6 Things you Can Learn from Brands Slaying on Instagram Stories

By: Jess Vossler


Instagram hit 1 billion users this past June and 300 million users are producing Instagram stories. It’s no wonder why brands and businesses are flocking to this social media platform to engage with potential customers. Instagram reported that in one month over 50 percent of businesses on Instagram published an Instagram Story with businesses creating a third of the platform’s most viewed stories. (Hootsuite)

For those wondering, Instagram Stories is a feature on Instagram that allows users to post content that vanishes after 24 hours. The content posted to Stories does not appear on a user’s profile grid or Instagram feed.

We’ve been watching how a few of our favorite brands use Instagram Stories. Check out the 6 tips and tricks we’ve uncovered.


1. Try new things.

Instagram Story content lasts for 24-hours, making it the perfect place to try new things. If the content flops, it will disappear forever, if it performs well you can create similar content in the future.

Whole Foods has been running weekly deal Stories with Swipe Up calls to action driving customers to shop. This type of content typically does not perform well in the Instagram feed, but since this timely content disappears, Whole Food has found great success with “deal Stories.”


2. Curate your highlights.


If you do create high performing content in your story, no fear, you can save it to your Story highlights. Story highlights allow your audience to watch your awesome stories multiple times on your Instagram profile and help you reach a broader audience without the pressure of capturing their attention in a 24-hour time frame.

PRO TIP: Create icons so users can clearly see your Story highlights organized in a logical way.

Lacroix, Second Mile Marketing’s sparkling water of choice, has effectively organized the story highlights into logical groups with custom designed can graphics. This approach keeps the profile clean and on brand even as segments are added to the story highlights.


3. Tell a story.

This is a storytelling tool, so basic storytelling principles apply. A good story has a beginning, middle, and an end. The best IG stories are posted all at once so users can digest the entire story in one sitting.

National Geographic is in the business of telling the world’s best stories. It’s no surprise that they have flawlessly translated their amazing storytelling skills to IG Stories. NatGeo uses traditional storytelling techniques, paired with gorgeous images, videos, and text overlays to create teasers for their long-form content. This strategy creates a hook and then drives users to the website to get the whole story.


4. Don’t let the dashes turn into dots.

We all have that friend who’s stories last way too long and you space out after the first 5 minutes. We also have that friend who’s stories are too short, “I went on a date, it was great.” Finding the goldy-locks story length is not an exact science, but we’ve been using Instagram expert, Tyler J Mccall’s advice, “keep the dashes, not dots.” This refers to the story timeline that you see at the top of any IG Story. When you start to add too many segments to the story, the timeline icons start to change from dashes to dots and at that point the story has become too long.

Chipotle's IG Stories have been just the right length. Recently they did a “Tap for a lunch break story.” The story was simply an image of a burrito that kept zooming in until it “broke the camera.” The story was 20 segments long. Any longer, most users would’ve moved on. But the content kept users engaged until the end. Mostly because everyone was trying to figure out how to get to the nearest Chipotle before the next meeting.


5. Keep it on brand, but make it conversational.

As always, content that you’re sharing on any platform needs to remain on brand. It's important to create a unified brand experience and brand affinity in everything you do. IG Stories is a platform where consumers are expecting more conversational content. So keep your content on brand but make it more conversational.

Anthropologie is doing a great job of keeping their story conversational. A typical story from the brand begins with a question, then shares typical product photographs with fun graphic and text overlays, very conversational tips, and ends with a call to action photo.


6. Use the engagement features.

I’m sure you’ve heard that engagement is extremely important on social media. This holds true for Instagram Stories as well. The Story creation tool has a slew of features that allow you to create more engaging content. Hashtags, mentions, polls, GIFs and questions are just a few of the ways to make stories more engaging. Add in these elements to keep your stories fresh, relevant, and engaging.

Target knows the value of an engaged follower. It’s no surprise that the company’s IG Stories are filled with engaging content. Take the Faux Plant story below, Target used polls and the swipe up feature to get consumers to participate in the story.


Instagram Stories is a great tool for you to expand your social reach and try new engaging content. Try some of the tips above and let us know how goes at hello@secondmilemarekting! Happy storytelling!

Hannah Collins