Stories are as important as ever for earning engagement on Instagram. Here are ten of the best brand Instagram Stories we’ve seen recently to inspire...
6 Instagram Story Ideas for Brands to Boost Engagement
Brands should never run out of Instagram Story ideas! This post breaks down ideas, examples and inspiration to keep your Stories feed full of engaging content.
Looking to fresh Instagram Story ideas for your brand’s account? Good!
Because Stories are still one of Instagram’s most important formats for businesses.
For starters, Stories put you front-and-center in your followers’ feeds. The format also provides endless creative opportunities to interact with your audience. Features like Polls and Stickers are key to brands fighting for reach with the new Instagram algorithm.
Food for thought, though: the top 25% of Instagram brands publish 15+ Stories per month.
Woah. That’s a lot of Stories. Filling your content calendar means never running out of ideas.
Need inspiration? Below are six Instagram Story ideas brands can adapt again and again.
1. How-To and Tutorials
Instagram Stories are the perfect opportunity to show people how to use your products.
That’s because Stories’ frame-by-frame format lends itself to step-by-step educational content.
Fact: 89% of shoppers have purchased a product they first discovered through Instagram. Translation? Product-centric how-to posts should be a staple of your Stories strategy.
How-To Instagram Story Ideas and Inspiration
- Step-by-step tutorials featuring your product
- Helpful tips and “Did you know?” facts to entertain and inform your target audience
- Reposts from influencers (and customers!) highlighting practical uses of your products
Beauty brands have mastered the art of “edutainment” and bite-sized tutorials via Stories. For example, look at Lashify’s “Tip Tuesday” Stories series. Every week the brand breaks down different lash styles and applications.
Creating your own how-to content is a smart move. Bonus points if you can feature tutorials from influencers, too.
By g real people in your educational content, it’s easier for potential customers to imagine your products in their hands. Given that 83% of influencers publish Stories on behalf of brands, there’s no denying the effectiveness of how-to posts.
2. Q&As and Polls
Interactive elements like Polls, Question Stickers and Sliders instantly boost engagement opportunities on your Stories.
The more Instagram Story ideas you can think of to include these features, the better. Interactions with your account are powerful signals for the Instagram algorithm. Beyond that, Q&A-style Instagram Stories allow you to pick your followers’ brains and gather feedback.
For example, what products can they not live without? Any types of content they want to see from your account? You can strike up meaningful conversations with your followers simply by asking questions.
Ideas for Instagram Story Q&As and Polls
- Poll people people on their hot takes (preferably about your industry or products)
- Ask customers about their favorite ways to use your products
- Answer FAQs about your product, business and brand
Here’s a playful Stories quiz from CeraVe asking customers what they love about the brand’s moisturizing lotion. The answers they receive represent valuable feedback. If nothing else, polls like this can help you gauge your audience’s engagement level on Stories.
Here’s an example of skincare Instagram Story that’s perfect for a product launch. Check out how Dr. Dennis Gross conducted a Stories Q&A for the release of their Alpha Beta Moisturizer.
The goal of these Stories was to clue customers in on the new product, its purpose and key ingredients. These sort of informal Q&A sessions are valuable for understanding your audience’s concerns and likewise putting them at ease.
Below is another skincare Story, this time from Krave Beauty. Note their use of the Question Sticker and how in-depth the brand’s responses are. For example, one response features a customer review specific to the follower’s question. Another frame features an actual person showcasing Krave’s product in action to reassure a customer.
No copy-and-paste responses here. These types of personalized Stories are invaluable for brands. Through Stories, a thoughtful response to a single customer is something your entire audience can see.
Fact: 44% of people on Instagram use the platform to shop weekly in some way, shape or form.
And conventional wisdom says that a lot of product of research happens within Stories.
Countdowns are a subtle yet significant way to build buzz for your launches and latest products. Done right, they can create a sense of FOMO and build anticipation toward whatever your brand is promoting next.
That said, Instagram Stories featuring Countdowns should be used somewhat sparingly. Try to reserve them for your biggest promotions, product drops and collabs.
Countdown and Product Launch Instagram Story Ideas
- Hype up “secret” announcements (like an influencer collaboration)
- Count followers down in anticipation of a product launch
- Build up a limited-time offer or discount (think: a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale)
Check out how Rare Beauty uses Countdowns brilliantly. Their call-to-action and reminder prompt make their product launch can’t-miss. This highlights how countdowns can feel exclusive and “for your eyes only." In turn, the brand creates that powerful sense of FOMO we mentioned earlier.
4. Repost Content from Customers and Influencers
Strapped for Instagram Story ideas? Look no further than your brand’s #tags and @mentions!
The more user-generated content you gather, the more of it you can repost to Stories. This includes customer shout-outs, photos and even how-to content. Featuring people in your Stories is yet another example of how to create connections with your audience.
Consider how your loyal customers are often your biggest cheerleaders. Who better to show off your products than the people actually using them day-to-day? New data from Meta also notes that content featuring real people boosts engagement across all of Instagram.
When shared consistently, reposting UGC represents a sort of snowball effect. The more people see your brand shouting people out, the more likely they’ll be to share their own posts in hopes of getting shared.
User-Generated Content and Influencer Instagram Story Ideas
- Share posts that @tag your brand (think: product snapshots or customer stories)
- Feature influencer content where your brand is tagged
- Gather user-generated content from your branded #hashtag to publish
For example, Dr. Dennis Gross uses Stories to showcase customers praising products. This serves as social proof for potential buyers on the fence. Likewise, these photos highlight that the brand succeeds at satisfying customers.
