Instagram was once known as the social media app with a curated feed of beautiful photos. But the popularity of video, including Instagram Stories and Reels, has changed the way people use the platform.
While Story engagement took a hit with the advent of Reels (another video feature) many of Instagram’s more than 1.35 million users still look to Stories for short narrative-style content. And Reels and Stories can serve different purposes for brand goals.
To help you make the most of this feature, this guide is filled with Instagram Story ideas, tips, and step-by-step tutorials to help you reach your target audience—and make more sales.
Table of contents
30 creative Instagram Story ideas for 2024
- Showcase your products
- Promote your loyalty program
- Share discounts and sales
- Provide value with bonus content
- Promote your Instagram Reels
- Take users behind the scenes
- Share your daily menu or specials
- Answer questions (host an AMA)
- Repost user-generated content (UGC)
- Host giveaways
- Promote your Instagram posts
- Run a poll
- Advertise an upcoming livestream
- EntShare educational tipsry5
- EntryAsk questions5
- Link to your website or landing page
- Promote IRL and virtual events
- Create shareable branded graphics
- Link to blog post or podcast content
- Promote affiliate content
- Share customer reviews and testimonials
- Highlight a collab
- Quiz your audience
- Highlight your latest photoshoot
- Use memes and other trends
- Provide how-tos and tutorials
- Promote career opportunities
- Announce restocks to your followers first
- Tease product launches
- Share press features
💡Tip: Many of these Instagram Story ideas can be used for Reels as well. Consider creating a mix of Stories and Reels to meet different business objectives. For example, you can use Instagram Stories for exclusive deals for followers and Reels to build your following.
1. Showcase your products
One of the most obvious Instagram Story ideas for brands is using the space to showcase products. This idea can be used to highlight bestsellers, seasonal products and collections, and newly launched products. Unlike Instagram posts, Stories allow links and can therefore be used to convert browsers into shoppers.
Here’s an example from Dynasty Plant Shop:
💡 Tip: While Instagram Stories can be a great channel for making sales, it's important to not come across too salesy. Focus on building relationships and trust with your followers first.
📚 Read more: How To Make Money on Instagram (9 Actionable Ideas)
2. Promote your loyalty program
If Instagram users are already following you, they’re already demonstrating a loyalty to your brand. Stories, already a more intimate format for followers only, are the perfect place to promote your loyalty program.
Check out this Story Highlight by Pepper that explains the benefits of its program through several videos:
3. Share discounts and sales
Use Instagram Stories to spread the word about upcoming promotions, sales, or discounts. This is a great way to reach a wider audience (if you use hashtags), or to offer exclusive deals to your loyal Instagram following.
📚 Read more: How to Sell on Instagram with Instagram Shopping
4. Provide value with bonus content
While Instagram is a great sales channel for brands, it’s important to break up promotional content with photos and videos that add value for the follower. These include educational videos, shareable graphics, recipes, checklists, how-tos, templates, and much more.
5. Promote your Instagram Reels
Get more views on 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 tapping through Stories, rather than scrolling all the way down their feed.
When you share a Reel to your Story, you can move it around the screen, adjust the size, and even change its orientation. Add a caption, GIF, sticker, or other visual element to the Story to tease it and encourage viewers to navigate to your Reels.
📚 Read more: The Beginner’s Guide to Instagram Marketing
6. Take users behind the scenes
While your curated feed of Instagram posts is a more styled representation of your brand, Instagram Stories give you the chance to be a bit more candid. Behind-the-scenes content like factory tours, studio sneak peeks, and “how it’s made” videos are perfect for the Story format. This is one of the most engaging Instagram Story ideas, because it humanizes your brand.
Here's how Macguire used this Instagram idea to go behind the scenes in its factory:
In this example, Thesus used its Instagram Stories to introduce fans to the brand’s employees, and featured a behind-the-scenes Story Highlight on its page:
When to use this
This Instagram Story idea is great for introducing your brand to new audiences or to build trust and create transparency around your production processes—especially important for sustainable brands.
7. Share your daily menu or specials
If you operate a brick-and-mortar restaurant or bakery or even ship and deliver food locally, you may have a rotating menu of specials or seasonal items. Rather than updating your website, Instagram Stories are a great place to feature limited-time items and daily menus.
8. Answer questions (host an AMA)
Instagram Stories are packed with creator tools and features that allow you to create engaging moments. One of those is the question sticker. Use this feature to source questions from your audience and answer them within the stories themselves, or host an AMA or livestream.
When to use this
This idea is great for product launches, founder introductions, getting to know customers, building FAQ content to feature on your ecommerce website, and increasing engagement.
9. Repost user-generated content (UGC)
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. This not only lets customers know you appreciate them, it also builds social proof by highlighting the experiences of real customers that act as mini reviews.
💡 How to use this Story idea:
- 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.
