Stories have become as synonymous with Instagram as the term “link in bio.” And their popularity speaks for itself. If you haven’t refreshed your Instagram story ideas in a bit, this is your sign to do so.
Instagram stories are a powerful feature to use to engage with your audience. Unlike in-feed posts, you can post Stories throughout the day to stay top-of-mind for your followers without annoying them.
And more opportunities to post means more opportunities to creatively engage with your audience. It makes sense that over 33% of respondents to our recent Twitter poll said they use Instagram stories over five times a week.
How often do you use Instagram Stories? 🤳
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) October 19, 2022
In this article, we’ll give you 39 engaging Instagram Story ideas to help spark more content ideas, without burning yourself out in the process.
Easily explore all sections here:
39 Instagram story ideas to spark your creativity
When it comes to what kind of Stories you can make, the opportunities are endless. In a recent LinkedIn poll, 52% of respondents said they used Stories to share other content, links and engage with their audience.
The key is to inspire engagement. Just like in-feed posts, engagement matters when it comes to ranking Stories.
Getting your audience to interact with your Story can mean the difference between being featured at the top of your followers’ feed, or being pushed to the back of the line.
There are always tips and tricks you can use to boost engagement, like using stickers (which you’ll see a lot of in this article) and posting up to five times a day. But ultimately, the key is to create content that your audience will want to engage with. Let’s dive into some Story ideas that do this well:
Instagram story ideas for business
Create a “this or that”
These are an easy, interactive way to capture engagement. They keep people tapping to see what others voted for, and what comes next.
Typically, these Stories include a Poll sticker so viewers can vote for “This” or “That.” And with infinite ways to use them, they always feel fresh.
You can even use them for product research. Clothing company Rawson used this format to better understand customer preferences.
Promote a discount with stickers
Stories are one of the best places to promote limited-time discounts. Post about your promotion through the week to keep it top-of-mind.
Pairing that with a link that will take followers directly to your products is even better.
Include a discount code and call to action in your Story, along with a link sticker so that viewers can shop with your code right from your Story. (Including cute animals like Chewy does helps too.)
One step further: Use UTMs codes in your links for your Story stickers to track any sales you make through your Story. This will help you connect your efforts back to business goals, and prove ROI.
Countdown a product launch
Creating a countdown leading up to an upcoming product drop or announcement builds serious hype. And Instagram countdown stickers allow viewers to enable a reminder when the countdown is over so they know when to shop, check back in and more.
Chicago brand Lost Girls Vintage created a countdown to promote their holiday dress shop—especially enticing for a company with exclusive, limited vintage stock where you have to shop fast.
Share your blog or article content
Even if you have a robust link in bio tool, driving people from a post to your profile is an extra step that can cost you a reader.
Use the link sticker we mentioned to link to blog posts, articles, data reports and more from your Story. This also goes for sharing news about your company from other websites and media outlets.
Pet insurance company Figo has a highlight dedicated to Stories with links leading to their blog. This is especially useful for brands who rely on long-form content, like media companies.
One step further: Tease your blog post to peak viewers’ interest. Create a Story that poses an intriguing question. When viewers tap to see more, link them to the blog post to find the answer.
Use stickers to emphasize your content
The term “sticker” can mean a lot of different things on Instagram—from interactive polls, quizzes and questions boxes, to trending holiday stickers.
Here, we’re specifically talking about cute graphic stickers, like the one in Sprout’s Story below. These can be used to add emphasis and create intrigue.
Share a good review of your product
Real customer reviews matter. In fact, 39% of consumers say they like to see customer testimonials or demos from brands.
Sharing reviews in your Stories not only builds trust with potential buyers—it also celebrates your customers who took time to leave a review. And that’s always a win-win.
One step further: Save these in a Story Highlight like Nuuly did so that reviews of your products always live on your profile.
Share your business plans for the day
Sharing your business plans or routine for the day puts your work on display, but can also inspire others to try your time management tips or change how they organize their day.
Similarly, if you or your company are prominent names, Stories like this provide a valuable peek behind the curtain.
