19 Instagram story ideas and best practices to grow your followers and business

We studied top accounts and asked Instagram experts to share their Instagram story secrets for growth and engagement. Here’s what we learned…

by
Agnee Ghosh
19 Instagram story ideas and best practices to grow your followers and business

We spoke to Instagram experts (plus our own team of creators) who shared their Instagram story ideas and best practices so you know what kind of Instagram stories to make, how to make them, and what they’re good for. 

Skip to a section

  1. Top 5 Instagram Story Ideas
  2. The Best Instagram Story Ideas for Businesses
  3. New Post Instagram Story Ideas
  4. Instagram Story Game Ideas
  5. Interactive Story Ideas 
  6. Best Practices to Create Engaging Instagram Stories
  7. Try These Ready-to-Use Instagram Story Templates

[#TOC1]Top 5 Instagram Story Ideas[#TOC1] 

These highlighted ideas are your bread and butter whether you’re promoting a new post on instagram stories, promoting an upcoming launch, or simply trying to increase brand awareness. 


1. Use Countdown Stickers to Promote Content and Drive Engagement

Source: @mattcrump

A countdown sticker on Instagram stories lets your audience know of the precise time at which your next post , live stream,product launcher—or anything really—will take place.

Set the date, time, and title so your audience knows what you're counting down to. Your followers can even set an alert to be notified when the countdown is complete and share the countdown on their Story which means more engagement for you! 

Here’s a suggestion on how to structure your Instagram story storytelling when plugging in a countdown sticker:

  • Story 1 of 3: Talk about the problem you’re looking to solve and why to capture and retain viewer’s attention
  • Story 2 of 3: Tell people you made something that will help with just that and to set alerts in the next story with the countdown sticker.
  • Story 3 of 3: Place the countdown sticker on story

2. Host Free Recurring Trainings or Story Events to Improve Audience Re-engagement

Getting your audience to remember you when you have less than 100 followers can be challenging. And stories are an underrated tool to simplify this.

Here’s how.

What can you offer on your stories on a recurring basis to make your audience’s lives better? Recurring events or tutorials on stories are a great way to not only establish your authority on a subject but build trust and awareness as the word spreads. 

For example:

  • A beauty brand might do eye makeup tutorials every week
  • A fashion influencer can share style tips every Friday before a big night out
  • A fitness account might post a daily mini workout of the day on stories and encourage people to do it and tag them
  • A coach or consultant might host a Q&A session once a week

Keep these weekly trainings as a highlight on your Instagram account so people know they exist and can check in whenever they want if they missed a week.

Pro Tip Submitted By: Diana Briceño
Instagram Handle:
@dianagetssocial

3. Host and Participate in IG Story Takeovers to Maximize Instagram’s Organic Reach 

Source: @fentybeauty

An Instagram story takeover is when you collaborate with someone who will be active on your brand’s stories. They don’t need your password to do this. Simply have them pre-record the stories and then you can publish them.

Because the account doing the takeover will lead their followers to your Instagram Story, this is a great way to be exposed to new audiences who might like what you’re about.

Here are some examples of takeovers:

  • A beauty brand partners with a beauty influencer to takeover their stories and share how they use their favorite products from the brand.
  • A marketer partners up with a writer to teach their audience useful content writing tips that’ll make them better marketers. The marketer teachers the writer’s audience tips on how to better market themselves.

4. Source New Post Ideas with Polls and Q&A Stickers

Screenshots: @thestevenmellor / Steven Mellor

Asking your followers what to post on Instagram is a win-win situation because you increase your engagement by helping your followers and you also get ideas for a new post. You can ask questions such as, “Do you want more video editing tips from me?” or “What would you like me to talk about in my next live session?”

Stickers and what kind of questions they’re best for:

  • Poll Sticker: Great for simple this or that or yes or no type of questions. 
  • Question Sticker: Best for more open-ended questions.
  • Quiz Sticker: Ideal if you have options you want to run by your audience to know what they prefer.
  • Type Your Question: Use the text option to write the questions and let your viewers message you if you expect answers to be more lengthy.

5. Host Daily or Weekly Vlogs through Stories

Source: @kat_boogaard

Have a hot take to share? Or maybe some advice? Why not use Instagram stories to share your thoughts?