10. Host giveaways
Giveaways are a great tactic for building followers on Instagram. And promoting them on your Instagram Stories can get your giveaways even more attention and entries. You can create multiple Stories including a branded graphic with rules and entry guidelines. And, when you’re choosing a winner, record the announcement on your Stories for even more engagement.
📚 Read more: How To Do a Giveaway: 7 Tips To Drive Sales
11. Promote your Instagram posts
In the same way you can promote Instagram Reels in your Stories, you can also promote new posts. Again, this can help reach users who are tapping through Stories and encourage them to navigate to your page to engage or follow.
When to use this
This Instagram Story idea is useful for getting more reach on an important post like a sale or big announcement.
12. Run a poll
Another great idea for creating interactive Stories is sharing a poll. Using the poll sticker in Instagram Story tools, you can poll your audience to get their opinion on anything from fun topical subjects to product ideas you’re considering.
When to use this
This Instagram story idea is perfect for product development ideas, getting feedback from customers, and crowdsourcing ideas for an upcoming collection.
13. Advertise an upcoming livestream
As a part of your brand’s social media marketing strategy, consider going Live to get direct, one-on-one communication with your audience. And when you’re planning a livestream, use Instagram Stories to promote it ahead of time so your followers can plan accordingly.
Here’s how Zen Art Supplies used Instagram Stories to announce their live artist interview series:
📚 Read more: How To Make Sales Through Instagram Live Video
14. Share educational tips
Stories are a great place to share quick tips, life hacks, and other educational tidbits with your audience. This type of content is ideal for Stories, especially if it’s short and visually appealing. Some types of brands rely on education to help customers make purchasing decisions. These include industries like beauty, skincare, and tech brands.
When to use this
This Instagram Story idea is ideal for explaining the ingredients of a product or offering tips on how to use it. Also use it to share industry information or educate customers on causes close to your brand’s values.
15. Ask questions
In addition to answering questions, you can also use Instagram Stories to ask questions. This helps you better understand your target audience, get feedback on products, or simply create an engaging experience for followers. Use the poll or quiz sticker to achieve this content idea.
These two examples from REI and Blossom and Rhyme both help the brands understand their followers and boost engagement.
When to use this
This Instagram Story idea is ideal for gathering feedback from customers, such as getting their opinion on a new color variant or a flavor for an existing product. It’s also a fun way to engage customers in light content to break up product Stories.
16. Link to your website or landing page
While organic Instagram posts don’t allow links, Stories now offer a URL sticker so you can use this type of content to convert customers. Send followers to your landing page or ecommerce site when you promote your products. You can also use this feature to send followers to an event page, an email sign-up page, an FAQ page, a podcast episode, or a contest.
Here, food influencer and chef John Kanell uses many parts of his Instagram page to push followers to his website to purchase his book—including Instagram Stories:
17. Promote IRL and virtual events
If your business holds events, whether in-person or virtual, you can use Stories to boost awareness of your events and increase registration. Tag any speakers or special guests, include relevant info, and link your Stories to a sign-up page or ticket selling site.
18. Create shareable branded graphics
Among creative Instagram Story ideas, creating branded graphics is one that can help your brand get more reach. Shareable graphics include facts and stats, memes, infographics, and topical thoughts about a current event or pop-culture trend. Investing time to create beautiful graphics (using a tool like Canva), can increase engagement and encourage users to share.
Here’s a great example from Edward Bulmer Paints of what this looks like in practice:
💡Tip: Use your brand fonts, colors, branded hashtag, and logo to increase brand awareness and attribute the content to your business, even if users don’t tag you.
19. Link to blog post or podcast content
As part of your content marketing strategy, you can use Instagram Stories to push followers to your high-converting content on other platforms. This can include your website’s blog or a branded podcast. Repurpose your blog post or podcast into multiple story graphics by summarizing your key points in your Story, linking your followers to the text or audio content.
Here’s how Lane & Grey Fare used Instagram Stories to help followers find and navigate the blog’s recipe content:
📚Read more: How To Start a Blog and Grow Your Audience
20. Promote affiliate content
If you’re using affiliate links to bring in passive income as part of your overall business strategy, you can easily promote affiliate products and services on your Instagram Stories. Remember to add value by creating content that educates customers on the affiliate product. Demos, unboxings, and reviews are perfect for this Instagram Story idea.
21. Share customer reviews and testimonials
Sharing reviews and testimonials showcasing happy clients and customers is a form of social proof that can help prospective customers feel more confident about their purchases. You can use user-generated content (UGC) or create graphics with quotes from real customer reviews.
When to use this
This Instagram Story idea is great for promoting your bestselling and most-loved products. Feature reviews that help customers understand the user experience and show off the best of what your brand has to offer.
