One of the biggest mistakes brands make when it comes to social media is treating Instagram Stories as an afterthought. Don’t get us wrong – we love an educational carousel post or an aesthetic Reel. But when it comes to having genuine conversations and engaging with your audience, Instagram Stories can’t be beat.
With over 500 million daily active users, brands have to pull out all the stops to connect with their audience. Instagram Stories offer your business a fun and creative way to connect with your followers and take back control of your reach.
What makes for a good Insta Story? The best-performing Instagram Stories are high-quality, eye-catching, and strategically incorporate interactive elements like polls, quizzes, links, and more.
You don’t need to be Picasso to design an amazing Story. The Instagram Story Editor has added tons of features over the years, from gifs to music to filters that help your Story stand out.
If that isn’t enough, new apps for Instagram Stories are popping up everyday. Thanks to the abundance of editing tools out there, Stories are getting more creative, interactive, and engaging!
It’s easier than ever to create high-quality content for your next Instagram Story. Using a combo of the built-in Instagram Story maker and external apps, we’ll have you creating beautiful Instagram Stories in no time!
What is the Instagram Story Editor?
The Instagram Story Editor is a feature built right into the Instagram app. You can use the editor to upload existing photo or video content, or shoot your own directly within the app.
The editor includes a wide range of design and editing options. Here’s a quick overview of what you can do:
The list goes on!
Currently, Instagram Stories have a 15-second limit per individual story. If you upload a video longer than 15 seconds, the Instagram Story Editor will automatically cut it into 15-second segments that are played right after one another.
Pro-tip: A video-editing app like InShot or Splice can help you trim videos directly on your iPhone. Simply download them from the app store, upload a video from your camera roll, and trim it within the video editor so it fits within 15 seconds. You can add transitions or adjust your video speed to make it even more eye-catching and engaging.
Remember that Stories only have a lifespan of 24 hours. To extend your IG story’s views and reach, add it to a highlight on your profile so your audience can revisit it at any time.
How to Navigate the Instagram Story Editor
Whether you’re an Insta-whiz or you’re dabbling in stories for the first time, here’s a quick rundown of how to use the editor:
- Open the Story editor from your Instagram app on iOs or Android by clicking the “+” button on the right hand corner (or swipe right).
- Snap a pic or short video. Alternatively, you can upload your own media using the button on the bottom left to access to your camera roll.
If you’re uploading multiple images, use the Layout feature on the left side of the screen to pick one that best suits your needs.
- Add filters by swiping left, or hit the Filters button on the top of the screen. Instagram has thousands of aesthetic filters to elevate your story’s look.
- Add text using the text button at the top of the screen. Within the text menu, you can change the font style, color, positioning, and background of your text box.
- Use the Sticker button to add interactive elements like gifs, polls, quizzes, or countdowns.
- Post your Story! Before you post, double check that all important elements are visible. Good to go? Hit the Arrow button in the lower right corner to publish your story.
5 Features in the Instagram Story Editor To Take Your Story to the Next Level
We touched on the basics of the Story Editor above. Now, it’s time to level up your Stories to maximize that engagement and reach!
- Interactive Story Stickers
When it comes to engagement, Instagram’s Story Stickers are your superpower!
Interactive story stickers like polls, quizzes, countdowns, and question boxes open the door for two-way conversation with your audience. You can see their responses in real-time and message followers right from your Story to spark up a conversation.
Plus, every time a user interacts with your Story sticker, it signals to the Instagram algorithm that the person is interested in your business. This increases the odds that Instagram will serve them more of your content in the future.
Ask your followers’ opinions on your newest product, share value and open the floor to questions for future Story topics. The more interactive and engaging you can make it, the better! For best results, combine multiple Story stickers in a Story series so you can maximize your engagement and potential reach. Check out how Milk Bar does it below:
Check out more posts on how to use Story Stickers on our blog.
- AR Filters/Camera Effects
Avid-selfie takers rejoiced after Snapchat popularized the use of filters or “lenses” back in 2015. It was only a matter of time before Instagram jumped on the trend and integrated their own custom filters for Instagram Stories.
When it comes to Story design, an artistic filter not only gives your content a more polished appeal, it’s also the perfect way to curate a specific brand vibe. Think VSCO, but for Instagram. With filters from names like ‘Bahamas’ to ‘Retro Cam,’ brands can create the perfect brand look and feel with minimal photo editing required.
