In 2022, follower reach and engagement rates were down on Instagram. Here are some ways you can get your audience more engaged this year.
Creating content with which audiences want to engage is a learning curve for every brand, especially on Instagram, where brands are having a hard time even getting their content in front of followers.
In our 2023 Instagram Stories Benchmark Report, we saw that more and more brands are using Instagram Stories in their marketing. While Instagram posts do a better job of reaching followers, Stories is where a lot of engagement magic happens.
To help you shake things up for the upcoming year, we have 22 unique and interactive Instagram Story ideas for maximum engagement. Before we get into it, let’s cover a few need-to-know points about Instagram Stories.
Instagram Stories basics
- Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours.
- Stories are ideal for off-the-cuff and engagement-focused content.
- In 2022, brands posted to Instagram Stories 11 times per month with a median of 2 Story frames per day.
- You can save Stories past the 24-hour mark on your Story Highlights.
22 ways to create an interactive Instagram Story
Here are 22 ways to create an interactive Instagram Story and get your followers more engaged.
Remember to make these ideas your own, and don’t hesitate to step outside the box. Story ideas can be repeated, but your brand’s footprint is one of a kind.
1. Use Q+A boxes to give your followers a voice
- Show your audience you’re here to listen
- Provide must-know information
- Increase brand awareness
The possibilities are endless with Q&As. Pop a question sticker in a story to see followers’ thoughts about new launches, industry topics, working at your company, and more.
You can then follow up by answering their questions in a video response or a text screen.
Don’t forget to save your questions and answers in Story highlights so followers can easily go back and reference them.
2. Host an “ask me anything” hour
- Gauge follower attitudes toward your brand and products
- Help followers feel like they are part of your brand
Also known as “AMA,” an “ask me anything” session goes along the same lines as a Q&A, but instead of focusing on a specific topic, followers can, as the name suggests, ask about anything they want.
AMAs are audience-led, meaning they can provide a fresh perspective and shed insight into things you may not have thought about before.
3. Make your Stories more inclusive
- Appeal to a broader audience
- Retain the viewer’s attention
As you interact with your audience on Stories, consider how you can make them more accessible to more people.
Take videos, for example, where you can add closed captions so viewers can read along as you speak. For some Instagram users, there is an audio transcriber in Stories. If this function is not available, you can always use a separate app to add captions and then upload the video to Stories.
Other ways to make your Stories more inclusive and user-friendly include using large fonts, highlighting texts with bright colors, adding a trigger warning when flashing lights are coming, and writing out image descriptions.
4. Show off your new Instagram guide
- Provide useful resources
- Curate content from Stories, feed posts, products, and locations all in one place
- Repurpose old content
Have you tried using Instagram’s Guide feature? You can create a mini blog post on Instagram about any topic you’d like.
Curate a buying guide or an instructional how-to manual, share helpful tips and tricks, tell your brand’s story, answer FAQs, and more.
Guides don’t appear on Instagram feeds like Reels, carousels, and image posts, so make sure to share to Stories and encourage followers to save the guide and share it with their friends.
5. Get feedback with polls
- Cover diverse topics
- Followers more likely to engage
- Measure demand
Polls are a great way to increase engagement because they require minimal effort from followers.
Unlike question stickers, polls provide followers with prewritten options, so all they have to do is click. You can get feedback on various topics, ask about their preferences, and more.
We loved the travel brand BÉIS “Pack with BÉIS” series, in which a team member showed themselves packing for a trip. The Stories featured several of the brand’s products and used polls to ask followers to choose their favorite BÉIS bag.
6. Let your audience choose “this or that”
- Low-barrier to engagement
- Notice patterns among followers
Another easy way to engage your followers is with “this or that” Stories.
Start by choosing two photos to upload in a single Story and align them horizontally or vertically. Then, select the poll sticker and write out “top” and “bottom,” “left” and “right,” or use finger emojis to signal the option followers are voting for.
WeWork’s “this or that” coworking space series is a great example. We imagine that as followers voted for their favorite spaces, they visualized themselves working there.
7. Create a behind-the-scenes vlog
- Build trust and tell your brand’s story
- Show the effort and quality of your work
- Show off the more casual side of your brand
Video content does especially well on Stories. It shows followers there is an actual human behind the account and helps them feel more connected to your brand.
With vlogs, you can give followers a peek under the hood, which Gen-Z tends to gravitate towards. Think unpolished, off-the-cuff, and authentic content.
Pull back that curtain and show your community what a typical day working at your company is like, show how you are preparing for an upcoming launch or anything that gives a behind-the-scenes look at your brand.
8. Use an emoji sticker slider
- Gauge follower attitudes towards
- An easy way for followers to engage
Pop a sticker slider on your Story and let followers express their feelings by sliding the emoji of your choice.
You can ask them how they like your newest product, how excited they are to attend an upcoming event, or, like Kodiak Cakes, have them rate a series of flapjack flips.
9. Get creative with quizzes
- Low barrier to engagement
- Build excitement for upcoming launches or events
- Educate your audience about your brand and industry
- Gauge their familiarity with specific topics
With the quiz sticker function, you can set a prompt about any topic, for example, “Guess when our next product line launches…” or “How long have we been in business?” You can also test them on topics related to your industry.
Quizzes can have up to four multiple-choice answers, and after tapping their selection, followers can see if they guessed right in real-time.
10. Post a helpful tutorial
- Provide educational resources
- Followers can access it at any time
- Be “hands-on” with your audience, even online
Tutorials are an excellent marketing tool for many reasons: they help followers learn more about your products or services and position your brand as a trusted industry leader.
You can use a mix of videos and still posts to give your audience step-by-step instructions to use a product or, like superfood brand Golde, teach followers how to make yummy Matcha Rice Krispies.
