Instagram Story Ideas: The Ultimate Guide for 2018
33 Instagram Story Ideas You Should Be Trying Out
Instagram Stories are a great way to interact with your audience on Instagram. In fact, in late 2017 more than 300 million people watched Instagram Stories daily.
That’s almost two times more than Snapchat.
No doubt, it’s clear that Instagram Stories should be a part of every account’s marketing in 2018 and onward. It’s worth noting that we’ve seen significant decline in engagement rate for regular posts while Story engagement has stayed high.
Therefore, if you’re not making Stories on Instagram, you’re missing out.
“So what should I post to Stories?” you might be asking.
Not to worry.
In the past few years I’ve helped over 2,000 accounts to grow their following on Instagram and will continue to do so in the coming years. Be sure to check out my free 7-day Instagram course.
So without further ado..
Here’s my best Instagram Story ideas for 2018.
1. Location. Location. Location.
It’s not an accident that this idea landed first.
Using location markers in your Stories is huge. All the accounts I’ve worked with get around 50% more views. Combine that with relevant hashtags and you’ll be scooping in two times more views to your Stories.
More views = more followers.
2. Ask a Question #polltime
Every once in a while Instagram adds new features. A while back we got the option to do polls.
Obviously, Instagram wants to push new features and rewards better views and rankings for the accounts to help their new features be accepted by the community.
Doing polls isn’t that new anymore, but it’s still an awesome way to get your audience to do something.
Getting someone to do something for you makes them like you more and increases the chance of them doing something more for you in the future (#psychology).
The key to doing polls is to ask simple questions with very easy answers.
For example, if you’re in fashion you could ask which shirt you should wear today.
Blue vs. Red
3. Encourage People to Message You
After the big algorithm changes in late 2017 more people have reached out to me about the declined engagement rate.
Now, Instagram is trying to serve content based on what you’d like to see.
If you open your feed, you’ll probably see content from accounts that you know and are heavily interacting with.
Having a direct message communication with someone is a very strong signal to Instagram. It tells them the person you’re talking with is your friend, not just a random account you used to follow back in 2016. Therefore, ask people to send you a message.
Increasing your engagement rate is one thing, but you should also be genuinely interested in having real relationships with your followers and customers.
That’s what social media should be about. Real relationships.
4. Encourage People to Turn on Post Notifications
Another great way to boost your engagement is to ask people to turn on their post notifications.
So every time you post something, they will receive a notification. This increases the amount of likes and comments you receive.
5. Show Your Mood
Not all days are alike.
Stories can be raw and human. Don’t always aim to be perfect.
When you’re in a hurry, just let your audience know what’s going on and why you aren’t sharing.
If you simply don’t feel like putting something cool together, it’s perfectly okay to say that.
On the other hand, this depends on your niche a little bit as well. In some cases you might not want to come off as lazy and moody. For example from fitness coaches I expect constant energy and motivation.
6. Have a Rant About Something
If there’s something you’re passionate about, then it will probably make good content for Instagram Stories.
To become a opinion leader you need to develop an opinion on things. If you’re in between with most things and being “politically correct” all the time then you might become boring over time.
Have an opinion and don’t be afraid to say it out loud.
There will always be people who dislike you no matter what you do. People who agree with you will respect you even more for stating your views.
Planning a product launch?
That’s awesome! Doing teasers for your upcoming launch is a great way to warm up your audience. I would use both video and photo posts.
Here’s a few examples:
8. Use Stickers
When you’re just feeling crazy, use stickers.
You can do really funny things with just using stickers in Instagram Stories. For example, think about doing #funfridays
9. Promote Your Product
This is pretty obvious, but if you have a product or you’re running a service – promote it in your Instagram Story.
Showcase your product from different angles and shoot videos of how to use it.
If you’re running a service, make short videos explaining what you are doing and why it’s important for your customers. Be very clear about the value and benefit of the service.
Don’t just focus on the features.
10. Do Shoutouts
Yes, shoutouts still work on Instagram.
It’s a great way to build meaningful relationships with people you like and who share similar content with you.
Also, if you have spent quite a lot of time building that perfect looking Instagram feed, you don’t really want to post screenshots of somebody’s feed there right?
The great thing with Stories is that they don’t have to look amazing. They just need to convey the message and have a strong call to action.
Here’s two options how to do a shoutout in an Instagram Story:
11. Swipe Up to Read Posts
The Swipe up feature in Instagram Stories is unfortunately available only to accounts with 10k+ followers. If you’re not quite there yet, I suggest checking out my guide “how to get more followers on Instagram” from HopperHQ blog.
The Swipe up feature is perfect for promoting your latest posts if you’re a blogger or an opinion leader. Of course you can be creative and drive traffic to your product page, giveaways etc. If you want to spice it up a notch, then hire a designer or editor to add some animation to the swipe up arrow. This will make it more prominent and increases the swipe rate.
Here’s how Robert Kiyosaki is doing it:
12. Promote Your Latest Post
You don’t necessarily have to link build off your Instagram. If you’re posting less regular posts, then it might be a good idea to promote your posts with Stories as well.
