How do you use Instagram Stories? Are you the user who quickly taps through each frame or do you stick it out through to the end? Do you scroll through and seek out your favorite accounts or do you play them all in a row? What about posting—do you use any of the features? Do you share posts in your Story? What do you post on Stories about, and how do you make the decision to post to Stories instead of creating a whole Instagram post?

With so many styles and customizations included, it’s no surprise Instagram Stories has risen to the popularity it’s at right now. In fact, it’s hard to believe that the feature only launched three years ago. In that time, the amount of people using Stories on a daily basis has more than quadrupled, inspiring Instagram to add extras such as stickers, polls, filters, and more.

But with all this newness, it can be hard to keep up with all the ways you can beautify your brand’s unique Stories. We’ve taken in upon ourselves to navigate all the noise surrounding Instagram Stories itself and share the fundamentals of what you need to know to use this helpful tool.

Why Instagram Stories?

Before we dive in to the features, let’s talk about why Instagram Stories are important, especially for those in the hospitality industry. Stories allows you to promote key messages and content priorities and share real-time experiences. Because they’re more personal in nature, Stories helps drive user engagement and develop and strengthen relationships with followers, building brand loyalty. Finally, Instagram Stories are part of your property’s Instagram aesthetic, and therefore should be considered another outlet in which to show personality. Read on for our top recommendations on how to make your Stories shine.

Every Story Has a Theme

Now that Stories are the most prominent aspect of Instagram, it’s important that they’re treated as part of your overall content calendar. This means that each Story should carry forth one of your brand pillars or themes. For example, Stories can be used to promote events such as on-property celebrations (hello, Fourth of July barbecue!) or behind-the-scenes explorations (“take a peek at our chef preparing this week’s special dessert”). They can be used to showcase amenities, culinary offerings, or spectacular destinations around your property.

Stories are also a great way to offer promotions and packages or highlight awards and press coverage when you don’t want to draft an entire Instagram post about it, but you still want it shared on your social platforms.

Lastly, Stories are an effective tool to use while participating in influencer collaborations. An influencer can “take over” your brand’s channel to share their personal experience at your property. Once your themes are organized, you’re ready to start executing.

Tips for Stellar Stories

Color palette: keep the colors consistent. As we mentioned, Stories should be treated as an extension of your Instagram feed; therefore, the colors used should mirror those used in your Instagram grid. As for photos, make sure you are always using them in vertical format and allow some negative space to add text.

Fonts: Instagram offers a variety of fonts to choose from on Stories, but that does not mean you should use them all. Readability is the number one priority, so we recommend using no more than two fonts per story—and, as fun as it is, keep the neon cursive font for accent only.

Extras: while stickers are a fun way to add flair and individuality to your Story, remember to use them judiciously—too many and your audience will get lost in the décor of the Story and miss the message. For hotels, we recommend using a geotag, @mentions, and hashtags strategically. And when it comes to gifs, drop in one to two only where negative space allows.

Techniques to Master

Saving Stories: Save multiple posts from your Stories to share the final file for clients or to save as Highlight albums. To save a Story: upload Instagram Stories and play the Story. Select the three dots in the lower right-hand corner. Tap “Save” and then tap “Save Story.” The Story should be in your saved photos. To add a Story to a Highlight album: upload Instagram Stories and play the Story. Select the “Highlight” option in the lower right-hand corner. Add to an existing Highlight album or create a new one.

Color spectrum & color matching: Did you know you can go beyond the 27 colors provided by Instagram? To access the color spectrum, tap the “Aa” or pen icon. Long-tap on any of the colors provided and then swipe across to select a custom color of choice. Color matching is when you pull a color from the image or video asset provided. To color match, tap the “Aa” or pen icon. Tap the color dropper icon on the left of the color palette and a color dropper will appear on your screen. Hold your finger down and move the color dropper around on the screen to select your preferred hue. Once you decide on a color, release your finger and begin writing, typing, or drawing.

Eraser: Using the eraser tool is a creative way to build excitement and curiosity on your story. To use, highlight your photo or video in one color, then select the eraser to draw shapes or write text (with a stylus!) to reveal the image beneath.

Keyboard designs: For adding unique geometric features to your story, try using various symbols and punctuation marks from your keyboard as design elements—periods can become polka dots, underscores can become accent lines. To use, tap “Aa” to open the text tool. Select a symbol (try an underscore!) and adjust the size and placement of it to add unique elements.

Utilizing Instagram Stories for your brand not only offers you another outlet to engage with your audience, it also allows you to communicate intriguing messages, promote content priorities, and share real-time experiences, all in a creative way. By organizing a content strategy, remembering our tips and learning a few creative techniques, you’ll be well on your way to making Instagram Stories a solid digital feature. We can’t wait to see them!