How to increase your Instagram Stories reach

How I increased the reach of my Instagram Stories

It’s a tricky time to be on Instagram. Most users report it’s harder and harder to get their posts noticed. Marketers say that engagement for brands and influencers has been declining since May this year. We can only guess why – increased traffic, changes to the algorithm, even summer weather could be the cause (I wrote about it here). But is there anything we can do about it? Well, I’ve found that for Stories – yes…

Increase Instagram Stories reach in 5 simple steps

Not only did my main feed posts start to struggle a few months back, I also noticed a drop in views on my Instagram Stories.

The number of accounts that see your Stories is determined by the algorithm. It aims to identify the best, newest, most relevant, and engaging content. So if people are interested, holding the screen to read, commenting, sticking with a Story until the end rather than skipping past it, chances are you are on to a winner. Your little Stories circle will appear closer to the front of your followers feed.

So I have upped my game a little. By making small adjustments to my Stories strategy I’ve seen a 50-80% increase in the number of views. Here’s how.

Post when people are watching

Yes, the whole point of Stories is that they are current, spontaneous babe, and of the moment. Yes yes yes. But.

I find that when I post to Stories influences how much they are viewed.

As with my main feed posts, if I post to Stories either at breakfast time or in the evening, they are seen by more people. If I start Storeying at 11am – it falls flat.

So as a rule (and rules are made to be broken 😉) I now post in the evening. It’s my best time. Work out your best time by using Insights, common sense and trial and error.

I don’t advocate getting too hung up on posting times, we can only do what we can do. But if we are going to be on Instagram (which is time-consuming, right?) for me, it makes sense to do it when you are most likely to get the best results.

Video first

There is an avalanche of evidence that people are more engaged by moving images than still ones yet I still have to remind myself to think in video-first for Stories.

Our brains love video – read why here.

Using all the video tools available in the app and on your phone (Boomerang, stop-motion, time-lapse, filters) keeps people watching.

Research by Social Insider into how Stories perform (for brands) found that we tend to drop off more on photos than video posts. Read the whole report here there’s some other useful stuff in there around the number of Stories to post (suggesting up to 6 a day is ideal).

Talk to Stories

While we are talking video, are you talking to camera enough? It can be tempting to think that no-one will be interested in seeing us chat away. Yet blow me down they are among the best performing Stories I post.

Earlier this week I talked about an event I have coming up – essentially a sales post – and it reached 50% more people than my average Story. And almost 80% of those who started watching completed the post of 9 Stories.

Try it, it’s a great way to increase your Instagram Stories reach!

Nervous about appearing on camera? Read this post about video confidence it features advice from some brilliant video pros!

My video top tip: use subtitles.

Think like a storyteller

Stories are a big part of Instagram. They could be seen as more important than feeds posts, they are certainly growing 15x faster. So give them as much thought.

Is what you are saying clear (really clear – you’ve got a nano-second to get people’s attention) or a bit of a mad jumble? Are you telling a good story?

When I plan my Stories I think about the photos, video, and words I will need to make it successful. It’s no surprise that they perform better than unplanned ones.

Encourage people to stay

We are all Stories viewers – so think for a second about how you watch them. We’re merciless, tapping and swiping past anything that is remotely uninteresting.

So the first image or video you post should be a knockout that convinces us to keep watching.

Then, tempt your follower to watch the next slide. Tease what is coming yet – ask a question, then answer it on the next slide. Promise a reveal.

I try and think about these things when I am structuring a Story, never assume people know what’s coming next.

And a little of what I am doing less of

Re-posting mentions and shoutouts. While it is always nice to be nice and say thank you. Reposting every time you are mentioned in someone else’s Story can be a little bit dull.

Click and listen to the first 15 minutes of this episode of A Drink with James, a podcast from influencer marketer James Nord. In it, he talks about the problem with reposts and their limited value to the viewer.

New post alerts. It can be helpful to nudge people on Stories towards your new grid post, but again, they can be a bit of a turn-off. I’m trying to use them sparingly or be a little more inventive when I do.

