How to increase Instagram Stories engagement: A fool-proof guide for 2023

    How to increase Instagram Stories engagement: A fool-proof guide for 2023

    Nothing beats a good story.  Wait… Actually, there’s something that does — a good Story.  Instagram Stories are a great way to boost ...

    Nothing beats a good story. 

    Wait… Actually, there’s something that does — a good Story. 

    Instagram Stories are a great way to boost your business on Instagram, humanize your brand, and establish a more robust relationship with your target audience. 

    The only problem is… 

    If you fail to engage your audience from day one, your Stories — no matter how great, creative, and informative — will be pushed back, almost undiscoverable to anyone who follows more than a dozen accounts. 

    So, it’s imperative that you approach the Storymaking process responsibly and develop a strategy that will boost your Instagram Stories engagement. Read this article to learn all the tips, tricks, and best practices that will set you apart from your competition on IG.

    9 best tips, tricks, and practices that will help you increase your Instagram Stories engagement

    Develop a content strategy for your Instagram Stories 

    Back in 2017, when Instagram Stories were first launched, a lot of people — and brands, too — would treat them lightly, only sharing random snaps of what they were doing at the moment, reposting publications from their feed, or just making announcements whenever something important came up. 

    All of that would happen chaotically, without a strategy or even a clear sense of direction. 

    But those days are long gone. 

    Five years later, Instagram Stories are no longer just a fun feature brands can overlook or use without putting much thought into. Today, it’s a powerful tool that needs to be leveraged wisely if you want your Instagram profile to thrive. 

    To get value out of your Instagram Stories and boost your brand on Instagram, you need to add an Instagram Stories content strategy to your Instagram marketing strategy plan.

    Provide value with your Instagram Stories 

    It’s crucial to provide value in your Instagram Stories. Your Stories shouldn’t repeat the content you share in your feed or in Reels; they should be complementary to it instead. 

    Otherwise, there will be no incentive for your followers to check your Stories — they’ll skip or tap through them without paying much attention, as they’ve already seen everything you’re showing them. 

    Some ideas of original, unique content you can share with your audience in Instagram Stories include…

    • Behind the scenes of your brand. Show the inside of your business — talk about your day-to-day tasks and challenges, introduce the staff, tease upcoming projects and/or products, give a sneak peek of your processes, and show your office.
    • Team takeover. Let a staff member take over your brand’s Instagram Stories for a day. Get them to show what they are working on now, answer questions from the audience (the Questions Story sticker is perfect for this), and give a tour around the office from their perspective. This is bound to make your brand more relatable and further humanize it — when you put a face to the name, you’re showing that there are real people behind your brand, which is great for increasing trust for your brand. 
    • Story-exclusive contests. Encourage your audience to keep their eyes peeled for your Stories by announcing Story-only contests. 
    • Sale announcements. Announce an upcoming sale in your Stories and share exclusive promo codes for better performance. 
    • Rubricate your Story content. Introduce several regular content rubrics, e.g., memes, Q&A with the team, educational content, etc. 

    Make sure you know what kind of content resonates with your audience 

    While it’s important to experiment with different content types, you shouldn’t rely solely on your intuition and personal preferences when building a content plan for your Instagram Story. It’s vital that you understand your audience well and give them exactly what they want to see from your brand.

    Run extensive audience research to understand the demographics of your audience, their needs and wants, their content preferences. Then, you can focus on the content they’d find the most interesting and engaging. 

    Although pretty time-consuming and laborious, doing this will pay off in the long run — people are significantly more prone to engaging with the content they find useful. 

    After you’ve published some Stories, turn to your Instagram analytics page to understand which Stories were a success and which ones — not so much. To check your Story analytics, do the following…

    1. Go to your Instagram profile and tap the Insights button above your Story Highlights. Scroll down to the section Content you shared and tap the arrow next to Stories:

    How to increase Instagram Stories engagement: A fool-proof guide for 2023


    2. There, you can see all the recent Stories you’ve posted. The default timeframe is 7 days, but you can change that to see all the content you’ve posted from yesterday to 2 years ago.

    How to increase Instagram Stories engagement: A fool-proof guide for 2023


    3. Then, tap the dropdown menu in the top left corner of the screen to select the metric you would like to access.

    There’s a wide range of different metrics you can view here:

    • Back
    • Call Button Taps
    • Email button taps
    • Exited
    • Follows
    • Next Story
    • Business Address Taps
    • Impressions
    • Link Clicks
    • Forward
    • Profile Visits
    • Reach
    • Replies
    • Shares
    • Text Button Taps
    • Website Taps
    • Story Interactions
    How to increase Instagram Stories engagement: A fool-proof guide for 2023


    You can then click on each Story to see a more detailed overview of its performance. 

