The number of active users on Instagram Stories is more than 400 million. It’s no surprise the platform is so popular. For viewers, IG Stories are a quick and easy way to get caught up on what’s happening right now with the people and brands you follow. And for those creating content, Instagram Stories offer a fun suite of tools for engaging with your friends, fans, and followers in the moment.
If you’re brand new to Instagram Stories, trying to familiarize yourself with the platform, how it works, and all the tools you’ve got at your disposal may feel a little daunting. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you get started.
In this post, we’ll cover:
If you’re looking to dive in a little deeper, we’ve got you covered there too. Click through to read the other articles in this series:
To learn more about all things Instagram video, including Instagram Stories, the IG feed, and ads, check out our complete Instagram video guide.
We’ll start with the most basic question: What is an Instagram Story, or IG Story? It’s a photo or video clip, up to 15 seconds, that you post to Instagram that vanishes after 24 hours. Instead of displaying within your primary Instagram feed, it’s showcased at the top of an active user’s app, in a row with the Stories of all the other accounts they follow. It can also be viewed from your Instagram profile when a viewer taps on your profile picture. A colorful line will appear in a circle around your picture when you’ve got a new story to view.
There are so many different places to be when it comes to social media. So why should you be using Instagram Stories? Well, for starters it’s one of the fastest growing social platforms out there. As a consumer, your friends are there. As a business, your customers are there. You should be too!
And for businesses, there are all sorts of compelling stats that show why Instagram Stories are a good move. Here are a few from Brandwatch:
Before we get into how to post your own Instagram Story, we’ll talk about how to watch someone else’s Story. Before you watch, it’s important to note that **views are not anonymous! **If you watch someone’s Instagram Story, you will show up in a list of viewers.
That said, you do not have to be following someone to see their story. In this section, we’ll show you how to watch the IG Stories of the people you are following, as well as how to watch anyone’s IG Story that has a public profile.
When you open up the Instagram app, you’ll automatically see the Stories of everyone you’re following at the top of the app, in circles as showcased above. To watch, simply tap on the image of the person whose Story you’d like to watch.
When you watch in this fashion, it’ll show one person’s Story after another, in the order displayed.
If you aren’t following someone, but they’ve got a public account, simply head over to their profile. As in the image we shared above, if they’ve got a colorful line around their profile picture, it means they’ve got a Story. To watch their Story, simply tap on their profile picture.
There are a few commands you should know about to make the most of your viewing:
Ready to create your own Instagram Story? It’s easy! You can start by either tapping “Your Story” in the top left of the Instagram App when viewing your feed, or tapping your profile image from your Instagram profile when logged into your account.
When you go in to create your Story, it’ll first open up a screen where you can scroll through a variety of tools for building your Story. They include:
Once you’ve selected a photo or video clip from your library, or recorded a clip up to 15 seconds using the tools mentioned above, you’re ready for the next step.
If you've got an iPhone 6s or above, we've also got an app you can use to create IG Stories. The Animoto: Social Video Editor app is designed to make it easy to create Stories that stand out from the crowd. Check out the video below to see it in action and learn more right over here.
Next, it’s time to decorate your clip using text, stickers, or drawing tools. If you don’t want to decorate your clip, move on to the next step to publish your story.
Add stickers to your Story
If you do want to decorate your clip, you’ll find all the options at the top of the screen once you’ve created your Story clip. The sticker icon looks like a smiley face. Tapping it will open up a screen where you can search for gifs, emojis, and other stickers.
This is also where you can add poll stickers, questions, @mentions, #hashtags, and more. To add a sticker to your story, just tap on it. Then, hold and drag to resize and reposition the sticker where you’d like it on your Story. Note that with some stickers, tapping once may reveal different visual looks for the sticker you selected.
Draw on your Story
You can also draw on your Story by tapping the pen icon at the top right of your screen. Select a pen type, use the slider on the left to make your line thicker or thinner, select a color, and get to work. Note that you can tap “Undo” or use the eraser tool to remove unwanted lines.
Add text to your Story
In the example we’ve used here, we started out with a text-based Story, but you can add text to any Story by tapping the text icon (Aa) up next to the sticker and pen icons. You’ll be given the option of text style and color, including a background and foreground color for some of the text style options.
When you’re ready, simply tap “Your Story” or “Send To >” to share your Story with the world (or, if your account is private, with the people that are following you. Your Story will remain live for 24 hours, though you have the option to download it to your camera roll to save it or you can save it as a Highlight.
Finally, we wanted to leave you with a few best practices to help you make the most of your Instagram Stories.
Are you using Instagram Stories yet? What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? Drop a note in the comments below and let us know! Happy Instagramming!