20MAY2019

Before you post another Instagram Story, read these design tips

Posted in: Applications for Instagram

You know that Stories should be a regular part of your Instagram strategy. But you’re not producing the kind of cute, converting content that you see from other brands. Sound familiar? Follow these tips to create stylish Stories. You don’t need to be a designer or use complicated desktop programs!

But why do I have to post Instagram Stories?

Instagram is the social network that everyone’s talking about right now. And it owes most of its success to Stories. According to the statistics, 500 million users (that’s half of everyone on Instagram) interact with Stories daily.

Story audiences are still growing fast – so brands have a golden opportunity to connect with their audiences through this agile, entertaining medium. What’s more, because of the way the Instagram algorithm works, posting Stories will help to increase your brand visibility.

So how can you make the most of these 15-second messages? The key is to have a consistent aesthetic, good design, and plenty of original, varied content on offer. For example, DTC beauty brand Glossier has built their reputation on a lively Instagram feed, always in their trademark shade of pink:

Screenshot of the Glossier Instagram grid. Their posts range from product shots to user-generated content, videos, and even cat photos.

If your Story design doesn’t match the style on your profile, you’re losing an opportunity to share your brand with new audiences and build brand recognition. It might sound minor – but if viewers find that your Stories, profile and website all look different, they lose trust in your brand.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of Instagram Stories, let’s establish which kind of content you’re going to share.

What kind of content can I share in Stories?

  • Offers and promotions:

Screenshot of an Instagram Story announcing a giveaway. The Story shows an image and link to the giveaway post on the organizer's profile. It's marked up with hashtags, a mention of the co-sponsoring brand, and a pink flower sticker.

  • Surveys and questions:

Screenshot of an Instagram Story running a poll. The image shows a smiling woman, wearing sunglasses and sitting in a car as she holds a takeaway coffee cup. The poll reads: "Do you prefer A, Dunkin or B, Starbucks?"

  • New post announcements:

Screenshot of an Instagram Story announcing a new post. The image shows a teaser image of the original post and the first line of the caption. Users tap the image to visit the poster's profile.

  • New video announcements:

Screenshot of an Instagram Story to announce a new video. The image shows a still from the video, of someone's hands working on a scrapbook. The overlay text reads, "New process video with Pinkfresh Studio supplies". There is a button marked "tap here" which links to the video.

  • Promoting your brand hashtag:

Screenshot of an Instagram Story by Adobe, announcing their hashtag Adobe Remix project for artists to mix up the Adobe logo.

Create a consistent aesthetic that highlights your content types

A consistent style will help followers to recognize your brand’s Stories. And it shows that you care about the little details.

But you can choose how to apply your house style. You could use a single aesthetic for every single one of your posts. Or you could use slight variations to emphasize different types of content.

Take a look at these Stories from haircare brand Not Your Mother’s. They use the same color palette for all their Stories – but differentiate tutorials from product Stories with a distinctive black-edged template.

Contrasting screenshots of Instagram Stories about products and tutorials from Not Your Mother's.

However, even if you differentiate content types, you’ll need to stay within the bounds of your overall aesthetic. Including…

  • Always use the same typography and color palette for your Instagram Stories. This makes it easier for followers to recognize your posts.
  • Don’t use too much text. Remember, your Stories are only onscreen for 15 seconds! If you write too much, people just won’t have time to read it. Your images should be doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to communication.

Here’s a quality example from the drinks brand La Croix. They always use the same palette of bright colors as their famous drink cans. And they spread brand awareness even further by making their own Story backgrounds available for followers to download and use.

Set of screenshots of Instagram Stories by LaCroix. The first 2 show LaCroix products, with questions asked by viewers in a matching orange shade. The brand answers the questions with overlay text. The third shows a short video of a woman walking through ribbons in LaCroix colors, with another fan question in the same trademark orange shade. The final story shows a Story wallpaper with all 21 LaCroix flavors on display.

How do I create Instagram Stories with great design?

Well, thank you for asking. We’ve got a ton of ideas.

Instagram Stories already offer a lot of native options for personalization, such as filters, polls, music stickers, gifs, questions, and so on. Use the resources to the max to make your Stories more exciting.

With that said, though, use gifs and stickers in moderation. Just like with text, if you use them too much, your audience just won’t be able to take in all that information.

Take a look at this Story sequence from eco-fashion brand Silkfred. Like every great designer, they know that less is more:

Collection of 5 screenshots of Instagram Stories by Silkfred. The Stories are a sequence, all videos of the same woman in a leopard-print dress. The Stories describe how the outfit is built and accessorized. The final Story includes a poll for readers to vote on which accessory they liked best.

Now let’s get into some more detailed tips.

1. Use hashtags and location stickers

If you add a hashtag to your Story, then it won’t just appear on your followers’ feeds.

Try searching a hashtag in the Instagram Explore feed. You’ll see that they collect the top Stories for that hashtag, ready for new people to discover your brand.

The same goes for location tags. Everyone who looks for that location on Instagram will see your posts and Stories listed.

2. Run Story polls and surveys

Use the native sticker tools on Instagram to find out what your audience thinks. It’s not just about market research – it’s also an invitation to increase your engagement.

3. Use templates and backgrounds

There are heaps of apps which offer Instagram Story backgrounds – free and paid. Think of these as shortcuts to a sleek design, if you don’t have the time or budget to produce your own.

Keep a library of templates and backgrounds to hand. Then all you have to do is add an image and a quick call to action. A professional, actionable post in less than five minutes.

Psst! Did you know that we have a library of Instagram post and Story designs? With over 40 themed templates? And they’re all free? Just click here.

Here are three apps that we love for quick, easy-access designs.

Canva

Canva is an application which lets you design and create content for social media, as easily as possible. Just pick a template to personalize with images, text, fonts, and colors that match your brand aesthetic.

 Gif showing someone scrolling through available templates from Canva.
Image courtesy of Canva.

Once you’ve finished, you can share the post directly on social media, or download it to save on your device.

Instasize

Instasize is one of the most popular apps out there. It’s available on both Android and iOs. Use it to resize horizontal or vertical images for Instagram. (Not every photo has to be square!) You can also edit border colors, build collages, and add filters.

Screenshots of a photo being edited in Instasize. 1: user selects from free, original, square, or other dimension formats. 2: user selects from photo, blur, color, watercolor, and other border styles.
Images courtesy of Instasize.

Kapwing

Kapwing is another great tool for finding social media templates. Liven up your images and content with stickers, text, gifs, and even videos. It’s totally free and you can use the website without downloading anything. But your images will appear with a small Kapwing watermark in one corner.

Screenshot from Kapwing.com. The title text reads, "Instagram Story Templates: a hand-curated collection of beautiful, simple templates for your stories. Choose a template to make your story in just a few clicks." Below, a range of 5 different story layouts are displayed.

All that effort… for just 24 hours?

Well, no! You can highlight your best Stories so that they stay on your Instagram profile for ever, instead of disappearing after just one day. Highlights are shown at the top of your profile feed, above your regular feed of photo posts.

Your followers can view them whenever they want, as many times as they want. Don’t forget to customize the cover image of each highlight to keep up your brand aesthetic!

Screenshot of the Easypromos Instagram page, with highlights labelled Easy TV, Events, Team, Giveaways, News, Campaigns, and FB Live.

Stories are short and (relatively) ephemeral. But that doesn’t mean they go unnoticed. Your followers will spend more time on your profile if your Stories are worth watching – and that can only be good news for your brand. Try it and see for yourself!

Elisabet Frigole

Graphic designer in Easypromos

Publication date: 2019-05-20