CEO Insider

How to increase your social media engagement with Instagram Stories

Social media offers businesses many opportunities to engage with their audiences, but the challenge is always to not only find where your audience is, but also how to ensure levels of engagement that make the effort worthwhile. Doing social media for the sake of it should no longer be acceptable without a real return on investment, and one of the channels that businesses should be looking at right now is Instagram Stories.

It isn’t always easy to immediately see what the benefits could be of another new social media channel, but Headway Capital has pulled together a useful guide to Instagram Stories and what they can do for you.

What are Stories?

The Stories functionality was added to Instagram last August in a bid to see off competition from Snapchat, which offers similar features and had seemed set to dominate market, especially amongst millennials. Over a year later and Instagram’s move has worked, with its daily usage rates passing those of Snapchat, which has seen its own figures and share price plummet as a result.

So what are Instagram Stories? It’s an addition to the existing photo and video sharing functionality that is Instagram’s core offer, which allows users and brands to curate their content into collections of 15 second clips and images, which are only available to be seen for 24 hours after posting. They offer the chance for businesses to present a more informal side to their marketing, giving followers a sense of seeing behind the scenes and feeling closer to the brand.

What results can you expect? 

Here are some key stats:

  • There are currently 250 million active daily users of Instagram Stories
  • Stories have increased the average length of time users spend on Instagram each day to 28 minutes.
  • 33% of the most popular Stories are from businesses
  • 20% of Stories posted by businesses result in direct messages

Tips to make the most of Instagram Stories

The above stats show the potential of Stories for businesses, but without a strategic approach there is no guarantee of success. Here are some tips to help ensure that your business gets the engagement it needs.

Get the planning done

Great social media content doesn’t just happen, it needs to be planned out, especially given the constraints of Instagram Stories, which are that you can only post images and videos from the last 24 hours. With a plan in place for how and when the content will be generated and posted to fit in with business priorities and at the most useful times for traffic (Mondays and Thursdays between 7pm and 9pm) you can maximize the likelihood of getting engagement from your Stories.

Come up with the right content

Instagram Stories are excellent ways to get your audience feeling closer to your brand, so use content that achieves that feeling. One idea would be to get staff from across your organisation to do ‘takeover days’ where they (with careful assistance from your social media team of course) post videos and photographs of a day in their working lives. When other businesses have done them, they have boosted engagement by nearly 20%. Getting the tone right is crucial, as 83% of consumers say they enjoy brands being friendly and informal on social media, so the more human you can make your brand appear via Stories, the more successful they will be.

Make an immediate impact

In a 15 second video, it might not sound like it would be possible to get off to a slow start, but the average time a user takes deciding whether or not to carry on watching is just four seconds. So make those first four seconds count if you want to avoid losing people’s interest before you’ve even got started. An easy mistake to make that will have viewers swiping away instantly is filming your videos in landscape format, as 94% of people will be watching in portrait.

Help your audience find you

No matter how you as CEO feel your brand identity is, it can still be difficult on social media to make sure your audience find your content. That is why it’s essential that if you have an offer that is geographically focused, your Instagram Stories need to be marketed in the same way, using geotagging to get it on front of the people that it is relevant for. Geotagged posts get 79% more engagement. In the same way, you need to use hashtags to add further focus to the content you’re putting out there, which can increase the engagement by 12%.

Tell your audience what you want them to do

It’s never quite as simple as that title makes it sound, of course, but if you want your Instagram Stories to achieve something, you have to firstly make sure it’s possible for them to do that and then you have to let you audience know what it is. So, in the first case, make sure where needed that you include a link for users to swipe up to gain access to your website for whatever offer or service you are promoting. 15-25% of Instagram users are already swiping up on Stories and they could be doing it on yours. And then, include a call to action letting them know what you want them to do (if it’s to swipe up, you could also include an upwards arrow as a further hint, or the ‘poll’ sticker could be use if you want them to answer a poll instead). 120 million users have engaged with businesses after seeing an ad on Instagram, so make the most of the opportunity they represent.


Instagram Stories are a thriving area of social media at the moment, as demonstrated in the various stats we’ve shared in this post. They offer your business the potential to reach out to customers in brand new ways and so far the results are proving to be very positive for those already utilising these tools. With careful planning, some creativity and the right people in charge of the account, there’s no reason your business can’t also be seeing real benefits from telling your brand’s Stories.

A new way to bring your business story to life on Instagram.
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Luke Doyle
Luke Doyle writes on behalf of NeoMam Studios and is based in Manchester, UK. When not sharing content, Luke's passions include travelling and photography.