How to Adapt Your Content for Instagram Stories: Tips from HubSpot‘s Social Team

Instagram Stories have exploded in popularity since their launch in 2016, with over 500 million daily users as of January 2023. For brands, this immersive, full-screen format presents a massive opportunity to engage followers and reach new audiences. However, simply repurposing content from other platforms isn‘t enough to capture attention in today‘s oversaturated social landscape.

To stand out and drive meaningful results with Stories, you need to be strategic about the content you post and how you adapt it for this unique medium. That‘s why we asked HubSpot‘s top Instagram marketers to share their tips for transforming blog posts, videos, graphics, and more into compelling, thumbstopping Stories.

Whether you‘re new to Stories or looking to take your strategy to the next level, this guide will walk you through the best practices and tactics you need to know. Let‘s dive in!

Why Adapt Content for Instagram Stories?

First, let‘s talk about why investing time and resources into Instagram Stories should be a priority for brands in 2023 and beyond. Here are some key reasons:

  1. Reach a wider audience. Over 62% of Instagram users say they become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories. By showing up in the Stories feed at the top of the app, you have a chance to get in front of followers who may not always see your posts in their main feed.

  2. Boost engagement. Instagram Stories boast an average completion rate of 87%, compared to just 20-30% for feed videos. The interactive features available in Stories, like polls, questions, and quizzes, make it easy to spark conversations and gather valuable feedback from your audience.

  3. Drive traffic and conversions. 15-25% of people swipe on links in branded Stories, making this a powerful way to move followers further down your marketing funnel. Whether you‘re promoting a new blog post, product launch, or limited-time offer, Stories can help you drive measurable results for your business.

  4. Showcase your brand personality. Stories offer a behind-the-scenes look at your brand that you might not share in the curated posts on your main feed. This is a chance to humanize your brand, share your values and mission, and build deeper connections with your audience.

Instagram Stories Best Practices from HubSpot Marketers

Now that we‘ve covered the "why," let‘s talk about "how" to create effective Instagram Stories. We asked HubSpot‘s social media team to share their top tips:

1. Keep it concise and focused

"Stories move fast, so you need to capture attention quickly," says Kelly Hendrickson, HubSpot‘s Senior Social Media Manager. "Stick to one key message per Story slide and use eye-catching visuals to draw people in. If you‘re promoting a blog post or longer piece of content, tease the main takeaway and then encourage viewers to swipe up to read more."

2. Prioritize video content

"Motion is one of the best ways to stop thumbs and increase watch time on your Stories," says Leslie Green, HubSpot‘s Social Media Video Editor. "Whenever possible, incorporate short video clips into your Stories, even if it‘s just a quick Boomerang or GIF. This could be product demos, behind-the-scenes footage, or repurposed snippets from longer brand videos."

3. Design for sound off

"Many users watch Stories with the sound off, especially when they‘re in public places," notes Kelly. "Make sure your content is easy to understand without audio by using text overlays, subtitles, and descriptive visuals. If sound is important to your message, use captions or add a ‘sound on‘ sticker to let viewers know to turn up the volume."

4. Incorporate interactive features

"Polls, questions, and emoji sliders are a great way to encourage followers to engage with your Stories and share their thoughts," says Leslie. "Not only do these features boost your completion rates, but they also give you valuable insights into what your audience cares about. Just make sure to follow up and share the results to keep the conversation going!"

Here‘s an example of how HubSpot used a poll in a Story to gather feedback on a new product feature:

Example of poll in Instagram Story

5. Make it easy for viewers to take action

"Every Story should have a clear purpose and call to action," advises Kelly. "What do you want viewers to do after watching? Whether it‘s swiping up to read a blog post, purchasing a product, or DMing you for more info, make it super obvious and easy for them to take that next step."

6. Use a consistent brand look and feel

"Just like with your main feed posts, your Stories should align with your overall brand aesthetic," says Leslie. "Choose colors, fonts, and design elements that match your visual identity. This helps with brand recognition and creates a cohesive experience for followers as they move through your content."

