The fact that we can now share photos with our friends instantaneously is amazing. It was only just years ago where we would hear that loud annoying ring whenever we connected to our slow dial-up internet and now we complain when a photo loads for more than 2 seconds.
Instagram has revolutionized the social media realm with its photo sharing capabilities, but most recently, the implementation of the Instagram story is the platform’s biggest hit. With Instagram stories, you can now update your followers on what you’re doing or what your brand is doing. You can post short videos and photos that will disappear in 24 hours to your stories, while being able to keep track of your viewership. We’re starting to see more and more brands using Instagram stories and the main question that comes up is, “how do I achieve the perfect Instagram story with the right Instagram story dimensions?”
We’ve dug deep and analyzed the art of the Instagram story to bring you the best practices and the right Instagram story dimensions so you can go out and create compelling stories to share.
What Are the Instagram Story Dimensions?
The Instagram story dimensions are 1080px by 1920px. What this means is that your video or photo will have to be 1080 pixels wide and 1920 pixels in height. Also known as an aspect ratio of 9:16.
Instagram is very strict about the size of your stories and if you upload a photo or video to your Instagram story that doesn’t fit the required dimensions, Instagram will crop and sometimes zoom into your photo / video. This will cause for a loss in quality and sometimes important visuals being cut off.
How Can I Create a Proper Instagram Story?
Well, if you’re looking to add a simple photo or video to your story, all you have to do is film your video or take your photo with your camera vertical.
Yes… that’s right… the opposite of how videos should be filmed.
If you’re looking to create professional Instagram stories that have nice text and better visuals, well there are a few more steps you need to consider.
You can use an application like Snappa to create great Instagram stories for yourself or for your business. Snappa has several Instagram story templates that you can use to customize to your needs. Here is a video that demonstrates how you can create an Instagram story graphic within less than 2 minutes.
Additionally you can take a video that you’ve made off of your camera that was shot at a 16:9 aspect ratio and crop it using programs such as iMovie, Adobe Premiere Pro, or Final Cut. Any video editing software should allow you to crop video to 1080 x 1920.
What Should My Instagram Stories Be About?
What’s great about the Instagram story is that you can use this to sell a product, promote your brand (personal or corporate), or use it as a medium to keep your followers up-to-date.
Instagram stories have the ability for you to include a link if you’re a business profile and you can prompt followers to swipe up and visit a specific web page. This is essential if you have a blog post to promote.
If you’re not a business, you can still promote your new posts and tell users to interact with your profile. You can also include a link in bio, so you can tell your followers to click the link in bio for more information or to direct them to a relevant page.
Sneak Peeks And Behind The Scenes
How about a behind the scenes look? You can use Instagram stories to give your followers a glimpse of what’s happening in your everyday life or within your business. Teasers are a good way to build excitement for future content and products. Giving your followers a sneak peak will keep your brand on top of their minds as they anticipate the release of new content or products.
Instagram Story Polls
The more I write about the Instagram story, the more I think about how I should be using it more myself. Instagram has added a new feature which allows you to add a poll on your stories. You can ask any question you like and with a tap on the screen, you can see what your followers answer and it tells you exactly who answered what. This is a game changer… This is essentially free market research and if you ask the right questions, you can gain some great insight about your audience.
Displaying User Generated Content And Positive Press
This applies to business and blogs more than anything. If you’re trying to keep a certain look or style on your Instagram feed, it probably isn’t the best idea to repost photos or videos from your customers or readers. This is because you don’t have control over how your customers take these photos or videos, but testimonials are always a great source of content. Instagram stories are good way to showcase the content that your users share about your product without ruining your Instagram feed. You might even make their day by reposting their footage!
Additionally, if your brand picks up any press, it is a good idea to use your Instagram stories to display this. As you can see, the clothing brand, Aritzia, found out that influential Instagrammer and celebrity, Hailey Baldwin, was wearing one of their pieces. They took this opportunity to screenshot the article and share it with their followers on their Instagram story.
