With over 500 million daily users, Instagram Stories is a feature that creators and businesses alike have been tapping into for years now. And no wonder: Stories is a great tool for reach and awareness. 45% of IG users look to Stories to find out what's trending and 58% of users are more interested in brands they've seen Stories from.
That all sounds great, but what are these accounts actually posting on their Stories that makes them so compelling?
We're so glad you asked.
Keep reading for 15 of the best Instagram Story ideas (with examples!) for creators and small business owners to inspire your next Story.
1. Share Behind the Scenes Footage
Whether you're giving a sneak peek at an upcoming project or sharing secrets behind the making of a fan favorite product, behind the scenes Stories are always popular.
Sharing BTS pictures and videos makes your audience feel like they have access to something exclusive. It can also humanize your brand and gives you a chance to be more personal.
2. Share an Unboxing Video
Unboxing videos are super popular across platforms. If you're curating a certain aesthetic on your grid and don't want to share unboxing content to the main feed, Instagram Stories is a great place for it.
You can share an unboxing video of your own product (if you make a product) or of things that have been sent to you, either by brands or by fans. At the end of the day, people love seeing other people open packages. It's like second-hand Christmas and these casual videos are easy and fun to shoot.
3. Have a Q&A Session
Using the Questions sticker is a great way to start a conversation with Instagram Stories. The best part is that there's not much prep work involved.
Choose a pic or even just a solid color background and add the Questions sticker and a call to action, like, "Ask me anything about my recent trip!" As your followers' questions begin to roll in, pick which ones you want to address in Stories. You can answer in writing or turn on the front cam to share a more personal response.
This Instagram Story idea is so versatile: you can use the Q&A to share about yourself and let your followers get to know you better or you can use it as a chance to field questions about an upcoming product launch, sale, or other event that customers are interested in.
4. Get Feedback from Your Followers
Whether you're contemplating getting curtain bangs or deciding on your next project or product, make the decision-making process easier on yourself by outsourcing it.
Your Instagram followers will be more than happy to share their opinions; all you have to do is ask. Use the interactive tools native to Instagram Stories, like Polls or the emoji slider, or just ask users to respond to your Story with a DM.
5. Feature Your Followers or Customers
Instagram Stories are a great place to show off UGC, or User-Generated Content. Not only does it give you a break from having to put so much creative energy in, it's also a nice way to say thanks to fans, followers, or customers for engaging with you.
Share posts or Stories that tag you or show someone using your product or speaking about your brand. And those posts don't have to just be from Instagram. If you haven't been explicitly tagged in the post, though, it's best practice to ask for permission to share, first.
6. Drive Traffic to Your Latest Instagram Post
Often, followers see your Stories because they show up at the top of their feed but posts can get buried under content from other accounts. If you tend to get more reach from your Instagram Stories than you do from your feed posts, there's an opportunity there!
One of Instagram's share features allows users to share a post to their IG Story. Share to your own Story whenever you publish a new post to help send a little more traffic its way.
7. Host a Weekly Series on Stories
Serialized content is an awesome way to get followers to keep coming back to your Stories. If they know what to expect and when to expect it, they'll tune in every week just like you would to a favorite TV show or podcast.
Having a series also helps you keep your content calendar full without having to come up with hundreds of new ideas. You decide how much production effort goes into the series. Something like a #FunFactFriday could be as simple as talking to your front-facing camera or as elaborate as a multi-slide presentation.
Give your series some sticking power by making it a Highlight that will live on your profile so followers can catch up on any "episodes" they might have missed.
8. Post a Photo and Video Dump
When Instagram Stories first rolled out, most people used it as a place to post pictures and videos that weren't "good enough" for their feed. Stories has had quite the glow up since then and now accounts for a quarter of all Instagram ad revenue. But that doesn't mean it's not still a great place to photo dump.
Whether the pics and videos don't fit the aesthetic of your grid or you just got so many good shots that you couldn't pick just one for the 'gram, go ahead and share them to Stories. Posting more than one Story in a row is better for engagement anyway, since followers watch longer. All good things according to ~the algorithm.~
9. Share an Instagram Reel to Stories
Similar to sharing your latest Instagram post to your Stories for a bit of extra reach, you can also share Reels — either your own or someone else's. Anyone viewing your Story will be able to watch the first 15 seconds of the Reel in Stories and then they can tap to watch the rest of it in Reels. We recommend adding a sticker with a call to action like "Tap to Watch" for extra punch.
Use this an opportunity to drive extra traffic to your own Reel or to share content from an account that you admire, are collaborating with, or just think deserves more views. Lifting up smaller voices when you have a large platform is always a good move.
10. Make Unfiltered, Vlog-Style Content
This Instagram Story idea works particularly well if you're going on a trip or to an event, but even if you're just taking your viewers through what an average day in the life looks like for you, it's still a fun and easy way to get active on Stories.
What's fun about "vlogging" with Instagram Stories is that it's more real-time than filming, editing, and publishing a traditional vlog to Youtube. Use that to engage viewers by asking questions, taking suggestions, and building suspense. Instead of publishing all the videos and photos you took at the end of the day, record and publish as things are happening so your viewers feel like they're experiencing it with you.
11. Count Down to an Event or Product Launch
If you have an upcoming event or launch, you can use Instagram Stories to generate hype by posting a count down. Even if it's not your event that you're counting down to, a count down is great for getting the conversation started about something that your community is interested in, like the Golden Globes or the Super Bowl.
Use Instagram's Countdown sticker to make the count down even more engaging and shareable. Your followers will be able to turn on reminders and share it to their own Stories.
12. Host a Trivia Night (or Morning)
Who doesn't love trivia? Get people guessing by using the Quiz sticker in your next Instagram Story. You can ask questions about yourself, a relevant industry topic, or your brand.
Not sure what to ask? Let Instagram come up with the questions for you. Just roll the dice on the editing screen and choose the questions you like best.
13. Share a Link to Your Website or Other Content
Instagram no longer limits links in Stories to accounts with a certain number of followers. That's great news if you get a lot of Stories views and want to drive that traffic to other places.
Use the Link sticker to add a link to your latest blog post, a podcast you're featured in, your website, an Amazon product you suddenly can't live without — really anything you want. Customize the link text to make it more enticing and that's all there is to it.
14. Encourage Your Followers to Donate to a Cause
Use your platform for good! The Instagram Donate button allows you to link to a verified charity on the platform so that your followers can learn about and donate to a cause that's important to you.
Give your Story some sticking power by adding it to a Highlight on your profile, so that your followers can find and donate to your charity of choice even after your Story's disappeared from their homepage.
15. Start a Stories Domino Effect
The best thing about Instagram Stories is how interactive it is. The Add Yours sticker allows you to take the conversation to the next level. Not only will you be able to see who's added to the Story, other people will see both the pics and the prompt in their friends' Stories if they participated. That's a great way to reach a new audience.
Use this sticker to ask followers to share their favorite way to use your product, their best memory from a recent trip, a cute pic of their dog, or anything relevant and relatable. This sticker also has the dice feature, so if you can't think of a prompt, Instagram's got you covered.