Here is my guide to Instagram Story ideas for entrepreneurs. I’ll be honest for a second, I’m a social media manager and I know that I don’t use Instagram Stories enough. When I’m busy, I like that I can have posts scheduled out and ready to go but I don’t think of Instagram Stories like that as much.
I know there are others out there like me so I wanted to put together some ideas for Instagram Stories that entrepreneurs and business owners can easily refer back to. To an extent, this list is to help me too so that when I am busy, I know I can pop onto stories and bring value.
Instagram Story Ideas
This is probably my top recommendation when someone asks what they should put on their Instagram Stories. Stories are a great place to share what a day in the life of your business looks like. Maybe that means showing people how your product is made or where you work.
People are curious to know more about other people. That’s why we’re on social media!
It also helps humanize you. More and more, we don’t buy from brands, we buy from people. Now, personal branding will tell you that people are also brands to some extent but that’s exactly the point. We want to know, like, and trust the people behind what we buy. It’s no longer just about a flashy brand. The CEO is sometimes just as important, especially for small businesses.
An easy way to get more content for your Instagram Stories is to share posts. Maybe you see a post from another account that you really agree with. You can put that in your Story.
You can also use this as a way to bring attention to your own posts. Let’s say you posted about a new podcast a week ago and you want to remind people about it. You don’t need to post again (although you can.) You can share your post about that to your story with more information or just as a reminder to people.
It’s a good way to continue to share your own content without filling your entire newsfeed with it.
If you have a new post that isn’t doing as well as you thought it would, you can share it in your Story to make sure more people see it.
Yes, sharing Reels is essentially the same as sharing posts but there’s another element here that I want to mention. For a while, there were quite a few people talking about a “hack” to get more views on your Reels. You can share a Reel to your Instagram Story, turn off the sound, and make the Reel small and hidden behind the actual Story.
Now, why would you do that? Every time someone views the Story, that counts as a view for the Reel without having to post your Reel to your Story a bunch of times.
I mention this tip just so you can be aware of it but I’m not a huge fan of tactics like this. All it does is up the view count on your Reel but it doesn’t mean that many people actually saw it. It just increases the view count. If you’re an influencer and make money off of how many views you get, then maybe I get this but for most people, that view count won’t make much difference.
There are some who might theorize that increasing the view count in this way will make Instagram show the Reel to more people organically but I’m not sure we have any concrete proof of that at this point.
Putting Instagram Highlights First
While Instagram Stories only show for 24 hours, they can live forever if they’re included in your Instagram Highlights. Highlights are the circles below your bio on your Instagram profile. They’re a great place to answer any frequently asked questions or convey the most important things about your company.
When you’re thinking about what to put out on your Instagram Stories, think about what you want your highlights to be. What do you want people to know about your company right away when they reach your page? What would be helpful for people to continuously see? If you think about your Instagram Highlights first, you’ll have plenty of ideas for Instagram Stories to fill those.
Everyone thinks about the algorithm when it comes to Instagram posts, but Instagram Stories also have their own algorithm. Have you noticed when you log into Instagram that some people’s Stories are shown first? That’s because Instagram knows you engage with those Stories the most.
If you want to start showing up first for your audience, you need to show Instagram that people are engaging with your Stories. How do you do that? You can add a poll, a quiz, questions, a slider, or anything that makes people tap and engage with your Story.
If you’re someone with 10,000 followers, you can add a swipe-up link to your Story to engage people even further.
One trick that I love to use is to ask people to answer a poll and then follow up with them regarding the response. For instance, I might ask, “Which is harder for you? Instagram Reels or Instagram Stories.” If I have a freebie about Instagram Reels and one about Instagram Stories, I can look at how people responded and send them the freebie that would help them most.
Keep in mind, that trick can come off a bit spammy so be authentic and don’t overuse this tactic if you want people to genuinely connect to you. You’re helping them by providing a resource.
Gather Content Ideas
This is related to the engagement features mentioned above but Instagram Stories are actually a great way to find out what your audience wants you to post about. Put a poll asking if they need more information on one topic or another. Add an open-ended question box to see what people are curious about. When you’re working on your social media content for the next month, test this out on your Stories and you’ll find out exactly what people want to hear from you.
I know, I know! It’s scary to go live. But Instagram has some really great options for live streams. You can partner with other people to go live together which takes some of the pressure off and helps you both build your audiences. Plus, that adds an extra element that you can’t get from your normal posts or Stories. Going live also helps you show up first to people on Instagram and gets rewarded by the algorithm.
Let’s say you have a team behind your business, you could give someone else the keys to your Instagram Stories for a takeover. That provides some new content and people can see a different side of your business. Maybe that even means giving it over to a client. Just make sure it’s someone you trust.
Shout-Out Other Businesses
Let’s say you spend every Monday at a local coffee shop. Post your coffee on your Instagram story and tag that coffee shop. Not only does it show your support for another local business but often those businesses will reshare your story to their own account. Then you have a new audience of people looking at your Instagram Story.
You can also use this if you’re supporting a charity or partnering with another business in some way.
The countdown feature is one of my favorite Instagram Story ideas and one that I don’t think is used enough. If you have a new product launching, a special event happening, or are even going live, make sure you add a countdown sticker to your Story.
Why is the countdown so helpful? Well, it’s not just because it shows a countdown. Your followers can actually tap on the countdown and put in that they want to be reminded when the countdown is complete. That’s huge! If you’re launching something, that means Instagram will tell people right away when it’s live.
Use the countdown feature (it also builds anticipation) and encourage people who are interested to select to get a reminder.
Plan out Instagram Story Ideas
Now that you have some Instagram Story ideas, don’t forget to plan out your Instagram Stories. You don’t need to have everything mapped out completely but it helps when you are busy to have a rough idea of what you want to put out on certain days or weeks.
This is something I personally need to do more of and I know that planning in advance makes it so much easier when client work is taking me away from the work of my own marketing. Follow me on Instagram to see how I make it work.