A Beginner’s Guide to Instagram Stories & How to Use Them

how to make Stories on Instagram
Irina Baranovskaya
Irina Baranovskaya
Content Marketing Manager
≈ 9 min read
Upd. on: 2 Aug 2021

While 1 billion people use Instagram, half of this number, 500 million to be exact, watch and use Instagram Stories every day. They have become a one-of-a-kind attraction for a good reason and developed into an irreplaceable funnel for every business, including agencies and freelancers.

According to Social Captain, it’s a surefire way to get 10x more engagement. They have so many creative features the public loves that if you’re still not in the game, it’s high time to consider Instagram as you next marketing destination.

In this guide, I’ll show you everything you need to know about a good Instagram story and how to make one. If you’re already familiar with the basics, jump to the best practices for brands at the end of the tutorial.

What is an Instagram Story, Anyway?

It is a type of visual content on Instagram that disappears 24 hours after being posted, in the form of a photo, a 10-second video or a continual feed of both reflecting on your daily life activities. People usually create Stories to tell the world what they’re up to at the moment and establish a close connection with their followers.

how to make Instagram stories

Because of the fear of missing out, more people will eventually want to watch Stories, compared to the traditional feed on Instagram. The concept behind them is similar to Snapchat, but more user-oriented. They appeal to our sense of urgency, but still, give us the opportunity to gridlock the best pieces of content in Highlights.

To view Stories on your phone, go to a top bar of your feed and tap on your friend’s avatar that appears in a purple circle, or simply go to a person’s account and do the same. A desktop version of Instagram has a special section on the right side of the screen.

making instagram stories

After a typical post, what you see above may seem like a secondary type of content on Instagram, but in reality, exposing yourself to Stories every day, you generate more trust than a photo in the feed could do. They encourage us to be more natural on social – and that’s what makes them so attractive. Additionally, compared to traditional posts, this type of content always has a priority because, when updated, it always appears upfront in your feed. The beauty of Stories is also in different captions and overlays you can apply to make them look even cuter. More on how everything works in the next section. Stay tuned!

How Instagram Stories Work

When you tap on your friend’s Story, the next thing you’ll see is a full-screen photo or video and everything previously recorded going in small intervals of time chronologically. The oldest will appear first and lead you to the newest ones.

Make sure that you watch Stories that are the most important to you first,  because they’ll only last for 24 hours and disappear. Instagram always shows my brother’s Stories first if he has posted any. Its algorithms were built to understand what accounts are your favorite. Also, when you start following new people, Instagram will put their Stories at the beginning. After you view them, they won’t disappear immediately, so you can tap on the left side to go back and on the right side to go front. To see another person’s videos, just swipe left or right.

pusheen stories on Instagram

Up to now, the Instagram app allowed one to record only a single Story without saving it to post later. But this has changed just recently. Social Media Today has announced that Instagram will now keep all content captured in the Stories Camera for seven days. With such small tweaks every now and then, Instagram is becoming handier, simpler, and less restricted. Now I’ll be able to record and add a Story on Instagram at my convenience. Isn’t that great? (Earlier, you could record something only with your phone camera and then upload it to Instagram without Boomerang, etc.).

How to Make an Instagram Story

Doing Instagram Stories is as easy as ABC. When I created an account on Instagram years ago, though, I was a little bit confused, because you were allowed to add these on Instagram (as well as any other content) only using the mobile application. So to make it on Instagram, just click the “+” icon at the top left corner of your screen. Soon, you’ll also discover that the camera opens if you swipe left. 

Note: Aside from making a Story on Instagram locally, you can use a feature to add some content from your Camera Roll that has been created within the last 24 hours. It will appear at the bottom of your screen on the camera.

Ferrari stories on Instagram

So long as you use this format, your stories will look nice on other people’s display.

When you open the camera, there are two things you can do – take a photo or record a video. After you’ve made your snaps, Instagram will suggest a range of filters to choose from and encourage you to add text or stickers to your content. To make Instagram Stories more engaging, you can take some of the following steps:

  • Use Instagram Stories Stickers

There’s a whole database of stickers on Instagram you can use to your taste. Just print a word in the search box and you’ll have a variety of Emojis and GIF stickers to choose from. This way, you can grab the attention of your followers and engage them, making them always come back to check out your Stories.