And what I can’t help but do

Some of my posts don’t perform well but I do them anyway because they are important. New blog post alerts, an important shoutout, talking about upcoming events, reminding people that I have a newsletter (it’s great 😀 social media news and comment, sign up in the subscriber’s box while you are here!). Generally, these posts don’t do brilliantly, but hey.

While it’s super satisfying to see an increase in your Instagram Stories reach, it’s equally important to know when to liberate yourself from the numbers.

A little bit of short term lower engagement can be worth it for long term gain.

Let me know what works for you on Stories – join the conversation in the comments box below. 

When people share my work I do a little happy dance, pin this to Pinterest by clicking on this image.

What's your View?

14 comments on “How I increased the reach of my Instagram Stories

  1. Bejal on

    Some great tips here Helen! Must remember to talk more on camera as sometimes just forget! However I find my videos and photos get the same number of views. But do find stories on templates with music are received better!

  2. Helen on

    Hi, Be! I guess what we can take away from that is that different things will hook in our individual audiences. And that taking notice of that – can drive up engagement. Thanks always for reading, Hx

  3. Tracy Acock on

    Hi Helen & thanks for all your amazing content! I love my stories although I am a very small fish…but try to add words & I get all the “saved” order mixed up afterwards! 🤷🏼‍♀️ Do you have advice as the Caption app had rubbish reviews.

  4. Ella Orr on

    Fabulous advice as always. I love your Stories and I’m looking forward to trying out your suggestions. For me doing stories can be quite liberating, freeing oneself from the grid which can become quite rigid. Thank you!

  5. Helen on

    Hi Tracy 😀 I have an app called Veme.ly that generates subtitles, but it is not free I’m afraid. I recommend just adding some abbreviated subtitles yourself – just a few words that give the viewer an idea of what you are saying if they can’t (or don’t want to) watch with the sound on. ‘Doesn’t have to be word-for-word. And yes, I love Stories too. Thanks for stopping by, Hx

  6. Helen on

    Hi Ella, I totally agree, Stories feel like a much less heavy place to post. I fret over my main feed posts so much, but on Stories we’re liberated by the fact that it disappears in 24 hours. Hurrah! Lovely of you to pop by and leave a comment, Hx

  7. Helen on

    It’s worth it M – I think people are spending so much time there now that it is worth the effort. Yours are always beautiful when you do them, especially on your travels! Thanks for taking the time to read, always so appreciated Hx

  8. chiara on

    Hi Helen, yes, Stories are a great tool now for increasing the reach and I am forcing myself to do more on them 🙂 I’ve reached the worst engagement ever lately, with an increasing number of followers but awful number of likes :/ I don’t stay on IG much, I admit, but it’s quite depressing! Greetings from Zürich x

  9. Honor DAVIS-MARKS on

    Hi thank you – great advice and I’m all over it – but I want to add music and don’t have that option (I have an Iphone 8plus) my daughter has the same phone and yet she has it ! How do I get it ..do you know? I am sure it makes a difference because I like it on others stories x

  10. Helen on

    Hello Zurich, hello Chiara! I believe the decline in Instagram engagement is making everyone re-examine their relationship with the platform. Don’t be depressed though, your content thoroughly engages me 😀. It will be interesting to see how people adjust…

  11. Helen on

    Hi Honor, I’m sorry I don’t have an answer for you on the music feature. Some accounts have it – some don’t – they roll these things out gradually and there is no way of knowing when you will be upgraded. It doesn’t make any difference what phone you have. Thanks for stopping by for a read though – I always appreciate it. Hx

  12. Juliana on

    Very informative Helen and it’s interesting that there are better times to story than others, which in a way feels a little contrived (to me) as stories were originally meant to be a free and easy any time kind of platform (I think). But then I suppose IG was like that too once upon a time!

  13. Helen on

    I agree Juliana it’s not really in the original spirit of Instagram, and I tooooottallly advocate spontaneity (the best kind of posting) – but if you would like to get a little strategic and achieve some better views on Stories, then it is worth experimenting with your timings 🤓. Thanks for reading, Hx

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