[Image credit: Sarah Chetrit]
With thousands of 3D visual effects and 2D filters to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find something to suit your brand. You can also save your favorite filters inside the Story Editor, so don’t forget to save your faves for later.
- Instagram Music
In 2018, Instagram introduced music for Instagram Stories. The music feature is the perfect way for brands to express themselves or evoke an emotion that makes followers feel more connected and engaged with the business.
[Image credit: Instagram]
The music option can be found at the top of the Story editor, or can be added using the music sticker. Tap the music icon to open a library of thousands of songs. You can search for a specific song, browse by mood or genre, or see what’s popular.
Once you’ve selected your song, you can fast-forward or rewind through the track to find the perfect beat to fit your story.
[Image credit: Instagram]
Quick note: Business accounts have more limited access to Instagram’s music library than personal accounts. The good news is there’s a way around this. You can switch your account category to entrepreneur, or switch your account type to Creator instead of Business. Check out how Your Social Team does it below:
- Closed Captions/Subtitles
In May of 2021, Instagram announced that it was making video Stories more accessible with the launch of a new captions sticker. These auto-generated subtitles would allow users to watch video content without the sound on.
The addition of the closed caption feature not only made it easier for users who are hearing impaired to engage with video content, it also offered people a way to watch Instagram Stories when they’re somewhere they don’t want to have their sound on or don’t have access to headphones.
[Photo credit: Instagram]
To understand how captions can help your Story’s performance, let’s jump back in time for a moment.
In October 2017, Instagram added cross-posting of stories to Facebook, allowing its parent company to piggyback off the popularity of Instagram Stories. Since 85% of video on Facebook is watched without sound, adding closed captions and on-screen text is a must if you want to reach more users.
To add subtitles, record or upload a video to your story, click the sticker button and select the closed caption sticker. Once the text transcribes (it might take a few seconds), choose your text style and position it on the screen where it won’t be cut off by any other Story elements.
If the transcription has errors, you can manually edit it to make sure the meaning of your Story isn’t lost in translation.
- Link Stickers
Instagram Story links were previously limited to influencers or those with a certain number of followers. Thankfully, Instagram expanded the ability to all accounts last year, giving businesses new ways to engage their audiences.
[image credit: Social Media Examiner]
Link stickers are one of the best ways to drive conversions for your business. That might look like:
- Driving traffic to your website or online store
- Opening up a lead magnet or downloadable resource
- Booking a complimentary consult call
- Signing up for access to courses or training
To add a link sticker, open up the sticker feature and select the link sticker. Pop in your link, change the display text, and there you go – you’re on your way to boosting conversions and revenue for your business!
Design Your Stories Outside the Instagram App
The Instagram Story Editor has tons of features at your disposal. But if you’re looking to take your Story aesthetic one step further, an external design app like Canva might be your best bet.
Canva is the perfect tool for social media marketers because it’s free, easy to use, and comes with hundreds of stylish Instagram Story templates. You can create collages, add borders, filters, texts, backgrounds and more! Even if you’re not a designer, you can learn some cool tips and tricks through their vast selection of tutorials.
Check out this post where we dive deep into how to use Canva to create eye-catching Instagram content.
If you’re looking to add even more tools to your Instagram Story arsenal, here are the best apps to try:
- Unfold – browse a wide variety of layouts that are perfect for your next Story series
- Storyluxe – apply preset filters, film frames, and other free templates to elevate your Stories
- Tezza – make sure your aesthetic is on point by using their library of premium photo presets
- Mojo – best for creating fun, eye-catching animations
Find them in the Apple or Android app store.
Schedule Your Instagram Stories with Sked Social
Ready to live your best Instagram Story life? Sked helps you pull your Story together without leaving the app. Tweak and touch up your photos with 60+ filters, cropping tools, stickers, texts and overlays. You can even create a post with Canva right from inside the Sked Instagram Editor.
Once you’ve created a flawless design, don’t forget to schedule it! Sked is the only tool that lets you schedule and post pics and videos to Instagram Stories. Upload your content, choose a time and we’ll push it live. Try our our Instagram Story Editor and watch your to-do list shrink right in front of your eyes with our free 7-day trial.