Unless you’re a total Insta newbie (and if you are, no judgment from us!), then you’ll have seen Story Highlights on the Instagram profiles of countless brands, bloggers, influencers, and other Instagram users. But, for those of you who haven’t, Instagram Story Highlights are essentially a curation of different Instagram Stories grouped into categories by the Instagram Profile owner. They are housed front and center on an Instagram profile below an Instagram user’s profile information but before the feed begins. Through the release of the Instagram Story Highlights feature, the platform now allows Instagram users to curate and post Story content in collections right on their profiles. This is a great feature because in the past, unlike the Instagram feed, Instagram Stories had an expiry date. Stories content had no life past 24 hours, so marketers were hesitant to create polished campaign content that would have such a short life. With Instagram Story Highlights, however, Stories can live on! Highlights equip businesses to access, engage and convert their audience in new ways. In this blog, we’ll show you how to use Instagram Story Highlights to your advantage. We’ll also give you tried-and-tested strategies so you can start to use Highlights to get your Instagram profile working harder. But first, let’s talk about why Story Highlights are so important for businesses wanting to stand out and make an impact on Instagram. Why Instagram Story Highlights are Important Even though the Instagram app has a few limiting features, particularly when it comes to marketers trying to link out to external websites. Through their December 2017 release of Story Highlights, Instagram provided a way around some of these features. Those platform roadblocks were: A single clickable link on the profile A description (bio) of 150 characters or less A 24-hour story and fluid content stream Instagram for Business 101 Grab our ebook Instagram for Business to take your Instagram game up a notch! How can Instagram Story Highlights help your business work around these limitations? In a way, it makes sense that Instagram limits Instagram users from clicking out to external websites. After all, they want uses to spend as much time on the platform as possible. But the below tactics prove that, with some clever tactics and a rock-solid Instagram marketing strategy, marketers can find ways to work around these roadblocks. Let’s dive in and find out how. Include Unlimited Links in your Bio Converting social media followers into leads and customers typically involves bridging the gap between a social network and website – and you can do that easily by utilizing a clickable link. Networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest have no problem with links, but since its conception, Instagram has never offered more than one spot to place a link: the bio. Now, however, if businesses have over 10,000 followers, they can use Instagram Story Highlights to link to various product pages or blog posts. Unfortunately, only those Instagram Business Profiles with more than 10,000 followers can add links to their Stories, and these Stories can be saved and turned into Story Highlights. Below, we’ll discuss a few ways to leverage these links. Don’t have 10,000 followers yet? Not to worry, many small businesses and new businesses face this same problem. But there is good news! You can now turn your Instagram bio into an automated marketing machine with Sked Link while you keep gaining new followers in the background. Instead of changing their Instagram bio every single time they post, businesses can utilize Sked Link to drive targeted traffic and leads to any URL in the world. And this can be achieved seamlessly when they schedule content through Sked. Give New Followers More Information About Your Business Your Instagram bio is a crucial part of your profile. It tells your audience what you’re all about, what kind of content you share, and why they should follow you. It’s prime Instagram real estate, and it’s only worth about 150 characters (which is practically nothing in social media currency.) Instagram Story Highlights allows businesses to expand on their story. If they so choose, businesses can share more with their audiences through Highlights, such as a company culture video, team member headshots, or a link to their About Us webpage. Pin Content for Optimized Viewing Social media content is intrinsically fluid. Like a river, you catch posts here and there, but eventually they’ll move on and down your timeline. In the last couple of years, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have allowed users to “pin” important content at the top of profiles and pages to increase its exposure to followers. Through Story Highlights, Instagram has effectively allowed its users to do the same. Highlights are essentially “frozen” posts that users can quickly discover and view, over and over. As a business, that makes your Story Highlights the perfect spot for your most important, time-sensitive, or promotional content. That might include posting event coverage, or posting about an exciting new product or service that you’re launching. How to Post an Instagram Story Highlight We love Instagram Stories here at Sked. Not only are they essential for giving your Instagram profile a personality and aesthetic, but they are great tools for promoting products instantly nd amassing new followers. There are two ways to Highlight an Instagram Story. The first way is directly through either your iPhone or Android. Simply open your Instagram app and access your Stories from your Instagram profile screen by clicking the “+” icon at the top of the screen. From there, you’ll see an option titled “Story highlight” and you can start creating your Highlight directly. Next, choose whether you’d like to make your Story a new Highlight or if you’d like to add it to an existing one. If you create a new Highlight, you can add a new name for it. (Leaving this blank will just label it “Highlights” on your profile.) Then, every time you post a new Story you can add it immediately to one (or more) of your Highlights. We’ll discuss labels and cover images below. The second way to Highlight an Instagram Story is through your Instagram Archive. If you already have past Instagram Stories that you’d like to collate as Highlights, you can go back through your Archived Stories and do this. Access your Stories Archive through the icon with the three lines at the top right corner of your profile. Tap the word “Archive” and then you’ll be