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How to Use Instagram Stories: A Simple Guide for Marketers


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On 2nd August 2016, Instagram Introduced Instagram Stories, a new feature with remarkable similarities to Snapchat.

Instagram Stories is surely an act of digital and business warfare.

That’s the only way I can interpret Facebook’s apparent go-forward strategy for tackling Snapchat, a social media juggernaut Facebook once tried to buy. As of today, Facebook appears to be done pursuing purchasing SnapChat.

It has its own rapidly-growing social media platform, Instagram, that, not-too-coincidentally, appeals to the same highly-desirable and digitally-engaged tween and teen-set. And now that platform has Stories to offer.

Stories provides Instagram users with a chance to share posts at a higher frequency. While Instagram photos are typically reserved for perfectly composed shots, Stories allows you to share the little moments that may not be as picture-perfect.

Instagram is positioning this feature as a solution to over posting. There is a significant separate space where your Instagram Stories live and you can post as frequently as you want without worrying about over flooding your friends’ feeds or filling the grid on your profile page.

So, how does it work and how can it be helpful in building your marketing strategy? Don’t worry we have got you covered.

Before we start with how Instagram stories works,  let’s first have a glance at how they appear on your Instagram profile.

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What Instagram Stories look like

When you log into your Instagram app, you’ll see the latest Instagram stories by the people you follow at the top of your news feed.


Image Source: Social Media Examiner

When you tap on one of these circles, you’ll see that user’s Instagram story of the day in a 10-second combination of photos or video.


Image Source: Social Media Examiner

When you visit your friend’s profile that has a current story, you’ll notice a colorful circle around the user’s profile photo.

When you click on the profile photo, you’ll be taken to that user’s current story and when you view a story where the creator allows messaging, you’ll see the option to send a message at the bottom left of the story.

The message will end up in the story creator’s Direct Message inbox, as opposed to a publicly visible comment on the story.


Image Source: Hubspot

Now that you know how the stories appear on your newsfeed, let’s explore how you can create one for your business profile.

How to create Instagram Stories

If your automatic updates are not “on”, then your first job is to update your Instagam app to see if you have the access to create Instagram Stories.

The update looks like this.


Image Source: Social Media Examiner

Once the download is completed, you should be able to see this new feature at the top of your Intagram home page.

How to adjust your story settings

When it comes to Instagram Stories, you have two options. You can modify your privacy settings for each individual story you publish, or choose an option for all of your stories from your main Instagram settings.

To do the latter, go to your Instagram profile and click on the settings wheel icon at the top right.


Once here, you can select specific people with whom you do not want to share your stories. You can also customize your messaging list and avoid people from receiving messages.


Note that these are the same settings you’ll have for each individual story you publish as well.

Get creative with your stories

The thunderbolt icon turns on the flash, and the two arrows allow you to switch between the front and forward facing cameras. There is also an option of uploading any picture from the camera roll. You can simply swipe down to chose your photo or video.

This includes Boomerangs and Hyperlapses to decorate your snaps and to make them more interesting, or selecting one of the three pen type options to doodle on your photo, add an emoji using your keyboard, or swipe right to select a simple color filter.

Extra Tip: While it may seem so at first glance, you’re not just limited to the colors that appear at the bottom of the screen. To open up more advanced color options, simply press and hold one of the colors to pull up the screen.

What marketers should know about Instagram Stories

If you have an active optimized profile with appropriate users, you should immediately jump on the opportunity to use Stories. You have the opportunity to create lighthearted, Snapchat-like content without the challenge of building up a SnapChat audience or launching a new channel.

In addition to the built-in audience, you also have the opportunity for increased discoverability. The content you produce on SnapChat needs to be promoted regularly across other channels or else no one will see it. On Instagram, there are hashtags, geotags, and the Discover section to increase your chances of being found. Snapchat content can disappear into the void unless someone knows exactly what to look for.

If you’ve been interested in experimenting with Snapchat-style content without making the vault, this is your chance.


There are a few advantages Snapchat has right out of the gate. For one, Instagram Stories is lacking Snapchat’s new “memories” feature, and there’s no screenshot notification. Not to mention, there are no stickers in Stories, and the filters, leave something to be desired. And facial recognition – one of the most addictive Snapchat features – is noticeably absent. (If you can’t turn yourself into a bee, why bother?)

However, Instagram Stories does have one big advantage over Snapchat: As part of the larger Facebook/Instagram umbrella, they have less of a hurdle to jump in regards to adoption.

Snapchat’s 150 million daily active users pale compared to Instagram’s over 500 million.

Snapchat has much more ground to cover, while Instagram already has a captive audience.

You decide.

Bonus: Looking to grow an Instagram following fast? Socially Rich provides a done-for-you service that gets you real, targeted followers on your personal or business Instagram accounts. Without ever spending a minute on Instagram! Try it for free here.

Guest Author: Mehroz khan is the Co-founder & CEO of a Digital Agency – StartupBug  and Co-founder of Video Explainers – Explainer Video and Whiteboard Animation Company. He loves blogging, Marketing, Strategies and Sales Funnels. You can find more of his articles on Video Explainers – Blog, Social Media Examiner or follow him on Twitter: @mehrozanwer.

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