10 imaginative content ideas for Instagram Stories


With the arrival of Instagram Stories on Wednesday morning, along came numerous feelings.  A little shocked, annoyed, excited. Shocked, because Instagram just robbed Snapchat in blind daylight and didn't look back. It's got a 24 hour limit. They even called it STORIES. Annoyed, because, great, something ELSE TO DO. Another platform to create content for, to be present on.

When I first saw IG had launched this, I felt all the above, but once I had looked through a few stories by creatives, freelancers, small business owners, it soon turned to excitement. This could be a cool way of gaining more of a presence for your brand, showing the person behind it, and in turn, getting more engagement and interaction.

We're in the early days of Stories, so it's completely understandable that people are currently testing and trying it out; Getting used to talking on video, introducing themselves. But, I think we could kick it up a notch, so here are some ideas for content for your small business on Stories.

1. Introduce yourself via video, in a friendly, authentic way, not like a '1 minute pitch'. You don't have to be a vlogger to do this. We've come to see the real you, so embrace your awkward camera ways! If you are feeling unconfident, the one thing I've found is don't do lots of different takes because you'll be over-thinking your appearance and portrayal to viewers. Just click the tick when you've said what you wanted to say.

2. Show behind-the-scenes if you don't already. Your desk, your workshop, your studio, even if it just your kitchen table. The one thing I will say is that Stories has definitely motivated me to keep the house, and myself, somewhat presentable! Introduce your team, even your dog (yep, NOTHING will stop me posting videos of Barney. Sorry. He's hilarious).

3. Be creative with video. If you're a snapchat user, you can still use their video effects such as slow motion, fast forward and rewind (that's just Instagram pushing the knife in further, right?) Just shoot the video through Snapchat, apply your preferred effect and then save to Memories (making sure your settings are correctly saving to your Camera Roll). Go back to Instagram, head to 'add to your story' and then swipe down and select the clip from the top header. 

4. Image sequences of a new product design. Sure, you could just video yourself painting a new portrait, or weaving a new blanket, but how about doing something different and recording a stop motion or time lapse? To have more control, take the series of photos out of Instagram, using live burst (if you're an iPhone, if not just a rapid series of shots), making sure not to move position, and then go to 'add to your story', swipe down and select them all individually from the top bar (make sure they're in order!). One user who is superb at stop motion (and videos in general) is Xanthe Berkeley. 

5. Record a quick breakdown of your newest blog post. Bring your writing to life, and bring more traffic to your blog by announcing new posts through Stories. Explain what it's about, what they'll get from it, and then put the direct link in your bio or use a Bit.ly link in the text box of the video.

6. Show sneak peeks. I'm a huge sneaky peek-er (just made that up !?). As I'm currently in the midst of relaunching One Girl Band, meaning that the site is down, I've been showing some brief snaps of one or two pages, just to keep viewers on their toes and wondering what's going on. Show a peek of a new product that will be launching soon, or some behind-the-scenes action of your new lookbook. 

7. Do a tour of your town. I love seeing where people live as it gives you access to where they spend their time, meaning you see more of their 'real life' and in turn, get to know them and trust them more (which we all know is key in bringing buying customers in). So take us on a tour of some cool places in your town or village. 

8. Use colour, pattern and textures with the Pen options. You don't have to just take photos and videos. Maybe write little affirmations with the pens throughout the day? Or draw/colour in the negative space of certain shots? Be creative, but stay on brand. Use your brand colours!

9. Take us with you on trips to your supplier, to speaking events, to trade shows, to photoshoots. Viewers love to see that depth of personality, and it all adds to your brand's positioning value when you show where your materials are coming from, or how you've decorated your stall at a show.

10. Announce new products in a creative way. Show your customers your products in a way they wouldn't have seen before (and won't see unless they buy!). For example, if you sell succulent planters, how do they look styled in the bathroom? Or what does the underside look like? If you sell branding services, you could show a previous client's business card. What's the texture of the card like? How does the gold foil shine? Think about the little details and nuances of your work, and think how you can show your customers these and give them another reason to love it.

Things to keep in mind with Stories.

  • Quality over quantity. Especially as everyone and their mum seems to be uploading at the moment, don't go too crazy within the 24 hour limit. I'd say a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 10. Keep the quality high and then the quantity won't matter.
  • I'm not here to tell you not to take selfies. I'm not that kind of girl. If your brand is you, then go for it. Just try not to over do it, and make sure they have some relevance to your brand and vision.
  • Stick to usual social media etiquette. Don't rant, be kind to others and make sure to engage with other users too! Comment on content that you love. 
  • Think before you post. 1. How does this help my customers/followers? 2. How does it help my business? Why are 1 and 2 true?
  • Keep your brand and vision clear. Don't confuse your viewers with a rainbow filter if you usually post neutral hued shots. 

Remember, this feature is new so it's bound to change soon! I think we all know by now that things don't stay the same for long in the digital marketing world. So take it all with a pinch of salt, but do think carefully about how you present your brand on Stories. It's a superb interaction tool and your engagement is going to be incredibly boosted if you have some great content on there.