As always, be sure to save your tutorials in Story highlights.
11. Host an Instagram Story takeover
- Reach new audience
- Build credibility
- Increase engagement
An Instagram takeover is when someone temporarily “takes over” your account to share content on behalf of your brand, talk about your products, and interact with followers. Takeovers can involve company team members, content creators, influencers, students, or anyone in your community.
Not only will this help you tap into new pockets of followers, but adding new voices to the mix will help make your brand more dynamic.
12. Participate in a “Add yours” trend
- Discover more about your followers
- Reach new audiences
- Create FOMO
- It can be as playful as you’d like
The “add yours” stickers are one of Instagram’s relatively newer features allowing users to post about specific topics to a collective chain. Prompts can range from “Favorite running shoes” to “Show us your dog” (Thank you, Instagram, for that.)
For brand marketers, the “Add yours” feature can help you engage with your audience in ways that are both useful and playful.
You can create a challenge and go viral, ask for feedback on a new product, or keep things light by asking them to show you the best sunset they’ve ever seen or their go-to coffee order. Just tap on the sticker to see what participants have posted to the thread.
13. Share customer wins
- It gives new customers a reason to trust you
- Shows some appreciation to existing customers
Social proof is a powerful mechanism to convert leads into customers. By showing how your brand has made a positive difference in your clients’ lives, followers can feel you could do the same for them.
You can share a screenshot of a Google review, an email singing your praises, or even a video testimonial.
14. Shine a spotlight on your team
- Makes employee stories part of the brand story
- Fosters a sense of community between the brand, audience, and employees
Put a face to your brand by introducing your team to followers on Stories.
You can show them who team members are in and out of the office, feature their milestones and notable achievements, welcome new hires, and show how everyone fits into the well-oiled machine that is your fabulous brand.
Encourage followers to ask questions and pass the mic to your team to follow up with answers.
Not only will this help your audience get to know your brand better, but you can shine a deserving light on the people who make your company what it is.
15. Re-post tagged posts and Stories
- One of the easiest ways to show up on Stories
- Show followers you appreciate their shout-out
Short on time or creative juices? One easy content idea coming right up.
Head to your tagged posts, Stories, and comments to see how your audience is interacting with your brand and repost them to your Stories. Followers will love seeing their content featured on your account, and it requires little to no effort on your part.
16. Build excitement with an event countdown
- Creates a sense of urgency
- It gives followers something to look forward to and reminds them of the details
- Boost sign-ups
Have something special coming up? Take to Stories to remind followers with a countdown sticker.
Select a background photo in Stories and then pop in the countdown sticker with the event name and end date.
Use this Story idea to build anticipation for new product drops, promote upcoming events, and inform followers of time-sensitive happenings. You can also include direct links to your website or sign-up page to encourage people to register before the event date.
17. Post a link sticker
- Hassle-free gateway to your website or sign-up
- You can use it in conjunction if sharing a feed post that contains more information
Did you know as of October 2021, every Instagram user can post links in their Stories?
You can send followers to your website, to a new product, ask them to sign up for an event or your email list, and share other important resources directly on your Stories.
You can customize the link sticker to fit your aesthetic or rename it to read however you’d like.
Read more about using Instagram Stories Link Stickers.
18. Share new Instagram feed posts
- Drive traffic to your posts
- Reshare old posts that become relevant
To ensure your followers see your shiny new posts, publish them to Stories.
You should also include some kind of call to action that invites them to click on the post, such as “Check out our new post!” or “Have you seen our new post about ____?”
You can also use one of the many “New Post” stickers in various colors and designs to grab viewers’ attention.
19. Offer screenshot-worthy wallpapers
- Have fun creating designs
- Customers love freebies
- Followers will take your brand with them wherever they go
Stories are the perfect place to share screenshot-worthy images that followers can use as their phone wallpapers.
Wallpaper Stories should be high-quality and can feature professional camera shots, fun cartoon drawings, or anything that represents the essence of your brand.
Take Discovery, for example. They have a whole highlights page dedicated to wallpapers featuring amazing nature shots.
20. Tap back and forward with stickers and emojis
- Make moving between Story frames a bit more fun
- Choose from several fun sticker options
- Get followers to pay extra attention
You can use stickers and emojis to signal to followers that something worth sticking around for is just around the corner or that they should go back and check out something important on the previous frame.
Add arrows to point between slides or head to stickers and search for “Next Story” or “Go back!”
21. Give followers a sneak peek
- Pique their interest
- Spread awareness about something special coming up
If you want to build hype and maybe some FOMO, give followers a taste of what’s to come with a sneak peek. Your followers want to know whether it’s a brand-new service or an exciting announcement.
Plus, you can use these Stories to build your email list for those who want to know more.
Remember to keep things simple and not reveal too much, as excited as you may be. The fun is in the build-up.
22. Create a questionnaire template
- Fun for followers to share their answers
- Learn more about your audience
- Followers are likely to share with their friends
With questionnaire templates, you can prompt followers with basic “get to know me” questions, ask them to share their unpopular opinions, offer them “would you rather” scenarios, or ask them to answer using only emojis.
It can be as serious or silly as you’d like. All followers have to do is screenshot the Story, share it to theirs, and fill in the blanks.
Wrapping it up
While Stories aren’t where you’ll likely garner massive numbers of new followers, they are where you can get up close and personal with your audience and engage them with your brand. With interactive Instagram Stories, you make your audience feel part of your brand’s community and help you learn more about each other.
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Check out our 2023 Instagram Stories Benchmark Report for valuable insights and telling engagement metrics.
Now it’s your turn to take these Interactive Instagram Story ideas and make them your own. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.