After Instagram launched some new story features recently, we figured we’d take that as an opportunity to talk all things story. There’s so many fun ways to amp up your Instagram Story game, especially now with the new updates. Instagram is making it easier and easier to interact with your audience, even if you don’t have stunning visuals or professional videos. When you open Instagram and add to your story, you’ll see different options at the bottom of the screen: Live, Create, Normal, Boomerang, Superzoom, Hands-Free and Music. You can swipe through these to change the kind of content you want, so let’s just start going through the features from left to right. ContentsLive Create ModeTextGIFsOn this dayTemplatesPollsQuestions Countdown Quiz NormalBoomerangSuperzoom Hands-FreeMusicGet to it Live Instagram Live is an awesome feature that allows you to connect with your audience in real time. When you go Live, viewers can type questions and comments and like your video. Source: Instagram Going Live can be scary because there’s no outtakes. Be sure to plan ahead to determine your goals and the content. And if you’re really nervous, PRACTICE first! Record yourself on your phone, watch it back and see what works or doesn’t work. Plus, no one expects you to be perfect! Think of it like a conversation with a friend and just keep going when you make mistakes. We are all human! There’s some fun features for going Live like adding photos from your camera roll and going Live with another user. One major benefit of going Live is that your Stories go to the front of the Story feeds. Instagram will also notify users when you’re going Live, which will encourage people to join in. We’re working on a blog that’s entirely dedicated to Instagram Live, so stay tuned for the tips, tricks and ideas. Instagram for Business 101 Grab our ebook Instagram for Business to take your Instagram game up a notch! Create Mode Instagram has had Create mode for awhile, but now users have more options to choose from: text, GIFS, on this day, templates (for business accounts), polls, questions, countdown and quiz. With all of these options, you can change the background colors, font, text color, and add the normal gifs, stickers or tags (location, hashtags, mentions, etc). Let’s play around with all of them! Text If you have something important to say, but don’t necessarily have or need an image to go with it, the type tool is a great option. You can choose from different color backgrounds by clicking the color wheel on the bottom right corner. Just like normal Stories, you can also change the font by clicking the button on the top, draw on your text with the squiggle button and add tags and stickers. GIFs Yeah, Instagram already had GIFs that you could use as stickers on your Instagram Stories but now one of the options in Create mode turns your entire story into a gif. Instead of just a sticker of Beyonce, now you can have a full screen of Beyonce. YES queen. This also means you don’t need any other supporting images or videos and it’s more fun than just having a plain background. On this day “On this day” is another one of the new features. It’s an homage to tbt (throwback Thursday) making it easy to share memories. Clicking the dice on the top will shuffle between other things that happened that day. Even if you don’t share what comes up, it’s fun to take a trip down memory lane! Templates Templates is another new feature for Instagram Stories, but it’s not available for personal accounts (so if you don’t have a business account, you won’t see this). Using templates is a fun way to show some personality and encourage users to interact with you. Fill out a template with your own answers and then post a blank one and ask your audience to share their answers. HELLO ENGAGEMENT! Polls Polls are another great way to increase engagement with your Stories because all it takes is one click to vote. Jazz it up by changing the background color, drawing on the screen and adding gifs! Questions Similarly to polls, questions also encourage engagement. Questions are a great way to get your audience to share an opinion or open up the conversation for things they want to ask you! Clicking the dice in the top will also give you some random question suggestions. So even if you don’t have something that you want to ask, you can still interact with the Insta community. Countdown Countdowns are perfect for product launches and events! Or anything that you want to get your audience excited about. You select the date that you are counting down to and Instagram automatically updates the exact months, days and seconds until that day. Even if you don’t have a product launch coming up or any events, Instagram suggests some fun ones. Like a countdown until the weekend! Quiz Quizzes are a fun way to test what your audience knows about you and helps them get to know you on a more personal level. Just like a few other features, Instagram also has suggestions for quizzes that enable companies to show more personality. Normal Normal mode is where you can take photos and videos to add them to your Story. This is also where you can have some fun with the AR face filters, browse effects and upload pictures or videos from your camera roll. Boomerang Boomerang is a fun looped video, so it’s good to have some movement in it. Superzoom Superzoom is exactly what it sounds like in that you take a video and the camera zooms in on a certain area. The fun part is that you can change the theme of the zoom to be hearts, fire, bummer, tv show, dramatic, beats, paparazzi, surprise, nope or bounce. All of these can be used to add some fun to a regular video. Hands-Free This option is great when you are demonstrating something or just need both hands in your video. You click the button and it automatically records without having to hold your finger down. Music Many business accounts don’t have the option for this right now. It probably has something to do with commercialization or copyright issues. Personal accounts are most likely just using it for fun while business accounts could potentially be getting money from that post. If you do have access to music, you can browse through popular songs, genres or moods. Then you can choose the section of the song you want to play during your Story. Once you select your song, a sticker will appear on your Story with the title and artist. When people watch your Story, the song will play and they can click on it. You can also add music to Story posts by going to the sticker page. Meet Sked - The most powerful Instagram scheduling platform A place to plan & schedule your Instagram posts, Stories, videos and more. Tag locations, users and products and manage all your hashtags in one place to save 5+ hours every week. Get to it Get creative with your fonts and designs and use other people as inspiration. Story posts don’t have to be as planned out as other posts so use it to connect with your audience. Show behind the scenes, share a personal story with your audience or open yourself up to questions! The possibilities to connect and engage are endless. Also remember that if you want your Story to be around for longer than 24 hours, you need to add it to your Story Highlights. Then it will show up on your profile page and people can continue to see it.