Host daily or weekly vlogs on topics you’re familiar with and can help in promoting your brand to your followers.

For example, Kat Boogaard, a freelance writer, shares tips and advice on freelancing on her Instagram stories every Wednesday. The goal is to empower other freelancers on how to run their business effectively which is in tune with her own brand. 


[#TOC2]The Best Instagram Story Ideas for Businesses[#TOC2]  

If you want to get even more out of Instagram Stories, then we’ve compiled a list of ideas to grow your business and your following

6. How to Use Instagram Story Stickers for Awareness, Engagement, Leads, and Sales 

Screenshots: @elisedarma / Elise Darma

Elise Darma has helped over 20,000 businesses generate revenue from Instagram

Here’s how you can grow your business like Elise using the specific features of Instagram Stories to boost your engagement, build brand awareness, drive traffic to your website and – yes – make sales.

Instagram Story Stickers For Added Awareness and Visibility

If it’s increased visibility you need, try using the Location sticker, Mention sticker, or Hashtag sticker in Stories. You can be discovered by new people through these stickers, whether that’s people checking out the location you just tagged, discovering you through the hashtag you used, or through your Story being re-shared by the account you mentioned.


Instagram Story Stickers For Increased Engagement

For increased engagement, allow people to easily share their opinions using the Poll sticker, Questions sticker, Quiz sticker, or the Slider sticker. The more people participate, the more the algorithm will show your story to even more followers. 

Instagram Story Stickers to Capture Leads

To capture leads from Instagram, try using the Poll sticker and – here's the trick – avoid using “No” as an option. Instead, try “Send me the link” and direct message anyone who selects that option with your link or best offering. 

Instagram Story Stickers to Close Sales

Finally, to close sales via Instagram Stories, be sure to answer any common questions you are being asked about your offer by letting people know they can reply to your Story (which will open up a private Direct Message thread), or you can use the Question sticker so your audience can ask all their questions to be answered by you later on in Stories.


Pro Tip Submitted By: Elise Darma
Instagram Handle:
@elisedarma

7. Create and Update Instagram Story Highlights to Educate People About How You Can Help Them

Highlights are like a menu of what you have to offer or like the navigation bar of a website showing what you do. A good set of highlights shows your audience exactly what they need and should know.

A good start for most business accounts generally is to include a highlight with:

  • Your story
  • Reviews
  • What you offer

For example, Instagram story highlight ideas for a social media marketing entrepreneur might include:

  • About 
  • Client Reviews
  • Digital Products
  • Services
  • Speaking / Events
  • Quick Tips

Since these stories will have a longer lifespan sitting under your bio until you decide to update them it’s okay to put more effort into these than the average daily story. Record inside the app or if you want to take it to the next level, record on your phone and then polish it up in VEED’s online video editor.

8. Tell Your Story on Stories

Source: @proactiv_uk

Don't be afraid to post about and promote your brand if it’s doing well and receiving recognition. Nothing beats a success story on Instagram.

Instagram Stories can be used to publish bite-sized case studies or to broadcast video testimonials from your consumers. Pre- and post-production images are also guaranteed wins. Be sure to highlight your brand's unique selling propositions and the ways in which your audience may benefit from them in your Stories.

In the event that you have a product or service that solves a customer's problem, make sure to include that social proof in your Instagram Stories.

9. Vlog Your Behind-The-Scenes 

Source: @questnutrition

By providing your followers a glimpse behind the scenes, you can keep them up to date on what's going on and get to know you better. 

  • Are you working on a new project? 
  • Do you have an interesting day planned at the office? 
  • Are you visiting the warehouse where your products are manufactured? 

Give your followers a glimpse into the workings of your business with these business story ideas to better establish credibility and transparency with potential customers. 

10. Share Screenshots of Testimonials for Social Proof

Customers are looking for companies that deliver on their promises.

People are more likely to make a purchase if they see positive feedback about your brand from others. The less overly-designed it looks the better or else you risk people believing you wrote the reviews yourself.

Examples of places you can source customer reviews from:

  • Screenshots of DMs or emails (ask for consent to share)
  • Ask for video testimonials
  • Check review sites

Sprinkle in customer testimonials into your stories of how your service or product has benefitted your customers and don’t forget to also save them as a highlight.