Take a screenshot of your feed, blur out your latest posts and save that image to your story. Add @yourusername with a call to action to visit your profile to see your latest post. This way people can click on your username and be redirected to your profile.
@calebmaddix is killing it with Instagram Stories.
13. Edit Epic Short Videos
If you really want to stand out, you need to level up your story editing.
Almost everybody and their dog is posting quite generic videos and photos to their Stories. Usually little to none video/photo editing is involved.
To get people excited about your stories, you need to post exciting stories.
Of course it’s not that easy. It requires certain skills (your time) or money to outsource it. Here’s @jessedriftwood, who is one of my favourite Instagram Story editors. His Stories are truly epic.
14. Edit Less Epic Videos (Simply Add Music)
If you don’t want to go all out on the editing then simply adding music to your videos already adds amazing dimension. Also, there are a lot of different free apps you can use for simple video editing on your phone.
So shoot videos and photos with your phone-s camera. Use the time while commuting (not while driving yourself) to add the best of these clips to your video timeline and add music.
Remember to keep the 15 second time limit per clip.
Awesome music resources:
15. Post Quotes
Nothing better than seeing a motivational quote in the morning from an account you follow right?
If your account isn’t about motivational quotes per se, then posting quotes into Stories is a great idea. They don’t mess up your feed style.
16. Use Graphics for Simple Messages
Now, this goes along with the previous point.
Every time you want to say something to your audience, it doesn’t need to be a video. A photo with text does the job just as well.
Also, you don’t need to go crazy with the editing. Instagram now offers backgrounds for Stories so it makes it even easier to write an update, share some insight or simply say “Good Morning”.
17. Success Stories
If you’re working with clients or if you have a product that helps to solve a problem for your customers, then make sure to feature some of that social proof in your Instagram Stories as well.
One of the best ways of doing this is showing screenshots of the actual feedback. This makes it look authentic.
You can go the extra-mile and ask your customers to send in a video testimonial, which you could post into Stories. If you lack the time and people are sending in their testimonials without asking, then doing simple screenshots is the easiest to start with.
Here’s what people have written to me:
18. Show Off Your Success
Nobody likes a showoff. Is it okay to show a little?
Of course it is.
Instagram is a lot about promoting lifestyle. If you’re doing well with your career, life, love etc – share it. Inspire people and let them know what you have achieved.
Depending on your niche, you should find a good balance of showing off and being humble.
19. Show Your Work
Are you a designer, photographer, developer or actually anybody who creates something?
Instagram can be a good place for showcasing your work. Use Instagram Stories to promote your portfolio. There are more than a couple of ways to go about it.
For starters, you can shoot a quick video talking about your latest project or simply post a photo of the final product.
20. Show How You Work
Hey, look! It’s “take your followers to work day”.
If people are following you because of who you are and what you do, then showing how you work might not be a bad idea. Making photos and videos the same time you’re working might not be the most comfortable thing, but the more you practice the better you get at it.
Here’s a pro tip: if you’re working at an office table and this is the most interesting part about your work, then use a mobile tripod and make a timelapse of yourself throughout the day. Don’t forget to add music before you upload.
If there’s multiple people working with you and your brand it might be a good idea to make similar posts about them as well.
21. Create Wallpapers
Once you get really good with the graphical tools I mentioned before, you can create stunning mobile wallpapers that people could download.
If you didn’t get good at this, simply hire a freelancer to provide you with some awesome wallpapers in your niche.
People love wallpapers.
This is an awesome branding channel for your brand. Every time people open their phone they are reminded of you and your brand. @garyvee does an awesome job posting wallpapers.
When you post a wallpaper, remember people will be making screenshots of it, so don’t write anything extra on it. Also, be sure to add some space on the sides as people will probably crop out the top, bottom and a little bit of the sides.
You can make the first slide with a call-to-action text “Be ready to screenshot the wallpaper” and use the second slide as the wallpaper itself.
Alternatively you can use the swipe up feature that links to a Dropbox or Google Drive link where you have uploaded the wallpaper(s).
22. Product Reviews
It doesn’t really matter if you run a personal account or a brand account – product reviews make a great Instagram Story idea.
As this content is going to be relevant for some time, it’s suggested to add reviews as a Story highlight as well.
Express your honest opinion in video format or use background layout to write about the features and benefits of the product.
Be sure to add a hashtag and/or tag the product you’re reviewing. There’s a chance that they’ll see it and give you a shoutout. So make your review interesting, high quality and honest.
23. Promote Your Hashtag
Every brand should develop their own hashtag. It can be your product name, brand name or symbolise a movement your target market can identify with.
For example take @chriskubby, who has built a successful presence on Instagram. Chris is promoting #kubbyklub as an insider club for all his followers. Using this hashtag can definitely get his attention and moreover you’ll be able to win a Kubby cup.
Something similar that @garyvee is doing with his #60secondclub. Usually these hashtags are used in the post comments, but Stories are a good way to promote that hashtag and the campaign associated with the hashtag.
