Instagram Stories Content Plan
Want to do more with Instagram Stories? Looking for a useful guide to help plan your Instagram stories?
In this article, you’ll learn how to plan, create, optimize, and schedule Instagram Stories content for your business.
#1: Establish a Theme and Style for Your Instagram Stories Content
As with most of your online marketing efforts, your Instagram stories should have a cohesive style that makes them uniquely yours. The content is visual and fast-moving so it should both appeal to your audience and reflect your branding and style.
When creating your Instagram stories, you’ll want to think about:
- Font choice
- Font or doodle color choice
For my Instagram stories, I almost always use the girly, cursive Neon font. And I incorporate a lot of pink into my text color, images, and backgrounds. I’m also partial to the Buenos Aires and Oslo Stories filters. This keeps my stories consistent and recognizable regardless if they’re text-, photo-, or video-based.
Think about which colors are most associated with your brand. Consider using these colors as your fonts, text boxes, or background colors.
You also want to consider your brand’s personality. Are you more feminine? Certain colors, fonts, and filters are better suited to that style. If your brand is about strength and power, selecting Classic or Strong fonts may be a better fit for you. A brand that’s classic or vintage, or perhaps even literary, might love the Typewriter font. Pick the one that best aligns with your brand’s personality and make that your prominent font choice for consistency.
In addition to creating your own stories, if someone tags you in a story, you have the option to share that post to your story sequence, too. In keeping with your brand style, however, consider adding your own flair to the reshare, using your font choices or filters. Or if you have a good selection of tagged stories to choose from, select ones that align best with your brand style and personality.
#2: Plan Your Instagram Story Content
Now that you know how your content should look and feel, you’re ready to start planning out content ideas for your stories! It’s important to understand your goal for using Instagram Stories first.
- Are you looking to generate sales?
- Are you planning to generate brand awareness?
- Are you focused on growing your followers or generating more engagement?
Knowing why you’re using Instagram, and specifically Instagram Stories, will ensure you create content that better serves those goals.
For example, including a call to action (CTA) in a story sequence can be a powerful way to generate results; however, it’s important to know what CTA to use. A brand growing sales is going to focus more on CTAs that encourage purchases. On the other hand, a brand focused on brand awareness might use a CTA that drives traffic to an IGTV tutorial video.
Tip: Don’t always leave your CTA to the last post in the sequence. If you’re using a six-post sequence, for instance, insert the CTA in the fourth or fifth post. Retention drops off the longer your story goes on and leaving your CTA to the very end means fewer people will see it.
Determine Instagram Story Post Frequency
Instagram stories are fun, casual content, but they still require significant time and planning. Don’t commit to creating a seven-post story sequence 7 days a week if you don’t have the time or resources to follow through.
Be realistic about the time you have, the team members available, and the resources you have to create content. Plan your story schedule around that availability.
Unlike regular Instagram feed posts where one post stands on its own, Instagram Stories are designed to be in a sequence of multiple posts. While you can post a single photo or video to your stories, viewers are conditioned to watch through multiple posts.
The ideal sequence length is three to seven posts. Most people lose interest after seven posts. Depending on which combination of photos and videos you use, seven stories can be anywhere from 35 seconds to almost 2 minutes. Those longer time frames push the boundaries of story viewers’ attention spans.
Of course, businesses want to use “push” content to include a CTA that will generate traffic, leads, or sales. But if your stories are always pushing things on your audience, they aren’t going to stick around for very long. You have to give them a variety of content featuring some that they want, too! This can include things like:
- Entertainment such as bloopers or funny videos
- Personal posts that show the human side of your brand
- Behind the scenes of your business
- Tips or tutorials that help your customers
- Answers to commonly asked questions in your industry or business
If you’re going to share a story series about a live networking event you’re attending, you might want the following content:
- A photo of the front of the venue with all of the signage for the event
- A video of the pre-event networking or gathering
- A photo of the tables or décor
- A video of the chairman recognizing the success of the event
- A selfie photo with one of the speakers
- A text post wrapping up the key takeaways
By planning this content flow in advance, you can make sure to grab the photos and videos at the right intervals, and also avoid being stuck behind your phone the entire event attempting to document everything.
Decide When to Post Your Instagram Stories
Now that you’ve figured out the types and number of posts you want to share to your Instagram stories, you have to determine when to post them. There’s no secret recipe for picking the right time to share stories. Sometimes it will come down to your audience and when they’re most likely to be engaged. Other times it will come down to when you have the content to publish.
It’s important to remember that stories only live on your profile for 24 hours; therefore, it’s important to pay attention to posting times and days of the week to maximize your reach, views, and engagement. If you know from your insights that your audience is most active on weekends, you would most likely be better off posting your stories on Friday through Sunday rather than on a Monday or Tuesday.
If you’re posting a story sequence with all posts shared at the same time, you’ll want to pick an ideal time of day. In these situations, the story is meant to flow as one consecutive sequence with each post building on the previous one. You created the content in advance of uploading it and want it all available together.
But you won’t always have the ability to post a sequence in unison. If you consider the example above where you’re posting from a live event, not after the fact, your story posts will be uploaded in real-time intervals. Once the sequence is complete at the end of the evening, however, any new viewers will still be able to see the story in its full sequence. At least until the first posts start to disappear after the 24-hour interval.
Unfortunately, the ideal time for you to share your story posts may come at a time of the day that isn’t convenient for you to post that content.
Instagram stories are still designed to be posted organically, without scheduling functionality; however, that’s not ideal for all brands. If you want to schedule your Instagram stories, there are a number of third-party tools you can use to do this.
These tools offer the functionality to create stories on your desktop and “schedule” them, but they won’t automatically post on your behalf. The app will send you a notification on your mobile device and you can then post your previously designed stories directly to Instagram.
#3: Create Your Instagram Stories Content
Let’s take a look at some of the various features you can incorporate into your stories and the creative ways you can produce fun content. Instagram stories offer a lot of opportunity for creativity and what you decide to do is limited only by your imagination.
Note: Instagram Stories are formatted in a vertical 9:16 ratio or a dimension of 1080 wide x 1920 pixels high.
Photos vs. Videos vs. Text Stories
Stories are designed as short-form content where a photo post will play for 6 seconds and a video will play for up to 15 seconds, depending on the length recorded. You can also create text-based posts where you use a specific background color option and start the story with a text placement. These also play for 6 seconds.
When it comes to stories, there isn’t a preferred type of content to create. It comes down to how you best serve your audience and how you can create quality content that conveys your message. This often includes a combination of photos, videos, and even text posts within one story sequence.
A simple photo upload, video recording (or upload), or a text post is the most basic level of story you can create. But a photo or video can be resized by pinching and moving, augmented with doodles, text boxes, GIFs, and more.