11. Promote and drive attention to  “big” pieces of content

Source: @veedstudio

Gary Vee talks about making 64 pieces of content in a day. And a key part of this is starting with one big pieces of content and then slicing it up into smaller posts as you repurpose it for other platforms.

For example, if you've recently written a blog or released a new YouTube video, you can use Instagram Stories to promote them using the link sticker to drive more traffic. In this specific scenario you’d  edit your video into smaller 15-second videos, highlighting the most important aspects of your content.

More ideas for repurposing content for stories:

  • Use parts of a blog as inspiration for what to talk about on a story and include a link sticker to it
  • Screenshot a tweet to turn it into a story 
  • Share a clip from your podcast to promote it on stories  

Pro Tip: Need to do some light edits to make your big piece of content IG story ready? Resize and repurpose content for Instagram stories with VEED.

12. Introduce Your Team

Source: @goop

Getting personal is not just for personal brands. Provide an opportunity for your team members to shine by introducing them,their role, and a fun fact in their own words. You can even mix and match this idea with others and have a teammate do a story takeover or behind the scenes of their day to give your audience a taste of your company’s culture.

This type of story can also help make your company more attractive when recruiting. Beyond the job description, people want to know what it’s like to work somewhere so what better way to show them than through your team?

Ideas for Instagram stories with your team:

  • A day in the life story showing the behind the scenes of different roles in your company
  • Instagram story takeover by different departments in your company
  • Play two truths and a lie using the quiz sticker to guess the lie
  • Celebrate important milestones and wins
  • Do an office tour

[#TOC3]New Post Instagram Story Ideas[#TOC3]

Sometimes your followers might miss a post from you and an easy way to solve that problem is to promote your post on your Instagram Story. Here’s how.

13. Try the PPB (Preview, Problem, Bridge) Formula for Pitching a New Post

Avoid simply sharing a post to stories with barely any context. To get more excitement and overall engagement you need to convince people why they should care to check your new post.

Heres how to do this with the PPB formula.

Share a short preview of a problem in your first story. This can be any problem that members of your niche community face quite often.

Then you can gently nudge them towards the solution in your next Story. Share your new post on the Story and add a text that essentially highlights you’ve found an easy solution to a common problem. 

Example of what this would sound like:

  • Preview: Making Instagram Reels can be time consuming. 
  • Problem: And while Reels are important you just don’t think you have the time to make it work. 
  • Bridge: Today we’re sharing our simple 3-step process to create a batch of Reels in record time.

[#TOC4]Instagram Story Game Ideas[#TOC4]

Instagram story game ideas get a lot of reshares, which increases your reach and visibility significantly! Plus Instagram Stories don't always need to be serious. Here’s how to liven it up a bit with some fun story games to get to know your audience better and spark conversation.

14. This or That Instagram Story Game

Source: @glammtemplates

Find or, even better, make your own template for people to screenshot, use, and reshare. This or that is when you ask your audience to pick between two different things and then share their results by tagging you.

This is a great way to have fun with random questions. But also, this is a great way to get to know your audience’s preferences so you can deliver a better content experience to them.

If you’re opting for a more fun and games type of this or that you can ask:

  • Sushi or pizza?
  • Morning person or night owl?
  • The office or parks and recreation?
  • Coffee or tea?
  • Sweet or salty?

Or let’s say you’re a social media manager getting to know your audience

  • Instagram Reels or TikTok?
  • Video Content or Static Images?
  • Videos under 60 seconds or 3 minute long videos?

Don’t forget to watermark your Instagram story template with your handle so even if people forget to tag you they still know the template is yours when reposted! 

15. Quizzes: Teach and Quiz Your Audience 

Source: @poosh

People enjoy challenging themselves to learn new things.

This is why the classic quiz format has always been a popular choice. Use the Quiz sticker on your Instagram Story to test your followers' knowledge on a variety of subjects.

Be sure to choose the correct answer before you post. People will be able to see if they were correct or incorrect when they select an answer. You can even use the close friends list to make stories like this supplemental content people gain access to when they sign up for your online course or purchase something from you.