24. Show Your Workspace
For when showing your work and portfolio simply isn’t enough.
Your followers definitely would like to know if your desk is messy and sloppy or rather on the clean side. That says a lot a about a person. If you’re more of a creative person, then showing a messy desk isn’t necessarily bad.
Everything is where it should be right? So don’t try to be someone you’re not.
25. Promote Your Other Channels
Reality check. Instagram isn’t the only social media platform out there.
If you haven’t started building a presence on other channels, then you’re missing out.
Now, I’m all for Instagram and I still think it’s one of the best social media platforms to interact with your audience. Over the last year we’ve seen some major updates on Instagram and it’s not as fun for us brands and marketers as it used to be.
I’m suggesting to occasionally mention your other platforms, even if you’re not super active, diversifying is important.
For example, I’m basically doing nothing on my YouTube, but some of my followers know about it. With 0 videos I’ve gained over 700 subscribers.
PS. If you haven’t subscribed, here’s your chance! I made a promise to myself that I will get active on YouTube once I hit 2,000 subscribers.
26. Promote Giveaways
If you want to ramp up your growth on Instagram, hosting giveaways is probably one of my best strategies.
You can either host it alone or do it together with another account, which is even better in terms of getting a good reach.
So shoot a story announcing the giveaway, add a swipe up if you can and for the time-being add this story into your highlights as well.
To set up giveaways, I always recommend using Gleam.io.
27. Favourites & Best of
People who are more active on YouTube, have probably seen influencers and bigger accounts doing videos about favourites.
In a nutshell, it’s a brief overview of the products, services, books, etc that the person really loves. Usually it’s done month by month (e.g. April Favourites).
If you’re lacking ideas for Instagram Stories then doing short clips of favourites might be a good pick. In order to make this process easier for you, I recommend taking notes during a month (any notes app in your phone will do).
When a new month arrives, you can simply go through your notes and shoot several clips of your favourite things last month. #theseareafewofmyfavouritethings
28. Unboxing Story
Getting new things shipped to you is exciting, is it not?
If you’re excited, then your followers will be as well. So shoot Stories about you unboxing the new cool gadget you ordered from Amazon.
Maybe it’s something for your work? Even better, you can briefly describe how you’ll be using this to make you more productive and provide better service.
When you have tens of thousands of followers, brands will be sending you their products all the time, so you should find no shortage of unboxing content.
29. Before and Afters
Is your business about transformation of any kind?
Fitness trainers, business coaches, designers, renovation companies and everybody who can present their work in “before and after” can make their Instagram shine. We already talked about showcasing your portfolio and customer success stories.
Before and after blends nicely in between these two things. So make sure you shoot a lot of content before you start working on something so you’d have the “before” material once you’re editing it all together.
30. Guides & Tutorials
Educating your followers increases engagement, there’s no doubt about it. It also helps to position yourself as an expert in the field.
So keep making relevant tutorials and guides in your niche. If you’re a fitness coach, think about nutritional and workout plans. If you’re a designer or a photographer, think about Photoshop and Lightroom tutorials.
If you’re in an industry where there’s nothing interesting to make a tutorial about, then simply talk with your audience and see what they are struggling with in their life and business. See if there’s something you can help them with and turn it into a nice Instagram Story.
31. Tips & Tricks
This is quite similar to the previous point. The main difference here is that tips and tricks are presented in super short format. If you think about a tutorial or a guide, it probably won’t fit on one Story slide. However, a simple tip or a trick can and should.
For example, you could start posting “Tip of the day”, which shows one very simple thing to try that day. This keeps your audience engaged and they will be excited to see your Stories each and every day.
32. Show Behind the Scenes
Keep your followers up to date with what’s happening by giving them a peek behind the scenes. Everyone likes to be a part of exclusivity and see how things roll out.
Let’s say you’re planning a product launch or putting together new strategies – share it, make a Story.
Check out these two accounts with behind the scenes Stories.
33. Go Live
If you want to gain a massive following on Instagram, you need to be hosting live sessions.
Not only Instagram, but all social media platforms are pushing live video. Let your followers know that you’re doing it constantly (daily/weekly).
Live video is also a wonderful way to have a talk with your followers. Don’t stress if you only have like 10 – 20 viewers in the beginning. If you go live for the first time, you probably won’t get that many views.
If you haven’t yet tried, then hosting a live together with somebody else in your niche, might be a good start. As of late 2017, you can do a split screen live with someone who’s watching.
Let them take the lead.
PS. Getting into top lives is rewarding. You usually need around 500 – 1000 high retention views to achieve that. As you might know, I’ve been offering growth services for boosting regular Instagram posts, but this can also be done for stories and lives. If you’re curious to growth hack yourself into top lives, then let me know and send me a DM on Instagram.
Also, if you haven’t read my post “How to Become Famous on Instagram” and you’re looking for even more ideas, then check it out.
(Full disclosure: some of the links on this website are affiliate links. I’d appreciate it if you use my link when making a purchase. I will get a small bonus from that, which will support this blog and help me create more content in the future).