22. Highlight a collab
Collaborating with an influencer or another brand? Highlight this partnership within your Instagram Stories and encourage them to do the same. This can help expose your brand to their followers and vice versa. Don’t forget to tag the collaborator and use the link sticker to drive viewers to the collab collection or another page.
Start selling your products on Instagram today
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23. Quiz your audience
The quiz sticker is another feature within Instagram Stories that can help boost engagement. Test your audience’s knowledge of your industry by creating multiple choice quizzes. This gives you the opportunity to educate them in the answer reveal. This is especially useful for industries rife with misinformation, including wellness, skin care, and performance beverages.
Here’s how Paula’s Choice uses quizzes to bust myths about its industry:
When to use this
One of the most interactive Instagram story ideas, this is a fun way to lead followers through an engaging FAQ and teach them more about your products or business.
24. Highlight your latest photoshoot
Among Instagram Story ideas for fashion and accessories brands, this one packs a punch. Get the most out of collection and product photo shoots by sharing the polished results and the behind-the-scenes footage to Instagram Stories. This is a great way to repurpose photos that took a ton of time and effort to produce, and to announce new collections and products.
25. Use memes and other trends
Social media is powered by trends, memes, humor, and current events. Tap into what people are talking about by putting a spin on a meme or trending topic in a way that’s relevant for your brand. Remember that the success of using this Story idea relies on being authentic. If your brand has a serious tone, jumping on a funny meme may feel out of step.
Here are two examples of ways brands are jumping on memes, with BarkBox using the dog rating system popularized by WeRateDogs, and The Apartment tapping into Barbie fever in the wake of the movie release:
When to use this
This Instagram Story idea works best for playful brands. You don’t have to hop on every meme or trend—pick those that work best for your brand and feel like a natural fit.
26. Provide how-tos and tutorials
For products that have a learning curve, it’s a good idea to share how-to guides in your content. An illustrated graphic with step-by-step instructions or a video demonstrating a DIY are content formats you can use to pull off this idea. Work with Instagram influencers to demo your product to get more reach on this type of content.
Here’s how Behr is using Instagram Stories to share how-to content that features its own products:
When to use this
This Instagram Story idea is ideal for giving customers inspiration for how to use your product. You can even use it to share cleaning or maintenance advice or a set-up guide for products requiring assembly.
27. Promote career opportunities
Hiring for your brand? Use Instagram Stories to promote career opportunities within your network of loyal fans. Add a link sticker to direct candidates to your careers page.
28. Announce restocks to your followers first
When bestselling products come back in stock, reward your loyal followers by announcing it to them first. This keeps repeat customers engaging with your page, so they can be the first to know about restocks.
This example from Swedish Stockings announces a restock of one of its top selling tights:
29. Tease product launches
Launching a new product or collection? Let your followers know about it first. Use Instagram Stories to create buzz around a new launch and be the first to get access. You can use a gated page and share the link early with Instagram followers. Or give them a heads up about an upcoming launch by using the countdown sticker available in Stories.
📚 Read more: How To Create a Hype-Worthy Product Launch
30. Share press features
Getting press is an exciting development for a brand. It also provides street cred through a trusted publication, giving your followers the confidence to purchase. Amplify your press mentions everywhere from your press page to your Instagram stories.
📚 Read more: Get Noticed: How To Write a Press Release in 7 Steps
8 more ideas to level up your Instagram Stories
Without downloading any additional photo editing or Instagram tools, there’s plenty you can do within the app to make your Instagram Stories stand out. Here are some creative Instagram Story ideas for adding visual interest to your content. Many of these will also help boost engagement, conversion, and reach.
📚 Read more: 21 Best Instagram Tools to Boost Your Following
1. Organize Stories into Story Highlights
Unlike Reels, Stories disappear after 24 hours. You can save the best ones into Story Highlights which appear as bubbles underneath your Instagram bio. This is a great way to organize Instagram Stories by product, content type, collection, or content category (press, how-tos, reward program info, etc.).
2. Increase engagement with the emoji slider
Instagram has a number of stickers available that help make your Stories more engaging. Much like the poll sticker, the emoji slider is useful for getting follower feedback. Find out how much they love a product or piece of content by allowing them to slide an emoji along a scale. Cute Instagram Story ideas like this one help give your account personality and engage your audience.
Here are two Instagram Story examples to engage audiences:
3. Jump on popular hashtags to boost reach
While Stories are generally shown to followers only, they can also appear for users who do not follow you but follow or search for a popular hashtag. This is an especially useful idea for hashtags that are a fit for your brand. For example, a Halloween retailer might use the hashtag sticker to jump on #halloweencostumeideas in October.
📚 Read more: 400+ Popular Instagram Hashtags for 2024
4. Play with text effects
There are several ways to add more interest to your Stories by using text effects. Navigate the font options within the Instagram features or create your own effects with these tips:
Use Instagram features
After typing your text, you’ll have access to type design tools to change the color and font. You can also click the options at the top of the editor to add a type banner/background or animate the text.
