This week on #bufferchat, we talked all about how to take our Instagram Stories up a notch in quality, engagement and value! It was awesome to have Sue B. Zimmerman as our guest in the 2nd chat time, who dropped so much wisdom and knowledge during the conversation. The community discussed the best kind of content for Stories, hidden features and tricks, how to increase audience retention, and much more.

Sue even created an Instagram Story the day of the chat! (Here’s the recording, if you’d like to see it.)

Read on to discover all of the awesome insights that were shared during the chat!

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, at TWO times every Wednesday for valuable industry insights and to meet hundreds of other smart marketers and social media enthusiasts. Same topic, same place, just at different times – feel free to join in to whichever chat time works best for you!

For our community in Asia and Australia (or anyone else!): 4 pm AEDT (Sydney time)

For our community in North/South America, Europe and Africa (or others!): 9 am PT (San Francisco time)

Bufferchat on February 15, 2017: (Topic = Taking Your Instagram Stories Up a Notch)

This week’s stats:
1st Bufferchat: 30 participants; 225 tweets; reach of 917,627
2nd Bufferchat: 129 participants; 1,231 tweets; reach of 1,363,531

Q1: What is your favorite kind of content to watch on Instagram Stories?

From Sue:

  • Exclusive content that is only shared on Instagram stories and no where else.
  • Watching how something is created… I think demonstration videos are great.
  • Behind the scenes on a YouTube shoot, detailed information about products, behind the scenes at the office, in the gym, at a conference.

From the community:

  • “Love the stories that show the creative process & planning behind certain aspects of a brand.” @NicteCreativDSN
  • “A day in the life! This is great for influencers or celebrities.” @Sidneytoldme
  • “I love behind-the-scenes stories on . Often singular photos are edited and lose the human element.” @Anne_E_Mercer
  • “Stories that make me feel I am a part of it.” @LutzStaacke
  • “I love travel/lifestyle/process/behind-the-scenes stuff. Makes me want to know the person/brand better.” @salmajafri

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: In your opinion, what works better: impromptu or rehearsed/organized Instagram Stories?

From Sue:

  • I think impromptu is more entertaining, interesting & authentic.
  • I did one planned out Story using when I did a take over for . [See tweet image]
  • You can now use to schedule your Instagram Stories #happydance
  • I want people to feel like they are with me in an intimate way to build on real authentic relationships.

From the community:

  • “I like the casual content on #InstagramStories better. The packaged visuals are too inorganic but they’re the trend.” @luckylou
  • “Depends on the content, but it’s good to have a little structure. Good stories should have a beg, mid, end during the day.” @DontForget2Move
  • “Also, there’s a certain level of magic you uncover when you record ‘off the cuff’! You can’t fake it.” @WixLounge
  • “Content with a plan def works well. Sometimes impromptu while covering live events. Random stories hardly work.” @MalharBarai
  • “A mix. I like getting really great tips that would need some thought and then the fun cool moments that happen.” @lesliemcdermid

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

Q3: What techniques and features help you craft engaging Instagram Stories? Any hidden or lesser-known features you like to use?

From Sue:

  • When using writing tools only use your brand colors.
  • ((NINJA TIP)) Tap and hold on ANY color and the whole color spectrum pops up.
  • Taking for followers with you on the move (don’t stand still).
  • Intrigue and interest around you — look UP look down.
  • Showing new locations with geo sticker — you can connect & collaborate with people in that location. [See tweet image]
  • Humor … Adding Mr. Cody [her dog!] for me always works.
  • Using @mentions to get attention from your favorite business & brands.

From the community:

  • “Keep them hanging @ the end of each slide/video. More suspense=likelihood of them waiting to see what happens next.” @TheLocdBella
  • “Love the ability to “Go Live” and have it send a push to your followers. Also, Boomerang effect and longer videos.” @GeoffTBlosat
  • “The fact that you can tag people/companies in your story! Great for building brand relations.” @indigoevstudio
  • “Using the “swipe up” feature to send people to a link.” @bfarello
  • “Utilize the text and color options! Sometimes add stickers to posts to make them more fun and relevant!” @lavidgeco

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: How can you increase audience retention through to the end of your Story?

