5 Ways to Spark Endless Engagement with Instagram Stories

Table of Contents

Pink cupcakes with sparklers - Instagram Stories Engagement header

With all the built-in features, stickers, and sparkly doodads Instagram Stories have to offer, they seem like a tool made for boosting your engagement to new levels. However, all those options may make the decision on how and WHAT to post on Stories a little daunting.

If you’ve skipped over Stories up until now in planning Instagram content because of a case of good old-fashioned “analysis-paralysis”, you’ll want to pull up a comfy chair, your best cozy slippers, and a mug of something sweet to watch our latest Facebook Live!

Me (Kristen Dahlin), Jeff Sieh, and successful style blogger (and Tailwind CS member extraordinaire!) Chloe Alysse dived into what drives engagement on Instagram Stories, as well as the mentality you need to get ahead in building your community (and how to have fun while doing it!).

Plus, we came up with a fun acronym to help you remember these five tips: ⚡️SPARK! ⚡️ That stands for:

  • Send your viewers somewhere
  • Play around with new ideas
  • Ask your audience for feedback
  • Reshare content your followers can relate to, and
  • Keep the excitement high!

Ready to learn how to use spark to drive engagement with your Instagram Stories? Watch the replay here, or just keep reading!

Psst… don’t miss out on our Instagram Story Challenge running for the month of October! Don’t worry if you missed a few days – you can participate in the challenge any time between now and the end to enter for the chance to win a FREE YEAR OF TAILWIND!

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1. Send Your Viewers Somewhere

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – your viewers want to be told where to go and what to do next, especially if they love your content! ❤️ After all, what’s the most valuable engagement from our followers, if not a visit to our websites? ‍♀️

Banish any fears you have about sounding too sales-y, ‍♀️and look at it this way: your followers decide at any time whether they want to learn more and keep interacting with your brand!

When you provide the next steps and send those viewers somewhere, you are simply providing helpful guideposts along the way. Plus, you can score engagement off of these actions, too!

Okay, now that we’ve got your brand-new mentality about adding links and CTAs into your Stories established, let’s talk about some handy places you can send them!

Drive Traffic to Your Website Through a Link in Instagram Stories

Ah, Link in Stories – the Holy Grail of 10,000 Instagram followers (besides just HAVING 10K followers, of course!).  If you have 10K followers, never squander an opportunity for a well-placed link in your Stories!

I know what you’re thinking – but I want my followers to engage with my content, not leave to go to another page!

Don’t worry – tapping a Link in Stories to see more or swiping up counts as an engagement – and it informs Instagram that your content is so fascinating, they just have to learn more. Amazing, right?

Take a look at how you add a Link in Stories below:

Here’s how to do it, step by step:

  1. Upload your Story image or video
  2. Select the link icon (fourth from the left)
  3. Tap “+Web Link”
  4. Paste the desired URL into the Web Link space 
  5. Preview your Link to make sure everything correct
  6. Hit Done!

You can use this feature to drive traffic directly from your Stories to blog posts, product features, and more! 

However, don’t give up on sending your viewers somewhere if you don’t have Link in Stories quite yet. You can still send them to the link in your Instagram bio – and nab that Stories engagement you’re after! ➡️

Drive Traffic to Your Website With Your Link in Bio!

Your Link in Bio may live on your feed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t point to it in Stories to get the traffic boost you’re after (plus a little Stories engagement, too!). 

Rather than including a link in your Stories, create a CTA for what you want your followers to do next (go to your link in bio). You can say something like, “tap the link in bio to find out more about…” or “want to see more? Head over to my link in bio!”

Here’s an example in Tailwind’s brand-new smart.bio tool, now in private beta!

With smart.bio, you can create your own customized landing page with a branded link in just a few moments with our FREE tool – you’ll never have to swap out your bio link again!

Powerful analytics help you track and measure traffic from Instagram, so you’ll never be left guessing which pieces of content resonate the most with your followers. 

Plus, when you schedule your linked Instagram posts with Tailwind, your smart.bio page will automatically update with your latest and greatest. You won’t need to open yet another tool to manually upload a link – it couldn’t be easier! 

Want in as an exclusive tester? Sign up for your personalized smart.bio link here! Plus, snag a free trial of Tailwind to make the most out of that handy auto-updating feature!

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To successfully drive traffic from your Stories to your link in bio tool, remember to use the @mention sticker to tag yourself. Why? Here’s how I broke  it down on Live:

“If you’ve ever noticed when you’re going through Stories in different search streams for locations or hashtags… you can’t just click through to be taken to a profile! 

Rather than expecting your viewers to back out of whatever Stories stream they’re in, go type in your username and find your profile… just tag yourself! Then they can click on that sticker, go to your profile and go right on through to your link in bio and not have to do any extra heavy lifting to get to the content they want to see!”

Kristen Dahlin

Psst… Skip to 10:00 in the FB Live video to catch this game-changing tip that our live audience raved about! 

When your followers tap or interact with a sticker in your bio, you’ll see it recorded in insights. You’ll get plenty of engagement from this super simple tactic, as well as the next handy trick!

Send Followers From Your Stories to Your Feed

If you regularly post content to your feed like style blogger Chloe Alysse does, then you may want to use Stories to drive viewers to your latest posts! You can do this super easily – just go to the Post you’d like to share, tap the paper airplane icon under the post on the left and select “Add post to your Story.”

The image will appear in your Stories, and you can play around with display options, move the post around and add text, stickers, hashtags, and GIFS! In fact, Chloe uses these to capture attention and redirect her viewers!

Sharing Instagram Feed Posts to Stories to drive engagement

“I try to create some intrigue! If someones going through Stories, what’s going to get them to stop what they’re doing (which is continuing to look at my Stories and so many other people’s Stories) to actually go look at my post and see what I’m talking about?

Sometimes I’ll get a GIF and totally cover the picture, and I’ll announce “hey I have a new post on the feed!” They can’t see what the full image is but all you have to do is click on the picture, even if you can’t see the full thing, and Instagram will allow you to go from Stories into that feed to look at the post.

You can also see the analytics of this! After 24 hours or however long, you can look in Story insights to see how many people actually went through from the Stories to your actual feed post, and you can see if that’s a successful strategy for you!

Chloe Alysse

Psst… catch it in the Live at 13:42!

2. Play Around with New Ideas

Chloe started out strictly as a style blogger, but experimenting with new topics and ideas gave her a ton of valuable insight about her followers! 

I quickly learned that people have more than one interest! I have more than one interest! So I just started talking about different things I’m interested in, and some things people respond well to, some things they’re not super interested in but overall I think my audience really likes to see what I’m up to and what I like!

Chloe Alysse

Looking for Instagram Stories Engagement?  Be Yourself!

One of Chloe’s most surprising examples (which she shares on our Live at 20:03) was an innocent Story update on “Gilmore Girls”!

Chloe simply snapped a quick picture of her TV and posted that she was watching “Gilmore Girls” all the way through. To her surprise, she received an avalanche of DMs and engagement – the most she’s ever received from one post!

Asking polls in Instagram Stories

So what’s the takeaway? Don’t be afraid to post about your life, your interests and what you’re currently into. You may be surprised at the response!

Have Fun With New Designs, Styles and Effects

An easy way to get into the creative mindset is to play with design, color schemes, and looks! You can experiment with premade templates like those from Easil and Canva, or play with the tools that are already hidden in the app!

For example, did you know you can make rainbow and Gradient text options? Here’s a look at the tutorial we put up on our Stories (you can revisit it in our Tutorials highlight at @tailwindapp, too!) on how to make gradient text!

You can also change background colors, and add solid color and translucent overlays to your photos by going into your Pen tools!

For a complete rundown of our favorite Instagram Story design tricks, check out our recent blog post “8 Instagram Story Tricks to Dazzle Your Followers!”

Pssst… check out 23:23 for a peek at one of Kristen’s favorite design tools!

3. Ask Your Audience For Feedback

Instagram Stories is one of the easiest places to ask for audience feedback and involvement. In fact, it seems built for it with all the options of tools, stickers, and functions you can use to interact directly with your followers.

“If you think about it, when you’re scrolling your feed looking at posts, and you have to make the decision Am I going to like this? Okay, that’s not too hard. I want to comment on this, but what am I going to say? There’s a whole thought process behind that, and honestly, people have to decide whether the content is interesting enough, engaging enough that they want to do that!

Instagram Stories really takes away that extra step because you have all of these stickers and tools to get people to engage with you quickly and in a fun way… it’s really just tapping a sticker!” 

Kristen Dahlin
Using polls in Instagram Stories

Start the conversation with your followers through Stories by using a few of those stickers. Here are some fast tips.

  • Use Quizzes to help your followers get to know you, tease new products and create extended poll options
  • Use the Questions sticker to have your followers ask their burning questions about products, services, fun things about you, etc. Or use it to solicit feedback or ask for suggestions, as Kristen did for honeymoon ideas!
  • Use Polls to get audience feedback quickly and help your followers feel involved in your day-to-day choices. See Chloe’s example below!
  • Share a Countdown Timer to get your audience excited about an event, launch, giveaway OR just something exciting!
Instagram Stories countdown

You can catch all of these tips in more detail at 28:48 in the FB Live Replay!

