How to Use Instagram Stories

You may not be happy that Instagram copied Snapchat by introducing Stories, the ability to create a photo/video story of the past 24 hours of your life. Perhaps you like Snapchat, but you struggle to get discovered and grow your audience. Maybe you’re not be using Snapchat at all. Whichever of these applies to you (and even if none of them do), Instagram stories are here and people are going to use them. Within a day of release, social savvy celebs are using them to talk to their fans. Joe Wicks (@thebodycoach) said, almost immediately, that he’s spent months trying to build a following on Snapchat, but his audience is already on Instagram, so Instagram is where he’ll put his story.

I’m a huge fan of going where your ideal audience is. If you already have a good Instagram following, you must use stories. Early adopters will get more attention. So, with that in mind, here’s my guide on how to use Instagram stories.


Instagram stories appear at the very top of your feed. Stories with the latest posts appear on the left, users then scroll to see the list of stories available to watch. You want to be as close to the left as you can, so regular posting benefits you. As time goes on, this will get more competitive, and expect algorithms to dictate the order sometime soon. Get into it now, and you’ve got a better chance to win at this (IMHO).

To watch a story, just tap on it. Then tap the screen to whizz through the boring content. To add to your own story, tap the icon at the top left of the screen. You’ll see a fairly familiar screen where you can take a photo or video.

Tap the button at the bottom centre of the screen to take a photo, or hold it down to start recording a video. Note, you can only record a maximum of 10 seconds. Once you’re happy, just tap the checkmark/tick and, voila, you’ve added to your story.


To add some text to your image or video, tap the Aa button in the top right of the screen. Then type your text as you want it to appear. When you’ve finished typing, you can resize using a pinching movement, and drag it to where you want it to display.


Doodling and adding some hand-drawn pictures are great ways to express your personality (although not very Instagram). Tap on the drawing icon on the top right of the screen and choose your weapon. Then start drawing. You can change the pen colour by selecting it at the bottom of the screen. There are more colours if you scroll right.

Use a highlighter to make larger marks — this is really good to create surrounds, or to fill in (just don’t go over the lines, OK?) Combine both pen and text to create amazing images.

Neon pens are awesome and really stand out. Get all groovy and give it a go.


Instagram wouldn’t be Instagram without a filter or two. Like Snapchat, there are several that you can add to your picture or video. Just swipe right or left after you’ve composed your shot and see the filter applied.


How do you know what sort of content in your story resonates with your audience? You might think pouty shots like mine go down a storm, but how can you find out? Fortunately, when you watch your own story, Instagram will tell you who has watched your story, by post. See how many people have watched each post. Swipe through the posts and compare who has watched each post. You’ll be able to see who drops off and when — perhaps that last post was a bit of a turn off.

If you want to save your story for posterity, you can download your story. Really like a post and want to post it to your Instagram feed? Just tap the upload/share button. And of course, if you hate something, you can just remove it — save the embarrassment.


There are a couple of story settings to know about. You can hide your story from certain people and restrict who can reply to your story (you know, to stop weirdos if you need to).

I hope you find this guide helpful. There are bound to be developments in the pipeline that will change Instagram stories, but whilst we wait, get going and give them a whirl. I’d love to know how you get on. Put your Instagram username in the comments below and I’ll follow you and check yours out!

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