Instagram first introduced Instagram Stories back in August 2016 and since then it has become a popular feature – although a lot of businesses are still not making use of this tool.

Here’s a quick guide to understand the do’s and don’ts of Instagram stories and how to make them work for you.

What are Instagram Stories?

For those of you that use Instagram you will have a good feel for how the channel works. Instagram Stories allow users to add images and videos to their profile to share moments of their day with their followers. The photos and videos only stay around for 24 hours and don’t appear on your Instagram profile. That means you can be as creative as you please, without over-posting and cluttering up your followers’ feeds.

“Instagram Stories, a new feature that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile. As you share multiple photos and videos, they appear together in a slideshow format: your story.” – Instagram

You can create a story on the fly by taking a photo or video clip in real time and then posting OR access your photos and videos from your phone – but only those that have a date time stamp within the last 24 hours!

Where to find the Stories feature

You can find Instagram stories at the top of your Instagram homepage feed. The small circles are the profile pictures of the accounts whose story it is. If you haven’t viewed the story yet the profile pic stays pink and orange

The picture in the circle is the profile picture of the person whose story it is. The pink and orange coloured border around the circle tells you that there is a post on their story you haven’t yet viewed. (In the below example, the little + sign shows you currently have no stories live – and here’s you opportunity to create one)

To view someone’s story, just tap on their profile photo in the story bar. You can view stories at your own pace – simply tap to go backwards and forwards through the posts – or swipe to jump to the next person’s story.

Now here’s the bit to take note of…. unlike posts to your Instagram feed, stories don’t get lost in your follower’s feeds. Instead they remain at the top of a user’s Instagram homepage. The chances of followers seeing your post is, therefore, a lot greater!

How to Use Instagram Stories

Adding a post to your Instagram Story

Creating a post on your story can be a little confusing because there are a couple of ways to do it.

Firstly, you can go to your profile page and click on your profile picture (icon). The second option is to navigate to your your main feed and click on the camera icon on the top left corner. Take your photo and then add text, drawings, and stickers to your story space. Once you’ve created your post, tap the “+ your story” icon on the bottom right corner and hey presto it’s officially added to your story.

Above is an example of an Instagram story feed by @westdorsetleisureholidays

Choosing an image from your camera roll

Stories restrict you to only upload photos and videos taken within the last 24 hours. Clicking the small thumbnail icon on the bottom left of the screen next to the flash icon will unveil your content. Alternatively, you can swipe your screen down to see all of your recent images to post.

Don’t forget that the dimensions for an Instagram story are 1080 x 1920 pixels, so you may need to get cropping your content before you post it. The video aspect ratio is 9:16 and the length can vary from anywhere between 1 second up to 15 seconds. Again, you may have to get savvy with your story cropping skills.

Adding to your Story post

You can make your story posts and videos come to life by adding text, pen and lots of sticker options. These help to explain what your image is about, even tag the location it was taken in.

Adding text is done by clicking on the top right corner on the “Aa” icon, then just start typing. Once you have finished with your text, you can tap out of the text box where you can change the style and alignment. There are three styles to choose from: a slight faded colour behind the text, a solid text background colour, and no background, just the text in your colour of choice.

To change the colour of your text, highlight the word you want to change. By using the colour palette bar you can tap the shade you want. You can even have different words in different colours,


These are a form of ‘sticker’ that can be accessed by clicking on the square happy face icon on the top right corner of your screen. Here you will find a “location” sticker. Tap this to add your location to the image. This is great for letting customers know where you are or where your picture / video was taken. Your viewers can then click on the event to “see the location”. This takes them to a page to view the map location of your whereabouts and other popular posts tagged in the same location.

Top Sticker Tip

With any sticker, you can increase and decrease their size by pinching or expanding it with two fingers.

Adding hashtags

There are two ways to add a hashtag to your post: by clicking on the stickers icon and tapping “hashtag” or typing your known hashtag in the text box (so through the “Aa” icon). Either approach will result in a tappable, searchable hashtags in your story.

Tagging people in a post

Click on the “Aa” icon and type the “@” symbol, followed by the Instagram user (handle) you want to tag. Instagram will generate a list of people who you are trying to tag as you are typing. Click on their image to tag them – simples!

Why your business should consider using Instagram Stories

The world according to Facebook and Instagram has changed substantially over the last couple of years with many businesses seeing their social reach decreasing. Both Facebook and Instagram have very clever algorithms which means unless your posts resonate with your followers, then they are less likely to appear in your followers’ feeds multiple times. Instagram only shows your posts to those followers it deems most interested in them.

Another one of our clients @bridalreloveddorchester that use Instagram Stories very well

But….. here’s where Instagram stories come in to play. Unlike regular posts, your stories don’t have to compete. Being a prominent feature at the top of your followers’ feed means your story content has more opportunity to be spotted.

As you can see there are a number of key reasons to be using Instagram Stories to promote your business. Not least because it gives you the flexibility to add your own content to the social platform but also ensures you maintain a certain amount of visibility – more so than the standard Instagram feed.

If you want to discuss how you can use Instagram Stories (or other social channels) in greater detail – just give us a call.