10 Instagram Story Ideas to Boost Engagement

Tracy Ring on Wednesday, July 8, 2020

instagram story ideas

If you’re running out of Instagram story ideas, it’s time to refresh your tool box because the use of Instagram stories is only growing.

In 2019, Instagram had more than 500 million daily active Instagram Story users—and that number is growing as Instagram grows. In fact, according to The Infinite Dial 2020 report, Instagram is quickly approaching the most popular social media network, falling not far behind Facebook in terms of usage, especially for users age 12 to 34. 

Image source: Convince and Convert

Despite the ever-increasing popularity, Instagram can be a challenging platform to leverage as a business owner or entrepreneur. As an image-driven network that thrives on product images, pop culture, and eCommerce—it can be challenging to find your place, and more importantly, to figure out how you can best leverage all the features available.

Your Instagram Story is the perfect vehicle to get in front of your followers and boost interactions and engagement. Using examples from both B2B and B2C brands that you can easily adapt to your audience, we’re highlighting 10 Instagram story ideas you can use to elevate your engagement. 

marketing from the gut

1. Poll Your Followers 

The Instagram polling sticker lets you ask users a question with two responses. There’s also a bit of gamified reward with this sticker because, as soon as the follower answers, they can view the results of what others picked. The feature leverages our innate desire to share our opinions and have our voice be heard. What’s more, the polling sticker increased 3-second video views in 9 of 10 beta campaigns, according to Instagram.

As a bonus, you can also use this Instagram story idea to do audience research, asking them what they want to see more of or even asking for feedback on a recent product or service release. To make your poll more unique, and tie it more closely to your brand, change the response from the basic yes or no. For example: 

  • Question: “Do you like to use free trials before committing to a new subscription service?” 
  • Answers: “Sign me up!” or “Not my style.” 

2. Promote Freebies 

Everyone loves free stuff—if you have free downloadable resources for your audience, promote them on your Instagram story. Freebies are a valuable strategy for drawing leads into your sales funnel and encouraging more interaction from followers on the platform.

For those of you with more than 10,000 followers, you can also pair this post with the “swipe up” feature. Otherwise, make sure to explain in your story what the freebie is with instructions on how to get it. If your resources are live on your site, include a link in your bio, which will drive more traffic to targeted pages.  

Get some ideas: Check out all our free content marketing resources for marketers and business owners. 

3. Go Live to Encourage Dialogue 

The live functionality of Instagram lets you broadcast to your audience in real-time—and we saw Instagram live streams skyrocket during COVID as people were seeking connection while we sheltered in place. 

That connection is what makes this an important feature to consider. As the host, you can see the followers that join the live session as well as comments and interactions. Going live allows you to directly engage with viewers and answer their questions so consider hosting an Ask Me Anything (AMA) segment where viewers can tune in and start a dialogue.

You can also use the live feature to give behind the scenes views into your business, offer sneak peeks at a new product, or report live from an event.   

4. Publicize a Guest Appearance 

If someone from your business has a scheduled appearance, whether it be the CEO or an employee—promote it! Think: a guest spot on a podcast, speaker at a lecture, or host of a Twitter chat. If you don’t want to use the graphic the host gave you to promote the event, your story is a great place to share the image while staying on brand in your feed. 

This is one of the best Instagram story ideas because it does more than keep you front of mind with followers. Wen you tag the hosting organization, which then notifies them to share that story, you’ll further increase your reach. 

In the example, Debt Free Millenials founder, Justine Nelson, promoted her upcoming live interview and Q&A with another financial brand, Let’s Talk Money, You’ll note how DFM used the graphic from the host organization, which is actually a repost of the Instagram announcement

You can do the same by clicking the paper airplane-type button on the bottom right of the Instagram feed post, select “post to your story.” Don’t forget to add text, GIFs, and relevant hashtags.

5. Announce an Event 

Image source: Power Digital

Announce a virtual or in-person event using your Instagram story. Since stories are top of the feed, users may be more likely to see the announcement, which can increase interest and attendance. If you have the swipe up functionality, you can include registration information there. 

This is one of the best Instagram story ideas to pair with the countdown clock. Select the countdown timer, set the name, and specify the end date and time. The clock automatically updates as followers view it and they can also tap the countdown to be notified of updates/when the event happens.

6. Create a Regular Series 

Consider creating a regular series where you post on your stories daily or weekly about a specific topic. It could be a Tuesday Tip or a weekly dose of inspiration on a Monday. By consistently posting a story series, you can give your followers something specific to connect with your brand.

Remember to stay on-brand and keep the content relevant. For example, our founder, Jessica, created a regular series where she posted daily journal prompts. Her goal was to help business owners and entrepreneurs be more mindful by embracing practices such as journaling. Because her focus is on living and marketing with intention, this series was a perfect fit for her brand.

7. Spotlight UGC

Image source: Kickstarter

Highlight your followers, partners, customers, or clients by reposting user-generated content (UGC) on your story. You’ll notice how Kickstarter reposted relevant quotes on their story from followers and they did the most important part, which is to credit the account by tagging them—which also notifies the person that you’ve shared their content in your story. 

UGC provides you with an opportunity to share authentic content that’s solely value-based for followers. 

8. Highlight Collaborations 

Image source: True Botanicals

When partnering with other brands or companies, take advantage of their follower base by cross-promoting the collaboration on your stories. When you tag them, they’re likely to re-post to their story, which drives that boost in reach. 

Even if you’re working with a smaller vendor, if appropriate, you can still recognize them on your story and tag their account. This shows that you’re willing to promote them, which also drives rapport between your company and theirs. 

9. Use the Question Sticker and Highlight Answers

Image source: Square

The question sticker is another valuable engagement tool for Instagram stories because you can directly ask for questions and share your answers or ask a question and share the answers instead. 

Not only does this allow you to engage in direct dialogue with your followers, but you can source really authentic and unique content as well. You don’t have to just ask for follower’s questions; you can flip it around and ask them a question. 

Take, for example, Square’s recent series, where they asked their followers to tag Black-owned businesses. The payment company then posted the many responses by also screenshotting that business’s Instagram profile overlaid with the response sticker and account tag. This campaign is the perfect way to encourage engagement and highlight an important movement—an overall social media win! 

10. Advertise a Product or Service Launch 

Instagram stories are the perfect place to shout about a new product or service. Your business should be proud of launches, and sharing news on this platform can help you get your audience interested and engaged as well. 

You can also make your product launch stories stand out by using some of the interactive Instagram stickers: 

  • Questions: Ask followers if they have any questions about the new product or service, functionality, price, etc. 
  • Poll: To bolster engagement ask your own questions.
  • Countdown clock: This feature is perfect for building buzz and anticipation leading up to the release. 

Drive More Engagement With These Instagram Stories Ideas 

Use these Instagram story ideas to get your brand in front of your followers and potential customers and clients. When you entertain and engage your audience, they’re more likely to convert from an interested follower into a customer or client while also getting to know you better in the process. A win-win!

Level up your Instagram even more with these resources: