Instagram Stories has fundamentally changed the way people use Instagram.
Both individuals and brands are breaking down the barriers of beautifully curated feeds to share more off-the-cuff and behind-the-scenes content through Instagram Stories.
All of this casual sharing is generating deeper engagement, as over half of the platform’s more than one-billion monthly users watch stories on a daily basis. Check out our guide on how to get followers on Instagram to build and grow your Instagram business account.
To help you raise your game, we wanted to share some of our best Instagram Story ideas, tips, and tricks (with step-by-step tutorials), so you can impress your followers and keep them coming back for more.
💡 Tip: Taler is a free tool from Shopify that can help you get started with tons of Instagram Story templates to choose from.
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Without downloading any additional photo editing or Instagram tools, there’s plenty you can do within Instagram to make your Instagram Stories stand out. Here are some creative Instagram Story ideas you can easily apply.
36 best Instagram Story ideas for 2023
1. Use rainbow or ombre letters
To add flashes of color to your Instagram Stories text, you can use rainbow or ombre letters to make your captions stand out.
- Type out your word or phrase.
- Select all of the letters.
- Hold down your cursor on the letters and the color selection tool at the same time, both from the far right.
- Slide both fingers at the same time and watch as each letter gets updated with a different color gradient.
- Let go of both fingers and rearrange your rainbow letters to the desired place on your screen.
2. Change the background color when sharing a post
There may be times when you want to notify your followers that you have posted something new to your grid by sharing your post to your Instagram Stories. But the default background color for it might not be what you had in mind. Here’s how you can change it.
- Select the photo from your grid that you’d like to share on your Instagram Stories.
- Click on the sharing options and share to your Stories.
- Click on the drawing tool.
- Use the color selection tool and drag to the desired color for your background.
- Hold down on any part of the screen; your background color will be updated.
3. Use individual letters as decorations
This might take a little more time, but decorating your Instagram Story with the individual letters of a caption adds flair that will help you stand out.
- Select where you would like to use the individual letters to decorate, ideally framing or tracing an object or subject within your shot
- Type and adjust each letter individually to place it around your object or subject.
- Repeat until your word is completed and readjust the positioning of the letters, if needed.
4. Mix fonts and handwriting together
Show your personality by writing part of your caption with your own handwriting and mixing it with a complementary font for the rest of the text.
- Use the drawing tool to write out the word or phrase with your finger,
- Type out the second part of your phrase and adjust the positioning,
5. Add a drop shadow to your text
Add an instant pop to your text by adding in a shadow.
- Add a text to your story,
- Copy the text and paste onto the screen ,
- Select a different color for the newly pasted text,
- Readjust to show a drop-shadow effect,
6. Use text as a backdrop
Create a unique background and get your message across with this text-based backdrop Instagram Story idea.
- Type out the phrase, select all text, and click to copy.
- Move to another section of the screen, paste the phrase, and adjust for positioning.
- Repeat the pasting and adjusting until you fill the screen.
Learn more: Find out how to use Instagram hashtags for your business.
7. Create a collage with multiple photos
Give your Instagram Story a scrapbook look by using this idea to create a collage to share multiple images at once (iPhone only).
- Start with a background of your liking.
- Go to our album and click to copy the image you want to use.
- Go back into Instagram Stories and post the image as a sticker.
- Repeat the copy-and-paste process to include all of the images you desire.
- Rearrange photos to the layout you planned.
- Add a caption if needed.
Android users: With the Gboard keyboard enabled, you can add a collage of photos to a single story if you select the 🔎 when entering text to search for photos.
8. Convert a Live photo into a Boomerang (iPhone only)
Without the need to take your Boomerang within the Instagram or Boomerang app, here’s how you can turn a Live photo into a Boomerang.
- Take and then select a Live photo from your Instagram Stories upload cue.
- Hold down on the image.
- Watch as it gets updated to a Boomerang.
9. Use the eraser tool to reveal parts of a photo
Add a little bit of mystique or unveil an exciting surprise for your followers by using the eraser tool to showcase the most important part of your Instagram Story.
- Start with a photo you want to partially reveal.
- Use the drawing tool to select a color.
- Hold down on the screen to cover up your photo.
- Switch over to the eraser tool.
- Move and erase part of the photo you want to reveal.
- Add additional text to complete the Instagram Story.
10. Decorate with dotted lines
You can bring more attention to the main subject of your story with dotted lines. Here’s how to create them by combining the drawing and the eraser tools.
- Draw some lines on the screen to frame a subject or object.
- Use the eraser tool to remove part of the line to create dotted lines.
- Add additional text to complete the Instagram Story.
11. Show off your products
One of the most obvious—but still stellar—Instagram story ideas is showing off product photos or videos. Sharing footage of your products either in shop or in use can be enticing to interested customers, leading them to click over to your profile and head to your website.
Here’s a great example from plant shop Palm and Pine:
It added a series of in-store videos to its Instagram Story, showcasing all of the plants and other accessories available to shoppers.
This is a great idea for small businesses and retail shops to promote in-stock products. Even better—and we’ll cover this a bit later—link the product(s) showcased in your video to your Instagram shop to make purchasing as easy as possible.
While Instagram stories can be a great channel for making sales, it's important to not oversell and to focus on building relationships and trust with your followers.
12. Use the emoji slider
Instagram has a number of stickers available that help make your stories more engaging. One of these is the emoji slider that lets users drag your chosen emoji as far up the slider as they choose.
There are a few ways you can use this, as Instagram also lets you add a caption to the slider if you want. You can have people use the slider to vote on something, to give their opinion on how much they like something, or simply as an added way to engage with your story.
The last option is exactly how Stitch and Steel Co. used the emoji slider in its Story, below, showing off a rainbow-colored product:
Get creative with your emoji sliders. You can choose any emoji from your phone’s library, so have fun with it!
13. Hold a poll
Another great idea for creating interactive stories that get your audience engaging with your brand is to hold a poll or play the This or That game using the poll sticker. Not only can you get audience opinions with this option, but it’s also a fun way to gauge interest in new product prototypes.
Below, we have a brand that used the poll option to get its audience to choose its preferred earrings for the bride pictured:
The earrings in question are available products, connecting the brand’s product offerings to a fun game on its Stories.
14. Promote your Instagram Reels
Get more viewers to your Instagram Reels by sharing them to your Stories. Because Stories are placed at the top of the Instagram feed, you may be able to reach new audiences who are simply tapping through Stories, rather than scrolling all the way down their feed.
Here’s an example of what this might look like:
When you share a Reel to your Story, you can move it around the screen, adjust the size, and even adjust its orientation. Add a caption, GIF, sticker, or other decoration to the story if you wish to make it even more engaging.
Another option is to cover up the Reel with a GIF or sticker to tease it, making viewers have to click on it to view the whole thing.
15. Share discounts and sales
Use Instagram stories to spread the word about upcoming promotions, sales, or discounts. This is a great way to reach an even wider audience, bringing even more shoppers in the door—or onto your ecommerce website.
Take a look at this example from Ring Concierge:
You can create a branded graphic (more on this later) to promote your sale, share a product photo of select products that are on sale, or come up with another unique idea to get new customers interested.
Learn more: How to Sell on Instagram with Instagram Shopping
16. Showcase behind-the-scenes footage
While your Instagram feed tends to be the place for styled, high-quality, and professional photos and videos, your Instagram Stories give you the chance to be a bit more candid. This is why sharing behind-the-scenes photos and videos can be such a fun story idea.
Here’s an example from a video production firm:
Taking a smartphone video of the camera crew at work adds a fun layer to their online presence and helps potential clients see the level of care that goes into their work.
Consider ways that you can also showcase BTS content, giving potential customers and clients a sneak peek into what actually goes into your products or services.
17. Share your daily menu or specials
As a restaurant or bakery, you might have different menu items or specials from day to day. Letting your customers know that they can head over to your Instagram to find out what’s available each day helps to grow your following and increase the number of Story views you get.
This is what bakery Swank Desserts does on its Story:
Social media can be so much more than beautifully curated content. Ideas like this let you use your social media profiles in ways that also make business sense.
18. Share user-generated content
It’s easy to share a regular feed post to your stories—even if it’s not your own post. If you see customers sharing photos of your business, products, or services on Instagram, you can easily share those posts to your Stories so your followers can also see them.
Here’s an example of this in action from The Collins Quarter:
To replicate this, follow these steps:
- Find the Instagram post you want to share.
- Click the Share icon (it looks like a paper airplane).
- Click “Add post/video to your story.”
- Add a caption, sticker, doodle, etc.
- Click “Your stories” to post.
19. Host giveaways
Giveaways are never a bad idea if you’re looking to increase your Instagram followers. And promoting them on your Instagram Stories can get your giveaways even more attention and entries.
Here’s an example of what this could look like:
You can also create a branded graphic with rules and entry guidelines to post to your story. And when you’re choosing a winner, record the announcement on your Stories as well for even more engagement.
20. Tease product launches
Launching a new product or collection? Let your followers know about it! Use your Instagram Stories to create buzz around a new launch so you can get even more customers coming back to check out new products.
Here’s a great example from boutique jewelry retailer Elysian Theory:
Not only is the brand teasing products available during the launch, but it also used a countdown sticker to make the Story even more exciting.
21. Promote your Instagram posts
Just like you can promote your Instagram Reels in your Stories, you can also promote new posts. Again, this can help people who are tapping through Stories but haven’t scrolled through their feed yet to still find your content.
Here’s an example of what this might look like:
Visme added a caption to further explain what its Instagram post was about. When sharing posts to your stories, you still have access to all of the other Story features: stickers, GIFs, captions, doodles, and more.
22. Promote an upcoming livestream
As a part of your brand’s social media marketing strategy, you’ll want to go live regularly to get that direct, one-on-one communication with your audience. And when you’re planning a livestream, you should use your Instagram Stories to promote it so your followers can plan accordingly.
Here’s an example of what this could look like:
The Sill is hosting an AMA on Instagram Live with one of its team members and created a branded graphic to let followers know ahead of time. This way, it can add it to its calendars and be prepared to join in and ask their questions.
23. Share educational tidbits
Stories are also a great place to share quick tips, life hacks, and other educational tidbits with your audience. Whether you record a video of yourself talking, create graphics, or share photos, this is always a winner.
Venus et Fleur created a Story showcasing upcoming interior design trends, which is useful and perfectly in line with information its target audience would be looking for.
24. Answer questions
Another sticker option available to users is the question sticker. This is useful in a couple of different ways, as you’ll see in our next two story ideas.
First, you can use this like Tan Luxe did below, as an AMA:
You can create themed AMAs that are specific to a product line, new launch, or something else, or you can simply see what questions your customers have for you. By using the question sticker, you’ll be able to see responses when you view your own story. Then you can create a new story for each response and type out your answer using the caption feature, or record a video of your team providing the answer.
This option is also useful if you’re doing a story takeover, where an influencer or thought leader in your industry is getting temporary access to your account in order to provide specific insights and information to your audience.
25. Ask questions
The next way to use the question sticker is to ask your audience questions. You can ask fun, light-hearted questions, or you can use this feature to gather customer insights for future business ideas.
Here’s a more light-hearted question Blossom and Rhyme asked its audience:
As a brand that creates floral displays from wedding bouquets, a question like “What’s your favorite flower?” is right on brand. Think of questions you can ask your audience as well. The more they engage with your stories, the higher likelihood the algorithm places your stories toward the front of their feed.
26. Link to your product pages
In the past, brands had to get 10,000 followers to get access to the swipe up feature in order to add external links to their Instagram Stories. But with a recent update, there are now link stickers available to add right on top of a story design.
This makes it easy to link to your website, a product page, or even products from your Instagram shop. In the example below, Brightland is linking directly to their product page while also sharing a mouth-watering description of said product:
There are many ways you can take advantage of this link sticker, such as linking to your landing pages, FAQ, other social media platforms, or even a new podcast episode.
27. Promote events
If your company holds events, whether in-person or virtual, you want to reach as many potential attendees as possible. This is why promoting upcoming events via your IG Stories is a great way to promote awareness and increase registrations. You can also shout out speakers or seminars at your upcoming event to generate even more buzz.
Here’s an example of what this looks like:
Not only did Curious Elixirs repost its feed post promoting the event, but it also added additional information alongside an RSVP link sticker for interested viewers to sign up.
28. Share branded graphics
Another creative idea is to create branded graphics specifically for your Instagram Stories. There are endless possibilities for this, whether you’re sharing quick tips, sale information, or product release dates.
Just keep in mind the dimensions for your Insta Stories: 1080 pixels by 1920 pixels. You can easily create your own branded graphics using the Adobe Suite, or with a DIY graphic design tool like Canva.
Here’s a great example of what this looks like in practice:
Make sure to use your brand fonts and colors to help increase brand strength. Having a strong brand improves your overall brand awareness and recognition as well, so it’s a win-win all around.
