Last week I talked about how and why to use Instagram Stories in a more intentional manner. It’s a growing platform for telling people about your business, taking them behind the scenes of your day or your work, or promoting something specific. Of course, the most important element of any social media is always the quality of the content you share. But it’s also good to know all that platform offers. In this post, I am sharing 12 Instagram Story Tips so you — and your followers — can get the most out of your Instagram Story experience. And while some of these tips might be older, Instagram has new users every day and Stories itself continues to evolve as it becomes more popular. Speaking of that …

This just in! Here are a couple new features that have been added since I began this article.

Stories can now also be found in the main feed
There is now a “re-engagement box” for Stories. You’ll now see a carousel of preview tiles in between regular Instagram posts. Instagram has said there are no plans to replace the Stories bar you see above the feed with the larger design.

Stop-motion camera feature
The Verge reports that Instagram is currently testing a new stop-motion camera tool for Stories. It will allow you to “take a long series of photos, which Instagram stitches up into a GIF that you can post” on the platform. You will have the option to add stickers or text before posting the finished GIF to your stories.

Superzoom camera effect
This is one I’ve seen used a lot lately! The new Superzoom camera effect dramatic sound effects while automatically zooming in on a single subject in three stages.

And now, my Instagram Story tips!

1. Make a connection: Use the DM function on the Instagram stories to help create engagement between you and the people you follow. Send a heart or hello when you feel it!

instagram story tips
2. The 24 Hour Rule: In addition to Stories lasting 24 hours (which I talk about here), you can also upload content created in the last 24 hours from your smartphone camera role. This is great for laying out a more complicated story, or if you want to insert your own video in the middle of a story. It gives you a little more control over your story and also takes out the anxiety around posting if you are in the middle of something. And, many companies are now composing their stories in Illustrator (I’ll share some examples of that next week) and then uploading those from their phone. While they look very sleek, I’d aim for a mix of those that are designed and those that are in the moment. You want your personality to come through in your stories, even especially if that’s a bit messy.

3. Compose yourself: There is a slight composition difference from your phone camera the Instagram Stories camera (at least with my iphone 7). Just something to keep in mind and check to make sure something you wanted isn’t getting cut off.

4. Swipe up: When you reach 10,000 followers on a business account, you have the ability to use the “Swipe Up” function to add a link taking your audience directly to the appropriate page where they can get the full story or more information.
5. Swipe up II:  Swipe up for sticker … a fun way to illustrate a Story, and also add a hashtag, location and time.

6. Face filters: More Instagram fun, and a way to add interest during videos. Although I have seen several people get so distracted by them they forget what they are saying. Your call on this!

7. Instagram polls: These are relatively new and are a great way to create interaction and get your viewers used to interacting with you. These are found when you swipe up for the stickers and can be customized with wording.

8. Let the sunshine in: Ever wonder how to get more light into the images you take in Stories? Tap on the screen and you will see a box with a sun, move the sun up for more light, down for less. This is an oldie but goodie tip!

9. A word about light: I’ve found that my smartphone camera has more sensitivity to light than the Instagram camera. If you are taking the picture in a darker room, you can play with this and check to see if your image might look better with one or the other. Just remember that the composition from phone camera to Instagram will be a little different!

10. Pen it: The pen feature can go lighter and heavier in weight. Find the button on the far right side and move it up or down to make the “tip” lighter or heavier. Again, another oldie but goodie!

11. Add music to your story: Find the song you want on whatever app you use to stream music to your phone. As it plays, start a video on Instagram stories of what you want it to play over. If you simply want it to be text over a solid block of color, tap the pen icon, select a color by holding down the white circle in the color bar, then tap and hold on the color screen for about three seconds.

 

12. Analyze this: Once your story is posted you can also view some basic analytics, to show you how many times each post in your story has been viewed and who has viewed it. When watching your own story, swipe up to check out this data and who’s seen each photo and video. You can also choose to feature a particular part of your story by posting it on your profile so it will appear within the feed. To do this, tap the upload button (highlighted in the below image)

That’s it for now, until Instagram adds more. Questions, comments, other tips and tricks? Please share!

Stay tuned: 10 People and Companies to Follow for their Instagram Stories