Everything You Need To Know About Instagram Stories

As of January 2019, an estimated 500 million users engage with Instagram stories daily according to Statista. This popular feature is great for anyone trying to grow Instagram followers, promote their brand or business on social media, or just to share photos and videos with friends. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know to successfully use Instagram stories.

What Is an Instagram Story?

An Instagram story is a picture, video, or series of the two that is shared on Instagram for only 24 hours. Unlike posts on Instagram, stories are not permanent and will not appear on your profile after the 24 hour mark has passed. Stories do not receive likes or comments like normal posts, although you can comment on a story via a direct message to the person who shared it.

Instagram stories are similar to Snapchat stories, the original platform that introduced the story concept on social media. While story sharing may have originated on Snapchat, Instagram story daily use surpassed that of Snapchat stories after only one year of  Instagram offering the feature. This means that if you’re not already sharing Instagram stories, you should be!

How To Use Instagram Stories

Creating your own Instagram story is almost as easy as watching one. For anyone who is new to Instagram stories, we’ll break down the basics of how to create and watch an Instagram story.

How To Make An Instagram Story

Posting an Instagram story is simple. To start an Instagram story, open the app and either swipe right or click the camera icon  at the top left corner of your screen. This will bring you to a camera, and from here you can take a new picture or video or share one from your camera roll. There are other options to choose from – Instagram stories start on the NORMAL option, but other choices include TYPE, MUSIC, LIVE, BOOMERANG, SUPERZOOM, FOCUS, REWIND, and HANDS-FREE. Pick which setting you’d like and press the white button to take your picture or video.

how to make an insta story

NORMAL: A normal Instagram story allows you to post a new photo or video, or choose one from your camera roll. There are lots of extra features you can add to any Instagram story, like stickers, filters, hashtags, and much more.

TYPE: The type option allows you to type a caption on a screen with your choice of background color. You can take a picture and make it the background, but there is still a light screen over the photo depending on the color of your background.

MUSIC: Add a song to your Instagram story. Pick your song first, and then take a picture or video to share with the song. You can also edit which part of the song you’d like to hear by clicking the three vertical lines on the bottom right of your screen.

LIVE: A live Instagram story is just that: live. Live stream your video content.

BOOMERANG: A boomerang is a short video that plays on a loop. Record a boomerang directly on the Instagram app to share to your story.

SUPERZOOM: The superzoom function is pretty self-explanatory – it’s a feature that creates a three second video that zooms in on someone or something, along with a funny filter and music (For example, a fog of hearts and swelling romantic music).

FOCUS: Focus is essentially portrait mode, but for Instagram stories. This option will focus on the subject of the shot while blurring out the background for a more vibrant image.

REWIND: The rewind function allows users to record a short video that is then played in reverse on a loop.

HANDS-FREE: Another self-explanatory feature, the hands-free option allows you to continue recording your story without having to hold the record button down.

Once your picture is taken, add special features like captions, hashtags, stickers, and more. Once you’ve edited your story, click either “Your Story” in the bottom left corner to share to your story, “Close Friends” next to it (which allows you to create a list of friends to share posts with easily), or “Send To” in the bottom right corner to choose who to message directly from your friends list.

How To View Instagram Stories

Instagram stories appear at the top of your homepage on the Instagram app. Stories appear by user, so your friends profile pictures will appear as circles with a purple-ish colorful circle around them. Click their profile picture to view their story.

instagram stories

As you scroll through your feed or through a specific user’s profile, their profile picture will have that same purple circle around it if they have a story you have not viewed yet. Click their profile picture above their post or on their profile to view their story.

Once you open a story, you can watch until the time runs out and the next one begins, or you can click the right side of the screen to see the next image. Click on the left side of the screen to go back and rewatch the prior story. If you hold your finger somewhere on the screen, it will pause their story. To skip someone’s story, swipe left.

How To Respond to Instagram Stories

Instagram stories do not receive likes or comments in the way that normal posts do, but you can respond to someone’s story. At the bottom of your screen when viewing a story, there is a bar that says “Send message”. Click this bar and type your message, or click the camera icon next to it to choose a picture, and then press send. This will send a direct message to the person who shared the story with your message attached to their story.

instagram story

How to Delete an Instagram Story

Posted something regrettable? To delete your Instagram story, just open the story, click the three dots at the bottom right corner, and click delete. 

how to save instagram stories

How To Save Instagram Stories

If you want to save your Instagram story after its 24 hour expiration date, no problem! You can save an Instagram story to your camera roll, as a post, or as a story highlight. Learn all about how to save Instagram stories.

Can You See Who Views Your Instagram Story?

Yes, you can see who has watched your Instagram story. To check who viewed your story, open your story by clicking your profile picture. In the bottom left corner, click the “Seen by ###” and a list of all viewers will pop up. You can slide through each post on your story to see who has watched each individual picture or video.

instagram story viewers

Order of Instagram Story Views

Many users question how Instagram orders the list of those who have watched your Instagram story. The list is not in order of who watched chronologically, nor is it those who have watched more than once or who “stalk” your Instagram account. Instagram has revealed that the order is based on who you engage with most on Instagram. Their algorithm is based on your activity, so Instagram ranks based on who you seem closest to or who you interact with the most online.