Use the drawing tool to write out the word or phrase with your finger instead of using the text tool. You can mix handwriting with typed text to emphasize certain aspects of the Story.
Add drop shadow
- Add a text to your story.
- Copy the text and paste to get an identical copy.
- Select a different color for the newly pasted text.
- Adjust one instance of the text slightly off center on top of the other to create a drop-shadow effect.
Here’s an example of using Instagram Story tools to adjust text (left) and a DIY drop shadow effect (right):
5. Change the background color
When sharing content that doesn’t fit the aspect ratio of the Stories (like posts or horizontal/square photos), you’ll have some negative space. Instagram will choose a background color for you based on colors in the asset. When sharing a post, you can change it to brand colors or create more contrast by following these steps:
- Add the content to your Instagram Stories using the share icon under the post.
- Click on the drawing tool.
- Choose the desired color from the color selection tool at the bottom (hold down on a color to select from a larger spectrum).
- Now tap and hold on any part of the screen. Your background color will be updated.
6. 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.
- Upload a photo from your album.
- Use the drawing tool to select a color.
- Hold down on the screen to cover up your photo.
- Switch to the eraser tool.
- Erase part of the color to reveal part of the photo.
- Add text to complete the Instagram Story.
💡Tip: This Instagram story idea is perfect for announcing sales or revealing parts of a new collection or product launch.
7. Use GIFs and effects
Effects can be found in the top right menu in the content creation window in Instagram Stories. After you select this option, scroll through options at the bottom of the screen to add special effects like filters, color effects, and animations to your Story.
GIFs can be found within the stickers menu. Tap GIF and use the search bar to find the type of GIF you’re looking for and add to your Story.
Here’s an example of Instagram story effects (left) and the GIF search tool (right):
8. Add location tags
Location tags can help with discovery if users are looking for content from local creators and brands. This is especially useful if you’re trying to build a local following or community. Find location tags in the stickers menu, then type your location in the search bar.
Tap on the location sticker, then type to populate with a verified location, like this example:
Photography tips for Instagram Stories
While Instagram Stories are more forgiving than your curated feed, you’ll still want to put your best foot forward by using photos and videos that are well-lit and properly cropped. Photographer Sarah Pflug recommends understanding the following photography fundamentals to help you get the most out of the Instagram Story ideas above.
Use the rule of thirds
This classic theory suggests dividing photos into nine equal quadrants as a guide to place the main subject not directly centered but within the right, left, top, or bottom third. To apply this rule, shoot photos on your phone with the “grid lines” setting on.
Before sourcing lighting equipment, first use natural lighting by placing your subject in front of, to the side of, and behind your light source. Seeing how lighting placement affects your photos and experiment with shadows, glares, and additional light sources. Simple lighting kits can help you create more professional photos and videos for your Instagram Stories.
Crop before uploading
Uploading a photo to Instagram Stories often makes it less sharp and resizes it to 9:16. To combat this, edit your photos to a 9:16 aspect ratio before uploading them to Instagram.
Apply these engaging Instagram Story ideas today
The best Instagram Story ideas are those that work to meet your brand goals. Keep your audience preferences and brand values in mind every time you create an Instagram Story, to ensure you’re delivering the on-brand content your audience wants.
Now that you’re armed with engaging and interactive Instagram Story ideas, it’s time to experiment to add your own twist and make your brand shine. Instagram marketing is all about creativity and play, so try out new designs, keep tabs on your Instagram Insights, and post consistently to keep your audience engaged.
Additional reporting by Shuang Esther Shan
Instagram Story ideas FAQ
What are some engaging Instagram Story ideas?
Some cool Instagram Story ideas that increase engagement and audience interaction include:
- Promoting blog posts
- Announcing a giveaway
- Creating a shoppable Instagram Story
- Conducting a poll
- Teasing product launches
- Asking for feedback with the question sticker
- Providing how-tos and tutorials
- Announcing an upcoming event
- Doing Instagram Story takeovers
- Offering a sneak peek at upcoming products
- Repoisting user-generated content
How do I make my Instagram Stories interesting?
When investing in creative Instagram Story ideas, be sure to use Instagram's full suite of story features. Some ideas to help you create Stories that are interesting include these tips:
- Mix up text colors, fonts, and positioning.
- Use high-quality photos.
- Be human and put a face to your brand.
- Add interactive elements like the poll sticker, countdown sticker, question sticker, GIFs, and quizzes.
- Add music with the music sticker.
How do I create a unique Story on Instagram?
When coming up with Story ideas, look to other creators who get a ton of engagement and see what resonates with followers that look like your target audience. Then put your own spin on the format or trend to make it uniquely yours. The best Instagram Story ideas are those that meet brand goals, engage your audience, and feel authentic to your brand.