  • Add a location

We’re always on the move, so why not add a location as to what’s our location right now? Instagram encourages you to tag locations not without a reason. Tagging a specific location, a cafe, a cinema, or any other place, your Story turns up in the public feed of that location. It will make anyone who searches for that location on Instagram come across it. Instagram location is a good way to get discovered by people who aren’t following you. They may also bring more attention to where your business is located, if that happens to be one of your intentions.

  • Add a hashtag

Using hashtags when creating Instagram stories is as important as tagging locations. A relevant hashtag will draw the attention of people interested in a particular topic. Your Story will automatically pop up on the feed page of that hashtag, adding your profile more discoverability.


  • Create Instagram Stories Polls

Polls are created to crowdsource ideas, gather feedback, and discover more about people who follow you. They are your key to creating unique content that will have maximum engagement from your audience. There are two types of polls you can do on Instagram – Emoji Sliders and ordinary polls, where your followers can vote under your question, just like on the following screen:

  • Use Question Stickers

Question stickers on Instagram are oriented on your followers. This way, you can disclose information about yourself that is of interest to your followers that will be the ones who ask questions this time, compared to emoji sliders and polls.

Congratulations! This will be your first Story on Instagram and your followers will get a small notification that you’ve published it. If you use this type of content rarely, Instagram will also send notifications to your followers, saying that you’ve posted something for the first time in a while. To check who’s seen it, swipe up while watching. There, you’ll get basic data revealing how many times it has been viewed and by whom.

Why Use Instagram Stories for Business?

Now, since you understand all about Instagram Stories and can create one as a beginner (easy, isn’t it?), I’d like to direct your attention towards why you should them on a regular basis for your business. The following diagram will show you how popular they have become over the years:

Statistic: Number of daily active Instagram Stories users from October 2016 to January 2019 (in millions) | Statista

I’ve singled out six reasons why Instagram Stories should be utilized.

  1. An active user base with an appetite for Stories. As you can see from the diagram above, there are 500 million people using this non-typical content.
  2. Stories creation is a piece of cake. Let’s be honest here: you’ll spend less time creating a story than writing a post. It can even end up being more creative and generating more trust from your followers. Picture an interesting moment, add stickers, tag location, say how you’re feeling and voila – it is ready.
  3. A lab for testing ideas. Because Instagram Stories will disappear in 24 hours and you don’t need to spend much time for them, they can serve you a good lab for testing your ideas. If they are popular, they will receive reactions from followers and you’ll save the idea to use it in traditional posts that get more exposure.
  4. A stock of great features. Instagram is a visual editor, in a sense, and the Stories section has many tools to draw, place stickers, and add beautiful filters to your content.
  5. A huge traffic opportunity. Compared to classical posts, Stories give you the opportunity to add links that can be followed. As a matter of fact, with more than 10,000 followers on Instagram and a business account, you are granted to use swipe-up links.
  6. Another way to get heard. Adding stickers, tagging locations, and using hashtags will all work as a way to get discovered.

Best Practices to Make Instagram Stories for Brands

To be instafamous, just like Tai Lopez, Gary Vaynerchuk, or Grant Cardone, you need to post no less than ten pieces per day. Sometimes they post twenty. It seems insane, but that’s how social media business works. For you, it means you should never run out of ideas about how to use Stories on Instagram. Here are a few tips from us.

Prepare tutorials and how-to’s

Letting people know how you do things is a good strategy that social media gurus use to their advantage. This is how they become experts – by sharing their exclusive experience on how things work in a particular niche. To create Instagram Stories on a daily basis, think about what recipes you can give to your audience. Sequential in their nature, they are probably the best fit to explain how to do a certain thing.

tutorials in Instagram stories

Re-share content from your followers

The term is user-generated content. If you’ve run out of ideas, just take a look where your followers tagged you as a brand and re-share, if relevant. Such Stories will be your small successes that are very well perceived on social.

Share what’s on the backstage

Post a Story on Instagram to emphasize real life and look behind the scenes. People would love to follow you in your next endeavors, such as a conference or public event. Allow yourself a little bit of imperfection and naturalness. You’re not making a Hollywood film, anyway.

Highlight what’s on sale

Tell the world that your products or services are on sale. Announce special deals and offerings, do giveaways, disclose short news.

In short, save anything that doesn’t need a long text for Instagram Stories. They are an important tool in social media marketing, but traditional regular posting on social networks remains a priority. Using PromoRepublic, you can streamline your content creation and posting efforts.

publish content to Instagram automatically

What are your best practices for making Instagram stories? Share them in the comments below!


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