What Exactly Is an Instagram Story, and How to Create One?

May 15, 2024
May 15, 2024
7 min
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Instagram Story

Ready to learn the ins and outs of Instagram Stories? From creation to boosting and analyzing the results – it's all inside this guide ✨

You've probably seen those little circles lined up at the top of your Instagram, right? Yeah, those are Insta Stories. And if you've ever wondered how everyone is magically transforming their everyday moments into mini-movies, take a seat. I’m about to serve you the lowdown.

What is an Instagram Story?

Stories on Instagram are like the guest celebrities that hang around for just 24 hours. They're image or video fleeting moments, quick updates, behind-the-scenes peeks, you name it. But here's the twist - you can pin your top Stories to your profile as a Highlight, giving them a VIP spot forever.

On the flip side, we've got Instagram Posts. These are the OGs, living on your profile forever. The videos, photos, carousels, and Reels make up your carefully curated feed.

In short…

Instagram Stories: Quick, fun, and in the moment. Perfect for those spontaneous updates.

🎞️ Instagram Posts: Timeless, curated, and part of your profile's lasting legacy.

Meta Post,  Story, and Highlights
Image Source: Canal8

How do I create an Instagram Story?

  1. Open Instagram. At the top, you'll see a series of circular icons. These are the active Stories posted by the users you follow. Tap the blue + sign next to your profile picture.
How to create an Instagram Story 1
  1. You can tap ‘Camera’ to take a new photo or video or select an existing image or video from your gallery.
How to create an Instagram Story 2
  1. Now, click the letter icon to add any text you want on your Story.
How to create an Instagram Story 3
  1. Tap the sticker icon to sprinkle a little extra flavor onto your Stories – like showing off your location, including a site link, mentioning collaborators, or even tossing a playful GIF or product-related poll. 
How to create an Instagram Story 4
  1. You can add a soundtrack to bring some energy into your Story. If your Story is a video and already has audio, feel free to skip this part.
How to create an Instagram Story 5
  1. Choose a filter from the selection if you wish to.
How to create an Instagram Story 6
  1. You're ready to publish your Story. See that tiny blue Facebook icon on the ‘Your stories’ button? If you've linked your Instagram to Facebook, a single tap will simultaneously send your Story live on both platforms. Talk about efficiency in action!
How to create an Instagram Story 7
  1. Once your Story is live, you can keep tabs on the engagement with Instagram Insights. To do this, swipe up on your Story. The image on the right shows insights from a business account, and the image on the left shows regular Story views. If you don’t have a business account, you will only be able to see Story views.
Instagram Insights and Story views

Instagram Story design specs

Here are some specs and sizes you need to stick to optimize your images and videos for IG Stories on Instagram.

Instagram Stories image 

IG Story image ad
  • Resolution: 1080 x 1920
  • Aspect ratio: 9:16 and 4:5 to 1.91:1
  • Recommended image formats: JPG, PNG
  • Maximum file size: 30MB
  • Length: 6 seconds

Instagram Stories video

  • Pixels: 500px
  • Audio bitrate: 128kbps
  • Maximum file size: 4GB
  • Video length: 1-15 seconds
  • Recommended ratio: 9:16 and 4:5 to 1.91:1
  • Recommended video formats: MP4, MOV
  • Video sound: Optional but recommended
  • Subtitles: Must be part of the video file

How to increase engagement on Instagram Stories

Nobody wants to post Stories that fall flat. So, let's explore some best practices to ensure your Stories capture attention and get those taps rolling in.

Post consistently and schedule your Instagram Stories

Consistency is vital when engaging your audience, so post regularly on your Instagram Stories. 

Scheduling IG Stories directly within the Instagram app itself is not currently supported. However, you can use a third-party tool or Facebook Business Suite to schedule your Stories in advance. 

These tools allow you to plan your content and choose specific times for your Stories to go live. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Go to your Meta Business Suite account and click the ‘Create story’ button.
How to schedule an Instagram Story in Business Suite 1
  1. In the dropdown menu, check off where you want your Story post to be shared. Select IG and FB if you’d like to share on both platforms.
How to schedule an Instagram Story in Business Suite 2
  1. Now, upload your Story photo or video. To edit the Story, click ‘Edit.’ You will be able to crop and add text or stickers. Under ‘Add link,’ you can include a link to any website.
How to schedule an Instagram Story in Business Suite 3
How to schedule an Instagram Story in Business Suite 4
  1. Schedule it to publish at your preferred time. Here’s the thing, though: If you're aiming for maximum engagement on your posts, timing is critical. You'll want to pinpoint those weekday "sweet spots" when your audience is most active. According to Hopper, the best time to post your Stories on Instagram is during lunch breaks (between 11 am - 2 pm).
How to schedule an Instagram Story in Business Suite 5

Repost Posts and Reels in your Stories

Don't box yourself in with just original Story content. Share your regular Feed posts and Reels in your Stories. Sharing your Feed content to Stories not only boosts the visibility of your existing content but also nudges your followers to jump in and engage with it. 

To share an Instagram Post or Reel to Stories:

  1. Go to the Post or Reel you want to share. 
  2. Click on the share icon. 
  3. Tap ‘Add to story.’
  4. Publish by clicking on ‘Your stories.’
Repost Reels in your Stories

Add Story stickers

Instagram offers a variety of interactive stickers for your Stories. Use polls, questions, quizzes, and countdowns to engage your audience. Encourage them to participate and share their opinions.