able to toggle between your Stories Archive and your Instagram Post Archive. From here, you can add Archived Stories to one of your Highlights reels. In the Stories Archive, tap on a Story. From there, you’ll see a circled heart icon labeled “Highlight” at the bottom right corner of the screen. From there, you can add to an existing Highlight or create a new Highlight. Of course, both these methods rely on you having already published Instagram Stories beforehand. One of the easiest ways to create and publish a new Story is to do it using Sked. The second way to Highlight an Instagram Story is through your Instagram Archive. If you already have past Instagram Stories that you’d like to collate as Highlights, you can go back through your Archived Stories and do this. Access your Stories Archive through the icon with the three lines at the top right corner of your profile. Tap the word “Archive” and then you’ll be able to toggle between your Stories Archive and your Instagram Post Archive. From here, you can add Archived Stories to one of your Highlights reels. In the Stories Archive, tap on a Story. From there, you’ll see a circled heart icon labeled “Highlight” at the bottom right corner of the screen. From there, you can add to an existing Highlight or create a new Highlight. Of course, both these methods rely on you having already published Instagram Stories beforehand. One of the easiest ways to create and publish a new Story is to do it using Sked. How to Create and Schedule a New Story Using Sked First, ensure your Sked account is enabled for Instagram story publishing by heading to your Billing/Profile Settings and switching it on. Next, visit the Upload Posts dashboard, select your Instagram account(s) and choose the Story posting type in the left-hand options. Be sure to select only Instagram accounts for Story posting as the feature will be disabled otherwise. Next, visit the Upload Posts dashboard, select your Instagram account(s) and choose the Story posting type in the left-hand options. Here, you can choose to schedule an Instagram Post or an Instagram Story. Be sure to select only Instagram accounts for Story posting. If you try to select a Facebook account, the feature will be disabled. Now it’s time to upload your content! You can upload your content from practically anywhere; from your computer, Google Drive/Photos, Dropbox, any Instagram URL, or Canva. The next screen allows you to review your posts. Here, you can edit, add or remove as you wish. Next up, make final edits to your post using Sked’s full-featured photo editor. Add text, emojis, and more. Finally, add your link (available for business accounts with over 10,000 followers) in the IG Story link field shown below and schedule your post at a time that suits you. It’s so simple! Instagram for Business 101 Grab our ebook Instagram for Business to take your Instagram game up a notch! Six Ways to Make the Most of Instagram Story Highlights Well-curated Instagram Story Highlights add value to your profile. Instead of simply Highlighting your favorite Stories, here are six ways to use Instagram Story Highlights strategically – and boost your audience engagement! 1. Showcase Products The ability to link from Instagram Stories makes Story Highlights the best spot to share new or recommended products. Create Highlight collections of new products, top sellers, or holiday lines (such as St. Patrick’s Day products or Christmas gift recommendations). Anthropologie uses Story Highlights to showcase and promote their product lines, such as their Chino Pants. Labeled “Chino 101,” this particular Highlight collection features a variety of Chino-focused photos, each with the link to shop. The brand uses different Instagram Story Highlight covers to represent each Highlight collection, such as “What’s New” – a collection of new products – or #MyAnthro, which is a collection of user-generated content. 2. Share Blog Updates Content-heavy businesses, such as blogs and magazines, can sometimes struggle to come up with compelling visual content for Instagram that embodies each story. It can be even harder to share timely blog updates to an ever-changing Instagram feed. That’s where Story Highlights come into play. Take advantage of the permanence of Story Highlights to promote your most important content updates. Post a text graphic and link to your blog post, and you’ll gain massive exposure from your profile. Remember, if you don’t have 10,000 Instagram followers yet, simply use Sked Link. Foundr is a digital media company that primarily produces content for their magazine and blog. It uses Story Highlights to feature top blog posts for its audience, which they label “Epic Blog Posts.” 3. Promote Your Other Social Media Channels Every social media channel has its strength. For example, Pinterest is an excellent platform for showing off your brand’s aesthetic, whereas Twitter is more appropriate for real-time updates and newsworthy discussions. Linking between your social media channels is a great way to grow your overall audience, but that’s not always easy on Instagram. Story Highlights allow you to share and link to other networks you’d like your audience to discover. Cross-promote your social content by posting a new YouTube video or Facebook group. You could do a “teaser” video – essentially a cut-down version of a longer video, and entice Instagram users to click through to your YouTube channel to watch a longer version of the video there. 4. Create a Tutorial or Step-by-Step Guide Feature your products in motion through Instagram Story Highlights. Whether you post a single video or a collection of photos, let your followers explore your brand showcased in a new way. Try to tell a story with your content – after all, that’s what Stories are all about! Use your Instagram Story Highlights to educate your audience with a step-by-step guide, tips, or tricks for your products or services. For example, a cosmetics company may post about makeup applications, whereas a food blog may share photos or a video featuring a new recipe. The Kitchn features Story Highlights with different food tips and recipes. One in particular shares a variety of simple slow cooker recipes for beginners, complete with gorgeous images and links. 