This is especially effective for individuals, creators or companies centered around helping professionals. Or, this simply provides a behind the scenes moment.
Create shoppable stories
What better way to use Instagram for business than to make sales from your Stories?
There are two main ways to sell items directly from your Story:
- Use a link sticker: As we mentioned, this will link viewers directly to your website.
- Use a shopping sticker: While a link sticker takes viewers off the platform, shopping stickers allow them to shop directly from Instagram, like Nisolo’s story below. To do this, you’ll need to set up Instagram Shopping.
Behind the scenes
In a digital world that craves authenticity, bringing your audience behind the scenes can make waves.
This is one of the easiest ways to humanize your brand and bring your audience into your day-to-day.
We love this behind the scenes photoshoot by clothing brand Alice and Wonder. Besides taking customers along on the photography journey, this Story highlights upcoming products in a non-promotional way—chef’s kiss.
Introduce your team
People want to see the faces behind a brand. In fact, 76% of engaged social media users say it’s important for companies to post about their employees.
Celebrate and share stories about your company culture with an employee spotlight Story series. These can feature quotes, a casual video series Q&A, employee tips—the options are endless.
Cute Instagram story ideas
Create a game
As we mentioned, the Instagram algorithm prioritizes Stories that are popular, and based on interaction history.
Creating fun games keeps people coming back, and encourages them to interact with your Story. They’re entertained, you rack up engagement—it’s a win-win.
From hook to end, this game by Crumbl Cookies is a strong example. The actual game forces viewers to remain on the screen or tap back for a closer look. And they follow this up with a sticker viewers can tap on to submit their guess (Spoiler: a purple umbrella emoji is in the sprinkles.)
Write a thank you for your followers
Engagements, followers and conversions are more than just metrics—they’re actions taken by fans. Your account and business wouldn’t be where it is without your audience.
When you achieve a new milestone—from hitting a new follower count, to selling out of a product—thank them in your Story like Lost Girls Vintage did here.
Share uplifting or inspiring content
Sharing inspiring Story content creates emotional, uplifting moments. Not to mention, it’s hyper-sharable.
Inspirational content can be as simple as sharing encouraging quotes. But you can also go deeper and share human stories of triumph. This Story from Lurie Children’s hospital features a former patient who grew up to raise money for the hospital.
The power of cute animals cannot be overstated. When I was a social media manager at Shedd Aquarium, nothing said “go viral” like a cute otter or penguin.
Featuring pets adds a cute, attention-getting factor to your Stories. Featuring them consistently for a “Fuzzy Fridays” or “Working Like a Dog Wednesdays” series that will keep audiences coming back? Even better.
One step further: Create an engagement moment and leverage user-generated content by featuring your audiences’ pets in your Story. Figo created an interactive Story template that encouraged fans to share their pets, and info about them.
Throwback Thursdays have been around since the early days of social media. And yet, they’re evergreen.
#TBT Stories give you a regular series to post every week. Here are a few ways to get extra clever with it:
- Show your storefront when you first got it
- Highlight your first office before your business took off
- Share the first version or blueprint of your product
- Showcase your art from a few years ago, vs today
- Share your pet when you first got them, vs now
- Highlight your space—whether that’s your home decor, desk setup or office—a few years ago vs now
- Show early brand content, like throwbacks to your original products or old campaigns and post styles
- If you’ve ever had a viral post, Throwback Thursdays are the perfect time to reshare it and give yourself a boost
Share your outfit of the day
An especially effective type of content for fashion brands, influencers, sports teams (think: fans wearing the latest gear) and universities featuring students showing their school pride.
But this is also an easy way to lean into user-generated content. Share an outfit of the day—or #ootd—from followers and fans who tag you in their posts and Stories. And if that content features your product, remember to use a link or shopping sticker.
Share audience FAQs
Your audience will tell you what kind of content they want—right down to the questions they ask.
When you craft Stories around audience FAQs, you immediately have a foot in the door and provide value by solving their problems and providing answers.
Better yet—save these FAQ Stories in a highlight. Your customer care team and social media team answering the same questions day after day will thank you.
