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How brands can boost engagement with Instagram Stories Highlights

In what’s being called one of the biggest Instagram Stories updates of 2017, Instagram recently launched the Instagram Stories Highlights and Archive features. Now, users have the ability to curate and pin permanent collections of Instagram Stories viewable on your Instagram profile.

This is a huge update for brands and brand marketers.

You will now have a longer period of time to capture your audience’s attention with the content you produce for Instagram Stories. Previously, your audience only had the ability to view an Instagram Story within 24 hours before it completely disappeared. However, with this new feature, you are able to save stories for as long as you’d like and have them accessible via your Instagram profile.

We often talk about how important it is to have a consistent visual brand identity in order to ensure the people who consume your content and interact with your brand receive a consistent brand experience. By being able to now save and store the Instagram Stories that best resonate with your audience, you can continue to drive impactful Instagram Stories to them for longer periods of time as you would a regular Instagram post.

How does Instagram Stories Highlights work?

Instagram Stories Highlights are pinned to your Instagram page from your Instagram Story, and show up in a separate menu line underneath your Instagram biography. You can save Instagram Stories via the Archive feature, released in partnership with the Highlights feature.

To add an Instagram Story to a Highlights Collection from your Archive, go to your profile and you should see a circle for your Stories Highlights that says “New.” Tap on it, and you will be taken to your Archived stories. When you are in your archive, you can select the stories you would like to add to your Stories Highlights Collection. Once you’ve chosen your stories, select “Next” and give your Highlights Collection a name. Once you’ve named your Stories Highlights group, tap “Edit Cover.” You can then select an image that represents the Stories Highlights collection. Tap “Done” and you’re ready to go.

What does Instagram Stories Highlights mean for brands?

Custom content resonates with most consumers. Creating enough content to produce clever and custom Stories Highlights needs to be a part of your marketing strategy. Follow these 10 tips to leverage the Instagram Stories Highlights feature, scale production of custom visual content, and make an impact on how you visually market your brand.

Create campaign-specific collections

If you’re promoting a new marketing campaign, create an Instagram Stories Highlights collection around its launch and progression. Combine this with some of the other tips on using Instagram Stories to share content such as product specific or lifestyle-oriented shots specifically related to your campaign.

Create collections of tutorials and/or recipes

If you are a food and beverage client, this feature helps you repeatedly show your audience how to make delicious recipes using your products. Save the recipes you’ve created as custom content into a specific collection so your audience can refer to your Highlights collections to access your preferred tips the next time they are cooking. Rather than rely solely on single-use recipes, you can drive return visits to the content with Highlights.

Save location-based Stories Highlights as guidebooks

Marketers in the tourism industry use custom visual content to inspire customers. But what if your content could function as a digital guidebook for your audience’s next trip? Save each location-specific Instagram Story into individual Collections so your audience knows to check back with your brand’s account when planning their next trip.

Share behind-the-scenes moments to humanize your brand

Sharing behind the scenes videos into the personality behind your brand is a fantastic way to earn the trust of your customers. Popular collection ideas include employee stories on their experiences with the brand, behind-the-scenes development of products, or simply a tour of the corporate office.

Set up a Highlight for a specific event or occasion

If event marketing is a big part of your brand’s marketing strategy, this feature is for you. Save stories curated from each unique event or trade show you host to keep all the fun in one place. You may also consider creating series of vertical videos featuring each location, and include each piece of content in your Highlights collections to drive audience interest.

Add news stories or industry-related trends

In addition to your stunning custom visuals, add fun text highlights using an app, such as Over, to give your audience more insight into your brand. You can both captivate your audience with images, and provide educational knowledge of your business at the same time. For example, if you’re a banking business, create insightful content illustrating your brand’s products and services against a backdrop of competitors or market-wide trends. Targeting customers with custom localized content is a growing trend in financial services.

Share tips and tutorial how-tos on using your product effectively

If you’re using your social media channels to demonstrate how to use your product effectively, organize helpful tutorials and guides into Highlights collections to share tips with your audience. This is a great feature for beauty clients. Create how-to content showcasing your product in use, and include the swipe up feature so that your audience can purchase the products you are showcasing. It’s a built-in call-to-action.

Showcase your product lines or new releases

Fashion and lifestyle brands use Instagram Stories Highlights to create separate collections for new line releases, sales, and other promotions. Share new product offerings with your clients, or showcase the story of how a product or collection came to be.

Have weekly themed content or interview series

Create a weekly themed content or interview series based on your audience’s likes and interests. For example, if you’re a beauty client, have a weekly account takeover and save them into one space. If you’re a tourism client, have a weekly “Hot Spring, Hike, Breakfast Spot” around the world and motivate your audience to come back for more. This is an excellent way to market your brand and make Instagram a crucial part of your business.

Highlight your community

If you are a brand that uses both custom and user-generated content, use this feature to highlight your community and showcase your newest products. You can engage your loyal customers with a digital shout-out, and show the rest of your audience how much people love your brand. There’s an Instagram Stories Chrome extension that allows you to save another user’s story and add it to your own Instagram Story. Note that to use the extension, you need to get the user’s permission and give credit to the user in your Story.

Creating impactful and engaging Instagram Stories is more important than ever, especially now that you can save them permanently to your Instagram Stories Highlights collections. We urge you to plan ahead and adopt a strategy with how you develop and save Instagram Stories that will highlight your brand.

Creating content for Instagram and Instagram Stories is one of the most popular uses for Shutterstock Custom. Book a demo and speak with one of our specialists to learn more about our custom process and start creating Instagram Stories content that generates results.

About Jordan Dyck

Jordan is the Content Writer for the Shutterstock Custom business unit and leads contributor education for Shutterstock Custom’s global network of photographers and videographers.

Her career in photography, marketing, and writing spans over 8 years. In addition to her role at Shutterstock, she also contributes photography and articles to a variety of international publications. You can view some of her contributions on Instagram.

In her current role, she works on leading initiatives to improve the contributor experience at Shutterstock Custom, and provides contributors with learning content and tools to advance their skills in creating custom content for Shutterstock Custom customers.