Have you been using Instagram Stories for your small business? It doesn’t have a place in every company’s social media strategy, but if you are going to use it it’s worth doing properly, with customised Instagram Story images that reflect your brand’s look and feel.
Sure, it’s easy to create images in the Instagram app; you’ve got a range of font colours and emojis to choose from. But if you want to cut through the noise, increase engagement, and use Stories to really capture the attention of your followers, you’ve got to put in a little more effort.
I promise you, though, it’s totally worth it.
Instagram Stories – what you need to know
The most important thing you need to know about Instagram Stories is that they only last for a day and then they’re gone. This makes them ideal for promoting flash sales and short term offers, but I’ve also used them to promote new blog content and tell a story over multiple images to increase engagement.
And, when it comes to telling a story, the order you tell it in is key. That’s why it’s worth planning out your Story in advance outside of the app to get the most out of the feature.
Instagram Story dimensions
1080 pixels Wide x 1920 pixels tall
Instagram Story aspect ratio
1080 width x 1920 height has the aspect ratio: 9:16
The simplest way to create customised Instagram Story images
The first thing I do when I’m designing Instagram Story images for clients? Open Canva.
Canva is a free online tool which allows you to create custom social media, blogging, and marketing graphics using pre-set templates or custom dimensions.
We’re going to use the custom dimensions feature, and input those Instagram Story dimensions mentioned above.
This gives us a brand new blank canvas to work on.
Designing customised Instagram Story Images
This is the part where you can put your creative hat on and start designing some eye-catching images!
There are thousands of free images to use on Canva (hit the ‘Elements’ then ‘Free Photos’ button) but if you want your followers to be able to easily recognise your brand I’d always advise you to use your own images by clicking the ‘Upload’ button on the left.
Once you’ve done that, drag your chosen image onto the blank canvas and move it around until you’re happy with its position.
Next, let’s add some text.
Creating your own customised Instagram Story images means you’re not restricted by the app’s one and only font, leaving you free to play around with a range of text options to suit your brand.
Once you’ve chosen your fonts, play around with font colours, positioning, line height and letter spacing to create a simple, easily-readable slide. Remember, each static image only lasts for about 5 seconds, so try not to cram in too much text.
Got more to say? Split your story up over multiple images.
Here’s an example of an image I designed to promote a new blog post over on my travel blog.
Once you’re happy with your image (or images), it’s time to download them as a jpg or png file.
I tend to use Canva on desktop (although there is an iPhone app) so once I’ve downloaded the images onto my laptop, I simply add them to iCloud. This means I can access the images on my phone using the iCloud Drive app.
Alternatively, once you’ve downloaded your images, you can email them to yourself and then save to your phone’s Photos app.
Uploading Customised Instagram Story Images
1. In the Instagram app, swipe right to open the camera then click the square in the bottom left hand corner
2. Choose your customised image
Tip: if you saved the images to your phone more than 24 hours beforehand, go back to your Photos app, screenshot the images, then reopen Instagram
3. Hit the ‘+’ button to add the image to your Story
Even if you’ve created your own customised Instagram Story images, there are some Story features like tagging other Instagram accounts or adding hashtags and location tags that you’ll only be able to do in the app.
Here’s an example of how I promoted a new blog post to my travel blog readers on Instagram using customised Instagram Story images and in-app features:
Notice how, when designing them, I left room for tagging other accounts and used the in-app pen feature to direct people to my bio where I’d already added the link to the blog post.
And here’s how I used Instagram Stories to promote this blog post to my Instagram followers:
Notice how I create familiarity and increase brand recognition by keeping my fonts and style consistent. I also use these fonts when I design Pinterest images.
Try to stick to colours and fonts that reflect your brand image and tie in with your website or existing marketing graphics.
Need more Instagram Story tips?
Read on for more Instagram Story tips and features…
Adding links to Instagram Stories
If your business has amassed over 10,000 followers, you’ve probably noticed that you’re now able to drop links into Instagram Stories, making it even easier to drive traffic to your site from Instagram.
Use this feature wisely, though; no-one likes being sold to 24/7.
Got a sale on? Use Instagram Stories to promote it, then ask your followers to ‘swipe up’ to buy.
New blog post on your site? Use Canva to resize your feature images and use text overlays as content teasers, then get your followers to ‘swipe up’ to read the full article.
Using hashtags in Instagram Stories
Earlier this year, Instagram made Stories even more exciting and interactive by introducing the hashtag feature which can be used to increase engagement and help new followers find you in the app.
Including a hashtag in your Instagram Story creates a line of text that, when clicked, takes Instagram users through to a page of Instagram photos that also include that hashtag. Because of this, it’s worth using only the hashtags that are relevant to your brand.
Use these hashtags in your Instagram grid photos too, so that when users click through from Stories your photos show up.
When you use a hashtag within an Instagram Story, your Story may also appear in hashtag search results, meaning that if there are stories related to a hashtag an Instagram user is searching, the round icon with the Instagram-coloured ring will appear at the top of the search results page, allowing the user to view those public stories.
Instagram hashtags are especially useful if you’re at an event with a dedicated hashtag of its own as it increases the probability of users finding (and following) your business.
Seeing who’s watched your Instagram Story
Find out how many people have watched your Instagram Story by swiping up on each image in your Story. This will bring up a list of users who’ve watched it. If you’re using a business Instagram account rather than a personal one, you’ll also be able to see Story and photo analytics in your profile.
And there you have it: customised Instagram Story images that allow you to communicate with your followers whilst still staying true to your brand.
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