Nowadays, many users on Instagram will go straight to checking their stories before even scrolling through their feed.
If that is the case, then think of how impactful the feature has become since it launched back in 2016. A healthy mixture of Instagram and Snapchat stories have changed the way we interact with brands and the app in general.
Stories have become interactive and interesting, which means that this aspect of Instagram has the ability to affect how you “build your relationships with your audience, increase traffic to your feed, and boost your engagement rate” according to Alex Tooby.
Because stories have become so powerful, it is important you understand how to use the feature in its entirety in order to reap the maximum benefits from it.
Below are the guidelines for using every function of Instagram stories:
1. The Basics
First things first, you need to know how to actually post a story.
Step 1 – Open Instagram and go to your feed
Next, swipe the screen to the right to open the Instagram story function. To post a picture, simply hit the big, round button at the bottom center of the screen and hit the “Send To” button to post the shot to your Instagram story.
TIP: Need to add flash to your photo? Tap on the lightning button to the left of the button you used to take the photo.
If you are looking to take a video, then hold down the same button you used to take the picture and boom! You did it!
The second basic function you should learn is how to add text to your story and be able to resize and reposition it to wherever you see fit.
To add text to your picture, simply tap the image before posting it, and a cursor will begin to blink.
You can type whatever you may want here.
If you add an “@” or a “#” symbol, the respective hashtag or handle will be added to your story as well.
To change the font of your text, tap the button in the center top of the screen.
You may also change the color of your text by swiping through color options at the bottom of your screen.
Once you have the formatting completed for your text, you can use two fingers to move the text around on the screen as well as to make the text larger or smaller.
Finally, if you want to add a picture from your camera roll, simply follow the steps above for opening your story function, but this time, tap the small square icon in the bottom left corner of your screen.
Your camera roll will open and then you can choose which photo you want to post from there.
2. Video Styles
Though we explained how to post a simple video to your story, there are also other types of videos you can post, but they require a more advanced understanding.
Step 2 – Choose your video style
The first option to learn for video styles is Boomerang. To take a Boomerang, swipe to the right underneath the large round button until you see the word “Boomerang.”
Once you have done this, tap the same button you use to take normal photos and wait a couple seconds! You will see a series of small flashes on your screen. Once the flashes have stopped, you have created your Boomerang!
Practice using the feature by making a silly face or showing your daily coffee order from Starbucks being handed to you. Boomerangs are “an engaging alternative to video or photo”, says Tooby.
Another video style is Superzoom. Superzoom allows you to focus on something on your screen and zoom in on it with accompanying music to create a humorous or dramatic effect.
Please note that with Superzoom, you are unable to choose the music you use for the video.
To find the Superzoom option, follow the same steps for how to locate the Boomerang effect. Next, tap the spot in your video that you want the Superzoom to focus on and hit the button to record! You’re done, congrats!
You can also rewind your video by following the same steps as above!
3. Customizing Your Story
There are numerous ways to make your Instagram story unique to you or your brand. These ways include GIFs, Face Filters, Interactive Stickers, and Handwritten Messages.
Step 3 – Add interactive stickers
The first function we will get into is GIFs. If you are not sure what they are, not to worry. GIFs are video snippets and moving images that are silent. GIFs first became popular on Tumblr, but have started to become more frequently used on Instagram.
To add a GIF to your story, select the third button from the right at the top of your story screen. Once open, you can search for any topic you like, and more likely than not, there will be a GIF to accompany it.
After you search your topic, scroll down to the heading saying GIF. Then, tap on which “sticker” you like best, and it will be added automatically to your story.
The next application of Instagram stories are Face Filters. Similar to Snapchat, Face Filters allow you to do anything from add bunny ears to your look to smoothing out blemishes.
To activate the Face Filter program, change the camera view to selfie mode, select the smile icon to the right of the record button, and choose the face filter that suits your mood or video by sliding the options to the left or right.
Arguably the most important feature of Instagram stories are the Interactive Stickers. Interactive Stickers include question stickers, polls, and quiz stickers.
The first of these stickers, question stickers, tend to be the most interactive because they allow your audience to ask your questions directly to your account.
To add the question sticker to your story, follow the same steps above for locating a GIF. However, there is no need to search for the sticker, it is on the main page!
You may find the poll stickers and quiz stickers the same way as well. There are two types of poll stickers.
The first is the slider. This allows your audience to rate how much they like a video or photo that you posted.
The second is a two-option poll sticker. You can ask your followers a question and add this sticker with two answer options to see the percentage of which of your followers choose one answer versus another.
Finally, the quiz sticker is a multiple-choice sticker that allows you to, again, as your followers a question like on a test! This time, however, they will find out whether or not the answer they had chosen was right or wrong.
Lastly, you can add Handwritten Messages to your photo or video! Simply, capture what you wish and tap the pen icon at the top of the screen.
From here, you can adjust the size of your pen on the left of the screen, as well as choose the color of your pen at the bottom. So many options, but so much fun!
4. Jazzing It Up
If you are looking for an even more experimental way to use your stories, then you can try adding music or going live. You can find the options for adding music and going live the same way you would find the Boomerang Style.
Step 4 – Add extras
When going live, you are able to show your audience your human side because let’s face it, you’re going to mess up! And that’s okay.
To add music to your story, however, you must link your Instagram to your Spotify or Apple Music account. Once you have done this, you can search through any song Spotify or Apple Music owns the rights to. To make your search easier, you can also look for songs by genre or mood!
After your song is chosen, choose a section of the song you want to be played in your video, and voila! Your own personal playlist on your story.
We hope this guide has been helpful for you and your brand! Please leave any questions or comments below about Instagram stories and we will be sure to answer you ASAP!
Claire Erickson is currently a blogging intern at LadyBossBlogger.com. Claire has just returned from studying abroad at the London College of Fashion and will finish her senior year studying retail merchandising back at her home university – University of Minnesota (Twin Cities). She is looking forward to having a future in buying, trend research, or planning.