7. Test, measure, and optimize

"There‘s no one-size-fits-all approach to Instagram Stories," notes Kelly. "It‘s important to experiment with different types of content and formats to see what works best for your unique audience. Use Instagram Insights to track key metrics like reach, forward taps, and exit rates, and then adjust your strategy based on what you learn."

Adapting Content for Stories: Step-by-Step Walkthroughs

Now let‘s get into the nitty gritty of actually transforming different types of content for Stories. Here are specific strategies and examples for common content formats:

Blog Posts

Have a high-performing or relevant blog post you want to get more eyeballs on? Adapt it for Stories with these steps:

  1. Identify key takeaways or tips. Break down the post into 3-5 main points that work as standalone Story slides. Avoid large walls of tiny text—this is about conveying the gist quickly and enticing people to read the full thing.

  2. Design text graphics. Using your brand fonts and colors, create simple graphics for each slide that showcase a tip, quote, or statistic from the post. Add relevant photos, illustrations, or backgrounds to make them more visually interesting.

  3. Record a video intro. To make it even more engaging, record a short selfie video (no more than 15 seconds) introducing the blog post and why viewers should care. This adds a human element and builds trust.

  4. Include a strong CTA. Make sure the last slide of the Story has a clear call to action to "Swipe up to read more" with an arrow GIF pointing to the link. You can also add the link to your Story Highlights so it lives on past 24 hours.

Here‘s an example of how HubSpot adapted a blog post about remote work into a Story:

Example of blog post adapted for Instagram Story

Videos

Have a YouTube video, product demo, or brand film you want to repurpose for Stories? Here‘s how:

  1. Choose highlight clips. Identify 3-5 engaging clips from the video that work well as standalone segments (ideally 5-15 seconds each). These could be key quotes, impressive shots, or funny moments.

  2. Edit for mobile viewing. Resize the video clips into vertical, 9:16 format. Make sure any text is large enough to read on a smartphone screen. Add captions if the audio is crucial to the message.

  3. Tease the full video. On the last slide of the Story, add a CTA to "Watch the full video" with a swipe up link. You can also promote the video in feed posts and direct people to watch the Story for a sneak peek.

User-Generated Content

Showcasing customer photos, testimonials, and success stories in your Stories is a great way to build social proof. Here‘s how to do it effectively:

  1. Curate the best UGC. Collect photos, videos, and quotes from customers that showcase your product or service in action. Make sure to get permission to repost and always give credit to the original creator.

  2. Add context and branding. Use text overlays or graphics to provide background on the customer and how your offering helped them. Incorporate your brand colors and logo so it aligns with your aesthetic.

  3. Encourage viewers to participate. End the Story with a CTA for followers to share their own experiences or photos. You can create a branded hashtag to collect submissions or ask people to DM you.

Example of user-generated content in Instagram Story

Product Showcases

Stories are a prime place to highlight your offerings and drive conversions. Here‘s how to do a compelling product showcase:

  1. Focus on benefits over features. Resist the urge to rattle off a list of product specs. Instead, show how the product improves customers‘ lives through engaging visuals and demos.

  2. Create a narrative arc. Structure your Story like a mini commercial, with a hook, problem, solution, and CTA. Storyboard it out slide by slide to ensure a logical flow.

  3. Provide social proof. Incorporate customer testimonials, ratings, or press mentions to build credibility.

  4. Make it shoppable. Tag products directly in the Story so users can tap to shop or swipe up to visit the product page on your website.

Listicles & How-Tos

Educational content like listicles and step-by-step guides works well for Stories too. Here‘s how to break them down:

  1. Keep it snackable. Distill the steps or list items into short, actionable slides. Aim for a maximum of 10 slides to avoid fatigue.

  2. Number each slide. Add a numerical graphic to each slide so viewers can easily keep track of where they are in the sequence.

  3. Provide examples. Where applicable, show real examples of each tip or step in action through photos or screen recordings.

  4. Offer a "cheat sheet". At the end of the Story, give viewers an option to screenshot or download a condensed version of the listicle or guide for easy reference.

