How to Use Instagram Stories: The Complete Tutorial

How to Use Instagram Stories: The Complete Tutorial | Jaimie Myers | Need tips on how to use Instagram and Instagram stories for your creative business? You can create an amazing community with Instagram stories and inject your personality into your social media marketing plan! Click through for the full tutorial or pin for later!

*Scroll down for the full tutorial!*

It's no secret that video content is absolutely killing it right now. Youtube, Periscope, FB Live, Instagram Live, Snapchat, Instagram Stories.. it can be a lot to take in. And video can be a really terrifying thing - I get it. 

But research is showing that an increasing number of consumers prefer video content so ignoring it is becoming less of an option. Luckily, Instagram has given us an easy way to share video without so much pressure. No need for a fancy lighting set-up or a fancy camera. No need to even put on makeup if it's not the day for that.

INSERT INSTAGRAM STORIES. You know, Snapchat's sort-of copycat built right into your other favorite social media platform. 

I am in seriously in love with this little tool. Instagram stories allow you to upload content just 15 seconds at a time. You can upload one or many in a row to create a STORY. So let's get to it! See below for a FULL TUTORIAL and MY BEST TIPS on using Instagram Stories. 

INSTAGRAM STORIES VS. SNAPCHAT

IG Stories are a LOT like Snapchat, yes. A lot of people are wondering which one they should choose and my answer to that is that you should go where your people go. If you get more views and engagement on Snapchat, stay there. But if you have an audience on Instagram, I *highly* recommend you at least give it a try. 

Snapchat has fun filters and that can be a huge draw for a lot of people. Good news! If you really want those filters, you can download your snaps and simply upload them to Instagram. I'll show you how below.

In general, Snapchat tends to lean younger than Instagram, so keep this in mind when choosing your platform. Some people like to use Snapchat for personal conversations and more silliness and use Instagram in a more professional sense. These are decisions that are totally up to you and totally depend on your audience. If all else fails, just ASK them - where do you hang out? They'll let you know. ;)

WHAT TO POST ON INSTAGRAM STORIES

There seems to be a lot of confusion on what you should post on Instagram Stories - I mean really, another place to add content? Here are my rules for posting:

  • Be relevant! For the *most* part, your audience will want to see content that is relevant to what you already post on Instagram. Stick to your niche as much as you can. If you post about social media on Instagram, include tips on social media in your stories too! It's like a little EXTRA for those who choose to watch your stories.
  • But get personal! This is a place for you to talk directly to your audience and share the more casual (less styled) bits of your job with them. This means you don't have to be totally made up and you can share some of the more personal aspects of your life (if you choose). A lot of people who watch you will be admirers who want to be just like you. 
  • Show your face! I highly recommend showing your face here - people are attracted to people - keep it interesting and be true to you. Don't let the perfectionism bug stop you from posting on Instagram Stories. People love the raw aspect of them.
  • Don't be random. If you're going to share on Instagram Stories, try to share a complete story. If you just share one 15-second clip of something really random that isn't relevant to your niche, your audience will be confused and might even mute you. 

OK, ARE YOU READY FOR IT?

THE COMPLETE TUTORIAL ON INSTAGRAM STORIES

Instagram Stories can be found at the top of your feed. They are the circles filled with the profile pictures of everyone you follow. Yours will also be found there in the top left. (If you can't see these, update your app completely).

Stories are found at the top of the screen in the bubbles. People with new stories to watch will have the pink and orange circles around them. 

Stories are found at the top of the screen in the bubbles. People with new stories to watch will have the pink and orange circles around them. 

You can watch others by clicking on their circle at the top. It will cycle through all of the people who have new stories. To SKIP someone's story, simply swipe to the left. To PAUSE a story (in case you need to read, screenshot or do something else), simply hold your finger down on the screen. To MUTE someone's story (meaning you won't see them anymore), hold down on their circle at the top. See below. 

Click mute to unfollow someone's Instagram stories. You will still be following their regular feed. Muted stories will be found at the end of the bar of circles at the top and you can unmute them too. Don't worry Alice, I didn't mute you! :)

Click mute to unfollow someone's Instagram stories. You will still be following their regular feed. Muted stories will be found at the end of the bar of circles at the top and you can unmute them too. Don't worry Alice, I didn't mute you! :)

To add new videos and clips to your Instagram story, simply swipe left or press the little camera icon the upper left corner. You will see a screen like the one below. If you swipe right, you'll see your direct messages. 

From this screen, you have a few choices for how you want to add things to your Instagram story. Simply swipe between them to choose.

LIVE - The live feature means that you will be broadcasting live to your audience. They will get a notification that you are live (turn off live notifications in your push settings in the app). Your live broadcast will only be available during the time that you are live and will not be saved for any period of time or to your camera roll.

NORMAL - The normal feature is how you add video or photos to your story. To add a photo, just click the circle button. To record, you will need to hold down the circle button and it will record 15 seconds at a time. There will be a progress circle around the record circle to let you know how much time you have left. 

BOOMERANG - Boomerang creates a cute little looped video. Experiment to make some fun moving images!

HANDS-FREE - Hands-free is also a video option if you want to prop up your phone to record instead of holding down the record button like in the normal feature. This can be helpful if you want to show yourself working. 