Instagram story question ideas
Ask followers’ their opinion on a topic
One of the best ways to become a truly interactive brand that shows they value their followers is by putting them in the spotlight.
Use a question sticker like Grammarly did below to prompt follower responses. Then, feature their answers (which are kept anonymous). It’s interactive user-generated content—with a twist.
Start an “ask me anything”
An “AMA” is a goldmine for engaging with your audience, and sparking future content ideas.
For example, when I managed social media for Shedd Aquarium, our audience always had questions about the animals, what working at an aquarium was like and more. And responding to their questions with behind the scenes photos or caretakers talking directly to them created surprise and delight moments.
Use the question sticker to gather audience questions. Then reshare them in another Story where you respond to their questions.
Start a poll
Polls allow anyone who answers them to see the poll results…but only after they vote. This leads to more engagement by piquing curiosity.
Your polls can be in-depth with an end goal of gaining audience insights. They can also be used as a quiz: think, selecting “True or False.”
Or, they can just be fun. When Taylor Swift’s album Midnights was released, Alice and Wonder created a poll that tapped into this cultural moment.
Start a prompt
Instagram prompts are essentially a conga line of Stories.
This newer Story feature allows you to set a prompt on your Story, like the one below. Then, everyone who uses your prompt shares a photo, reshares the prompt and in turn inspires their followers to continue the trend.
To start a prompt, start your Story with a photo or video related to the prompt you want to start. Then, select the “Add Yours” sticker, write your prompt and share. You’ll be notified when others add onto your prompt.
Start a quiz
Pop quiz! Did you know Instagram has a quiz sticker?
Quizzes are a fun way to test your audience’s knowledge and engage them. The Instagram quiz sticker makes creating a quiz easy. It even shows the right answer once someone makes their guess.
In this quiz by Unbounce, not only do they follow up their quiz with a call to action—they also have a magazine-style quiz results analysis at the end as a fun extra touch.
Instagram story layout ideas
Share an artistic collage
Think of collages as visual catalogs for your Story. They provide an easy way to feature multiple visuals at once—a great trick for gift guides, lookbooks, mood boards and more.
You can create these in Instagram by using the “Layout” option. This allows you to include up to six images in one Story in a grid pattern.
One step further: To get more creative, use an app like Canva to create custom, more malleable collages that bring your brand to life.
Use a photo editing tool to create a custom layout
Creating custom layouts and templates can bring your Stories to life, and add a little extra branding.
These are especially useful for brand-specific Stories, or series that should all visually tie together, like Adler Planetarium’s “Space News” series.
Work with your design team to create unique-to-you Story templates. Or, try your hand at design by using an app like Canva.
One step further: An added benefit of pre-made Story templates is scheduling them versus adding them manually. Using Sprout Social’s compose tool, schedule Stories and posts ahead to save yourself time.
And with our Canva integration, add images directly from your Canva account.
Layer one photo on top of another
There’s a unique sticker that allows you to post a smaller photo on top of your larger Story background.
Tap this smaller photo to choose from a variety of frame shapes—from circles, to stars and BeReal-esque rectangles.
Create a guide
Creating a guide puts the “story” element in “Instagram Stories.”
Create a step-by-step guide, explainer or list that viewers will want to keep tapping through. Mattress and bedding brand Tuft and Needle has a number of sleep and wellness tips saved in their Story highlights.
One step further: Translate your longer-form content, like blog posts, into a how-to or step-by-step guide Story. This alleviates extra work by repurposing content and drives traffic to your site when you include a link to the full article or landing page.
Cool Instagram story ideas
Walk through how the product is made
Similar to creating behind the scenes Stories, showing your audience how your product is made gives them a peek behind the curtain moment.
Showing how an art piece is painted, how clothing is made, how cakes are decorated and more brings viewers along for the ride and tells more of a story, no pun intended, about your business.
Use emoji sliders
Emoji sliders might be the most “unique to Instagram” stickers available. And while they’re extremely simple, they’re also effective and fun.
