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Top 10 Instagram story tips and tricks you should know

The best Instagram story tips aren’t well known for everyone. I often see some stories and think “It looks so good! How did they do that?”. That’s where this post comes in to help you discover new tips and tricks to make your stories the best ever, and make others wonder how is your story so well made!

When making Instagram stories, you want others to notice the beauty of it, and be amazed by how well it is made. You need to work on your story to make it look good.

What are Instagram stories?

First of all I’ll explain what Instagram stories are. We all know that you can post photos and videos in your Instagram gallery, but stories also are a very useful tool to get your followers attention to your page while you’re not posting, and even when you’re posting. You can use Instagram stories to notify users about your new post, as well as post anything that comes into your mind in there, because they’re there only for 24 hours. You can use stories to get input from users by asking questions, making polls, quizzes, or simply posting what you find interesting.

There are limitations to what you can post on Instagram stories:

Aspect ratio for your content is 9:16.

Your content is being resized to 1920 x 1080 pixels. If the content is bigger, it may lose quality when resizing.

Maximum video length for one story is 15 seconds. If your video is longer than that, then it will get split into multiple stories.

1. Content placement in the stories

As said above, Instagram posts stories in 9:16 aspect ratio. If your screen is taller than this, you might think that your viewers will see everything what’s on your screen. But you’re wrong.

Many users make this mistake by placing content near the top or bottom of their screens, which gets cut off after submitting the stories. Instagram adds black borders on top and the bottom part. Even for the part that will not be cut off – don’t post interactive content on the top and bottom part, because the area will be inaccessible to those with smaller screens because of the username and messaging part being in front.

An example of how the story is visible to you while you’re creating it is available below. There are blue guidelines that turn on when you’re moving content around. They help you understand where will the borders be for the story. You should always use the guidelines when placing content on your story to make sure that you’re not placing it out of the active area or too high or low. You can also center your content both horizontally and vertically by using these guidelines.

Instagram story with guidelines showing where the content will be cut off , and accenting the center of the post

Two more examples below show you how the story looks when viewed from an other account – there are black borders that hide all the content outside the blue guidelines. And if the phones screen is shorter, then the “Send message” block will be on top of the content on bottom. That’s why you shouldn’t put interactive stickers and elements on the bottom of your story.

Posted Instagram story as viewed from other account – with added black borders
Posted Instagram story as viewed from a device with shorter screen

2. Using interactive Instagram story elements

Instagram have created multiple creative story elements, including polls, questions, countdowns, quizzes and more, which you can use to make your stories interactive and more fun!

You can access the menu for these elements by either swiping up, or tapping on the sticker icon (square icon with a face, third from the right side in the photo below).

Elements that may not be known for many users are Countdown and Quiz, because they’re the most recently added. Countdown lets you add a countdown for your selected time (for example, until your new post, or the time when you announce something), and users who turn on the reminder for the countdown, will get notified when it ends. Quiz allows you to add a question with up to 4 answers. You have to indicate the correct answer, which will pop up when a user chooses their answer.

The newest addition – Music (may still not be available to all countries) allow you to add any part of a song with lyrics (optimal) to your story.

More elements I use are questions, poll and the emoji slider – with those you can get an input from users.

A tip about stickers from Instagram – some of them have multiple styles. For example, when you’re adding weekday sticker, you can tap on it to switch between two sticker designs.

An icon to access the story elements
Available Instagram story interactive elements

3. Sharing multiple questions in a single story

After using the question interactive element, you might not want to share separate story for each input, rather than to combine them. You can do that with few simple steps.

The first step is what you usually do – add a question on a photo. But to be able to add more – you have to save the photo to your phone (by tapping the “download” icon, fourth from the right side in the photos below) and then quitting. Afterwards choose a different question and use the saved photo as your background. Repeat to add as many questions as you want.

Single question sticker in story
A question sticker on top of a saved previous photo
Multiple question stickers in a single photo

4. Pinning elements to an object in a video

When you share a video and add stickers on top – they just stand in the place during all the video – that’s so boring, isn’t it? If you want a sticker to stay on an object in a video and show up on the perfect moment when the object is moving, then follow these steps:

  1. Add the sticker to your story
  2. Hold down your finger on the sticker
  3. Choose the starting position in a video by using the slider on the bottom
  4. Place the sticker on the object
  5. Pin the sticker

Afterwards your sticker will follow the object in your video.

You can also pin text, GIFs and other elements to an object in video.

Thank you irvy_photography for suggesting this tip!

5. Create custom stickers

Did you know that you can add more stickers in Instagram stories than just the ones Instagram provides? Unlike GIFs, which you can search for, and get almost as many as you like, there isn’t an option to search for more stickers on Instagram. But there are ways to get them from external sources! I have described this in my blog post How to get more Instagram stickers and create your own!

