Stories are an Instagram features for business and a great way to connect with your target audience. Make sure you’re up to date on best practices by checking out this guide to the best Story features.

Instagram Stories allow users and brands to interact with their followers in real-time. These frequent updates give businesses an easy way to remain more “top of mind” to their consumers and fans.

With over 500 million active daily stories users, 70% of whom watch Stories daily, this Instagram feature gives you opportunities to boost engagement and visibility while growing your business. And because only 36% of businesses use Stories to promote their products and services, this Instagram feature presents a tremendous opportunity to establish a competitive advantage. Stories also allow you to build and strengthen meaningful connections with your audience. Because responses appear in your inbox, it’s easier to start conversations and build rapport with current and prospective customers. 

Instagram Stories have lots of great built-in features that can enhance the look and feel of your posts. You can then  drive more traffic to your profile, your website, and your business. To increase brand awareness and audience growth, follow along to learn about all the best Instagram Story features for businesses. 

Sneakers in neon pastels with an Instagram Stories overlay
License this image via Kucher Serhii.

What Are Instagram Stories? Why Are They So Great for Business Accounts?

Stories are short-format Instagram contents that blend images, text, video, and a variety of interactive features. They can last up to 60 seconds long. Although you can create as many stories as you want, keeping the number of slides to a minimum helps you get the most eyes on whatever you’re sharing. They’re only available for 24 hours, so your audience knows that any story you’re sharing is current.

How Businesses Use Stories

Regardless of whether you use photos, videos, or a combination thereof, Stories are ideal for: 

  • Communicating pithy updates 
  • Dropping sneak peeks of products
  • Sharing fan posts
  • Giving inside perspectives or “a day in the life” to build engagement

There are so many different ways to use stories at your fingertips. Let’s explore how you can expertly use one of Instagram’s best features for business to stand out.

Try out these templates and many more.

Instagram Story Templates for Business

Many business owners are pulled in too many directions. The very idea of creating aesthetically-pleasing Instagram stories content can feel daunting. Luckily, there are several creative apps that you can use to simplify the process and help you make killer, on-brand designs.

Apps like Shutterstock Create provide users with curated templates that can be easily customized to fit any brand’s voice and look. In fact, Create has a template library with more than 90 perfectly-sized 1080px by 1920px options (and growing) for stories you can use to shortcut the design process. With a small time investment, you can make any template feel like your own. Just add your brand colors and fonts. These seemingly small additions signal to your target audience that your company’s Instagram content aligns with your overall digital strategy and voice.


Adding GIFs and stickers to Instagram stories has become one of the community’s favorite features. GIFs provide an easy way to make relatable and culturally relevant content. Plus, they inject a bit of fun into any story. You can add simple animations to embellish the Story, like moving arrows around the customary “Swipe up” CTA. And you can create custom branded GIFs as well, like the Shutterstock logo GIF below, to easily brand your stories.

Image via Shutterstock’s Instagram.

Hashtags and Tags

One of the most valuable Instagram story “hacks” businesses can use for increasing their content reach is using hashtags and mentioning other accounts in Stories.

Adding hashtags to your Story makes it easier to discover. Above, you’ll see that we used descriptive hashtags, but also the popular #picoftheday. The algorithm helps get this kind of content in front of our fans as well as people who are interested in content related to waves, Wales, or lighthouses.

Additionally, mentioning another account in your Instagram Story automatically sends your story into the inbox of the other account tagged. From there, the account mentioned can choose to repost the Story to their account. 

Tagging another brand is fantastic when you’re re-sharing their content or collaborating with them. This way, they’re aware when your tagged Story goes live.

Ever wanted to add a hashtag or mention a brand in your story but don’t want to ruin the story’s aesthetic? Here’s a hack: type out a hashtag or mention. Then, use the eyedropper tool to select an exact color from your story. The hashtag or mention will appear invisible to story viewers and blend seamlessly into the image, but you’ll still reap the benefits of it on your end. Alternatively, if you’re using several layers, you can add a layer like a gif, text with a solid background, or even another image to cover up the tag.

