Seven Creative Ways To Get The Most Out Of Instagram Stories In 2018

Ross Simmonds

A few days ago my friend James writes me:

I see you’re loving Instagram Stories. How’s it going?

My response:


Here are a couple key metrics:

  • We have more than 100,000 followers on Instagram
  • We have seen a 500% increase in direct messages
  • We are averaging 5,000~ views per Instagram story

We still have to do some measurement surrounding the relationship between Stories, Sales and Traffic. The verdict is still out on this one for us but as soon as I have some information, I’ll be sure to share it.

So how do you drive results from Instagram Stories?

Well since Instagram Stories launched, people from all over the world have chimed in with their feedback and thoughts. Some people think it’s a horrible rip-off of Snapchat and others have proclaimed it the beginning of something special. I view Instagram stories as a channel that gives marketers an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with their followers through a rich content format.

Regardless of what you think of Instagram Stories, there is no question that there is an opportunity here. More than 300 million people are using Instagram every single day. In comparison, Snapchat had roughly 150m people using it daily in June 2016.

In this blog post, I’m going to share with you some of my early observations of how people are using Instagram Stories and some of the tactics that appear to be working well for many brands and accounts. My goal is simple. I want to arm you with some of the tactics being leveraged on Instagram Stories so you can stand out amongst the noise:

1. Record Footage From Your Computer Screen or Upload Directly

Use photos and content that you already have on your computer and take a photo for your Instagram stories. It’s not yet possible to upload content directly to stories so the best bet is to take a photo of another visual. Here’s an example of a story uploaded by 9gag that was all about the funny faces being made by Olympians:

CTA AT the End

If you’re leveraging this tactic, it’s important that you ensure there is no glare on your screen when you take the photo or video. Otherwise the contents quality won’t be as good as it could be.

2. Create Instagram Story Storms


You only have 30 seconds in each Instagram Story to say something or show something meaningful. If you’re looking to overcome this constraint, the best approach is to leverage a story storm. A story storm is a continuous stream of updates in which you’re talking about a specific topic of interest.

Rather than trying to squeeze a handful of different insights into one Story – you can upload multiple to share a longer message. I’ve used Story Storms on Instagram with the @HustleGrindCo account and have generated more than 5,000 views. It’s a great way to deliver value to your followers in a way that feels exclusive as it’s going to disappear after 24 hours.

3. Use The DMs To Drive Better Engagement


One of the only primary functions within Instagram stories as it relates to engagement is messages. It’s not currently possible to share an Instagram story with a friend or pass along an account to someone with ease. Thus, the best call to actions you can use are to tell your followers to either click the link in your bio (see the picture above) or ask them to tap “Send message” where you can connect with them one-on-one.

Direct messages is a great way to build a one-on-one relationship with customers, fans and your target audience. It’s also a place where you can sell and establish a bond that will result in someone advocating for you in the future. When people send me direct messages, I often respond with video responses to make it extra personal.

4. Collaborate With Other Instagram Accounts For Takeovers


An Instagram takeover is when one Instagram user allows another to create content on their account for a period of time.

During this ‘takeover’ the user taking over the account has the ability to connect with a new audience by sharing content to their story. The Instagram Stories takeover is a tactic inspired by the Snapchat Takeover and the idea of Shout For Shouts that many influencers leveraged to grow their accounts to begin with. The benefit here is straight forward. You get a chance to connect with an entirely new audience and the person who takes over your account gets to do the same.

5. Ask Questions At The End Of Your Storms

Similar to a great call to action on other social media channels, you should leverage the power of a call-to-action on Instagram. At the end of a Story Storm for example, you should be asking questions like:

  • What do you think?!
  • Did I miss anything?
  • What are you reading?
  • What is your favorite ______?
  • What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
  • Do you agree with me?

The goal with this is to drive more engagement with your followers.

Upon establishing a more one-on-one relationship, you’re establishing trust and connection. Think of Instagram direct messages like the comment section on a blog. It’s an opportunity for your followers to give you feedback, add their opinion or simply say thank you for delivering value to their stream.


6. Drive Traffic To Content With Instagram Stories

Use Instagram Stories to communicate to your followers when there is new content being published on your site. Elite Daily does a great job at this by sharing a series of Instagram Stories that highlights content being published on their site and a bit of personality to let their brand shine:


Website CTA
Rather than taking the traditional approach where you simply take a selfie and tell your followers to check out your blog, this tactic is a bit more creative.

7. Build A Content Series With Stories

One of the most popular features amongst brands on Snapchat is the ability to share their content directly in their stories. Of course, it’s a paid feature but it’s one that media companies are loving and enjoying as it drives a significant amount of engagement and views.

Instagram Stories doesn’t currently offer this functionality but seeing similar tactics being used on this channel demonstrates the possibilities. In the Story below, you can see Elite Daily develop and share a piece of content that asks: What Your Zodaic Sign Says About How You Kiss. In the following 12 snaps, it combines illustration with written word to share what could have been a blog post.

Zodiac Content IG

Wrapping Up

Instagram averages 300M+ daily users, 500M+ monthly users and more than 4.2 billion likes per day.

The opportunity as it exists relating to leveraging Instagram cannot be overlooked by marketers looking to capitalize on Instagram. It’s one feature of many but over the last couple years, I haven’t seen one as promising from Instagram as this.That said, the next question is simple…

Who will win the social battle of the stories?

Will it be Snapchat or will it be Instagram stories?

I’d love to hear what you think.

Leave a comment and if you have heard of any other unique tactics for Instagram Stories, I’d love to hear them!

And if you’re interested in learning more about how to market on Instagram check out this video with 5 simple tips:

About Ross Simmonds

Ross Simmonds is a digital marketing strategist who has worked with everything from Fortune 500 companies to startups to drive results using digital marketing and technology.


  • Great insights on how to leverage stories! 5k views per story on 100k followers is fantastic engagement. Keep killin’ it.

  • Thanks Luiz! Appreciate the comment.

  • Alexandra Perry says:

    Really enjoying the blog so far! Keep up the great work

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    do you have any tips to do Story Storms with layers and text? I see a bunch of accounts doing this and I”m trying to figure out how long this stuff should be taking me.

  • Hey Stephanie! If you write the text once on a Story, screenshot it or download it and then write the text again – You should be able to do it with ease!

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