Best Practices for Creating Amazing and Addictive Instagram Stories

With over 800 million users on Instagram (500 million of which are active daily), there are over 300 million Instagrammers posting to their stories each day. We always knew the feed was crowded, but have you considered how many dang stories are on Instagram as well? Here are my top tricks for creating Instagram stories people love and can’t wait to watch.

Best Practices for Creating Amazing and Addictive Instagram Stories - Instagram 2018 tips and tricks - Social Media Marketing – How To Use Instagram Stories -

We all know Instagram engagement has changed a ton in the last year. Instagram stories are getting WAY more play than posts. 

Why? In short, they’re more FUN. 

Since they expire, there’s less pressure. People can be more open, more honest, more genuine, and more REAL. This shift to authenticity is sparked by the glossy varnish of perfection our feeds get. We’re over gloss and into grit. 

Let’s be real – we want to see you in your face mask on a Friday night sipping red wine more than we want to see your perfectly posed and retouched head touch. It’s human nature to seek connection and, right now, we’re finding it in Instagram stories.

We’re over gloss and into grit. 

When you open the Instagram app, you can see roughly four user’s IG stories icons. They’re chosen based on a few factors, such as…

  1. If any users you’re following have recently done a LIVE. Live videos get bumped to the front of the line.
  2. Which stories you’ve watched and engaged with in the past. These will be prioritized.

Someone has to be following you for your story to pop up in their first four icons, so the focus should be on growing your following with the right people (those most likely to enjoy your content) first.

From there, keep your stories spicy and top of mind by following these tricks:


1. Play with new features.

We love to try to crack a mystery. If someone looks at your story and thinks, “how the heck did they do that?” they’ll be intrigued and want to come back for more.

2. Teach them something.

Offer value by actually teaching something. Make it quick, easy-to-digest, and pertinent to your target audience and you’ll have avid viewers for life.

 From Madewell's Instagram ( source ).

From Madewell's Instagram (source).

3. Talk to them.

It’s not all about projecting outwards. Make it an equal exchange by gathering feedback whether that’s through polls or directly asking questions. 

4. Give them a CTA.

Let them know how you’d like them to engage and watch your engagement shoot through the roof. Great examples are “hit reply and tell me your favorite smoothie recipe” or “vote for your favorite t-shirt design by DMing me with your favorite pick – 1, 2, or 3”.

5. Respond.

After they do engage, follow up with them! Not just a heart or an emoji, but a genuine response. This is the START of the convo, not the end.

6. Switch up your visuals.

In general, talking heads do best because they feel the most relatable… BUT if you do 5 back to back talking heads, your audience is going to drop off FAST. Mix it up by changing your visuals, either flipping the camera to your setting, slapping a fun filter on your face, or breaking it up with text slides.


In short… keep it fun by mixing up your visuals (every frame should be different than the previous), offer value by teaching them something, intrigue your audience by demonstrating a new feature, and engage them with CTAs and follow up responses.

What’s worked for you on Instagram stories? What do you love to watch on other people’s stories? Let me know in the comments below!

Chris Emmer

Grand Rapids, MI

Graphic Designer / Branding and Social Media Strategist / Yoga + Meditation Guide / Your New BFF.

West Michigan based, small business + wellness obsessed.