29. Link to blog content
You should also regularly share your latest blog post to your story to increase views and readership. This idea works for both bloggers and company blogs as a part of their digital marketing strategy.
Take a look at one way you can do this:
Another option is to repurpose your blog post into multiple story graphics by summarizing your key points in your Story. You can then link to your blog post for viewers to learn more if they wish.
30. Promote affiliate content
If sharing affiliate links to bring in passive affiliate income is a part of your overall marketing strategy and revenue structure, you can easily promote affiliate products and services on your Instagram Stories.
Here’s an example (although for true affiliate promotions, you’ll need to disclose it’s an affiliate link):
31. Share reviews and testimonials
Sharing reviews and testimonials showcasing happy clients and customers is a form of social proof and can help prospective customers feel more confident about moving forward with your business.
Here’s one example from Prose:
It’s created a graphic with a review, but you could also share video testimonials or even screenshots of tweets and review sites with positive ratings and reviews.
32. Quiz your audience
Another fun sticker to use is the quiz sticker. Here, you can test your audience’s knowledge of your industry by creating multiple choice quizzes. Your audience will be able to tap the answer they think is correct, and the quiz sticker will show red or green, based on the selection you’ve added in as the right answer.
Here’s an example of this from Hungry Root:
It shared a few stories with educational info, then quizzed its Story viewers on what they had learned from those Stories.
33. Share styled photography
While we talked about how your stories are the perfect place to share unstyled photos, we still love a good styled photoshoot. Everyone enjoys looking at pretty pictures, so consider adding some of the same photos you’ve taken for your Instagram feed as a full-screen story image.
Pura did just that, while also creating a sticker link to their product page:
34. Share memes
If your brand has a humorous side, bring that into your Stories by sharing relevant memes and funny photos that your audience will enjoy.
Take a look at how mental health app Talkspace shared a meme from another account below:
You can create your own memes to share, or make things easy by finding and reposting other funny images to your story.
35. Provide how-tos and tutorials
For products that might have a bit of a learning curve, it’s a good idea to share how-to guides both on your feed and on your Stories. This could be as simple as a diagram, or you could create a video.
Glamnetic showed us another great way this can work—by working with influencers and reposting their reviews and tutorials:
Influencer and content creator tutorials are useful for consumers because it shows them how a real-life person is using your product.
36. Share career opportunities
Our last idea is meant to help you expand your team. Add your career opportunities and job listings to your Instagram story!
Here’s an example of what this looks like:
And of course, use a link sticker to send interested applicants directly to your careers page or individual job listing.
Photography tips for Instagram Stories
Some say that Instagram Stories are a place for photos and videos that aren’t good enough for your feed. But with a bit of curation and planning, you can produce standout Instagram Stories that are worthy of pinning to your profile as a Highlight.
Sarah Pflug, an in-house photographer for Shopify’s Burst stock photo library, recommends understanding the following photography fundamentals before playing around with each component.
- Rule of Thirds. This classic theory suggests dividing photos into 9 equal quadrants as a guide to place the main subject not directly centered but within the right or left third. To hone this rule, try shooting photos on your phone with the "grid lines" setting on. Once you are acquaintanced with where to place your subject, feel free to break this rule by testing out how you like to frame your vertical photos for Instagram Stories.
- Lighting. Before sourcing lighting equipment, first master natural lighting by placing your subject in front, to the side of, and behind your light source. Seeing how lighting affects your photos allows you to experiment with shadows, glares, and additional light sources.
- Cropping. Uploading a pre-shot photo to Instagram Stories often makes it less sharp and resizes it to 9:16. To combat this, edit your photos beforehand to a 9:16 aspect ratio before uploading them to Instagram photos.
Start sharing your story with Instagram Stories
With these tips and tricks now at your disposal, go ahead and experiment to bring your own style to your Instagram Stories. Instagram marketing is all about creativity and play, so try out new designs, keep tabs on your Instagram Analytics, and post consistently to share your story as Instagram Stories.
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Instagram story ideas FAQ
What should I put on Instagram Stories?
- Promote blog posts
- Promote products
- Create Shoppable Stories
- Conduct a poll
- Tease product launches
- Provide how-tos
How do I make my Instagram Stories interesting?
- Mix up text colors
- Go Live
- Use pleasing color schemes
- Use high quality photos
- Express your feelings