    Single out the Stories with the highest engagement, analyze them, and try to understand what they have in common. Then, focus on creating more Stories like that. 

    Figure out the best time to post Instagram Stories

    Instagram Stories are only available for 24 hours (unless you add them to your Story Highlights, of course), so you need to approach the question of when to post them strategically. You simply can’t afford to post them when your audience is away from Instagram — especially if you’re publishing a series of Stories (you don’t want your audience to only watch half of them and not understand the point you’re trying to make, do you?). 

    Work out when most of your target audience is active on the platform, and publish your Stories during those times.

    The best way to do this is by accessing (again) your Instagram analytics page. There, you can find your audience’s top locations and the times when they’re active on the platform:

    🔥 VistaCreate’s Hot Tip: Don’t forget about different time zones — your 3 PM can be different from your target audience’s 3 PM. Pay attention to where your audience is located and take that into consideration when publishing your Stories or scheduling them. 

    ➡️ Learn more about the best times to post on Instagram in our article.

    Create design templates for your Stories

    Your Instagram Stories should be a continuation of your brand. So, you need to make sure all your Stories are on-brand and recognizable at first sight. 

    Ideally, you should create a branded Instagram Story design template and make a set of rules you need to follow when crafting Story designs:

    • Outlining objects or not
    • Signature shapes
    • Backgrounds
    • Must-have fonts
    • Illustrations or photos (or both)
    • Must-have effects, etc.

    Sticking to using them will promote brand recognition and consistency, and make it easy to know it’s your Story when tapping through Stories.

    ➡️ Learn how to quickly brand all your Instagram Story designs using VistaCreate’s Brand Kits feature. 

    Another thing you want to pay attention to when designing your Instagram Story templates is that they need to be eye candy. If your Story looks dated or simply unpleasant to look at (messy, unstructured, too bright, or too faded), there’s a higher chance that your audience will skip it. 

    ➡️ Learn current social media design trends in this article.

    Earlier in the article, we mentioned that you should develop several content rubrics for your brand’s Instagram Stories. It’s best to differentiate between them with design. We recommend crafting distinct Story design templates for each rubric.

    You can either color-code them or develop a completely separate design template for all types of Story content you publish.

    That way, it’ll be easier for your audience to differentiate between your Stories and know exactly what you’re on about. 

    Here’s an example of a brand that uses different design templates for different rubrics (reposts from followers and upcoming events):

    Add interactive stickers to your Stories

    The easiest way to get your audience to engage with your Stories is to add an interactive sticker to it. At the end of the day, the very purpose of those is to… Drive interactions (thanks, Captain Obvious!).

    There are lots of different Instagram stickers you can use to make your Stories irresistibly clickable and, therefore, increase engagement: 

    Add Yours. Although relatively new, this sticker has already proven to be an extremely effective tool for increasing Story engagement. If you manage to play your cards right and come up with the right ask, your followers will gladly take part in the flashmob and populate your sticker with their pictures and videos.

    Even if they don’t, there’s still a high chance the audience will click on it to see others’ entries. 

    P.S. All the extra exposure your profile gets if your stickers goes viral is a pleasant bonus

    Here’s how Later used this sticker:

    How to increase Instagram Stories engagement: A fool-proof guide for 2023


    Emoji slider. The easier, the better. While the previous sticker asks the audience for some sort of input, which can be offputting for some, the emoji slider doesn’t require much effort on the viewer’s side. They just need to… Slide the slider to answer a question or express their opinion.

    How to increase Instagram Stories engagement: A fool-proof guide for 2023


    Poll. Another interactive sticker that doesn’t require much effort on the viewer’s part is the Poll sticker. Ask your audience “this or that” questions, get them to share their preferences, or learn more about them — the choice is yours. 

    There are different ways to phrase the options on your poll — some brands use emojis, some resort to copy:

    ➡️ Learn everything there is to know about Instagram Story polls in our article.

    Quiz. Just like the previous sticker, the Quiz sticker allows you to ask your audience questions with up to 4 response options. The only difference is that the Quiz sticker also gives you an opportunity to specify the correct response.