Instagram Story Mistakes to Avoid
You’re probably thinking, “wow Nick, Instagram stories seem easy enough to create, maybe I should start right now!”
It is easy! But, before you start, let’s take a step back and look at some of the Instagram story mistakes you should be aware of before creating your first story.
Long and Redundant Stories
For Instagram stories, you are limited to 15 seconds per individual story. But… you can post however many stories you want. The key is to avoid the swipe away! The swipe away is a follower skipping your entire story and you want to minimize this by keeping your stories short and concise. Just like Snapchat, the last thing you want to do is watch a short film from someone else’s story. The stories are limited to 15 seconds for a reason, so consider that when posting your content.
Too Much Promotion
Just like any form of social media, avoid too much promotion of your business or brand . If you’ve ever watched Gary Vaynerchuk, you would know that he is all about the jab, jab, right hook. This generally means providing value before hitting your followers with a promotion or call-to-action to do something for you.
Remember… you’re limited to 15 seconds per Instagram story… It’s quite the amount of time, but not enough time to read a J.K. Rowling trilogy, so keep it short! The last thing anyone wants to see is a wall of text on their social timelines, so once again be concise in your wording and make sure your content is attention grabbing and brings some sort of value to the audience.
Irrelevant Hashtags with Instagram Stories
What is a neat feature with Instagram Stories is the ability for you to use hashtags that will help users across the platform discover your content. What you want to avoid is using too many hashtags since this would look very spammy on your story, but you also want to avoid using irrelevant hashtags. Add a few in where it makes sense and make sure it creates some type of value for discovery. We’ve written a full guide on using hashtags for Instagram, many of these principles apply to Instagram Stories.
Great Instagram Story Examples from Brands
Ok now enough of the tactics, it’s time to give you some inspiration to go out there and create great Instagram stories. Here are a few brands that have done just that.
HubSpot is a great example for a company to use the Instagram story as a way to create more engagement between their brand and their audience. For one you have an interesting article being promoted, a call-to-action for a fun way to engage, and finally an incentive for followers to engage.
2. Puma Women
Influencer marketing seems to be all the rage right now in social media marketing. Puma Women uses influencers in their stories to wear their products and they do a great job incorporating the Instagram poll feature. Although they may not be getting a ton of valuable information from this poll, they are still engaging with their audience and they can see who exactly is engaging.
3. Mercedes Benz
A car show? How about a sneak peak? The Mercedes Benz team does a great job giving a behind the scenes look at their car show at the Los Angeles Convention Center. What better way to hype up a crowd of car enthusiasts with some high-quality footage of what they can expect to see. Seeing a car through a photo is one thing, but seeing a car in person is a totally different experience and Mercedes did a good job attracting visitors with these stories.
Additionally, the Mercedes Benz AMG team does a great job showing off their AMG class series to their followers. Here we see the use of influencer marketing with Instagrammer @michelletakeaim to promote the She’s Mercedes campaign. You get to see a slice-of-life approach with Michelle enjoying the car in Beverly Hills. Although these stories are a clear ad for the car brand, they have created compelling content and have clearly shown the ideal lifestyle of a targeted female consumer that would want to be in Michelle’s shoes.
Should you stop posting regularly on Instagram and just post Instagram stories? No.
The Instagram stories are an additional feature that can help you gain a more educated and engaged following. It is a medium that you can use to add call-to-actions and direct your followers to a certain place or it can be used simply to create more awareness around your brand.
Creating an Instagram story doesn’t take much, but creating an engaging story will take a bit more. Remember to not overwhelm your followers and to incorporate strong visuals and graphics to really help your brand stand out from all of the other brands. Remember to use the proper Instagram story dimensions of 1080 x 1920 to hold the quality high and so Instagram doesn’t crop and ruin your visuals.
Be creative, be unique, be personable, and you will have a great amount of success with the Instagram stories!
Have any tips and tricks for creating Instagram stories? What are some brands that have created Instagram stories that you like? Let us know down in the comment section below!