16. GIF Challenges

Source: @keikolynn

Pick a topic or occasion, and leave squares or circles for gifs that are relevant to that topic or occasion. When your followers repost your story, they can fill in the blanks with gifs. Make sure to reshare the best and funniest replies to your article – it's a terrific way to boost engagement with your story viewers and will inspire more people to join in the fun challenge!

[#TOC5]Interactive Story Ideas[#TOC5] 

These easy-to-apply tips from Instagram pros will teach you how to get more engagement with your Instagram Stories.

17. How to Get More Engagement from Instagram Question Stickers

Screenshots From: @shinewithnatasha / Natasha Samuel

Question stickers are notorious for being tricky for newcomers when it comes to getting a good response rate. Here’s how Natasha–host of the Shine Online Podcast and founder of Shine with Natasha–has built a successful engagement strategy for question stickers.

  1. I like to start the Stories series by introducing what the Stories are going to be about to prepare them to engage with the Question Sticker. 
  2. Then, post the sticker with a very specific prompt or question.

By keeping this question specific vs a generic "Ask Me Anything" it makes it easier for people to actually engage with the sticker by giving them less to think about.

I love using the Question Sticker for specific Stories series that bring my community into the conversation which really boosts my replies and retention. I've done this with assumptions (assume something about me), "show us BTS of ___", and even their own confessions.


Pro Tip Submitted By: Natasha Samuel
Instagram Handle:
@shinewithnatasha


18. Say (or Do) Something to Capture Attention in the First Few Seconds 

Screenshots from: @gdayfrank / Reagan “Frank” Mackrill

“Don't start your Instagram Story with "I just thought I'd jump on..." or "I just wanted to get on here and tell you..."

Get straight to the point with impact. Jump into frame, run at the camera, start with a massive “HAYYYYYY” and clap. It's gotta be something that gets people's attention at a level of appropriateness for your account, intended audience, plus what they expect from you.

So change up the scene, break up the message over several stories, and vary your intonation. Again, if it's appropriate, adding greater energy that is 10% beyond what you think your 100% energy level is, has proven to work really well in my experience. That extra 10% may seem too much, but it'll be far more electric to watch as it becomes far more memorable than the next or previous stories they'll be watching” 


Pro Tip Submitted By: Reagan “Frank” Mackrill
Instagram Handle:
@gdayfrank

19. How to Use Stories to Improve Mentions, Profile Visits, and Follower Growth

Screenshots from: @thetomisinsmith / Tomisin Smith

Every weekend, I engage my followers with a template they can also share with their audience. I also ask them to tag me when they post. 

This increases my overall engagement, profile visits, stories view and sometimes gets me new followers. Since most people rarely create content to share during the weekend, I see this as a great way for my followers to engage with their own followers.

Pro Tip Submitted By: Tomisin Smith
Instagram Handle:
@thetomisinsmith / @26.digital

Other Popular Instagram Story Ideas You Should Know About

Here’s a quick roundup of other simple Instagram story ideas which are creative enough to boost engagement and make you more relatable to your audience. 

  1. Share stories that mention you: Express your gratitude and share the exciting news with your followers.
  2. Share a motivational quote: Motivational, thought-provoking, or just plain humorous, your message can be anything you want it to be. 
  3. Shoutouts: Shout-out someone who inspires you and explain why you adore their page to your followers. 
  4. Play Instagram story bingo: A fun game to play with your audience using your own bingo template.
  5. Play 2 truths and a lie: Use the "Quiz" Sticker to make an Instagram Story quiz where viewers guess the lie.
  6. Promote a giveaway: Run giveaways and contests where people can win anything from product samples to an hour of your time.
  7. Share photos: Share the pics that didn’t make the cut for the feed to your stories.

[#TOC6]9 Best Practices to Create Engaging Instagram Stories[#TOC6]

We have done the groundwork for you and spoke to people who have some amazing tips on how to improve your Instagram Story game ideas! Let’s have a look. 

How to Look Natural on Camera

“Talk to the camera and imagine it's your best mate's face in the lens of the camera. So that way you feel like you're talking to someone, rather than to a camera.”

– best practice submitted by @gdayfrank

What’s the Best Time to Post on Instagram Stories?

“Here’s a scheduling hack for Instagram Stories: show up in Stories 3 times per day – in the morning, afternoon, and evening. That way, your account will continually be pushed to the top of your followers’ feeds where Stories appear, and you will stay top of mind for your followers.”