From Sue:

  • Alternate video & photos even if it’s from your computer.
  • Add creative elements like Boomerang, stickers, music & apps like .
  • Upload snapchat filters.  does this well!
  • Tease at the beginning that you are doing something awesome so they TAP thru.
  • (NinjaTip) you can use Air Drop to upload pictures you want from your computer to your camera so they appear in the last 24 hrs.

From the community:

  • “To increase audience retention, experiment w/ellipses, drawn arrows, brief call-to-actions, or phrases that inspire curiosity.” @mr0ach
  • “If you’re using video, make sure the user can understand what’s going on without sound. I never have my volume up!” @MariaRDeGroot
  • “Have a strong, concise narrative. Trim the fat – don’t include more content than you need.” @JuiceboxCA
  • “You lose me when you have a million short clips. It’s even overwhelming to SEE so many little bars. Go ALL in, faster…” @LUCYrk78
  • “It’s all in the art of storytelling! Hook ’em in the beginning, give some solid meat in the middle + a happy ending.” @mashleyvega

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: What are great CTAs (calls to action) you can include in your Story?

From Sue:

From the community:

  • “Ask for a DM! Offer free advice or the chance to win something. It may not be public engagement but they will remember you.” @ATSocialTweets
  • “Love the asks to send a reply to a questions or ask for my thoughts. But MUST FOLLOW UP with them.” @mrkampmann
  • “That swipe up CTA is getting 15% – 25% swipe throughs and they can navigate right back to IG.” @AnnaMariaSocial
  • “I think a good one is to start a contest with a specific hashtags. e.g. now post #somethingblue!” @Jack_Lazzarin
  • “Don’t think you always have to do a CTA, IG stories focuses on “heart to heart” messages.” @HinoIII

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: How can Instagram Story takeovers offer value for your brand? Any tips for making them work well?

From Sue:

  • You can collaborate with influencers.
  • You can reach a whole new audience in a real authentic way — I did with .
  • Every time I take over an Instagram account I get hundreds of new followers.
  • Here is a recording of the FUN take over I did for ! [See recording]

From the community:

  • “You automatically get the eyes of your takeover host’s followers/fans on your brand which is a great starting point!” @katefrappell
  • “Is there something your audience is interested in but you’re not too familiar with yet? Have someone takeover that is.” @JenLinkins
  • “Cross promotion, expanding reach – important if their audience aligns with your brand!” @DrivenLocal
  • “Our tip is to choose the right brand or individual to partner up with – one with a Story that complements yours.” @AMBAcomms
  • “Apart from broadening your reach to new audience of person taking over, you offer a fresh voice/style that will keep it fun.” @AskSole

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: What are your favorite accounts to follow on Instagram Stories, and why?

From Sue:

  • Duh Brian on – he’s brilliant sweet and has the BEST smile.
  • Love watching ‘s creative hustle – he’s BRILLIANT.
  • I think does a awesome job at showing work life balance.
  • I love getting social media updates from .
  • One of my fav is he’s a genius at creating entertaining content.
  • If you are a vegan my daughter #freshfitandfearless is a must watch.
  • Of course is a MUST WATCH.
  • Have to give a shoutout to my buddy  – he’s an entertaining Ninja on all socials – he is LIVE right now!

From the community:

See all the great answers to question 7 here!


Thank you so much to Sue and to everyone who participated and helped each other in this chat!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

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Written by Arielle Tannenbaum

Community Strategist at Buffer. In addition to her love of community building, Arielle also loves vegetables, cooking, practicing yoga, meditating, living mindfully, and exploring the connections between health and happiness!