5. Repurpose Pages from Your Website Given the permanence of Story Highlights, many brands share information pertinent to their business or brand, such as posts on company culture, shipping information, or product reviews. Being right at the top of your Instagram Profile, Highlights take up a key piece of real estate on your page. In fact, Story Highlights act as a menu of sorts, giving your followers the chance to skim through information that may slip through the cracks on the Instagram feed. If you have important content from your website that you’d like your followers to be able to access easily, consider adding it to a Highlight reel. Portland Gear, a clothing brand based in Portland, has a Highlight labeled “Our Team” on their Instagram profile. They’ve simply uploaded images of their employees, but the Story Highlight immediately gives followers a sense of who the employees are. This is the perfect way to help the brand seem more approachable. 6. Feature a Behind-the-Scenes Moment Social media is powerful in that it gives brands the ability to communicate with their consumers on a deeper level. Instagram gives brands a personality and reminds users that there are real people behind your company. People would rather do business with other people, not faceless companies. In the past, it was rare for a brand to share behind-the-scenes snapshots of their products, and the inner operations of their businesses were shrouded in mystery. But in recent years we’ve seen a shift in this attitude, with consumers demanding transparency from brands, particularly in relation to product ingredients and production processes. Therefore, posting behind-the-scenes moments directly from your brand gives Instagram users a sneak peek into the world of your brand. In doing so, you can build trust and establish a deeper connection with your consumers. Whether it’s a company culture video, images from a factory or production floor, or simply a snapshot of someone’s desk, behind-the-scenes content can go miles in converting followers to customers. You don’t need to give away all your secrets, by any means! But, by sharing snippets of your brand, you can prove you have nothing to hide and let customers in on your brand’s world. L.L.Bean uses their Story Highlights to feature the judging process for their recent Puppy Contest. Not only does this solidify that the brand takes their contests seriously, but it also shows that they can have a little fun in the process. For a brand as big as L.L.Bean, it’s nice to see the people behind it. There are so many ways to leverage Instagram Story Highlights to market your company and connect with your audience. Other methods include highlighting your influencers or bloggers, featuring customer photos like Anthropologie, (known as user-generated content), or simply reposting your best-performing images or videos. The possibilities when using Story Highlights are endless. If you’re not sure how to best use them, just ask yourself: what kind of content would add value to my audience and allow me to connect with them? Create a stunning Instagram feed your followers will love. Sked Social is your tool for designing your feed, growing your followers, and telling your brand story. Start your free trial Best Practices for Story Highlights Want to create the best Instagram Stories Highlights you can? Whether you post a behind-the-scenes video or images of your products, there are a few best practices you should remember. These can help you maximize the impact of your highlighted content. First of all, be aware of the chronological order of Highlights. You cannot switch Stories around once you post, so be sure to post them in the right order. This is especially important when sharing tutorial Highlights like step-by-step guides or recipes. It’s best to review your Story after you post it to ensure it makes sense! You can always get rid of your Highlight and start again if you need to. Each individual Highlight icon and title are important. Choose a recognizable, relevant cover icon for each Highlight and title it appropriately. Don’t leave the word “Highlights.” To change this information after posting, open your Highlight and tap the menu in the bottom right corner. Click Edit Highlight, and you’ll have the ability to change the Name and Highlight icon. From there, you can change your Highlight icon and select a unique cover image to represent it. It’s important to choose a cover photo that immediately represents your Highlight. If the Highlight is about travel, but your Highlight icon is showing food, Instagram users will get confused. You want your Instagram profile to be as easy to navigate as possible. As each Highlight icon is so small, many brands use custom icons in their brand colors to make it really clear what the Highlight is about. If you want to change your cover icon afterward, it’s simple! Just click on your Highlight, hit “More”, select “Edit Highlight” and then “Edit Cover”. Then simply upload whichever cover icon you want! Canva has plenty of ready-to-use templates for Instagram Story cover icons, which can be easily downloaded and uploaded for your cover icons. Once you’re done customizing your Highlight icons, you can add each piece of Story content to a Highlight. Remember, you can add your best Instagram content to more than one Highlight if relevant! If you have a specific image or video that fits into multiple categories, don’t hesitate to post it more than once. Just ensure that it is actually relevant to that Highlight, or viewers will lose interest fast. Over to You With the right Instagram marketing strategy, you can leverage this powerful platform to generate leads and sales for your business. Story Highlights are a crucial piece of the puzzle if you want to make your Instagram profile more engaging and start leading consumers down the path to purchase. Story Highlights are an important new feature for businesses, and we encourage you to add them to your profile! When used correctly, Instagram Story Highlights can engage your audience and showcase your brand in a new and exciting way. They can also bolster your brand’s personality and aesthetic and highlight specific products or services in more detail. But Story Highlights are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social media planning. Streamlining and optimizing your social media accounts has never been easier, and that’s all thanks to Sked – your all-in-one social media management tool. Sked lets users create, plan, schedule and automatically post – not just to Instagram, but also to Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter! If you’re looking to carve out hours in your social media workflow, sign up for Sked’s 7-day trial. Sked is one of the best Instagram schedulers, as it allows you to automatically post images, carousels, Stories, videos and more!