This post was originally published on September 6th 2017, and was last updated on December 6th 2017. Instagram has over 700 million monthly active users. That’s a crazy number, don’t you agree? Still, very few know how to use Instagram stories to drive real results. In this article, I will be teaching you how to use Instagram stories, different Instagram story ideas you can try, how to schedule them to publish automatically, and lastly how to look at results. Before we go any further, let’s cover what Instagram stories are, the benefits of the feature, and how to create your very first story! What Are Instagram Stories? Instagram stories are just like Snapchat and Facebook’s stories feature. You can upload and/or take a picture or a short video clip which will be available to all your followers for a limited time of 24 hours. There are many benefits of using Instagram stories, some of these include, reaching a larger audience, driving traffic to a website, engaging with your followers and even building up hype for new products/services. That’s just a few reasons why you should use this feature. How To Create Your First Instagram Story Instagram stories are very easy to create, every account, personal or business profile will allow you to create a story. It’s simple. Just load up the Instagram app, in the top left corner, you will notice a little camera icon. Once clicked you will be able to take a picture, record a video or even start a live-stream. Instagram stories also allow you to upload content that has been taken/saved within the last 24 hours. Just swipe up and you’ll have access to content that you can upload to your Instagram story. If the content you want to upload is past 24 hours, just screenshot it and crop it, then you can upload it to your story. Scheduling Instagram Stories to Publish Automatically With Sked Before we dive into how to use Instagram stories, let’s guide you through a process that will cut your Instagram stories workflow in half! 1. To enable Story scheduling for your account, login to your Sked Social account (or start a free 7-day trial). Click on Billing/Profile Settings in the sidebar menu (green arrow below). ‘How to Use Instagram Stories’ – Sked’s Dashboard 2. Next, go to the Instagram stories section and turn on the ‘Enable Instagram Story Scheduling’ switch. 3. To create a Story post, proceed to the ‘Upload Post’ dashboard, select your Instagram account(s), and choose ‘Story’ in the Upload Media menu to the left of the screen. Upload the image(s) or video(s) you want to use from your computer, Google Drive/Photos, Dropbox, an Instagram URL or Canva. Click ‘Continue’. 4. After approving your uploads, click ‘Continue’ to proceed to Image Editing. 5. Choose your desired crop by moving the pre-set Story dimension crop as desired. Magic Crop Make final edits to your post using Sked’s full-featured photo editor by clicking the (pencil icon). Add text, filters, emojis, Instagram-like stickers and more by clicking on the edit 6. If you’re using an Instagram business account with Story links enabled (a Business Instagram account with over 10,000 followers), enter the URL of the web page you’d like to link your post to in the Post URL story link box. Then, either choose to send your Story post to Drafts, Add to Queue or Schedule it to publish automatically at a time that best suits your audience. How to Use Instagram Stories: 9 Instagram Story Ideas to Try So, now I’ve covered the basics about Instagram stories and how to get started, you’ve got no excuse not to use the feature! Let’s dive into the 9 different ideas and really dive into how to use Instagram stories. Special Offers Research shows that almost a third of online shoppers (31%) use social media channels when browsing for new items to buy. Instagram is 8% of them. What does that mean? It means there is a great chance of gaining sales on this platform, providing that you have the right marketing strategy in place. With Instagram stories now allowing all users that have over 10,000 followers to add links in their stories, there’s now an, even more, chance of earning sales and driving traffic to your website. That’s one big reason why you need to start using Instagram stories. To make your followers feel lucky and generate even more sales, you should consider a special offer for those that follow you on Instagram. When users receive special offers, they are much more likely to purchase from you. They’ll feel lucky for following you and may even spread the word about your offers and following you. Exclusive Behind-The-Scenes People love to know what happens behind-the-scenes, why not show them? Let them find out what it’s really like? It will definitely make them remember you and maybe even make them trust you more as they will better understand what you do. No matter what your company does, there will be something you can show to your audience. For example, if you’re a DJ or specialise in the music industry, you could share what happens behind the scenes, if you’re a clothing manufacturer, you could show the printing stages etc. Whilst you may not think it, there sure is at least one thing behind the scenes that will be of interest for your viewers. Influencer Takeovers Influencer Takeovers are an amazing idea to increase your reach. Previously being a huge success on Snapchat, brands are now working with more influencers to do takeovers on Instagram due to the great ROI. If you’re unsure what a takeover is, it’s when an influencer or brand takes over your story for 24 hours or a specific amount of time of which they will provide tips, news or