Engaging your followers on Instagram can be tricky. Realistically, they’re scrolling past hundreds of accounts per day, and keeping their attention on one post for a prolonged amount of time might seem impossible. Luckily, Instagram stories is a great tool for engaging your audience beyond the double-tap it takes to like a post — at least, it is if you know what to do with it.
Here are eight tricks and tips for keeping your audience engaged by using Instagram stories.
1. Use stickers (a lot)
No, seriously. Stickers might seem a little ridiculous if you’ve got an A+ Instagram aesthetic, but they’re great for getting people interested in what you’re posting about. You don’t have to adorn your posts with heart-eye emojis or dancing gifs, but definitely do use the stickers option to tag people, or companies, or even locations. If you’re showing off a savory snack you bought on your way to work, let your audience know where you bought it. If you’re talking up a book you just read, tag the author so your followers can check them out, too. Your stories become infinitely more interesting if you give your audience a frame of reference.
2. Give your followers something to argue about
Well, sort of. People love giving their opinions about things, and chances are, your audience is no different. That’s what makes the polling options on Instagram stories so fun — it gives your audience a voice and makes your content more interesting for them to use, since they’ll be doing more than just tapping through your content absentmindedly. Ask them questions based on your content (if you run a travel account, for example, ask them to choose between two different cities) or let them show their level of adoration with the Instagram emoji slider. It doesn’t have to be complex, just fun.
3. Create your own interactive content
Sure, Instagram has some pretty cool options when it comes to interactive content, but why stop there? If you’re the creative type, this could be a fun opportunity to use your imagine to come up with all kinds of fun new content that your audience might like. For example, Instagram user @mirandafen is well known for making astrology-related bingo cards for fans to screenshot and post on their own Instagram stories, filled out with their own answers. Not only is it fun for your followers, but you’ll also probably get tagged in their stories, allowing others to find and follow you.
4. Go live often (but for a reason)
Live videos can be a great tool for audience engagement if you know how to play your cards right. What’s important is knowing how to use it to its fullest. Host a Q&A with your audience, allowing them to ask you questions in real time, or try to have a conversation with those who tune in. Use it to show off cool, fun events going on or to shine light on a special performance. Unless you have a special connection with most of your followers, it’s probably not a good idea to go live just to talk about nothing, but there are still so many reasons to use this tool, and to use it often.
5. Create more casual content
Everyone’s trying to perfect their Instagram aesthetic, but that’s not what stories are for. This is the best place to upload those photos that didn’t quite make the cut or fit in well with your own personalized Instagram style. Don’t worry about seeming artsy or serious — stories tend to be more like snapchat, allowing users to play with filters, add ons, or fun tools like Boomerang. The more fun you make it, the more fun people will have when watching them.
6. Use the Story highlight feature
Story highlights are a relatively new feature, but they’re an important one nonetheless. This tool lets you save certain stories to your account, allowing your followers to go back and view past stories without worrying about them disappearing. Find fun ways to organize these highlights, categorizing them with catchy labels or by important events (like certain trips you went on or things you did). This is also a great way to keep some of your successful interactive content going for longer than the 24-hour limit.
7. Give exclusive access to what’s going on behind the scenes
Instagram stories is a great way to give fans and followers an exclusive insight to what’s going on behind your posts. If you’re a photographer, show your audience what actually happens during a photoshoot and introduce your models. If you’re a food blogger, use it to show off how you make your great recipes or some of your funny food fails. Let your followers see that there’s more going on than just the picture-perfect snapshots you post.
8. Don’t forget the “swipe up” function
Unfortunately, not everyone’s going to have access to the “swipe up” function — only accounts with 10,000 or more followers are actually able to add links to their stories. If you’re one of the lucky ones and already have a pretty hefty following, this is a great way to interact with your users and to take your content off of Instagram — well, sort of. Link relevant articles or URLs to your online site for your followers to check out at their own viewing pleasure.