Updated for 2021

Stories are one of Instagram’s most used features with over 500 million unique accounts using Stories daily. They are a staple feature in your social media mix and with the increase in Stories like features, much of this work can be cross-posted to your other accounts. Understanding how to use Instagram Stories will be pivotal for your brand’s social media strategy.

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram stories are a way to display the moments of your day. Whether they are pictures or videos, they appear for 24 hours and can be easily accessed by clicking the user’s profile picture on their profile or on top of your Instagram Feed.

Videos can be up to 15 seconds on each story, but longer videos can be uploaded all at once and are automatically broken up to play on consecutive Stories. Static videos will be shown for 15 seconds or until a user clicks out or through to the next.


How to Create an Instagram Story?

While in your news feed, you can add a story by tapping the + sign in the top left corner or swipe right.

Next, your Instagram story camera will display. Then, you’ll have two options

A.) Snap a picture or video on the spot (Front or Back View)

B.) Use a saved image or video as a story

Note: Instagram will automatically crop your saved images (stay tuned for next blog)


TIP: Slide your finger down to access your images and videos took within the last 24 hours

Not all Instagram Stories features are easily identified. Here are the Top 5 Must Use Features for Instagram Stories.

1. Navigation in Insta-World. Skip, Pause and Reverse.

Skip: When viewing a story, you can tap the middle-right hand side of the screen to skip onto the next story.

Pause: You can also quickly tap and hold to pause that particular story.

Reverse: Tap the left side of the screen to reverse and see the previous users story.

2. Accessing the Colour Board

How to Access the Colour Board: When editing a picture, choose the Aa text option and begin to draw on the screen. Once the bottom row of colours pops up hold down on one of them to access the full Colour Board.

3. Create Grids with Layouts

Share multiple photos in the same story by using the Layout function. Click the icon on the left hand side to make your own collage without having to use an outside app. You can upload from your Camera Rolls photos or shoot some fresh content using the camera. Screenshots of a sample Instagram Stories Layout.

4. Effects for Instagram Stories

Effects are one of Instagram Stories most exciting features but easy to miss if you don’t know where to look. When you first open the camera you will see trending and suggested effects for your page that can be explored by scrolling left through them. You can also click the sparkle icon in the top to pick from different options. If you find one you’d like to use for future stories they can be saved by double clicking your chosen effect and tapping the save button for easy access in the future.

Tip: You can also search for effects by selecting the magnifying glass icon and typing in your chosen keywords such as “Glasses” to bring up those features.


Screenshot of saving an Instagram Story Effect to favorites.5. Pro Editing Options

If you’re looking to shoot content directly from Stories there are a whole host of professional features at your disposal without the need for editing software. 

If you select the arrow on the left side of your screen below the layout function you gain access to Hands-Free shooting which is perfect for a self-portrait session, Multi-Capture which allows you to create a series of photos to upload onto Stories, and Level which brings up a grid so creators have a reference point while shooting! 


That’s 5 Must Use Features for Instagram Stories!

Looking for more social media tips, in this fast and always changing industry? We offer various social media training sessions, feel free to contact us!