Instagram story ideas for business: stickers and interactive audiences
License this image via Vectores de Lia.

Stickers and Interactive Features

Stickers allow you to interact with your audience in a variety of different ways. For example, you can ask a question and receive responses. Post a poll to gather opinions. Or, start a countdown to a launch.

For businesses, stickers are more than just a creative way to spice up your Stories. They allow you to collect valuable information from your customers. In turn, this helps your audience feel closer and more connected to your business. Additionally, sticker features can help to re-engage your audience. They give customers a way to feel like they are being heard and that their opinion matters. Since Instagram’s algorithm collects information based on interactions, adding stickers can increase your ranking in your followers’ feeds.

Instagram Highlights

Generally speaking, Stories only last 24 hours. However, Instagram allows you to lengthen this time if you add Stories to a Highlight.

Highlights appear on your main profile, just beneath the follow button. These small round circles allow you to name a story category and share them indefinitely with your audience. If you share multiple views or Stories related to a specific product or service, Highlights give you a way to preserve your short-lived content as long as you wish.

To save a Story to Highlights, choose the “Add to highlights” option after posting a story. Alternatively, once a Story goes live, tap the “highlight” button at its bottom corner.

As for creating the Highlights themselves, go to your main profile, tap new, and you can look back at your archive and select a Story. The first story you select will be the cover image for this category of highlights. However, you can change that image at any time. Select an image from one of your Stories or upload branded images so that your Highlights feel on-brand with the rest of your Instagram profile.

Create offers dozens of Highlight templates. They range from simple illustrations on a plain background to more complex images. They all have editable text and colors, so you can customize your highlight covers to fit your brand. This post offers a detailed step-by-step tutorial for creating custom highlights.

Instagram profile template for businesses
License this image via SaqibUX.

How to Use Instagram Features to Post Stories

You must be on a mobile device to use this feature. Creating Instagram Stories can be as easy as opening your Instagram app, choosing or snapping a photo, and sharing it with your audience using the following steps:

  1. Tap the + sign at the bottom of your main feed screen, or the top right corner of your profile screen.
  2. Move the slider to “Story.” 
  3. Tap the capture button to snap a photo, hold it down to select a video, or click the gallery icon on the bottom left to select an existing image or video file. Alternatively, you can choose a plain background color and then use the customization options to build your Story.
  4. Tap the icons at the top of the screen to add style to your Story.
    • The button that looks like a portrait allows you to brand content for paid partnerships.
    • The Aa button allows you to add text and customize the look and feel to add context to your Story.
    • The sticker button allows you to add a host of options including Location and Mention tags, polls and questions, countdowns, time stamps, and thousands of GIFs. If you have a video, you can add captions to it. If promoting a specific product, you can select the link option. 
    • The stars icon allows you to add a variety of different image filters.
    • The … icon lets you add drawings to your Story or save it.
  5. Once your Story is perfect, it’s time to share! Tap the arrow at the bottom right to share with your audience. 
  6. If you want to also share with your Facebook profile, you can do so at this stage as well!

Overwhelmed by doing this every single time? You can use a tool like Create to add vibrant, engaging features and backgrounds to your Stories in just a few minutes.

Final Thoughts on Instagram Stories for Business

Stories remain among the most powerful of all Instagram features because of their versatility and ability to drive engagement with users. While particularly relevant for Millennials and Gen Z, millions of people of all ages consume Instagram content on a daily basis. 

Whether you’re new to Instagram Stories, are here to learn the best practices, or want to make the most of the latest features, be sure to tag us @shutterstock in your next Story to share what you’ve learned. We’d love to cheer you on!

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License this cover image via ViDI Studio, Shalstock, Garno Studio, and Kite-Kit.

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