How To Use Instagram Stories: Back to Basics


Since the launch of its ‘stories’ feature, Instagram has become Snapchat’s fiercest competitor. Although Snapchat remains popular among 18 to 24-year olds since launching in 2011, over 200 million people use Instagram stories every day, eclipsing Snapchat’s 160 million users. It’s not that Snapchat’s template has worsened, but rather that Instagram has refined and improved it.

But the feature isn’t just for tech-savvy millennials; stories also provide businesses with another avenue to engage with their followers, deliver insight into their target audience and offer a unique platform to create compelling content.

We’ve put together a basic guide to Instagram stories so you can confidently share your own. First up, head to your account and tap the small blue “+” symbol in the bottom corner of your profile photo, or the camera in the top left-hand corner of the home screen.


Scrolling along the bottom of the landing window lets you to choose the type of Instagram story. Pick from:

  • Normalthe default button. Press to take a photo or hold for video.
  • Boomeranghold down the button and your story will play on a forward/rewind loop.
  • Liveplays for an unlimited amount of time and lets followers tune in as you record.
  • Rewindplays your video in reverse.
  • Stop-motiontakes a series of photographs to create a short frame-by-frame film.
  • Hands-freeallows you to film without holding the video button down.
  • Superzoomfocus on your subject, pick the music and effect by clicking the musical note below the focus box, hold the camera still and press the button for an often comical effect.
  • Typetap to write something, anything, on a colourful background. Change your font by clicking the button centred at the top of the screen.
  • Flashtoggles the flash between off, on and automatic.
  • Night modeautomatically brightens any image that the camera captures.
  • Reverseswaps between rear or front facing cameras.
  • Face filtertap the smiley face with stars (bottom far-right) and choose a filter to put over either your or someone else’s face.

For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be using a simple photo from @serainasilja.

Like Snapchat, Instagram allows you to choose between different filters. With 11 to pick from, it’s easy to customise the colours. Just swipe across your screen to see the different options.

Once you have settled on a filter, there are two ways to write text, either with the pen or type tools. Both are located in the top right of the screen in a variety of colours. To match a colour in your photo, use the eye-dropper tool.

The size of text written in pen can’t be changed,  but you can change change type size by pinching the text with two fingers or using the slider on the left side of the screen.

Remember: short, sharp and quippy is best. Viewers only have seven seconds to take in each frame (15 seconds if it’s a video) so it’s important to communicate efficiently.

To change fonts, just tap CLASSIC at the top of the screen to explore the five options available. Tap the top left icon to change the text alignment.

The most effective way to convey what your brand stands for is to show off your brand personality.

Instagram makes it easy to tailor stories with an extensive collection of stickers, icons and features. For brands with a HQ or retail stores, geotags help direct customers to their nearest outlet. Upon tapping the location icon, a series of options pop up – just enter your desired location in the search bar.

To delete a sticker, hold down on the unwanted icon, and drag and drop it into the bin that appears at the bottom of your screen.

If you like to be organised, create your story before you need to post it and click the small arrow at the top to save your masterpiece to your phone. But a warning: if you have added an interactive sticker such as a poll or a geotag, it will not by hyperlinked when retrieved from the camera roll and you’ll need to redo it over the top of your story frame prior to publishing.

Happy with your story? Tap your personal icon in the bottom left corner to publish. Alternatively, you can choose to only share it with your Close Friends list or use the Send to > option to direct it to specific people.

Like Snapchat, Instagram stories were initially viewable for only 24 hours, but Instagram highlights allow users to permanently add stories to their profiles and can be used to showcase different products, lifestyle categories and events. Stay tuned for another post on/Click through to see how to use Instagram stories.

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