If you’ve noticed a significant drop in engagement on your Instagram feed, you’re not alone. From algorithm mysteries to rumors of shadowbanning, it can be difficult to keep up. But one thing is for sure, Instagram is definitely changing the way you (and the broader Instagram audience) see your content on your feed, IGTV, and Instagram Stories!
The tricky part about negotiating these changes is that Instagram, like every other network, is very tight-lipped about how the algorithm works.
While this is helpful to prevent spammy accounts from “gaming the system”, it can be a real headache for regular users who just want to grow their accounts organically! #HeardThat
However, don’t get too down about it. There are a ton of tools and tips to help you boost your engagement and chase the reach you’re dreaming of!
Our latest favorite? Instagram Stories!
If you want to use Instagram Stories to grow your engagement and help boost your reach, keep reading.
Do Instagram Stories Affect the Algorithm?
Many Instagram growth strategies tend to focus on how the Instagram algorithm affects posts in your feed – after all, the feed has been around forever and we are comfortable in the feed!
That’s why when engagement seems to stall on feed content, Instagram users grow frustrated and feel like nothing works!
If this has been your experience, there might be a fix you haven’t REALLY tried yet – Instagram Stories. And because Instagram Stories do affect the algorithm, especially when it comes to helping more of your followers see your posts on their feed first, you owe it to yourself and your business to give it a try.
Let’s break it down.
After rumors of algorithm changes surfaced last year, Instagram published a statement on Twitter:
This is the clearest messaging we’ve seen from Instagram about how the algorithm (or feed ranking) works. Basically, the algorithm is designed to rank your posts based on the activities of your audience such as:
- The accounts they engage with the most (and if you’re one of them!)
- How often they use Instagram
- How many people they follow
- How recent your posts are
Instagram’s tagline on Twitter is a good summation of what the algorithm is ultimately supposed to do for users:
In other words, the algorithm is designed to put family, friends, and accounts of interest in users’ feed first. If they rarely interact with your content, chances are it won’t appear very high in their feeds.
If they can’t see your posts on their feed, they can’t interact with them, meaning your engagement doesn’t change. Ugh!
However, there is a place they might be even more likely to see your content – Instagram Stories!
Why Instagram Users Are More Likely to View Your Stories Before They View Your Feed
Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours, which means there’s a clear time limit on viewing Story content before it’s gone forever.
While a user can view your feed any time they like, they’re usually aware that they have a limited time window to view content and take advantage of things posted in Stories – like discounts, promotions, products, or just more content from accounts they love!
To avoid major FOMO (fear of missing out), most users gravitate towards story content before scrolling their feeds. It also helps that IG Stories from accounts you follow are displayed right at the top of the Instagram home page (look below to see what we mean!).
All of this works in your favor when you begin regularly postingStories content. You have a chance to nab more Impressions, Reach, Interactions and more, which tells the algorithm that your content is interesting and relevant both in general and to those followers.
Therefore, your actual posts are more likely to appear in their feed, giving them a chance to engage – and drive your feed ranking even higher!
Speaking of Reach, Impressions, and Interactions, let’s pause here to take a look at the actions that influence the algorithm.
Instagram Story Insights, and What They Mean For Engagement
Instagram Insights sheds some light for you (and the algorithm) about how people are interacting with your content.
Below is a recent Story post from my account. (Note: I don’t often find burritos in my purse. Freebirds Burritos are just really big and hard to finish in one sitting! )
In the bottom left corner, you can see where it tells you how many people have viewed your Story.
If you tap this icon, a popup screen with your Story Insights will appear!
Any engagements from your viewers – replies, profile visits, follows, etc. send a signal to Instagram that your content is engaging and valuable, and deserves more reach!
How to Increase Instagram Stories Engagement
That’s all very nice, but how do you actually increase engagement on Stories?
We can help. Here are some quick tips to maximize those clicks, Instagram Story views, and profile visits!
1. Use Stickers That Your Followers Can’t Resist
People love to interact with their favorite accounts, and Instagram Stories makes interaction easier than ever! Stickers like Questions, Polls, and Quizzes give your followers a chance to weigh in on your content and even get a response.
Make a habit of including these stickers in your IG Stories so that your followers can build a connection with you – and interact with your content!
For example, Utah-based bridal designer Natalie Wynn asked her followers to help her make a decor decision using Story Polls.
And Amanda Burnett opened the floor for her followers to ask their burning blog questions.
Not only does this boost your engagement and positively affect your feed ranking, but it also gives you a ton more content for your IG Stories with ease.
For example, Amanda posted her answers to those questions, providing even more Stories for her followers to enjoy and learn from!
2.) Use Your Stories to Send Your Followers to Links
Website visits are one of the Insights tracked for IG Stories, and for good reason! If your followers are clicking links in your Stories, it’s signaling to the Instagram algorithm that your content is quality and something that your followers are interested in!
If you have over 10,000 followers, you’ll gain access to the handy Link in Stories tool. That enables your followers to Swipe Up at the bottom of your Story to be taken to a link of your choice.
For example, fashion account @savannah7’s used this Story to announce a restock, and a link to the featured dress.
If you don’t have 10,000 followers, you can include a CTA to the link in your bio. Profile Visits are also recorded in Insights! Just make sure to drop in a @mention tag with your username, or add an arrow pointing to your profile pic so that viewers can click and be taken to your profile immediately without backing out of your story!
3.) Tease Surprises, Discounts, or Must-Have Info At the End of Your Stories
This final tip is a great way to keep your followers watching your Instagram story without clicking to the next or exiting completely!
Simply make your first Story a teasing glimpse of a new product, event, discount code or freebie. You can then use your next few stories to explain benefits, feature reviews, OR offer more backstory to your followers!
Then, make your last frame the frame with the info your followers are looking for, with a link, a CTA or a special code!
Why is this effective? Each time your followers click next through your Stories rather than navigating away, it sends a positive signal to the feed ranking that your followers like your content and want to see more of it. Therefore, you can clue your followers in that something good is coming, and end with the prize to keep them watching!
Check out how skincare company Biossance does it on their Stories!
Plus, batching multiple Story frames doesn’t have to be hard work! In fact, you can use Tailwind for Instagram to draft your Story images and schedule them using push notifications to catch times when most of your followers are active on Instagram!
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Instagram Stories are a great driver for engagement, especially when it seems like your likes and comments from your Feed are flagging. To summarize:
- Positive interactions with your Stories do count in Instagram’s algorithm calculations, meaning ALL of your content has more opportunity for discovery.
- Followers who interact with your Stories are more likely to see your content higher in their feeds.
- Use Instagram Story stickers to encourage interaction and engagement.
- Clicks on Links in Stories or Link in Bio positively affect your feed ranking! Teasing discount codes, surprises or sneak peeks at the end of your Stories can keep followers interacting with your content longer!
- Scheduling your Stories with Tailwind is a great way to get into the habit of posting regularly – a great way to continue growing engagement.
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Have you seen an Instagram Story or two that was irresistibly engaging? Tell us about it in the comments below!