The following article is converted from a presentation Rodney has given at our monthly Buzzed Words social on March 19, 2019. 

Instagram Stories are the perfect posting format for social media engagement. Unlike in the Facebook and Instagram feeds, they appear chronologically so your followers are guaranteed to see them. The use of Stickers, such as polls or questions, are easy ways to engage your followers and collect consumer insights.

Add Stories to your social media strategy if you haven’t yet and be sure to include some of the tips below. It’ll make your competitor’s Stories look like they were created by their grandma.

Find Your Voice

The first step to any good content strategy is to have your company mission, vision, values and voice detailed and documented. It is a crucial step that the majority of businesses neglect. This simple but invaluable document will already put you ahead of your competitors.

But this blog isn’t about that. If you want to learn more, check out How to Create a Killer Content Style Guide.

Now onto the fun stuff.

Customize Your Colors

The font and marker colors leave much to be desired. Did you know these are endlessly customizable? Any color on the spectrum is literally at your fingertips and you didn’t know it this entire time.

To open the entire color spectrum:

  1. Type out what you’d like on the image then open the color tool.
  2. Tap and hold any of the colors along the bottom.
  3. Drag your finger until you find the color you want.
  4. Release and revel in your skills.

You can also use the eyedropper tool to customize your colors to match the Story image or video.

  1. Select the text or marker tools.
  2. Tap and hold the eyedropper option to the left of color selections.
  3. Drag your finger anywhere over your image. You’ll see the colors change to match that part of the image or video.
  4. Release and get typing.

You’ll also notice in the example above that you can add variance to your text by creating tiles. Choose a font that allows background highlighting and creates single letter tiles of varying colors.

Create Solid Color Background

Instagram provides a text-only option in Stories but the customization is super limited. Creating your own solid color background removes these limitations and opens up a number of possibilities.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Take a photo. The subject does not matter.
  2. Open the marker tool and select the color you want to use.
  3. Tap and hold anywhere on the photo.
  4. Crush the game.

Magic Eraser

With your newly found ability to create solid color backgrounds, take it even further with this cool magic eraser option.

  1. Choose your desired background image. This one will matter for the final product.
  2. Create the solid background in whatever color you want.
  3. Open the marker tool and select the eraser option.
  4. Write your message like magic.

Rainbow Text

This tip is one of my absolute favorites because it is unintuitive that it’s impossible to have figured out on your own. It creates a gradient on your text of the colors of your choosing. It’s not the easiest trick to pull off but once you practice a bit you should be able to nail it.

  1. Type out your text and then highlight it by tapping it when it is in edit mode and choose “Select all”.
  2. Pull up the color spectrum option detailed above.
  3. Put your left thumb on the end of the highlighted text and your right thumb at the same end of the color spectrum.
  4. At the same time, drug your fingers so that you’re simultaneously un-highlighting the text and moving left on the color spectrum. Release when you reach the end.
  5. Slay.


This tip is handy when you’re creating sequential posts that lead one into another, such as creating a tutorial with multiple steps. It used to be that you would have to start with the last Story in the sequence first, post it then hurriedly move onto the next one so you can get the full sequence up before your followers saw it.

Instagram implemented the multi-post option to avoid this headache.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Open your photo album.
  2. Tap the “Select Multiple” option at the top right.
  3. Choose your photos in the order you want them to post. They are numbered, making it super convenient.
  4. Preview and post

Create a Photo Collage

This allows you to add layers of photos on top of one another to create one of those collages you used to make in middle school with Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Devon Sawa and Brad Renfro (RIP).

Like most of the other tricks in this list, it’s easy to do.

  1. Go into Story mode and make a solid color background.
  2. Exit Instagram and go to your photo album app.
  3. Copy the image and re-open Instagram.
  4. There will now be an option to “Add Sticker.” Click it and position accordingly.
  5. Repeat until you get the perfect placement.
  6. Bask in 90s glory.

Click to Post

This feature is especially useful for announcing new team members or the release of a new product. It embeds an existing Instagram post into your Story, allowing users to click through to view the post in your Feed.

Many brands have been struggling to remain visible since Instagram switched from a linear timeline to the Facebook method of organizing your feed according to people and pages you engage with most often.

Because Stories remain linear, this strategy is a way to remain in front of your audience and get your new posts seen.

  1. Navigate to the post in your profile and tap the paper airplane below it.
  2. Add the post to your Story.
  3. Tap it to choose from a ofcouple different styles.
  4. Obscure the subject of the image and add your text.
  5. Remain relevant.

Step 4 is especially important if you want to greatly increase tap-throughs. Obscuring the subject of the image will result in major FOMO and they won’t be able to stop themselves.

Use Gifs as Stories

This is different from using gifs you can find in the Stickers section of your Story. It enables you to use a gif as the main subject of your Story as opposed to a fun element.

You’ll first need to download the Giphy app on your phone if you don’t have it yet.

  1. Open the Giphy app and search for a gif to use.
  2. Tap on the paper airplane and a number of icons will appear. Choose Instagram.
  3. Your Instagram app will open. Tap on Story.
  4. Add some snarky text and post that sucka.

Branded Gifs

Ever use a gif Sticker in your post of Colton from ABC’s the Bachelor? Yeah, me neither. Anyway.

It’s not like those gifs just appeared as options out of the blue. ABC placed them there to promote the show. This option is available to all brands, maybe even yours!

The downside is that you have to apply to get a Giphy for Brands account, which means it’s a lot more likely a major brand will get approved and less likely that yours will. Don’t give up hope! It’s not impossible.

Giphy provides this helpful page of requirements and tips that will make it more likely you’ll get approved. If you make it through the process, you’re on your way to the Insta top!

Will you accept this rose?

Use External Apps to Up Your Game

There are plenty of third-party apps that edit, crop and generally beautify your Instagram Stories. Instagram has made a few themselves with Boomerang, Hyperlapse and Layout but there is so much more out there.

Apps like Over, Canva and Adobe Spark Post provide a number of free and paid templates for your Stories. This will unify the look and feel of your posts or be used to differentiate between various categories of posts.

Hype Type and Font Candy give you so many more text customizations than those native to Instagram. There are even some apps whose sole purpose is to format photos into 9:16—the aspect ratio of Stories—without having to crop the image.

There’s a vast world of these types of apps out there so get searching.

Now take these tips and tricks and start blowing away your followers with your newfound Insta skills!

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