A Beginner’s Guide to Instagram Stories (Plus 5 Tips to Grow Your Account)

Instagram Stories can be a great way to connect with your followers and engage them directly. Unlike your regular Instagram posts, they have a more authentic feel. Why? Because they don’t necessarily have to be edited as carefully because they don’t stay in your profile forever. Stories give you a fun way to show an accurate, behind-the-scenes look at your life or your brand. Which can help form a personal connection with your audience.

A Beginner’s Guide to Instagram Stories:

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories are pictures and videos that you share with your followers that are visible for only 24 hours. The Stories created by the people you follow will appear at the top of your feed as a slideshow of sorts. People with a new Story will have a bright pink ring around their profile photo. You just have to tap on it to view their Story.

Once you do this, you will be able to view whatever Story they have shared in the past 24 hours. They will play in chronological order, starting from oldest to newest. You can pause a Story by pressing and holding the screen. You can go back or go forward by tapping on the screen. The same action will take you to the next person’s Story if there are no further Stories from the current profile.

Why Use Instagram Stories?

When Instagram initially launched the Stories feature, everyone talked about how it was a copy of Snapchat. And it is true to some extent. However, it would be more apt to describe it as a better version of Snapchat. Instagram has taken and improved on the Snapchat features, making the Stories feature highly popular among users.

In fact, it has already surpassed Snapchat in terms of popularity. According to Facebook, there are now 200 million people who use Stories on a daily basis. This is a massive increase because just three months prior to the announcement, there were 150 million users of the feature. Snapchat, on the other hand, has about 160 million daily active users.

Besides the popularity factor, Instagram Stories are discoverable. This means that if your account is public, people who aren’t following you can also discover your Stories. If you go to your Explore page, you will be able to see the Stories added by people you’re not following.

You will notice that these Stories are normally from profiles that the people in your network are engaging with, and from highly popular and trending profiles. Similarly, your Stories can also show up in the explore page of people who aren’t following you. And you have an excellent opportunity to get discovered by people who might turn out to be your biggest fans.

How to Create Instagram Stories

Although you may be able to access Instagram and view the Stories through desktop, you can only add a Story using the mobile app. Here are the basic steps to create an Instagram Story:

1. Tap on the camera icon at the top of your screen. This will open the Instagram camera.

2. You can take a photo by clicking on the center button or press and hold it to record a 10-second video. Otherwise, you can swipe to use the other options such as Boomerang, Superzoom, Focus, Rewind, and Hands-Free.

3. If you want to share something that’s in your camera roll or a screenshot that you’ve taken, you can swipe up and you’ll get the option to do that.

4. Add filters by swiping left or right and choosing one that you like.

5. If you want to add some text to the story, you can tap anywhere on the screen and you will get the text tool. You can change the font and the text color as necessary and add the “@” sign and “#” sign to tag other accounts of use a hashtag respectively. You can even adjust the text size using the size adjustment bar on the left.

6. Click on the pen icon on the top right corner of the screen if you want to draw something on the image. You’ll have the option to choose from different pen styles and change the pen color as needed.

7. Click on the square smiley button to add stickers to the story. Here’s you’ll get the option to add location, time, temperature, polls, GIFs, and several other stickers.

8. After you’ve added everything you want, tap on the “Send To” button in the bottom.

9. Now tap on the “Share” button next to “Your Story.”

10. Tap on “Done” and that’s it. Your followers will be able to view your new story.

You can add as many Stories as you want, but it would be wise to avoid sharing too many Stories at one time if you want your followers to see everything. You can even change the privacy of your Stories and hide them from certain users.

5 Tips to Grow Your Account Using Instagram Stories

Now that you’ve understood the basics of Instagram Stories, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to grow your account through them:

#1: Use Hashtags and Location Tags
Instagram has recently introduced the ability to add hashtags to your Stories. So if someone’s conducting a hashtag search, your Story will appear at the top of their feed if it contains the hashtag. This further improves your chances of getting discovered by a relevant audience.

Let’s try searching for the hashtag #thebeatles, for instance. Here’s what shows up in your search results.

If you click on the circle at the top of the feed, you’ll get to see all the Stories that have the same hashtag included in them.

As mentioned earlier, there is an option to add a location tag to your Story. Just like hashtags in your Stories, adding a location to your Story increases your discoverability. People in the relevant location will be able to view your Story from their explore page.

If you take a look at the screenshot below, you can see a highlighted circle at the top along with a red location tag. That’s where your Story will show up for relevant users. This significantly improves your chances of drawing them in and growing your account.

#2: Add Outbound Links
One of the main limitations of Instagram is that you can’t add links to your posts. You’re only allowed one link in your bio and that has limited many brands and influencers until they introduced the ability to add outbound links to your Stories. When you add a link to your Story, people will have the option to “See More” and go directly to the link you’ve added.

You could send people to a certain product page or landing page. You could direct them straight to your blog post. Or in the case of influencers, you can send them to the website of the brand you’re promoting. However, this feature is only available for verified accounts at the time of writing this post.

Here’s how top influencer, Aimee Song, has implemented this feature in her promotional Story for Quay Australia. As you can see, there’s a small “See More” button at the bottom of the Story.

If you click on that button or swipe up, you can directed to the Quay Australia website, where you can purchase the same sunglasses she is wearing in the Story.

#3: Engage Your Audience with Polls and Ratings
Instagram Stories give you the perfect features to directly engage with your audience. Make the most of the polls and ratings stickers to get your followers’ opinions and encourage them to interact with you. Have them vote between different kinds of products, content, etc. so you can understand exactly what they like and deliver it to them.

You can ask them to rate how much they like a certain item, blog post, video, etc. And by seeing how well they respond to it, you can understand their interests better. This will help you plan your future marketing and engagement strategies more effectively. Interior design site Room Porn, for instance, uses polls and ratings in their Instagram Stories on a regular basis to engage their followers.

#4: Have Influencers Take Over
For brands, one of the best ways to grow your account is to work with influencers who already have a significant and loyal following. But in many cases, some brands hesitate to do this as they want to maintain a uniform feed with images and videos that fit their brand image. That’s where Instagram Stories come in.

Have influencers take over your Instagram account for a day and let them create Stories on your behalf. The Stories should ideally be relevant to your brand but still highly relatable, fun, and engaging. So it would be ideal if you can have them broadcast their visit to your offices and stores or showcase how they’re benefiting from your products or services.

They could even give tutorials through your Stories. Whatever they create, just make sure that they thoroughly promote the takeover beforehand and get their audience to your account.

For example, the fitness Instagrammer @ishineyoga took over the Instagram Stories of SweatNET Charlotte and promoted the news through her own Stories.

#5: Showcase Life Behind the Scenes
Another excellent way to engage your fans is by showing them what goes on behind the scenes. And Instagram Stories are the perfect platform for this. You can take them on a tour of your offices, your production facilities, etc. Or you can show them what goes on behind the scenes of your videos and posts.

This will add a sense of authenticity to your interactions and strengthen your relationships with the audience. The strong community will play a significant role in helping your account grow. This tip should work for both influencers and brands alike.

Influencer, Joy Cho, does a great job of this. She recently shared Stories showcasing what’s happening at the launch party of a new product line from Oh Joy!


By now you would have a clear understanding of what to do with your Instagram Stories and how to create Stories that help grow your account. It would be wise to experiment and see how well your followers are responding to your Stories and then make adjustments to your content type, post timing, etc. as necessary.