Instagram Stories - 11 Hidden Features & 3 Powerful Ways to Use Them

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11 NEW Instagram Stories Features & 3 of My Favorite Ways to Use Them For Your Business!

Instagram stories has been gaining a lot of speed ever since it’s inception earlier this year. While most people can’t ignore the fact it’s a blatant rip off of Snapchat, that hasn’t stopped anyone from embracing it. In fact, Instagram stories just hit 200 million active daily users which has surpassed Snapchat’s last documented 161 million (keeping in mind Snapchat has been around a lot longer!) As it’s popularity grows, so does it’s features and potential uses for your business, brand or blog!

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post and created a YouTube video that taught you the basics of how to use Instagram stories, but today we’re upping the ante: the blog post below covers 11 new and “hidden” Instagram stories features you may not have known about, and 3 different ways you can use these features to increase your engagement on Instagram! If this sounds like something you might be interested in, keep reading!

Overwhelmed by Instagram stories? What makes it better than Snapchat? How can I use them to improve my presence on Instagram? IG expert Alex Tooby explains in this awesome blog post. I didn't know a ton of these features even existed! Great read

11 Instagram Stories Features You May Not Know About:

 

Hands Free Recording

Doing a makeup tutorial? Showing exercises at the gym? Doing a dance routine? Turning your expertise into an Instagram story just got easier with hands free recording! Open up your Instagram stories camera and below the record button, slide the text to the left until the words ‘hands free’ are selected. Now you can simply tap the record button once and it’ll record for 10 seconds. Whether you need both of your hands for your video, or you simply prefer this one touch option, it sure is handy to have!

instagram stories - handsfree feature

Rewind Playback

This is a new feature that doesn’t necessarily provide much value in terms of business, but it certainly is fun! To use the rewind feature you need to make sure it’s selected prior to recording. Navigate to your Instagram stories camera, slide the text under the record button to the left until ‘rewind’ is selected, then hold the record button to create your video. When you’re done the playback will show your video in reverse!

instagram stories - rewind feature 

Zoom

Do you know how to zoom within your Instagram stories? I didn’t for the longest time and happened to find out accidentally! While you’re recording a video, slide your thumb (or whatever finger you’re using to press the record button) upwards or downwards to easily zoom in and out. This can also be done while using the hands free feature but you must begin your sliding motion from the record button.

Instagram stories zoom feature

Face Filters

If it wasn’t obvious that Instagram Stories is an exact replica of Snapchat, you can’t deny it now! Instagram just added “face filters” to make your stories even more fun. Now you can select cute bunny ears, glasses, a flower crown, and many more options to spice up your Instagram stories. To do this, navigate to your Instagram stories camera, turn the camera view to face yourself, then select the smile icon to the right of the record button. The face filters should now appear at the bottom of your screen. Scroll through and try out all the options. When you’ve found one you like, hit record and add to your story!

instagram stories face filters

Customized Markers

Chances are good you knew about the option to draw on your story using a marker, but did you know you can actually customize the markers quite a bit? Yep! Here’s how:

Take a photo or video, then select one of the marker options from the top of your screen. From here you can adjust the width of the marker by pressing the far left icon that looks like 3 dots on top of each other. A scale will appear where you can drag a white circle up and down it. The further you go down the more precise your marker will be. The further you go up the thicker the marker will be.

Now that you’ve chosen your desired width, what about your perfect color? Instagram shows you 9 pretty generic colors but you actually have access to the entire color wheel, it’s just hidden! To access it, press and hold on any of the visible colors to bring up a color map where you can drag and select the perfect color for you. Simply let go of the screen when you have found the color you want!

instagram stories - marker colors and widths

Solid Background

Pictures and video are what most people choose to upload to Instagram stories but did you now you have a few other options? How about choosing your brand colors, creating a solid background then adding some text to make an eye catching graphic? Here’s how:

Open your Instagram stories camera, take a photo of anything, select the marker tool from the top of your screen and select a color from below. When you’ve chosen your perfect color, press and hold the screen with your thumb for three seconds. When done properly the entire screen should fill with the color of your choice! If it doesn’t work the first time, try again, as it can be a little finicky. Once you’ve got your solid background you can swipe some text using the markers, type out a message using the text tool, or add a bunch of pretty stickers to get your message across!

instagram stories - add a solid background

Eraser Brush

This is a new tool that can be accessed by clicking the marker after taking a photo or recording a video. It’s the 4th icon on the top of your screen, closest to the right. This tool is best used after you’ve used the feature above to create a solid background! You can then erase the message you want to share or just use it to create something unique and artistic.

instagram_stories_eraser

Stickers (Locations, Hashtags & more!)

Want to spice up your photos and videos even more? Add stickers to them! After taking a photo or video, click the square square smiley face on the top of your screen then scroll through the options. Inside you’ll find the date, time, fun sayings like “yaass” and a full range of emojis.

On top of that you’ll find two special stickers that I think deserve a little more attention. The first is the Location sticker. When you click this, a screen will pop up that allows you choose a location to describe your story. Now this not only gives your audience insight into where you are (perfect for travel bloggers!) it also gives you the opportunity to be seen by a wider range of users. How? Well Instagram recently starting compiling all of the stories from specific locations into a new “places” story on the explore tab. That means not only will your followers see your stories, but anyone in the vicinity of the tagged location may see it to! I love this feature and use it often to get an extra boost in views.