Example of how-to guide on Instagram Story

Designing Engaging Instagram Stories: Tools & Templates

Now that you have a handle on the strategy, let‘s talk about execution. Creating professional-looking Stories can seem daunting, but there are plenty of tools and templates to help you get started:

  • Canva: Canva offers an extensive library of customizable Story templates for everything from listicles to product promotions. It also has a built-in image editor and allows you to upload your own brand fonts and colors.

  • Unfold: Unfold is a mobile app that provides sleek, minimalist templates for Stories. It‘s great for showcasing photos and creating cohesive story "series."

  • Mojo: Mojo offers animated templates that can take your Stories to the next level. It also has a library of royalty-free music and sound effects to amp up your videos.

  • Adobe Spark: If you‘re already familiar with Adobe‘s Creative Suite, Spark makes it easy to design Stories using customizable templates. It can auto-resize your content for different platforms and offers a library of free photos and icons.

When designing your Stories, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Stick to 1-2 brand colors: Too many competing colors can be overwhelming in such a small space. Pick one or two of your core brand hues and use them consistently.

  • Choose legible fonts: Avoid overly stylized or condensed typefaces that will be hard to read on a phone screen. Opt for clean, bold sans serifs instead.

  • Leave breathing room: Don‘t be afraid of negative space! Leaving some open areas around your text and graphics will keep your design from feeling cluttered.

  • Establish a layout style: Create a recognizable look and feel by using similar layouts, image/text sizing, and styles across your Stories. This helps with brand recognition and consistency.

Promoting & Measuring Your Stories

You‘ve created your awesome Story content—now it‘s time to make sure it gets seen by the right people. Here are some top tips for getting more views and engagement on your Stories:

  1. Post when your audience is active: Use Instagram Insights to see when your followers are most active on the app and experiment with posting your Stories at those times.

  2. Use relevant hashtags: Include 1-3 targeted hashtags on your Stories to increase discoverability. You can hide them behind a sticker or GIF if you don‘t want them to clutter your design.

  3. Tag relevant accounts: If you partner with influencers or other brands, tag their handles in your Stories. This notifies them and makes it easy for them to re-share to their own audience. Just make sure the partnership is clearly disclosed.

  4. Utilize location tags: Tag your business location or relevant event/venue to show up in the Stories for that place.

  5. Promote on other channels: Let your email list, website visitors, and other social followers know about your Instagram Stories. This is especially useful for time-sensitive content like product launches or limited offers.

To measure the success of your Stories, pay attention to these key metrics:

  • Reach: How many unique accounts saw your Story
  • Impressions: The total number of views on your Story
  • Forward Taps: How many times viewers tapped to skip to the next slide (a high number could indicate your content isn‘t engaging)
  • Backward Taps: How many times viewers tapped back to rewatch the previous slide
  • Exits: How many times viewers left your Story before completing it
  • Responses: The number of replies to an interactive sticker like a poll or question
  • Link Clicks: If you include a "swipe-up" link, track how many viewers clicked through

Use these insights to tweak and optimize your approach. If you notice certain types of content have higher exit rates, try something new. If a particular Story gets a ton of responses, think about how you can replicate that success. Remember, it‘s all about continual testing and learning!

Conclusion

Instagram Stories aren‘t going anywhere—in fact, half of businesses on Instagram say Stories have helped them increase sales. By adapting your existing content and creating new, Stories-specific assets, you can get in front of a whole new audience and drive meaningful results for your business.

The key is to get creative and think outside the feed post box. Brainstorm ways to translate your brand messaging into short, visually immersive snippets that align with Stories‘ fast pace and casual vibe. Don‘t be afraid to show some personality and interact directly with your followers!

Most importantly, always keep your strategy rooted in your overarching business goals. Whether you‘re aiming to increase brand awareness, drive traffic, or convert followers into customers, every Story should have a clear purpose and call to action.

With the tips, examples, and tools outlined in this guide, you should be well on your way to Instagram Stories success. It‘s time to get out there and start adapting—your audience is waiting for you behind that little rainbow ring!