9 creative ways to use Instagram Stories

Find inspiration from the likes of NASA, Huffington Post, GoPro and more.

People watch 10 billion videos on Snapchat every day.

The same potential consumption (maybe more) exists for Instagram Stories, an Instagram feature in which videos and photos disappear after 24 hours. The tool is similar to Snapchat, but Instagram has more users.

Storytelling has always been key to marketing, and features such as Instagram Stories empower marketers to tell better and deeper stories about their brands.

I’ve discovered creative ways that brand managers are using Instagram Stories. Most don’t require a huge budget or significant resources, so consider adopting some of these for your organization:


Instagram provides a public, viewable profile for your main content. On no other social network can you provide supplemental information about the posts themselves. This makes NASA’s use of Stories innovative.

Recently, NASA posted about the annual Perseid meteor shower, using Stories to share information about the meteor shower by talking to research scientists and showing the equipment they use.


After you select a photo to share on Instagram, snap a couple of extra images that depict what’s happening behind the scenes. This can be as easy as:

  • Sharing outtakes
  • Snapping a photo with the team that helped you create the primary image
  • Zooming out and photographing the primary image’s setup

2. Loft

This women’s clothing brand, invited two best friends to participate in a style challenge, which the company shared as a Story. The challenge was for each friend to find something in the Loft store for her pal that she didn’t think she could wear.

The brand encouraged followers to engage with posts by asking them to tag their friends.


Come up with events in which your online community can participate. Possibilities include:

1. Challenges like Loft’s

2. Company retreats

3. Meetups, conferences or roadshows

You can also organize games featuring your product or service, and your online community could leave a comment on a recent Instagram post or share a hashtagged photo.

3. Huffington Post

With the help of Instagram Stories’ text and drawing functionality, Huffington Post has been creating photo summaries of recent news, enabling followers to consume fun, visual content.


Turn a blog post into a photo story. Drawing with the three marker options will bring more personality to your story.

4. TechCrunch

TechCrunch has been using Instagram Stories to share headlines and text summaries of breaking news.


If you publish a lot of content regularly (as a news or media agency does), summarize articles with a headline and tagline. If the news is likely to be shared, add your logo to spread brand awareness.

5. Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk has been using Instagram Stories to promote his DailyVee videos, share glimpses into his daily life and connect with his followers.

In a recent Story, he mentioned that his followers wanted more wallpapers on his Stories. So, he made more.


Try some of these tactics from Vaynerchuk:

  • If video is part of your marketing strategy, create a version of a video for mobile’s vertical screen, or simply add borders at the top and bottom of the video.
  • If you use Instagram to drive traffic to your blog, YouTube channel or other content source, create promotional images and link to the content in your bio.
  • If you create images for social media posts, make additional images for the vertical screen (or reuse the photo you created for Pinterest).
  • Use Instagram Stories to research and interact with your community. Discover what types of content they want and how you can provide it.

6. Chris Burkard

Chris Burkard is a photographer with almost 2 million Instagram followers. He has been using Instagram Stories to take his followers along on his adventures.


Not every business can share such thrilling content, but your followers might still be interested in what your organization does every day. Share brainstorming sessions, team lunches, company games and more.

7. New York University

New York University has an engaged Instagram following. Each post has thousands of “likes” and 10-20 comments. Through its posts, the university takes its followers on tours of its campus and city.


This is a great tactic if you work for a tourist attraction, a school or even a retail store with a great physical space.

Snap photos of interesting sights or locations to share with your followers. These raw snaps will give your followers a better sense of the area and could inspire them to visit.

8. GoPro

When Instagram Stories launched, GoPro jumped on the opportunity to share footage taken with-you guessed it-GoPro.

Recently, while making a GoPro family member’s dream of seeing the aurora australis come true, GoPro shared the adventure with its Instagram followers:


If it doesn’t make sense for your organization to share thrilling, breathtaking videos of the outdoors, focus on promoting a hashtag. Although GoPro’s Instagram is amazing enough, it’s also part of the company’s #DreamReal campaign, which fulfills social media advocates’ dreams.

You can also use Instagram Stories to promote your company’s hashtag. Share photos of happy giveaway winners or your prizes to attract more people to participate in the future.

9. When I Work

When I Work is an employee-scheduling software company with more than 15,000 customers worldwide. Some When I Work employees recently visited Canadian customers and featured a few in the organization’s Instagram Stories.


If possible, visit your customers and give them a shout-out. This will show your followers who uses your product and will engage potential and current customers alike.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Buffer blog.


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