– best practice submitted by @elisedarma

How To Avoid Quickly Tapping Thumbs Missing Your Story’s Question Sticker

@shinewithnatasha suggests dedicating an entire story to remind people to tap back. “I add a tap back slide shortly after to slow their tap in case they missed the sticker and then kick off the (story) series.”

– best practice submitted by @shinewithnatasha

Instagram Dimensions: Where Should I Place Stickers for Optimal Engagement?

Away from the edges and closer to the center is the best spot to add stickers, according to @thetomisinsmith.

“Instagram stories have safe zones and exclusion zones. Putting your tags, polls or quizzes in the exclusion zone makes them not clickable. This interferes with the app's interface. Avoid your polls and quizzes being too close to the edge of your screen, as this may skew your results, since that's where users tap to move on to the next story, so they may vote on something they didn't intend to.”

– best practice submitted by @thetomisinsmith

Save Time by Answering FAQs In Stories (Then Convert Into a Highlight)

The more you grow, the more you’ll find yourself spending more time answering the same questions. Here’s how to save yourself precious time by making FAQ videos.

  1. Make a note of your most frequently asked questions
  2. Record Instagram stories answering each one
  3. Add subtitles to make it inclusive
  4. Publish the FAQ stories
  5. Save as a highlight

You can also direct people in your DMs to the FAQ either by responding yourself or using quick replies!

– best practice submitted by @dianagetssocial

Don’t Neglect Instagram Highlights

Instagram highlights are to your Instagram bio what the navigation menu is to your website. Highlights help people understand more deeply what you’re about and where to learn more about it.

The problem? People often forget to make them at all and others who do make them forget to update them.


“Setting monthly reminders to update your highlights with the stories from the past month is one of my favorite tips. This keeps your highlights up to date, relevant and always fresh.” 


– best practice submitted by @thetomisinsmith

Add Subtitles for Added Engagement (Plus It’s Kind)

“Thankfully, Instagram stories has a caption sticker to automatically add subtitles! Growing up, subtitles helped me learn English when watching movies and TV shows. It’s also important to note 5% of the global population (around 466 million people) are deaf or hard of hearing. On top of it all, most people watch videos with the sound off. It takes just a few extra seconds to make your story more inclusive and engaging with subtitles.”


– best practice submitted by @dianagetssocial

How Do You Use Hashtags on Instagram Stories?

We're sure you've heard about hashtags and seen them in other people's Stories. They're a terrific way to get your Story in front of those who aren't already following you. Your audience and following will grow as a result of using relevant hashtags.

In the stickers menu, select "hashtag" to add a hashtag to your post. Alternatively, you may use the text icon to just write in a hashtag. Both methods will result in a hashtag that can be tapped and searched.


– source Social Media Examiner

[#TOC7]Try These Ready-to-Use Instagram Story Templates by VEED[#TO7]

Now you’re on your way to creating some Instagram stories that’ll support your brand.Need some video templates to make Instagram story design even simpler?

Here’s a quick guide on how to use VEED's Instagram Story Templates to create fun and creative stories for your brand or business. 

How to Access Templates

1. Go to VEED.IO and make a free account (or login if you already have one)

2. Start a new project

3. Click on use template from the new project dashboard

4. Sort templates either by Portrait size from the top menu

5. Pick a template

6. Start customizing and download when done!

Frequently Asked Questions 

What should I put on my Instagram story?

You can poll your audience on what you should post next, tell your story, or even host a short tutorial. Pick an idea from a variety of suggestions we've provided above.

How do I make my Instagram stories attractive? 

Try using gifs or stickers to make your stories more visually appealing to your audience. Animated filters, experimenting with layout modes, or overlaying text are other ways to have fun with your Instagram Stories. 

What size is an Instagram story? 

1080px x 1920px are the dimensions of Instagram's Story format. Having an aspect ratio of 9:16 indicates that your image or video should be 1080 pixels wide by 1920 pixels high for best results.

How long is an Instagram story?

Instagram Stories have a 15-second time limit. If your video is longer than 15 seconds, Instagram will cut it up into four 15-second pieces for your followers to watch.

19 Instagram story ideas and best practices to grow your followers and business

Agnee Ghosh

One-click video editing, online.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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