These provide an interactive way for users to react to a question you ask or a topic you pose by dragging the emoji up and down a slider. While you can add a question or prompt to your Slider sticker, like Shedd Aquarium does below, you don’t have to.
This sticker suggests 15 default emojis to use, but tapping on the “+” sign at the end of the suggested emojis allows you to choose from all emojis available.
Share a fundraiser
Starting a fundraiser on Instagram allows you to express your brand’s values by raising money for an organization or business you care about. It’s also a great way to get involved on days like Giving Tuesday.
When you create your Story, navigate to stickers and tap the “Donation” sticker. From there, select the organization of your choice. Once you post, you’ll be able to see how much you’ve raised, and who donated.
One step further: If you’re raising money for a small business, add the “Support a Small Business” sticker as well.
Add your meta avatar
Meta Avatars provide a fun, social savvy way to add some emotion to your Stories. And Instagram gives you a new way to use them.
Select the “Add your Meta Avatar” sticker for a full page of reactions and expressions for your Avatar to be making.
Share a trending meme
Where would social media be without memes? In fact, where would any of us be?
Sharing trending memes or your spin on them is always a topical, fun way to rack up engagement.
If your Privacy settings allow your Stories to be shared, this can boost your brand awareness through audience shares.
Show a before and after
Instagram stories are the perfect place for this kind of content. With the tap of a finger, your audience transforms your before into an after image, like magic.
Interior design, art pieces, home rehab, makeup, organization and hair styling are just a few topics that work incredibly well for before and after Stories.
Get creative and bring your audience on a journey with you.
Instagram story birthday ideas
Do a birthday countdown
Whether you have a personal birthday coming up or your brand is celebrating its birthday, your loyal fans will want to celebrate with you. Create some hype.
Use a countdown sticker leading up to your birthday to stir up excitement. Plus, viewers can opt in for a reminder when the timer is complete, which can lead to a boost of engagement on the actual day—happy birthday to you!
Of course, it’s always nice to have an extra incentive at the end of your countdown for your b’day kickoff. Consider a birthday product drop or discount to reward those following along.
Create a digital birthday card
You celebrate your birthday with your friends. Why not invite your followers to do the same on Instagram for your brand?
This tactic is especially effective if that card includes a call to action or benefit. First Sip Coffee created a birthday card Story for their birthday to promote their celebration event to their fans.
Add custom birthday hashtag
Creating a hashtag for your brand enables fans to share their own user-generated content. The same goes for a fun, custom birthday hashtag.
Create a celebratory hashtag. Then, encourage fans to share their content using the hashtag. This is especially useful if you’re throwing an event that you want people to attend and post about.
Add happy birthday music
Thanks to TikTok, adding music to content has taken on a whole new life. Apply this engaging technique to your Stories to add a celebratory mood.
To add birthday music to your Story, head to your stickers and select the Music sticker.
Instagram story selfie ideas
Use a filter promoting a new show or movie
AR is extremely popular with the younger generation. According to Snapchat, 92% of Gen Z want to use AR for more immersive shopping experiences.
Using readily-accessible AR, like filters, is a great way to promote a new show or movie.
This is useful if you’re involved in the media you’re promoting, or if you just want to share an upcoming show or film you think your audience will enjoy.
Selfie with a custom filter for your business
You don’t need to rely on existing Instagram filters and AR effects alone. You can create your own.
Consider creating your own filters for events you throw. Then, encourage attendees to use that filter in their own Stories.
No hands feature to do a dance
Dance trends exist outside of TikTok. But it can be difficult to dance to a song or trending sound on selfie mode, unless someone else is filming.
Luckily, Instagram’s “No Hands” mode lets you film yourself with the front-facing camera that includes a countdown timer before it starts filming.
Create and share your own engaging Instagram story ideas
The list of Instagram story ideas doesn’t end here. There are infinite ways to create engaging, tap-worthy Stories that will boost your engagement and awareness.
The power to build engagement, increase audience interaction and even make sales and prove ROI is there. You just need to use it.
Use this article as your starting point. Then, level up: check out our Instagram marketing strategy article to seamlessly weave your new Story ideas into your marketing plans.