4. Reshare Content Your Followers Can Relate To

One way to really pump up your engagement in Instagram Stories is to have plenty of content to engage with! However, if you don’t always have the time to come up with new Story content or posts, it’s definitely not the end of the world. 

In fact, you can spark new connections, grow your community and give your followers fun, fresh content to look at simply by resharing content from other accounts!

If you’re unsure what kind of content your followers might like to see you reshare, experiment a little! If you work in a specific niche or industry, this is a safe place to start. Reshare content related to your niche, that makes sense to participants or admirers of that niche OR something that you’ve talked about before!

As Chloe says, “never give up on Stories being an area for you to get a pulse on your audience!” 

Consider Stories your testing ground to see what your audience likes, responds to or could do without. There probably are some hard lines, though:

You shouldn’t reshare anything that people might be offended by or find inappropriate, but it’s really about feeling out your audience. There’s an element of that which exists in Stories that don’t in your feed. After all, your feed posts live forever unless you delete them, while Stories only last for 24 hours. If you repost a funny meme and nobody liked it… well, mental note, don’t share content like that again!

Kristen Dahlin

Engage With Content That You Admire – Chances Are Your Followers Will Like It, Too!

One thing Chloe is really intentional about when keeping her Stories active and engaging for her community is to add permanence to that mental commentary we all experience when scrolling our feeds. 

As I’m going through my Instagram feed, if I see something and think “oh, that’s a cool outfit” or “wow, I love what this person is talking about”, I’ll reshare to my Stories with my little commentary added. After that, I make sure to go back and comment on the post, because I really liked it and of course want them to get better engagement!

Chloe Alysse

You can find out more about how we decide what content to reshare at 36:13 in the FB Live Replay!

5. Keep the Excitement High!

One sure way to score higher engagement in your Stories is by intentionally keeping the excitement high. Always dabbling in the unexpected, playing to your strengths and rewarding your followers for their interaction excites your community and makes followers eager to see what’s coming next!

Here are some of our favorite ways to do just that.

Take Advantage of Unexpected Opportunities

Keeping your eyes open and your fingers on the pulse of things in your niche and the world at large is a great way to find unexpected opportunities for Stories content.

For example, we were enjoying a quiet Friday night in at Tailwind headquarters when Tim Tebow was tagged in one of our hashtag finder ads, and we discovered he and fiancee Demi-Leigh were desperately searching for wedding hashtag ideas!

That’s how we came up with the Tailwind Tebow Hashtag Quiz, a fun play-off themed poll asking our members which of four popular hashtags the couple should go with!

Our members had so much fun watching the “playoffs”, and an unexpected winner took first place. The coolest part? Demi-Leigh actually voted in the poll herself! Unfortunately, her chosen hashtag didn’t win, but we have a feeling she’ll get her way nonetheless.

Play To Your Strengths

You can also tap into audience excitement by determining exactly what your strengths are as a content creator. Are you incredibly knowledgeable in your field, and able to post educational talks and spur-of-the-moment tutorials that your audience can get real value from?

Or perhaps you’re always described as the funny friend, and able to share videos, posts and hilarious takes that will keep your followers in stitches! Maybe you’re always on top of the latest trends and able to share bands, styles, deals, steals and more before anyone else has heard of them!

All of these are exciting ways to add value, personality, and fun to your Stories that will send your engagement soaring!

Want even more tips on bringing excitement to your Stories? Skip ahead to 41:53 for all the juicy details!

Main Takeaways

There are a ton of tools, fancy stickers, and methods to spark engagement with your followers using Instagram Stories. Perhaps the most important takeaway (besides our fun acronym) is to always be open to learning and experimenting with Stories. You can find out so much about your followers, their likes, and their interests – and they can learn about yours on Stories!

This unlocks amazing connections, which are integral to driving engagement and keeping it high on Instagram!

The top five things you should begin experimenting with today are:

  1. Sending your followers somewhere with a clear call-to-action
  2. Playing around with new ideas, stories, designs, and topics to avoid getting stuck in a rut
  3. Asking your audience for feedback with a variety of features like Polls, Quizzes, Questions and more
  4. Resharing content that your followers can relate to, from accounts that inspire you, make you laugh or can teach your followers something new
  5. Keep the excitement high by being ready to jump on new opportunities, play to your strengths and reward followers for engagement.

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