How To Add Stickers and GIFs to Instagram Stories

Add stickers to spice up your story. Instagram offers a wide variety of sticker options, including interactive stickers like polls and questions. To add a sticker to your story, click the square smiley face sticker button at the top of your screen once you’ve taken a picture. The most popular stickers will appear first, but you can use the search bar to find the stickers you are looking for. Animated stickers, known as GIFs, are also available as stickers. Click the sticker of your choice and resize or move it on your screen, then share your masterpiece with your followers.

instagram story gifs

How To Create an Instagram Story Poll

If you want to interact more with your followers, post a poll on your Instagram story. To add a poll to your story, begin adding a new story as you normally would. Once you’ve taken your picture or video, click the square smiley face sticker button at the top of the screen. Click the “POLL” sticker, and then type in your question and the options for answers. Share your story and wait for the results!

How To Ask A Question

In 2018 Instagram added the question function to stories as well, allowing users to post a question to their stories with a text box for their followers to respond. To ask a question, follow the same steps as you would to add a poll or another sticker. Click the sticker button, and choose question, and then ask away.

To view the responses, click the “Seen by” button at the bottom left corner where you can see who viewed your post. All of the answers to your question will appear here. You can also click on their answers to share them to your story as well. If you share a response on your story, it will not show the name or username of the person who responded to you.

How To Add Location to Instagram Stories

Another custom sticker you can add is a location sticker, much like the location option on Instagram posts. To add a location to your Instagram story, click the sticker button and choose the location option (it should be the first one). Search for your location and add the sticker to your picture or video.

instagram story location

If you want to use a location that is not offered, check out our guide on how to create an Instagram location.

How To Add Hashtags to Instagram Stories

A hashtag creates a clickable link that leads to an archive of all posts that have used that tag. Hashtags work in the same way on Instagram stories. Add a hashtag to your story by clicking the sticker button at the top of your screen and choosing the hashtag option. Type in your hashtag and share your post.

Using a hashtag on an Instagram story puts your post on the Instagram story for that hashtag if your profile is public. If you search for a hashtag on Instagram and there is a colorful ring around the icon representing that hashtag, you can click it to see the current Instagram stories using that hashtag.

How To Tag Someone on an Instagram Story

If your story features a follower or you just want them to see it, you can tag another Instagram user in your story. To tag someone on an Instagram story, simply click the screen to open a text box. You can change the font by clicking the font options at the top of the screen. Just like you would tag someone in your caption, type the @ symbol and then begin typing their username. Type their full username, or click on their name when it pops up as a suggestion to tag them.

How to Add Links to Instagram Stories

Verified accounts or users with more than 10,000 followers can add direct links to their Instagram stories, sending followers to that clickable link. If you want to add links but don’t have enough followers, try out our Instagram growth service to gain more followers. If you qualify to use direct links, learn how to add links to your Instagram stories here.

How To Use Filters on Instagram Stories

Much like Snapchat’s filters, Instagram stories offer a variety of face-altering filters. To add a filter, open up a new Instagram story and click the smiley face button to the right of the record button. A menu will appear across the bottom of your screen with all of the available filters; pick your favorite and take your photo or video.

You can also add a filter after taking your photo or video. Once your picture is taken, click the same smiley face button, now at the top of your screen, and pick your filter. If you want to use one of the face filters, your face has to be clear enough for the app to recognize or the filter may not work.

How To Add Multiple Photos to an Instagram Story

Do you want to add more than one photo to your Instagram story without going through the process of uploading each one individually? If you are adding multiple photos or videos from your camera roll, you can add them and edit them all at once. All you have to do is open up a new Instagram story, swipe up to see your saved photos, and click “Select Multiple” in the top right corner. From there, pick as many photos and videos as you want and click next. You can edit each photo individually and then post them all at once.

How To Hide Instagram Stories or Restrict Comments

If you don’t want a specific follower to see your story, you can adjust your story settings to hide your story from that person. Follow these instructions to change your story settings:

  1. Go to your profile and click the three vertical lines at the top right corner.
  2. At the bottom of the screen, click “Settings”
  3. Scroll down, and under “Privacy and Security” click “Story Controls”
  4. Click “Hide Story From” and search for whoever you’d like to hide your story from. Click the empty circle next to their name, and then click “Done” to save your preferences.


instagram stories        insta story settings

While you’re looking at your story settings, you can also edit who is able to respond to your stories. You can allow message replies from your followers, only followers who follow you back, or turn off message replies entirely. You can also choose specific users who you want to allow to respond.

How To Mute Someone’s Instagram Stories

We all know someone who posts a few too many stories. To mute someone’s Instagram stories, find their story on your feed at the top of your homepage or on their profile. Hold down their profile picture, and a menu will pop up. Click “Mute” to keep their stories from appearing on your feed. You can also choose to mute their posts from your feed. Instagram will not notify anyone that you have muted them.

how to mute instagram stories

How to Use Instagram Stories for Business

If you run a business or branded Instagram account, you can use Instagram stories to reach a larger audience online and further promote your brand. Follow our guide to promote your business through Instagram stories.

Written by Erin

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