*Fun tip: to zoom while recording, simply keep your finger on the screen and drag it up. Drag back down to zoom back out.*

After you record or take your picture or boomerang, you will get a preview or playback of your content. That screen will look like this.

After you record or take your picture or boomerang, you will get a preview or playback of your content. That screen will look like this.

In the playback screen, you will have some options to make alterations to your content. These options include text, drawing with a thinner pen, thicker pen and a neon pen and adding stickers (these include fun things like geo tags, weather, all your standard emojis and seasonal options).

Here's a photo with a little bit of a smile face decoration. Be creative here! You can make polka dots, drawings, hand-drawn text and more!

Here's a photo with a little bit of a smile face decoration. Be creative here! You can make polka dots, drawings, hand-drawn text and more!

*Fun tip: To get even more color options, simply hold down on the colors and move around a whole spectrum of colors!*

Pick from any color you want for your drawings and additions!

Pick from any color you want for your drawings and additions!

You can also add a few filters with Instagram Stories like a black and white filter, a gradient filter and a few others - not as many or as cool as Snapchat, but can help if you're taking photos in bad or low lighting (which is totally cool on IG Stories). To add a filter, simply swipe right in this phase of editing. 

Smile decoration + filter added.

Smile decoration + filter added.

To create a completely colored background, it's simple! Just take a random photo, choose the draw option, get the biggest brush you can and pick your color. Then start to draw. The color is semi-transparent so you will need to color until it's opaque. This can be a bit finicky if you hit the undo button or grab buttons from elsewhere on your iPhone while you're coloring. If it does this and won't color, just press done, then go back with the same settings and continue on. 

On the way to a colored background that I can add text to!

On the way to a colored background that I can add text to!

And there you go! A completely colored background - add text or stickers! A great way to share links for your audience to screenshot!

And there you go! A completely colored background - add text or stickers! A great way to share links for your audience to screenshot!

You can also TAG PEOPLE in your Instagram Stories - if you wanted to thank someone, give a shoutout or share a source for something, this is a great way to do it. Once tagged, a viewer can click on the tag and head straight to that person's profile and then easily click back to get back to your story. 

In text mode, simply type the @ symbol followed by the person's handle. Instagram helps you out by showing you handles with the letters you've used. 

In text mode, simply type the @ symbol followed by the person's handle. Instagram helps you out by showing you handles with the letters you've used. 

If you have photos, videos or graphics in your camera roll that you want to share in your story, you can! They just have to be taken or saved within the last 24 hours. If they aren't, you can always take a screenshot (edit quickly to remove iPhone headers and footers) and it will now be in your camera roll. To add things from your camera roll, just swipe UP (don't take a video or photo or Boomerang, just swipe up). This is where you could upload things that you have saved from Snapchat!

Easily scroll through your photos from the last 24 hours and choose one to share. You can add decorations to these too!

Easily scroll through your photos from the last 24 hours and choose one to share. You can add decorations to these too!

To POST your awesome new Instagram story, just click the button with a plus sign and Your Story. If you want to send it as a direct (secret) message, click the arrow in the bottom right and choose who you want to send it to. If you'd like to save your story, simply click the save button before adding to your story (don't worry, you can do this later too). You can add several clips or photos in a row to complete the story. 

To see who is watching your stories, go back and watch back your story. You can swipe up while watching to see the number of people who saw each clip. From this screen, check out who is watching your story. This is a great way to detect if you have a lot of spam watching or if they are genuine people. You can also see where people stopped watching if the number drops significantly at a certain point.

Within this screen, you also have options to save your story or portions of it with the down arrow, upload a portion of your story to your Instagram feed with the up arrow or delete a portion with the waste basket.

The settings will also allow you to hide your stories from certain people and choose who can send you direct messages. I recommend keeping these on so people can interact with you!

Check out how your stories are doing in this screen. At the time of this screenshot, I had only just posted this, so I didn't have a lot of viewers yet.

Check out how your stories are doing in this screen. At the time of this screenshot, I had only just posted this, so I didn't have a lot of viewers yet.

Starting conversations with people is so easy with Instagram stories. When watching their stories, send reactions, questions or praise by simply clicking the 'Send a message' text in the lower left. Most people are super gracious and send a reply in return so don't be shy about interacting, even with bigger names or influencers.

Send a message about how yummy this bread looks in the lower left corner.

Send a message about how yummy this bread looks in the lower left corner.

One other way that people might be seeing your stories if they aren't following you is through the Discover feature. If your profile is public, your story might be shown in the search feature of Instagram. Just click the search icon (second from the left on the bottom) and see stories of people you don't follow at the top of the screen. 

Get discovered by new followers in the Discover feature on Instagram!

Get discovered by new followers in the Discover feature on Instagram!

And there it is! The COMPLETE tutorial on how to use Instagram Stories! These are an awesome feature to add to your marketing and social media plan. I have personally made closer and more personal connections with many people and even made affiliate sales through my stories. 

Don't forget to PIN THIS ARTICLE for your reference later!

Sooo, will you try it? Are you already using them? Do you still have questions? Leave them in the comments below!

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