In 2021, Instagram said that there are over 500 million users who viewed Stories.
Since 2016, the Stories function alone has made Instagram more popular than other Story platforms including Snapchat, TikTok, and its owner’s platform: Facebook Stories.
Even when you’ve already utilized a handful of branded Stories, you probably need to up your game by creating them even more engaging. After all, Stories could bring great benefits related to engagement, brand awareness, and even conversions.
Here, we will highlight what users mentioned about their favorite Instagram Story formats to inspire your next strategies.
Instagram Story Formats Users Are Actually Watching
We look thru a 350 people survey utilizing Lucid software to know about their favorite Instagram Story formats, sound preferences, and more.
The quick results are Stories centered around Quiz or Poll stickers were one of the most popular formats with 15% of the votes. Nevertheless, 35% of users prefer short narratives with a mix of images, video, and text.
Data Source: Lucid Software
Short Narrative Stories
This type of format is articles translated for a more visual audience. They depend on brief paragraphs and bullet points of a text, accompanied by related visuals, to show a story in a few cohesive short slides. Harvard Business Review story is a great example of a swipe-up short story:
This story is a good way to drive more eyes to your blog content without asking users to leave the Instagram app.
Aside from informing your users of a topic related to your industry, you might also take out a page from HBR’s book by utilizing Stories as a traffic generator. In the example, HBR — which has a verified account — has adapted a long-form article into a Short Story and included the complete post at the end as a swipe-up link.
Quiz or Poll-Centered Stories
Another strong Instagram Story format is using Quiz or Poll stickers. Essentially, these Stories feel like they’re just made to quiz the viewer by including the Quiz sticker on most pages, or brands could leverage Stories with polls primarily on each page to get their viewers’ insights on a topic.
These Stories are entertaining to users since it permits them to test themselves and find out about a new topic interactively, or vote in a poll and find what other users think about a topic or theme. Let’s see an example from HubSpot which centered around a Poll-styled quiz and unlocked the answers at the end.
While you could also add an actual Quiz sticker, which will instantly inform viewers of quiz questions, HubSpot’s strategy additionally works as it lets users get a glimpse at what others guessed and see a rundown of the actual answers at the last story. This may keep users engaged, entertained, and in the Story for longer if they know that there will be a payoff in the end.
While fewer people voted for Stories centered around Question stickers, this sticker may still be an ideal function to experiment with as it could allow you to interact with and learn more about your followers in a more open-ended way that Polls.
Just look at another HubSpot Story here:
Through open-ended questions seem like a good way to find out about your users, remember that viewers might want to take time to fill out answers rather than simply tapping on a Poll or Quiz sticker.
Demos and Tutorials
Brands could also create tutorials and demos stories, which were the fifth most Instagram Story formats. This tactic may be particularly useful when you’re excited about eCommerce or purchase-related conversions as a growing number of users prefer to know more about products thru video. Here is an instance from Kylie Cosmetics, where CEO Kylie Jenner puts on a new lip liner from her brand.
Instagram Story formats that are demos or tutorials might be advantageous to brands because it lets them express how their services or products work. Moreover, when you own over 10k followers or are verified, you can link these Stories to your eCommerce site or a buying page for the products shown. This way, if a user is attracted by a tutorial or demo, they’ll easily swipe up to buy the product.
A Mix of Content
Because many people prefer a mix of multiple elements in Instagram Stories, remember to add a bit of variation to your content campaign. For instance, brainstorm ways to add interactive functions like Quiz or Poll stickers to narratives, tutorials, or other kinds of Story content. This may add an extra layer of engaging content to a Story that may already be fascinating to users.
Look at the Story from Starbucks as an example of this format. They mix in storytelling and interactive stickers to announce the return of a popular seasonal beverage:
Though buyer testimonials aren’t as fascinating to consumers, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore this strategy. The truth is, they’re still a generally used tactic in many brands and companies, regardless of consumer preferences. For instance, Planet Fitness has built its strategy around testimonials:
In the above scenario, the testimonial strategy works for Planet Fitness since it helps gym prospects feel less intimidated and more inspired to take on physical fitness after seeing customers’ success stories.
Like narrative-style Instagram content, mini-documentaries inform journalistic stories which are barely more complex and primarily centered on video — like a documentary that you tap on.
These are often higher-quality and incredibly informative, so they’re more prominently utilized by publishers like National Geographic. Here is just the start of a long documentary-styled Story where NatGeo visits NASA’s offices to uncover facts about the first moon landing:
When you are a small to medium-sized company that is just ramping up your Instagram strategy, you may need to stick to a short narrative Story, like the ones noted at the beginning of this post. These will let you similarly show a mix of videos, images, and text without as much production effort and time. But when you’re a content creator or feel like covering an event or newsworthy topic in your industry may increase brand awareness, you may want to experiment with this longer-form, in-depth visual storytelling style.