experience is an immersive one.

Creating stories and stories ads for brands can be a fun exercise and getting started isn’t complicated. Here are some best practices that your team should follow when experimenting with Instagram Stories.

#1 Engage from the start

As with any social post, it’s important to make the first few seconds count. Users are more inclined to view a social post in its entirety that is visually appealing right from the start—so experiment with color schemes, fonts and imagery until you nail down what resonates most strongly with your target audiences.

#2 Stick to Instagram’s recommended specifications

For images:

  • The recommended resolution is 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Maintain an aspect ratio of 9:16
  • Use either JPG or PNG file type
  • Do not exceed the maximum file size of 30MB

For videos:

  • The recommended resolution is 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Maintain an aspect ratio of 9:16
  • Use either MP4 or MOV file type
  • Do not exceed the maximum file size of 4GB

#3 When it comes to text, less is more on Instagram

With Instagram Stories, you don’t have much real estate to work with, as visual elements take up most of the screen space. So, if you’re going to include text, make sure your message is clear, concise and straight to the point. If this isn’t possible, consider creating an image carousel or video to tell a longer story.

#4 Strategically position text elements

In addition to keeping your message brief, it’s important to be strategic with its placement. Typically, it’s best to overlay your text onto white space so people don’t miss it. If this isn’t possible, make sure you select fonts that are highly legible even when placed over other visual elements.

#5 Maintain brand visibility

As you lay out your stories, keep in mind that your logo will automatically appear in the top left corner. To avoid obscuring its prominence, make sure that no other design elements obstruct or distract from it. Opting for minimal colors, fonts and design elements are several ways to do this.

#6 Test, test and test again

Hoping for the best is not a strategy. Try different things and keep changing it up until you hit the sweet spot. If your analytics aren’t great, try something new! Test different formats with limited audience targeting, compare the results and use the findings to refine your strategy. Instagram makes this easy with insights available for viewing right within your business profile, as well as within Facebook Ads Manager. All the data you need to create successful, engaging content is at your fingertips (literally!).

# 7 Have fun leveraging Instagram Stories

The most important step of all is to have fun with it! This post was adapted from a Sprout Social post, and you can read even more from them about Instagram Stories here. And to help strengthen your social media presence overall, head over to this article on social media best practices.

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