Instagram Stories have risen to prominence in the past couple of years and new updates have made it a key place for brands to interact with their followers in fun ways. 500 million people now use Instagram Stories every day and this doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Instagram Stories are photos or vides up to 10 seconds long. Unlike posts that display on the Instagram feed, they disappear after 24 hours. Social media expert, Colin Peter O’Riordan, shares his tips and tricks for elevating your Instagram story strategy.

Add links

Businesses with over 10,000 followers can avail of the “swipe up” feature in Instagram stories. “This has changed the game for brands on Instagram who previously were restricted to adding one hyperlink in the bio section of the page” explains Colin. It is difficult to get social users to click out of your story, go to your profile and then click on the link. Attention spans on social media are short and any request with a lot of steps will often be ignored. “As a result, the swipe up feature is something that smaller brands with less than 10,000 followers will want to work towards. It’s the easiest way to boost traffic in the long run” adds Colin.

Use the Highlights feature

The Highlights feature on Instagram was added less than two years ago, but many clever brands use it to keep content permanently on their profile. Colin says “unlike the standard Instagram Stories that disappear after 24 hours, Instagram Stories Highlights allow you to group your Stories together and display them at the top of your profile until you want to delete them”. Brands such as Zara use the Highlights feature to group Stories of their latest Fall Winter collection and product categories such as shoes or jewelry. “The feature is front and center on an Instagram business profile, so brands should curate their Highlights section in a way that draws attention to key products”. 


Colin recommends that brands incorporate Polls into their Instagram Stories strategy. “These are a great way of increasing engagement and getting to know what your customers think.” Polls offer a new way of carrying out market research and the ease of use means that a high percentage of your followers will vote for an option. Brands such as Buzzfeed use polls to create fun audience quizzes for their followers. IKEA and Wayfair use the feature to display various products and ask followers to vote for their favorite. “Use them in a way that brings value to your brand and entertains your followers!” advises Colin.


Similarly to polls, questions help increase social engagement with your page. Colin says “polls give your followers a chance to share their opinions or open up conversation with your brand. If you plan to hold an upcoming live Q&A, then you can invite followers to submit their questions ahead of time”. Unlike polls, the question feature lets brands pose open-ended questions. Starbucks often ask their followers to share their favorite iced coffee drinks on Instagram and this provides them with useful insights.

Countdown stickers

“This is a pretty cool feature and very useful if you have an upcoming event or launching a new product. Interested followers get a notification when the countdown ends” Colin explains. Simply select the date that you want to count down to and the exact months, days, and seconds will automatically be updated. 

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company

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