Check out how Coloured Raine Cosmetics highlights creator content via Stories. Positive comments and photos like these are examples of how customers can be your best billboards.
5. Point Followers to Your Products and Promotions
The Link Sticker (formerly “Swipe Up”) is a powerful tool for brands that want to drive direct social sales. Alternatively, you can funnel Instagram traffic to your storefront from your bio.
Much like Countdowns, consider using Link Stickers sparingly. If all of your Instagram Stories Ideas point people to product pages, followers might feel like you’re only trying to sell to them versus speak to them.
Instead, try to feature Link Stickers as a call-to-action at the end of a series of Story frames. Many brands couple external links with pieces of educational content that don’t feel as “salesy.” On that note, links don’t necessary need to be product-focused or transactional. Want to point people to an informational page, blog post or charity? Go for it!
Instagram Stories Ideas Featuring the Link Sticker
- Point followers directly to products, promotions and lead magnets (like on-site quizzes)
- Share external links to educational content or causes relevant to your followers
- Drive (and attribute!) more traffic from Instagram to your website
Check out how JOAH uses their Stories Highlights to serve as a sort of Q&A session around a new product. This seamlessly educates and nurtures curious customers but waits until the end before presenting a link.
Potential customers are only going to tap through the entire story if they’re really interested in the product. See how that works?
Below is another example, this time from Milk Makeup. These Stories are definitely sales-focused but still effective. Check out how the brand hypes up their beauty award announcement and then provides a link to the product in question. Smooth, right? Note also how the brand points potential customers right to their homepage after sharing a promo code.
6. Behind-the-Scenes Stories
Remember: not all of your Stories need to focus on sales (or even your products).
In fact, going behind the scenes of your business could easily generate some of your best Instagram Story ideas. Not only that but off-the-cuff, informal videos of your business in action are super easy to make. No fancy editing required!
When in doubt, taking a “peek behind the curtain” can be fun for both you and your followers. Anything you can do to make your brand feel more human is a plus, after all.
Behind-the-Scenes Instagram Story Ideas
- “Day-in-the-life” Stories highlighting your employees’ day-to-day duties
- Highlight your brand’s presence at industry events
- Show off how you products are made or developed
For example, brands like Glossier publish tons of behind-the-scenes Stories each time they open up a physical location. This particular Story documents the journey from a car ride to reaching the actual store itself.
At a glance, these Stories feel like something a customer would post. That’s the point!
How to Make Sure You Never Run Out Instagram Story Ideas
Reality check: filling up your Stories calendar isn’t going to happen by accident.
The good news? The creative options for are seemingly endless no matter what you’re selling. To wrap things up, here are some tips so you never run out of Instagram Story ideas for your brand.
Consistently Engage with Customers and Followers
This tip applies to Stories, Reels and In-Feed Posts alike.
The more you interact with customers, the more you can source ideas for Stories.
What are their concern and sales objections? Is there a common complaint or question that people keep bringing up?
For example, a skincare brand might notice repeat customer concerns about ingredients or how much a product costs. Then, they’d document these concerns and create Stories to address them. Brainstorm how your brand can do something similar.
Watch Your Notifications and @Mentions Closely
Don’t miss opportunities to repost content from your customers to fill your Stories feed. If you aren’t already, actively monitor your mentions to see which customer posts would make for stellar Stories.
Want more people posting about your brand? Well, you can’t be shy about asking! If you’re not promoting a branded hashtag or asking for direct @tags in your bio, you’re potentially missing out on valuable customer content. Check out how Sally Beauty does both below.
Come Up with Weekly Themes For Stories
Meme Monday. Tip Tuesday. Wednesday Wisdom.
These themes might seem a bit cheesy but many brands rely on them. Themes encourage consistency and make coming up with Instagram Story ideas feel like less like a free-for-all. You might be surprised at how much one of your themes takes off, too.
Repost Customer Content from Beyond Instagram Itself
If you have a social presence elsewhere, consider how you can repurpose user-generated content to feature in your Stories feed. From funny customer Tweets to compelling reviews on-site, pulling from outside sources is totally fair game if you own the content.
Point Followers to Your Latest In-Feed Posts
For brands that regularly publish content to Instagram, Stories are a great way to put a spotlight on your new posts.
Remember that the Instagram algorithm is restricting brand reach in a big way. There’s no guarantee your followers will see your latest content when it goes live. On the flip side, Stories allow you to to boost your In-Feed Posts’ visibility in your followers’ feeds.
Want to Give Your Instagram Stories an Engagement Boost? Creators Can Help
Again, brands can’t afford to sleep on Instagram Stories.
From interactive features to creative ways to show off your products, Stories are key to engaging your audience.
The common thread between the best Instagram Story ideas, though? They feature influencers and creators! Influencers know best when it comes to engaging followers and showcasing products.
And that’s why brands are turning to Instagram creators for more meaningful engagement.
If you want to do the same, a full-service influencer platform like Statusphere can get you started. We handle everything from influencer matchmaking and fulfillment to tracking your campaign results.
Want to know how the process works? Get in touch with one of our consumer-to-consumer marketing specialists to see how we can get creators posting about your brand ASAP.
This article was first published in January 2018. It was last updated May 3, 2022.