Why is ephemeral content so damn irresistible? Because it plays on the apparently severe case of FOMO — fear of missing out — that’s constantly running through all of us.
With just 24 hours to watch an Instagram Story, followers know that it’s pretty much now or never if they want to see what you’ve just posted. And it’s working.
And you should be one of them.
Instagram Stories are a way to keep your followers’ interest on a daily basis, increase your brand awareness, improve sales, drive traffic to your website or blog, and so much more.
Use these 12 real-life Instagram Story ideas as inspiration to help you create engaging content for your followers.
1. Promote a Blog Post
Looking for Instagram Story ideas that’ll help you promote your blog post? Here’s one from Scott’s Marketplace‘s lifestyle blog, The Local Lifestyle. (The DRIVE blog’s sister, if you will.)
We used a Story to promote this blog post — 9 Makeup Mistakes That Are Making You Look Older — by featuring an image from that post along with the post’s headline as a caption.
The next frame in this Story included a call to action to visit our bio for the link to the full post as you can see below:
If you’re going to use a Story to promote your blog post, make sure you tell your followers how and where they can read more.
Tip: Use Bitly to shorten your blog post’s link and then place that link in your bio.
2. Get Seasonal With It
Seasonal content is great because you’ll always stay relevant to your audience. (You’re not a regular mom. You’re a cool mom.)
The Story above, from Stella Blu Boutique, is a great example of using timely, seasonal content in an enticing way.
Instead of just posting one item from their clothing line, they put together a full outfit to show their followers how to dress for spring’s warmer weather. They added the caption, “Spring Chic,” as well as a hashtag and sticker to draw more attention to their Story.
There’s also a link in their bio where followers can go shopping, of course!
3. Share Recipes
If you sell anything food or drink related, whether ingredients or even something like cocktail glasses, you can post recipes on your Story as a way of indirectly promoting what you sell. (Content marketing, anyone?)
You’ll notice a strong image was used for the Story in this example, along with an eye-catching caption, hashtag, and that imperative CTA that tempts followers into clicking to read more: “Drink recipes in our bio.”
4. Entice With a Giveaway
If you’re looking for Instagram Story ideas that’ll help you promote a giveaway, you’ll like this simple yet effective one from Barre 3 North Scottsdale.
In the example above, you’ll noticed they included important details of their giveaway, including how to win and the name of the brand they partnered with.
Tip: Be sure to tag anyone involved in the giveaway like Barre 3 did for a little cross-promotional action.
Here’s another example of a business using a Story to promote their giveaway:
Fabulous Arizona included the details of what they are giving away and the value, and then included the CTA of ‘swipe up’ to enter.
Once the follower swipes up, they will be able to enter their email address, and any other information required for the giveaway — which is an effective way to grow their subscriber list.
(If this is one of the Instagram Story ideas you’re interested in trying, make sure you link your Story with the giveaway entry form — or simplify things by doing something like what Barre 3 did instead.)
5. Promote an Event
Whether you’re having an event or selling your products at an upcoming craft fair or festival, you can use a Story to hype up your followers and boost attendance.
Like the example above, make sure you include the name of the event, what’s being sold, when it’s being held, and where it’s being held to give your followers all the information they need to attend.
6. Go Behind the Scenes
Instead of only showing finished products on your Instagram account, give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at your creation process like Freckled Pottery.
The example above is from a Story where they showcased a short video of the glazing process of their handcrafted pottery.
You can do the same by showing your employees at a team meeting or highlighting how your products are made — both options will give a personal and unique perspective of your business to your followers.
7. Try Crowdsourcing
Polls are the perfect opportunity to crowdsource your followers since they are — hopefully — made up of your target market.
Maybe you want suggestions for a new flavor of cupcakes or want to know if your followers have ever visited your brick-and-mortar location in person. (Or maybe you just want to do something interactive and fun with your Story!)
Whatever your reason, try polling your audience within your Story like we did on Scott’s Marketplace’s account in the example above.
You can post the results of your poll in your next Story too to keep your followers engaged.
8. Showcase New Arrivals
Don’t just tell customers about the new items you have for sale — show them by posting a photo on your Story. Stella Blu Boutique did this, as you can see in this example above, by showing off some cute new items in their store.
This is a great way to increase immediate traffic to your online store or website — and hopefully snag some sales too!
Be sure to include a CTA that tells your followers where they can purchase these items.
9. Share Helpful Tips
Your followers don’t want to see an endless stream of promotional content on your account — it gets annoying and boring fast. (Neither of which are conducive to a long-term social strategy that actually gets results.)
That’s why you should mix in some helpful tips on your Story to add a little non-promotional value — just make sure the information you share is relevant to your business and your followers’ interests.
For example, the Scott’s Marketplace Instagram is full of shop-local-lovin’ followers — so we shared ways to shop local for Easter in the Story example above.
Whether you’re sharing healthy-snack recipes, pet-safety tips, DIY hacks for your home, or anything else, choose topics that your target audience would actively been seeking and find value in.
10. Give a Sneak Peek
Tempt your followers with the very-first sneak peek of an upcoming product by posting it in a Story that’ll disappear in just 24 hours, like Freckled Pottery did in the example above.
You’ll build anticipation for your new product(s) and you can include a caption that details when followers can purchase the new items.
11. Promote a Sale
Instagram Stories provide you with an easy way to post details of current or upcoming sales.
In this example, Laurie Belle’s Boutique promoted a time-sensitive sale on their Story and included two crucial elements: the discount code needed to redeem the sale and the ‘swipe up’ CTA where the follower can shop.
If this is one of the Instagram Story ideas you’re interested in trying, link the Story with your online store’s URL or put it in your bio so followers know how to check out the sale.
12. Have Fun With National Holidays
From National Popcorn Day to National Mother Goose Day, there is always a national holiday that would make for great social-media content. Check out this calendar to plan some days that might work for your business and then post themed content on your Story using team photos, product images, or behind-the-scenes content.
In this example, Scott’s Marketplace’s team members were asked to provide pictures of their pets for a collage. We used a caption and stickers to doctor up the image and included the hashtag #nationalpetday.
The First Rule of Instagram Stories Is… There Are No Rules
As you saw in the Instagram Story ideas here, creativity is a must.
After all, you’ll be more likely to get viewers who return each day to see what you’ve posted if you’re always doing something new and exciting.
Samantha Bero, social media specialist at Scott’s Marketplace, agrees. “Take advantage of all the features,” she advises. “Instagram stories are loaded with features, from gifs to boomerangs, as well as various font types, locations, and hashtags — get creative and try everything.”
Want more Instagram Story ideas? Follow Scott’s Marketplace for daily inspiration.