While more than half of the world on Instagram is spending time scrolling through Reels we should not forget about Instagram Stories. It is one of Instagram’s underrated feature for small businesses amongst other features that are available for small businesses.
Instagram is a platform that encourages small businesses to promote themselves without appearing too salesy. With all its features and the vast types of content that one can put out, it’s easier to draw attention to your business, gain the right exposure and increase engagement + sales.
Instagram stories have evolved so much over the years that it’s easy to feel unlettered even if you’re an avid Instagram user and have read through multiple blogs around Instagram content ideas.
Let’s look at how we can create stories and schedule them like a pro?
We’ll break down the process as follows-
– Know the features
– How to create Stories (Step by step guide)
– What to share (Instagram Story Ideas)
– Scheduling IG stories and posts too
All the features within IG Stories
Creating Instagram stories is an extra effort, but doing it right can definitely help in boosting engagement, brand awareness, and sales too.
Let’s look at all the features available and how we could use them to create great Instagram stories?
This feature is a guide by itself to creating fun stories that include – Text, Shoutouts, GIFs, Templates, On this day, Poll, Questions, Countdown and Quiz.
Instagram launched boomerang as a standalone app and then brought it to Instagram. A few years later, they now have 3 other effects that can be applied to your videos.
This feature allows you to create and share collages within Instagram stories.
All you have to do is select a layout based on the number of images and then go ahead capturing them.
This feature allows you to capture a total of 8 images at once and then you can edit each one of them individually and upload it at once.
This feature allows you to check if you’ve positioned your mobile device right while capturing an image. When you tap on the “Level” icon, you’ll see a grid appear on your screen. This helps you align the image at the centre of your screen. When it’s aligned well, you’ll see the icon turns yellow, giving you that go-ahead to capture.
This feature captures a total of 4 images with a ga of 3 seconds and then stitches them together into a stop-motion clip for you to share on your Instagram story.
By its name, we know it’s a feature that zooms in. Instagram launched a few more effects within Superzoom like – Classic, Dramatic, Hearts and Surprise.
This feature allows you to record quick videos, Q&As, go live without any hassle. All you have to do is tap on this feature and you’re good to go hands-free.
Other features that are available for Instagram stories:
Stickers: You can type a keyword and look for stickers specific to your need.
GIFs: Instagram has GIPHY integrated and you can look u for any GIFs to add to your IG story.
Location: This feature lets you add your location to your story.
Text: This feature lets you add texts to your screen, This also allows you to change the font of the text and also the colour.
Colours: One of the most basic ways to make a story look pretty is by changing the text colour.
Draw: You can use the pen tool to draw something on your IG story.
Filters: There are millions of these to choose from within Instagram, you can simply tap the filter icon and then keep scrolling left to explore them all.
How to Create IG Stories (Step by step guide)
- When you’ve logged in, you’ll see a plus( ) icon at the top left of your screen.
- Then scroll to the 2nd option, Stories at the bottom.
- You’ll see a list of tools at the left that includes – Create, Boomerang, Layout, Photobooth, etc.
- As a beginner, you can start using the “Create option” that has guided options and is easy to create beautiful stories using the given templates.
- Once done you can publish it directly by taping the “Next” and “Done” options.
Let’s create a basic story using all the guided features under the Create tool within Instagram.
You can also use an App like Canva who has some really cool Instagram story Templates to choose, edit, give it your own touch and publish.
Let’s look at it step-by-step?
1. Go to http://www.canva.com
2. Under Templates you can tap on “Instagram Stories”
3. Pick a Template as per the theme of the post
4. Once done you can go ahead and make changes to the text, stickers, alignment.
5. You can also change the background colour and text colour if needed.
6. Add Elements. I added a frame around the text so that the text is more focused on.
7. When you’re done with all the tweaks and changes, all you have to do is tap the “Download” button and Save.
8. And then, you can share it directly to Instagram or schedule the story for a future date via Crowdfire.
What to share? (Instagram Story Ideas)
While creating a product or providing great service is an art, what is more than art is to decide what to post on your IG story and when.
Let’s look at all the different Ideas and how small businesses around the world are creating them!
You can share a picture of the product you create and sell or a video of a service you offer.
This is Instagram’s version of reminder marketing. By sharing these stories time and again you’d be making it repetitive, ensuring the image of your product/ service is instilled in the mind of the viewer.
Stories can be saved as highlights and hence you can always create a menu, a rate card or a catalogue showcasing the different products and services you offer. Like this one by The Thread Project –
You can use this feature “Questions tag” as it’s a great way to engage with your users and also understand them and what they’d like to see or for you to create more.
This cute business – Lovely Little Charms creates “Food miniatures” asks the community of what miniatures they’d like for her to create.
You can share a poll as most Instagram story scrollers pause and participate if polls interest them.
Here’s an example of how We Like To Clay gets a vote from her community via the Instagram story’s poll feature.
BTS (Behind The Scenes)
BTS are unpolished posts that can be put out time and again to take your viewers through a process or make them feel closer to the brand and you.
Here’s how this small business is taking us through their packaging of Tie-dye t-shirts via Instagram story –
This feature is slightly restrictive but if you see it as a feature on your account, you could use it to share links to products on your website or your Shopify/ Etsy store.
Sharing a feed post on your story
You can share a post from your feed of a newly launched product or an announcement.
Quirk it up with little GIFS and cover most of the image with a sticker to get a viewer to tap and visit the feed.
Educate and Inform your viewers/potential customers
Sharing information has never made someone less wise. Putting out informative content and educating your viewers has always been a great way to engage and relate to the community.
Also, it’s super important to save these as highlights as it would be helpful when someone accidentally lands on your Instagram page.
Here’s how a homemade soap business account Earth Child Soaps takes us through the ABCs
- Host a Q&A session.
- Use Templates asking questions or a quiz.
- Share Reviews and tag your customers.
- Announce a GiveAway.
If you’re creating a story using templates from Canva or any other app, or you’ve created a story to share on a future date, you can use a scheduler to remind you to publish.
This feature is super helpful if you sit around and create multiple stories and schedule them to be published at a later date.
This way, you can save time and energy to create your product and better your service as a small business without having to worry about the posts being published.
Crowdfire is an app that allows you to plan your content calendar well in advance.
You can schedule Instagram stories for a future date by following these steps –
- Go to http://www.crowdfireapp.com and sign in using your email ID
- Tap on the “Compose”
- Add the image you’d like to schedule on your Stories
- Then add a caption and ensure you select the right Instagram account. Uncheck all extra accounts.
- Once done, you can schedule the post using any of the 3 options given – Post Now, Best Time or Custom Time.
- Based on the time you’ve set, Crowdfire will then remind you of it with a notification on your mobile device.
- When you receive the notifications, all you have to do is tap it, check IG story and publish!
That’s it, folks! 🙌
With Crowdfire, you can find curated content, schedule your posts, engage with your audience, deep-dive into analytics and create custom reports. Try it for free.