The last sticker I want to talk about is the hashtag sticker. When you click it, you can type out any hashtag you want to describe your story. Once it’s published, viewers can click the hashtag and be taken directly to it to view the photos inside. Instagram hasn’t added a complied story to the hashtag just yet but I’m certain that’s coming in the near future. In the meantime this is a good way to get extra eyes on your brand tag! (Ahem.. mine is #immtribe)

instagram stories - add a sticker

Boomerangs

Boomerangs are one of the only features Instagram stories has that wasn’t “inspired” by Snapchat. To take a boomerang, open your Instagram stories camera and slide the text below the record button to the left until ‘boomerang’ is selected, then press the record button. You’ll notice that multiple photos are being taken within milliseconds of each other. The idea is that you make a small but deliberate movement during that time. For example, winking to the camera, sticking your tongue out, flipping a page or jumping up and down. When the boomerang is played back you’ll see your “video” quickly go forward, then backward, then forward, then backward. These are an engaging alternative to video or photo!

instagram stories - add a boomerang

Text (Sizes, Colors & Tagging Users!)

Adding text seems pretty basic but did you know you can snazz up your text pretty substantially with the latest Instagram stories update? First things first – size. You can easily change the size of your text by pinching and expanding it with two fingers (as you would to zoom in or out on a photo). Every time you click the “Aa” icon to add new text you can change the size of that portion specifically. This means you can have really big words surrounded by smaller ones to emphasize it’s importance! This is a great tool to have for creating eye-catching graphics. You can also change the color of your text by selecting the text, then selecting one of the colors below it (remember, you can select your own ‘perfect’ color by holding down on a color circle).

Another great thing you can do with the text feature, is @ mention Instagram accounts and turn those mentions into live, clickable links that will take you directly to the account you typed out. To do this, create a story, select the “Aa” icon in the top right, then start by typing the @ symbol followed by the name of the user you want to tag. You’ll notice as you do this Instagram begins generating account names. Simply select the correct account and that’s it! When you publish your story and click on the text you just added, a small bubble will appear with the users account, and when clicked on, will take your viewers directly to their page! This is a great way to get people where you want them to go. You could mention the account of the coffee shop you’re working at, or a friend you’re collabing with, or even mention your own account and encourage your audience to check out your newest post! The options are endless.

instagram stories - add text

Add a Link

This is a feature that has been available only to “verified” users up until just recently (may 25th is when I found out!) Now, most accounts can add a clickable link to their Instagram stories! This is a MAJOR addition to the platform as a whole and I’m super excited to start using it. To add a link to your story, take a photo, video or make a graphic using the tricks above. Then, look in the top right corner for a chain icon. Click that, then input the link you’d like people to visit. Then upload your story and when you play it back, you’ll see text at the bottom of the screen that says “see more”. When a viewer swipes up on that text they’ll automatically be taken to the link you inputed. This is great for directing people to new blog posts, your e-commerce store and so much more!

instagram stories swipe up

 

My Favorite Ways to Use These Features to Benefit Your Brand, Business or Blog:

 

Announce new posts to encourage likes and comments

If you aren’t the type of person who wants your face on camera all the time (totally me, but I’m trying to get used to it..), then creating an “announcement” out of the tips and tricks mentioned above can be a great way to let your audience know that you posted a new photo, you’re hosting a sale or uploaded a new link to your bio.

instagram stories - announce something

Ask a question and tell viewers to send you a DM

While this doesn’t immediately equate to a like or comment on your content, getting a potential customer into your DM’s can be far more valuable! Here you can start a conversation with them that leads to a sale, a collaboration, partnership, recommendation etc. It’s always extremely valuable to talk to your audience one on one, so ask a question or make a statement in your Instagram story, then encourage your viewers to reply!

instagram stories - send a message

Reward viewers with a limited time offer

This is a great way to get clicks over to your website and potentially make some sales! By offering a very limited time sale via your Instagram story you give your loyal viewers an opportunity to save. You could mention that you do this often in a new Instagram post to create hype and encourage more users to look out for your stories as well!

instagram stories - offer a discount

With all of these features and many more to come (I’m certain!) the opportunities to engage our audience, increase your engagement, and make more sales is totally possible with Instagram Stories! While I do still have a Snapchat account to interact with my friends and family, Instagram Stories is definitely pulling mine, and many others, attention towards it! I wonder how (or if) Snapchat will ever fight back..


Are you using Instagram stories? Will you be adding any of these features to your strategy?

Let me know in the comments!


Shout out to Sugar & Cloth for teaching me some of these great tricks!

> Keep on reading..

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  • Sarah says:

    This is great! Thanks for breaking everything down like this. It’s really helpful. I’m trying to start using Instagram Stories but find it a little in the confusing side.

  • Marlene says:

    I’m not the video type tryna work myself into it too. Great info and thanks.

  • Michelle says:

    Sweeeet! Will definitely try some of these!!!

  • Anne says:

    I’ve browsed through almost all of your IG related blog posts so far. I have found some useful information here and there. Thank you.

    But what really irks me is the misuse of “it’s” and “its” in almost every single post (and like here, in the first sentence already). Pleeeease look for these when proofreading your articles. It does take away from the professional look & feel of your blog.

  • Angela says:

    How do Iadd text with a solid color/box behind it?

  • Vahn Jehle says:

    When you reload the page, the icons representing Instagram stories switch places sometimes, despite the absence of any new additions to the stories. Why does this happen?

    • Alex Tooby says:

      Do you mean the order of the people who have stories to watch? Instagram is always trying to show you what it thinks you’d like the most.. so if you didn’t watch any stories on last load, it might switch them up to try and entice you to click

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