    Reactions. Finally, the most low-effort, high-return Stories stickers, the Reactions sticker. Use it to add just a tad of interactivity to your Stories. It works particularly well if you specify somewhere along the way that tapping the Reactions sticker is equivalent to saying “thank you” for the content you offer. 

    🔥 VistaCreate Hot Tip: Place your Reactions sticker to the right of the Story so that people tap on them as they go through Stories.  

    Link. This is the sticker for Instagram Stories, as it doesn’t just make your Story more tappable, but also helps bring traffic to your blog, website, or wherever else you need traffic to be brought to.

    This list wouldn’t be complete without the Questions sticker — not only is it a great interactive sticker that can boost your engagement level, but it can also encourage your audience to keep up with your Stories as they wait for a response to the question they asked.

    Check out VistaCreate’s free Instagram Story AMA templates:

    🔥 VistaCreate’s Hot Tip: Make sure to place your stickers near the bottom of the screen so that your viewer can reach them effortlessly. At the same time, keep in mind that some areas are off limits — account for the safety area.

    How to increase Instagram Stories engagement: A fool-proof guide for 2023


    But don’t add irrelevant Story stickers. Remember, every sticker should make your Story content more engaging and valuable. Your audience will notice if you add stickers just for the sake of adding stickers and punish you for such behavior. 

    Tap into the power of storytelling

    Even though Instagram Story stickers are great, you can’t rely solely on them to increase your Story engagement levels. For your audience to be constantly interested in your content and come to see your Stories instead of skipping them every day, you need to ensure your storytelling game is good. 

    You want to focus on publishing a series of Stories, each of which would contribute to the overall story and keep viewers engaged. 

    However, you don’t want your Instagram Stories to be chaotic. Each story told via Stories (ha-ha!) should have a clear structure. Otherwise, you’ll confuse your audience and make it hard for them to follow. 

    The best way to develop a robust structure is to create a storyboard:

    • Come up with an idea you want to deliver via Stories
    • Break it down into small chunks
    • Add several points that would lead to it

    When everything is in order, you can be sure that your story will have a strong beginning, middle, and end, which will have a positive impact on your Instagram Story exit rate. 

    Give the following scheme a try: 

    Something relatable that would resonate with your audience ➡️ A problem you’re going to discuss in the following Stories ➡️ Further actualization of the problem ➡️ An almost-solution ➡️ Another problem associated with the solution you provided in the previous Story ➡️ The final solution ➡️ Wait ➡️ A CTA

    For example…

    Story 1: Today, I slept through my alarm and didn’t have enough time to finish a design for my Story. 

    Story 2: I thought my boss was going to end me. We have a contest coming up, and we needed that Story ASAP.

    Story 3: So, to speed things up, I played some music and tried some time management techniques

    Story 4: But then I got distracted by my cat! (An image of a cute pet is always a winning strategy).

    Story 5: I had like 5 minutes to fix the situation before my meeting, and then I remembered the VistaCreate tool and their Instagram Story templates. And — God! — it saved me from getting fired.


    Story 6: By the way, guys, for all of you that want to spend less time on design, I have a promo code that’ll help you save money. Use this code to get a year’s worth of the VistaCreate Pro subscription for free. 

    But it’s not just the content you share in your Stories that aids your storytelling, it’s also the way you design it. 

    Make sure you only share one message, one idea, or one image per Story and create visual anchors in the design of your storytelling Stories to identify the main idea of it. You can accentuate the key message of each Story by highlighting it with an accent color, shape, or arrow.  

    Don’t interrupt the flow of your story with random thoughts — there shouldn’t be any sudden changes of direction. So, save random pics of your pet or a screenshot of the message you got after finishing your story. 

    And remember, even once you finish your trail of thought, entice your audience to keep up with your Stories the following day by intriguing them:

    • We got pretty interesting results, will share them tomorrow
    • Still waiting for the reaction from X, will share what happened in the next Stories, so make sure you check them
    • Come back to see how it played out

    Give instructions to pique your audience’s interest

    Sometimes, if you want your audience to do something, you need to give them specific instructions. Here are some examples of how you can increase the amount of time your audience spends interacting with your Stories:

    • Hold to read — When you include more than a couple of sentences in your Story, the text can be hard to read. Leave a “hold to read” direction so that the audience interacts with the content for longer.
    • Tap here (with an arrow) — To indicate the fact there’s more to your story and prevent your audience from missing crucial Stories, leave a visual cue.
    How to increase Instagram Stories engagement: A fool-proof guide for 2023
    • Tap for more — Similarly, you can encourage your audience to look through all of your Stories by telling them there’s more to what they’ve just seen.
    • Get ready to — The “get ready to” prompt can create anticipation and excitement, and help you set the tone for what’s coming next. You can prepare your audience to take a screenshot of the next slide, turn their screens horizontally, or even just simply turn their sound on.