exclusive content. They’ll advertise on their social media that they will be taking over the brand’s social media, resulting in the influencers followers, engaging and following the brand account. As you might have guessed, influencer takeovers are known to help brands increase their following fairly quickly with a targeted audience. Just make sure you identify the right influencers to work with for the best results. Blog Posts If you write blog posts, you could split them up in a creative way and share the key takeaways or the top tips of the article in your stories. For example, like this article, I could create a separate image for each story section, covering each different idea for using Instagram stories. That’s just one way you could share your latest blog posts. The other could be to use Instagram’s swipe up link feature, directing your audience to your blog post on the site. Daily Tips Sharing interesting tips on your Instagram stories on a regular basis is a brilliant way to grow an engaged audience. You could cover specific topics, or even ask your audience what kind of tips they want, for example, social media tips, content writing tips, content creation etc. Don’t just limit yourself to tips, you should also think about sharing trending news too! – Your followers will eventually come to you to find out what’s new in the industry. Q&A’s I’m always coming across Q&A’s with influencers and brands. They’re very successful and usually have a great turnout of viewers. Whether you do these live on Instagram or as story upload, you’re bound to get more engagement. Just make sure you promote the Q&A as much as possible and in return, you’ll likely see social growth. It’s also a good idea to advertise your Q&A on other social networks like Twitter and Facebook. That way, you’ll also pick up a few extra followers. What I’ve seen work very well is when influencers have a CTA in their Q&A. For example, telling your audience to click a link in your bio to receive exclusive content or some sort of asset. One thing to remember about hosting Q&A’s, these will only last 24 hours, so make sure to download all of your story! Sneak Peeks Upcoming product? Brand new service? Your customers want to know! Let’s face it, we all love to know when a brand launches a new product or tool, it sometimes gets us excited and want to know more. Using Instagram stories to share an exclusive sneak peek of a new product or service will increase excitement and build up the hype for the release. You could also even start to build an email list with those who are interested, keep them up-to-date for the release. New Content Alerts I’ve seen many Instagrammers, both personal and business accounts, do this. It helps keep their audience up-to-date. By sharing an update on your story like a new piece of content covered with an emoji, it slightly builds up the interest to your audience, they may be tempted to click on your profile to see what the new content is. Not only that, but it also helps you let your audience know you’ve posted new content that they may not have seen yet due to the Instagram algorithm. Events If you regularly go to events or even sponsor an event, you certainly should be adding that content to your Instagram story. It’s the perfect type of content. Your followers could then come and meet you, they’ll also find it quite nice that you take part in events and are humans that engage in person rather than just behind a screen! Measuring results So after you’ve done a few different Instagram stories, it’s time to measure them and see what performed the best. In order to see the most helpful stats, you should consider switching your Instagram account to a business profile. You’ll have a lot more in-depth statistics about your followers, content, demographics etc. To view your Instagram story stats, click the insights icon on your profile and then scroll down to the stories section. From there, you’ll be able to see impressions, reach, taps forward, taps back, exits and replies on your story for the past 24 hours, 7 and 14 days. Make sure to keep track of these stats as they will help you when it comes to best performing content that you should share on your story. And if you scheduled your Story post using Sked, you can also track every click it gets using the app’s own analytics. On To You If you implement these nine Instagram story ideas into your marketing strategy, you’re bound to see more engagement and success on the platform. Whenever you post an Instagram story, remember to use features such as tagging locations, hashtags etc, those will all help increase your story reach, potentially resulting in more followers. And don’t forget to share this article with anyone who hasn’t yet figured out how to use Instagram Stories. Summary: How to Use Instagram Stories Schedule Instagram Stories with Sked Instagram Story Idea: Special Offers Instagram Story Idea: Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Instagram Story Idea:Influencer Takeovers Instagram Story Idea: Blog Posts Instagram Story Idea: Daily Tips Instagram Story Idea: Q&As Instagram Story Idea: Sneak Peaks Instagram Story Idea: New Content Alerts Instagram Story Idea: Events Instagram Story Idea: Measuring Results Now that you’ve mastered how to use Instagram Stories, why not start carving out hours in your social media workflow by signing up for Sked’s 7-day trial. Our all-in-one Instagram scheduler allows you to automatically post images, carousels, Stories, videos and more. Tag locations, users and products and manage all your hashtags in one place to save 5+ hours every week.