Instagram Story question stickers

Use GIFs in your Stories

GIFs add a fun and dynamic element to your Stories. Search for relevant GIFs and overlay them on your photos or videos. It’s a great way to capture attention and make your content more entertaining.

Write captions

Don’t neglect your captions! Use them to tell a story, ask questions, or share interesting facts. A well-written caption can encourage viewers to engage with your content.

Instagram Story captions

Add music to Instagram Stories

Did you know that about 70% of people tune into Stories with the sound on? That's your cue to get creative with your music choice. Sound adds that extra oomph, stirring up emotions and making your Story more memorable.

To add music to your Stories, use the music sticker. Choose a track that complements your content and sets the mood. The right track can make your content “stick” better.

Instagram music

Apply filters

Instagram offers a variety of filters for your Stories. Experiment with different ones to enhance your photos and videos, but find a style that aligns with your brand or personal aesthetic. 

Instagram's array of filters offers a creative playground to enhance your visuals. However, maintaining consistency can be a struggle with the platform's fluctuating filter options, potentially undermining your content's impact.

Instagram filters

Include links in your Instagram Story

If you have over 10,000 followers or a verified Instagram account, you can add swipe-up links to your Stories. You can also utilize regular link stickers to direct viewers to your website, blog post, or other relevant content.

Instagram Story swipe up and link

Add a location to your Instagram Stories

Tagging a location in your Stories on Insta can increase discoverability. When users search for that location, your Story may appear in the results. It’s a great way to connect with local audiences.

Instagram Stories location sticker

Engage viewers with questions, quizzes, and polls

Use interactive features like polls and questions to engage your audience. Ask for their opinions, preferences, or feedback. It’s a two-way conversation that encourages participation. 

Check out the Stories below—just a couple of the many Mercedes-Benz has rolled out in the past 24 hours. They've got a knack for keeping the conversation buzzing around their brand. 

Instagram engagement stickers and questions

Tag people in your Instagram Story

If you’re featuring someone or a brand in your Story, tag them! This notifies them and encourages them to share your content with their followers, which will increase the number of eyeballs on your content!

Instagram Story mentions

Leverage Instagram Story Highlights

Story Highlights allow you to showcase your best Stories on your profile. Organize them into relevant categories. 

For instance, when you visit this Cape Town Travel Instagram page, you'll instantly find what you seek: whether it's the best activities to try, the tastiest food to savor, the top hotels to consider, or the latest deals worth snagging.

Instagram Story Highlights

How to analyze your Instagram Story’s engagement

If you’re running a business Instagram account, this one’s for you: Instagram Insights provides valuable details such as who follows you, their location, and how they interact on the platform. With this information, you can better tailor your content to match their preferences, leading to increased engagement.

Moreover, you can analyze which Stories perform well and identify trends. Additionally, Insights helps you determine the optimal times to post and select the most effective hashtags. It's a valuable tool for enhancing your Instagram strategy.

Instagram Insights
Image source: Sprout Social

So, how important exactly are likes on IG Stories? 

They're surprisingly significant. Instagram's algorithm weighs several factors when selecting Stories to display to your followers. This includes your followers’ interaction frequency with your account, Story viewing frequency, and engagement level with your content. 

In essence, the more engagement your Stories garner, the more visible they will be to your followers.

How to boost Instagram Stories

Boosting a Story converts it into an Instagram Story ad. Now, when might you consider taking this step?

Well, let’s say you've just shared a Story sparking significant engagement and resonating with your current audience. This popularity presents an opportunity to amplify its reach by boosting it, allowing you to connect with a broader audience and get more Instagram followers.

Here’s how you boost a live Story to create an Instagram ad:

  1. Navigate to your Instagram business profile and simply tap on your profile picture to access the Story you wish to promote.
Instagram Profile - Boost Story
  1. Tap ‘More’ at the bottom-right corner of your Story.
Instagram - More button
  1. Now, click ‘Boost story.’
Instagram - Boost Story button
  1. Include the details of your ad, such as your objective, target audience, budget, and duration. Then, tap ‘Next.’
Instagram Story boost - set goal audience, and budget
  1. You’re ready to preview your ad. If you’re happy, tap ‘Boost story’ to boost the IG Story.
Instagram Stories - Boost Story button

Once you've submitted the Story ad for review, Meta will send you notifications at various stages: during the review process, upon approval or disapproval, and finally, when the campaign is over.

If your Facebook ad lingers in the review stage longer than anticipated, this guide provides strategies to accelerate the process and reduce future waiting periods.

TIP 🔔: Boosting stories is merely scratching the surface with limited capabilities. To fully enjoy the benefits of Instagram ads—such as broader reach and precise targeting—it's advisable to run your ads via the Meta Ads Manager.

Need help creating boost-worthy Instagram Stories? 

Delegate your Story design tasks to the experts. Sparkle offers top-notch design services tailored for Instagram and Facebook ads.

Madgicx Sparkle dashboard

Receive your ads within 48 hours of submitting your brief—directly from the Madgicx app. Give Sparkle a try with our 7-day free trial and experience the ✨magic✨ for yourself.


Now you're equipped to whip up a decent IG Story and nail the engagement. Whether you're starting conversations, stirring up interest, or nudging people to act, Stories offer many possibilities for brand awareness.

Let your brand's brilliance shine, one Story at a time!

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May 15, 2024
May 15, 2024
Annette Nyembe

Digital copywriter with a passion for sculpting words that resonate in a digital age.

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