    Gamify your Stories content

    The truth is, people love games, especially when they’re easy to play, straightforward, and require minimum effort. You should use this to your advantage and gamify your Stories to increase engagement. 

    Now, there are different types of Instagram Story games you can add to your content calendar…

    1. Emoji game

    Get your audience to share their top 1/3/5 most used emojis — either by responding to your Story or by leaving them in the Questions sticker window. 

    Alternatively, you can publish a photo, explain a situation, or share a meme via your Instagram Story and prompt your followers to describe what they see using only emojis. 

    2. A series of quizzes

    Test your audience’s knowledge of virtually anything from your brand to the industry you operate in by hosting a pop-quiz. You can do that by either adding the Quiz sticker to your Stories or by adding a Poll sticker and sharing the correct answer in the subsequent Story (this will ensure more people watch till the end). 

    For example, here’s a series of Story quizzes to promote our article about famous company slogans and taglines:

    And here’s a brand-specific quiz about the latest cosmetics collection drop by Rare Beauty:

    Or you could let your Story viewers know what kind of person they are based on their preferences:

    How to increase Instagram Stories engagement: A fool-proof guide for 2023


    3. Maze, Word Search, and Find the hidden object

    Sometimes, the simpler the game is, the better it performs. Pick one of the well-known children’s games everyone knows how to play — maze, word search, or find the hidden object — and enjoy the benefits.

    As these games require increased attention to detail and concentration. The viewer is almost guaranteed to tap and hold your Story — which, in turn, lets Instagram algorithms know the content is interesting. 

    Encourage your audience to return to your previous Stories

    Another thing that lets Instagram know your Story content is interesting is “repeat views” — when viewers revisit your previous Stories. 

    Here are some tricks that can help you increase the number of repeat views…

    1. Offer your Instagram Story viewers to play the “Spot the difference” game — then, they’ll go back and forth between two images trying to spot what’s different. 
    2. Closer towards the end of a Story series, announce that you hid an Easter egg in the earlier stories and ask your audience to find where it was.
    3. Make the duration of your Story a little shorter so that viewers need to revisit it to finish reading your text. 

    Create screenshottable Stories

    To screenshot a Story, the viewer needs to tap and hold it — which is a positive engagement indicator.

    Now, there are different types of screenshottable Stories:

    1. Get to know me

    2. Tag someone who…

    3. This or That

    4. Bingo

    5. Never have I ever…

    6. Fill in the blanks using GIFs

    Make sure you keep these Stories branded; when your audience screenshots and shares on their Story, you’ll get extra brand awareness regardless of whether they tag your account or not.

    Another approach to take when trying to create screenshot-worthy Story content is to share something genuinely useful — a checklist, a how-to, an infographic. 

    ➡️ Learn how to design Instagram infographics that drive engagement in our article. 

    Add captions to your Instagram Story videos 

    Video is the most popular content format in 2022 and beyond. So, focusing on creating video Stories could be a winning strategy if you want to increase engagement.

    However, you need to remember that we don’t live in an ideal world. People don’t always have the ability to listen to what you say in your Stories — either because they’re busy doing something else, are in a noisy room, etc., — so they skip through your content even if they would’ve found it valuable otherwise. 

    Make sure you make your Story accessible to all by adding captions to the videos you publish on your Story.

    ➡️ Learn how to do that using VistaCreate’s video editing functionality.

    Cross-promote your Stories on your feed

    Finally, you need to remember that your Stories don’t exist separately from the rest of your Instagram account. If you see that your feed publications engage the audience better, use them to promote your Story content. 

    Here’s an example of a brand, Later, using this technique:

    Now that you know what it takes to create an engaging Instagram Story, it’s time to put this knowledge into action.

    Valerie Kakovkina

    Content marketing manager at VistaCreate. Valerie loves all things marketing, with her favourite areas being email marketing and social media. When out of the office, Valerie loves travelling, going to parties, and helping her friends with their art projects (oh to be surrounded by artists).

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