6. Share a post that looks like a pop-up card

You most probably know that there’s an option to share a post to your stories by tapping the airplane icon right next to like and comment icon. But that’s not the only way you can share the photo. Also not always there is the option – if the user has limited their posts, there may not be the “Add post to your story” option.

When you hold down your finger on a photo in user’s profile, a pop-up of the photo appears, allowing you to view the photo, as well as like it (by releasing the finger on the like icon). While this pop-up is active (while holding down your finger) you can screenshot your screen, and share the photo to your story. The only limitation here is that the post will not be interactive. That means you will have to add the tag of the username for others to navigate to the account you’re sharing.

Instagram post that looks like a pop-up

7. Add rainbow text

You can make a text that has every letter in a different color – and it’s super easy! Follow these steps:

  1. Add the text and choose your preferred font
  2. Select all the text
  3. Hold down your finger on any color and choose the starting color from the gradient (yes, you can get any color you want, not only those you can see at first)
  4. Evenly and simultaneously slide your finger to other colors and reduce the selection of your text. This will color the remaining letters in your currently selected color while leaving the deselected letter with a previous color. You can see a video of me doing this below.

Thanks to travelwithblonde for sharing this tip with me!

Making multi-colored rainbow text in Instagram stories
Rainbow text result

8. Create a solid colored background

You don’t always have to share a photo from your gallery in the story. It’s possible to easily create solid colored background by choosing the drawing option and holding down your finger on the screen for a few seconds. When you release the finger – the whole story will be in the color of your choice.

The drawing icon
Solid colored background after holding down the finger

Thanks to heleenphotography for suggesting this tip!

Create a see-through colored background

You can also create a see-through background by choosing the Marker icon and doing the same (holding down your finger). This will allow everyone to still see the photo in the background.

Marker icon
Eraser icon

Reveal your content by erasing with a brush

After you add a solid background on top of a photo, the photo is still under there. You can then use the eraser to clean the background from the story by revealing the image below.

You can use this to tease your followers of an upcoming post by revealing only small part of it, or by simply making your story viewers to go to your profile to see the full photo of your newest photo.

A fragment erased after adding solid background
A fragment erased after adding a transluscent background

9. Play with the fonts and colors

Instagram lets you change the color of your text and add a background. But that’s not all you can do!

Change both the background and text color individually

When you add a text with the filled background – after choosing a color – Instagram changes the background to your chosen color. But the text color is automatically adjusted to be readable on the background.

But if you select all the letters in the text block and then tap on a color – only the text color will change! That way you can alter both the background color (first) and the text color (after).

A text with white background and automatic black text color
All the letters are selected
The text with different colored text

Creating a drop shadow effect on your text

There are times when you want to accent your text more – either because it’s not visible so well on the background or because of a different reason. There’s an easy option to do so – by creating a drop shadow under your text.

First you need to type your text, copy it and make another text element in different color. The hardest part might be making both the elements the same size. Afterwards – just place one text on top of other by offsetting it a little bit, therefore making the shadow.

You can take this even further by making multiple levels of the shadow. An example is shown below.

Two identical texts with different colors
A shadow created from the two texts
Double shadow

Thanks to talha__clicks for suggesting this tip!

Different Instagram fonts

This might be known to many, but is a useful tip for those who don’t know. Instagram allows you to change the font of the text (by tapping the “Classic” on top). But only one of these fonts allow you to change the size of the letters. When the Classic font is selected, a slider appears on the left side of your screen – you can change the size of the letters by adjusting the slider, therefore fitting the whole text in a single line, if it got split into multiple.

A long text divided into multiple lines. The size slider is on the left
A long text in a single line because of a smaller font size

Also did you know that when you choose the classic font – Instagram uses the font that your device uses? You can get a different font by changing the font your device uses.

10. Custom story highlight covers

I have seen many users sharing a photo in their story, that they later use as a story highlight cover. Did you know that you don’t need to share the photo to your story highlight to choose it as a cover? You can choose any photo from your phone.

To do that – when in the “Edit Cover” page – simply tap on the gallery icon. Instagram will then open your most recent photos from your phone, and you will be able to choose any photo and crop it for your highlight cover. And all that without it being in the highlight!

Other tips

Did you know that when you share a photo of someone – they don’t get notified about it unless you tag them? If you wish for the user to be notified (in direct messaging) about your shout-out, then you have to either mention their username as a text (by writing @ and then username) or add the “@MENTION” sticker. If you choose to tag the user through text, then make sure that the username is underlined, otherwise it won’t be active, and the user won’t be notified.

In conclusion

If you’re new to Instagram, then you now have so many new knowledge about Instagram stories. Go on and use it the next time when you create a story! If you’re a long-time Instagram user like me, then I bet you did not know some of these, just like I did until finding out about some of these tricks. Hope I made your story experience better!

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