How to Utilize Instagram Stories to Maximize Customer Engagement

A closeup of a top-left phone corner with the Instagram app being the only app on the screen.

Over 4 million brands use Instagram stories monthly and 50% of customers report that an Instagram story led them to purchase a product or service from a brand’s website, according to survey data collected by Facebook in 2020. That means there’s a huge opportunity gap when it comes to short-form, attention-grabbing visual content paired with action-inducing text overlays on Instagram.

On mobile, businesses can take advantage of full-length vertical real estate, but creative content still needs to capture audience attention immediately. There’s a 15-second limit on videos posted on Instagram stories, and studies have shown that the average human attention span is eight seconds — roughly equivalent to (or less than!) that of a goldfish.

Fortunately, Instagram stories have various organic and paid features you can leverage to help your brand stand out by integrating them into your social media strategy.

Organic Stories

Available for both business and personal users, organic stories are an easy way to connect with and speak directly to your audience, informally and interactively. You can post photos, videos, text, stickers, links, polls, and more. Organic stories disappear after 24 hours, so you can spend less time on content production and more on crisp, engaging moments that humanize your brand.

Stories should be casual, relatable, entertaining, and engaging to elicit reactions and comments from customers, which are hidden from viewers. Hashtags, emojis, GIFs, @mentions, and poll stickers are just some of the interactive elements available. Carousels are a useful feature that gives your brand more space to showcase a limited sequence of content “cards,” with the option to “Expand Story” to view up to 10 more cards.

Instagram’s organic stories can help bring your brand to life and bolster brand recall. Follow these tips to make the most of them:

  • Create vertical-optimized content with interactive elements.
  • Integrate brand assets, such as logos and products, within the first few seconds.
  • Mix in movement and video rather than just publishing static images.
  • Add voiceover and audio.
  • Highlight center text with a focal visual element.
  • Emphasize the call to action (CTA) with bouncing arrows and text like “Swipe Up!” or “Click Here.”
  • Capitalize on metrics provided in Instagram Insights, such as accounts reached or content interactions (comments, saves, shares, replies, etc.) to see where you can tweak content for better performance.
Integrating clear, memorable copy with visuals draws attention to the focal point of your message, and can also yield a sizable return on investment (ROI).

A 2019 Facebook analysis found that there is a 75 percent chance of better performance with centrally placed text for add-to-cart objectives.

Clean & Clear, a skincare brand owned by Johnson & Johnson, launched an Instagram Stories campaign targeting female youth aged 13–17 in India. Head of Media and Digital Marketing at Johnson & Johnson, Channan Sawhney, said that by relying on engaging visuals and messaging, the product achieved a 6.2-point ad recall lift, and a 2-point lift in message association.

Instagram Story Highlights

If you want to save stories before they automatically disappear after 24 hours, you can use Instagram Story Highlights to make them available to view below your brand’s profile photo. It’s a great way to categorize and showcase events, products, tutorials, testimonials, and more.

By tapping into Instagram Insights, you can package stories with the most engagement to stand alone and be easily seen and accessed on your business’s Instagram page. Using Instagram Highlights is also an easier and less promotional method to direct your audience to Highlights with unique cover images and titles, such as “Product Launch” or “Upcoming Event.”

Moreover, Instagram’s “Question” sticker is an interactive, Q&A-style feature for Highlights which allows users to submit questions about your brand and get answers. You can even see the profiles of people who asked questions.

Instagram Story Highlights is a great way to spotlight anything and everything, from essential information and resources relevant to your brand’s offerings — like About, FAQs, or Return Policies — to playful and relatable tidbits that give your audience a glimpse into a different side of your brand.

Sponsored Ads on Stories

To get an extra boost to the organic methods of promotion on Instagram, sponsored ads on Stories allow you to target your content. This can take the form of images, videos, and/or carousel, by reach, video views, impressions, website traffic, etc., so you can adjust your strategy based on Instagram Insights.

It’s important to keep your message short and sweet, as users might be tempted to click away due to the “Sponsored” tag displayed on the top left corner of the ad.

Additionally, since Instagram Stories ads are viewed by users who may not know your brand, but fit demographic guidelines indicated during the initial set-up in Ads Manager, you must include brand assets such as a logo, name, and/or tagline to allow a new, previously unreached audience to familiarize themselves with your business.

Follow these best practices when creating your Sponsored Ad for Instagram Stories:

  • Maintain a casual, on-brand aesthetic and tone. Ads should resemble the informal content on social media rather than being intricately produced or overly refined.
  • Include a strong CTA with action words and consider offering exclusive deals to reward loyal followers.
  • Use fonts and interactive elements to draw your audience’s attention to the center of your post, away from the “Sponsored” tag on the top left corner.
  • Break longer messages up using carousels, to allow users more flexibility to tap through, go back and forth, or pause.
  • Since 60 percent of stories are viewed with sound-on, add audio and/or voiceover in addition to text overlays. But make sure the action is clear and comprehensible for all viewers by also featuring written copy to get your message across.

Now that you know about all the features Instagram Stories offers for your business, it’s time for you to put them into action.

If you ever need a hand writing copy your viewers will never forget, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at Wordsmithie.

Happy Instagramming!


ABOUT Aleena Malik

Aleena is a versatile freelance copywriter and marketing strategist, getting her hands dirty in all things marketing for Wordsmithie. She enjoys crafting content, tackling SEO, and writing, and in her free time, you’ll catch her on the tennis court or raving about her new favorite autobiography. Born and raised in Michigan, she enjoys the calm, slow-paced vibe of the suburbs, yet craves the eccentricity and fast-paced feel of the city.