By: Iris Matulevich, Creative Team
You don’t have to spend as much time on Instagram as I do (my screen time app is ashamed of me) to see Instagram Stories have rocketed in popularity over the past few years. They’re undeniably useful for brands: over 500 million people watch stories every day, and they’re a platform of choice for many Millennial and Gen Z users.
Odds are, you’ve dabbled with Instagram stories on your business’ account - maybe adding a gif or two or asking users to swipe up to shop. In order to help you master the art of storying, we’ve gathered ten little-known tricks you can use to make your stories stand out.
1. Rainbow of Colors
When creating text or using the pen tools in Instagram stories, the app presents an array of colors for you to choose from - but the options are pretty limited. Luckily for us, there’s a simple trick to get the rainbow (literally) at your fingertips.
Tap and hold on one of the color dots - a full color spectrum will appear! Then slide your finger around the spectrum until you find your perfect shade. This is especially useful for branding your stories with your brand colors and building that visual recognition. Go ahead, paint with all the colors of the wind!
2. Solid Color Background
This trick is incredibly simple and it creates endless options for creativity. Ever wanted a solid, simple color background for your story? Or do you have a photo that needs faded to make it less distracting? Don’t waste your time (and sanity) trying to color every inch of your screen.
First, select the marker tool you want to use: regular pen for a solid color, highlighter for a transparent color layer. Choose your hue by using trick #1 above, then touch and hold on your story. Huzzah! You now have a full coverage background to get creative with. It’s that easy!
3. Select Multiple Button
If you’re posting multiple story slides at once, it can be tedious to find your photo, type your text, hide your hashtags, and paste your link… and then do it five more times. Save yourself the hassle by using the “Select Multiple” button when uploading a series of stories.
From your stories creator (swipe right from your main feed), swipe up to access your camera roll. Click the “Select Multiple” button in the top right-hand corner. Tap each photo you’re posting in the order you want them published, then hit “Next.” Create your stories by tapping on each thumbnail at the bottom of the screen, and push “Next” to publish when you’ve finished your slides.
4. Auto Arrow Tool
This tool is a newbie, but I can’t understand how we lived without it all this time.
In your pen tools, there’s a new option with an up arrow - select it and choose your pen color and thickness. Then simply draw a line in the direction you want your arrow to go - the tool will automatically place an arrow at the end of your line! Now I’m sitting here wondering what percentage of my life I’ve spent drawing, erasing, and redrawing arrows on stories. Whoops.
5. Copy and Paste
This trick is infinitely useful to creating unique branded stories. It can be used to layer photos in a collage, add your transparent logo to a slide, pop a frame around your photo, you name it. And it’s just so easy!
Pull up your background image in a new story. Go to your camera roll and find the element you’d like to paste on top of your story - choose the send button in the bottom left (for iPhones). Scroll to the “Copy Photo” button and click it.
Navigate back to your story and click on the text tool. Tap where the text cursor is flashing and select “Paste.” Your copied element can now be moved and resized until you have the perfect placement. Like I said, the opportunities for using this trick to make your stand-out stories are endless!
6. Upload a Highlight Cover
Instagram doesn’t make it obvious, but you can actually upload a cover photo for your story highlights - even if that image was never shared to your stories. Whaaaa?!
It’s true! Choose a highlight and click on it. Tap “More” in the bottom right and select “Edit Highlight.” Then tap “Edit Cover” under the cover image. The little image icon allows you to upload a photo for your cover without it being a part of your highlight. Pretty neat, right?
7. Answer More Than One Question Per Slide
We all know and love the question box feature on Instagram stories (and if you aren’t using it yet for your brand, get on it!). One trick for quickly answering user questions is to post your answers to more than one question per slide.
Go to the responses for your question box. Tap the first message you want to answer and select “Share Response.” Add a background image or color, then click the save button at the top of the screen (the down arrow). Exit out of that story. Then tap the second message you want to reply to and share that response. Swipe up and select your previously saved image as the background and arrange the two boxes how you want them. Boom! Kill two questions with one story stone.
8. Secret Tagging
Hashtags and account tags are just as useful on stories to reach a larger audience as they are on your feed. However, a bunch of hashtags clogging up your story can look confusing, and if you use the designated hashtag sticker, you are limited to only one hashtag per story slide. Luckily, there’s a workaround.
Use the text tool (it doesn’t matter which font) to type out the hashtags you want to add to your story. Keep them relevant to your content and use around 5 - 10 tags. Then tap and hold with one finger on your hashtags until the text jumps. Now use a second finger to swipe towards the first, shrinking your text until it’s tiny. Slide the tiny hashtags off the edge of the screen so they’re out of your users’ view. They’ll still work even if they’re not visible, and you won’t be letting your followers know your hashtag secrets! Win, win.
9. Find Your Poll Results After 24 Hours
It’s happened to all of us - you post a poll or question box only to forget about it until 24 hours have gone by… and your story has disappeared! Have no fear, your story is preserved!
If you have a creator or business profile, you can use the oh-so-handy Insights page to access bygone stories. First, tap the three lines at the top right of your profile page. Then choose Insights (Archive also saves stories beyond the last 14 days). Scroll to stories and click to find your last two weeks of stories posts. Click on each and swipe up for analytics and poll results, even after your story disappears. Then spend some time scrolling through your audience and activity data as well - these insights are critical for learning what works and what doesn’t on your Instagram page!
10. Create Your Own Gifs
Gifs are arguably the most fun feature on Instagram stories. But did you know you can create your own?
You have to apply through Giphy’s portal to publish your own gifs, but once approved you can begin adding your own gif creations (or reach out to your favorite creative agency to design some for you). Be sure to tell your followers to search your username to access your gifs and spread the gif love!
Stories have changed the way we use social media, and brands have an incredible opportunity to utilize them in order to reach wider audiences and build deeper customer relationships. If you’re not consistently sharing stories for your brand already, it’s not too late to get on the boat. Start posting, start sharing, and the rest will follow.
- Iris Matulevich, Creative Team