Instagram Stories are the latest marketer’s weapon on one of the most popular social networks in the world. Follow this guide, and you will learn how to harness Instagram stories’ marketing potential by nailing down the perfect Instagram story dimensions and examples.
Why you need to be on Instagram
With more than 800 million active Instagrammers all over the world and 250 million pieces of content shared every day, the platform’s marketing potential is immense. These huge numbers mean only one thing – no matter who your audience is (in terms of age, gender, occupation, and so on), with the right approach, you’re likely to reach them via Instagram.
Not only does Instagram have tons of users, but they are actively engaged as well. Instagram users like to interact with brands – in fact, 62% of them follow a brand, while 70% of them have looked up a brand on Instagram.
Why are Instagram stories all the rage right now?
Basically a Snapchat clone, Instagram Stories enable you to post photos and short videos that disappear in 24 hours (although one of the newest Instagram features enables you to keep your favorite stories indefinitely displayed as Highlights on your own profile).
Another important thing – with Instagram Stories, you’re able to track the number of users who have viewed each individual story. So, no wonder the Instagram stories feature has reached 300 million daily active users in 2017.
In terms of digital marketing, the potential benefits of Instagram Stories for brands are limitless – from raising brand awareness, over generating leads, to selling products, Instagram Stories have got you covered.
Recently, more and more brands have decided to take advantage of the Instagram’s hottest feature, so the question that comes up naturally is “how can I avoid getting lost in the clutter of 250 million photos, videos, and stories?”
That’s exactly the question we’ll try to answer, step by step, with some real-life examples.
Instagram Photo Dimensions
It might seem too obvious (although it’s not), but one of the first things you need to make sure when posting to Instagram is that you’ve got the photo/video size right.
Surely it has happened to you as well – you’ve taken a perfect shot for your new Instagram story, but when you try to post it, it gets awkwardly zoomed-in or resized, that way leaving certain visuals out of the picture.
This is why you have to stick to strict guidelines when it comes to Instagram story dimensions.
Instagram Story Dimensions
The best Instagram story size for photos and videos is 1080 pixels width x 1920 pixels height.
Instagram Stories take vertical orientation with an aspect ratio of 9:16.
If your video doesn’t require the highest possible quality, your Instagram story size can also be:
- 900 x 1600 px
- 720 x 1280 px
…BUT, you still have to keep the 9:16 aspect ratio.
Sizing down Instagram story dimensions will lead to smaller file sizes and faster loading time.
While Instagram allows you to upload videos and photos with different dimensions and aspect ratio, things get a bit trickier with stories. If you don’t get the Instagram story size right, your videos can get awkwardly zoomed in or cropped, accompanied by a loss in quality. Let’s see how to prevent that from happening.
Instagram Post Dimensions
Instagram posts come in 3 main orientations – square, landscape, and portrait. Still, on your Instagram profile grid, your photos will always be resized as squares:
- Square (classic): These types of posts look the best with high quality 1080 x 1080 px images. Instagram will in most cases resize the image to 600 x 600 px but it still stores your high-quality photo. The same 1080 x 1080 px resolution is used for video posts as well.
- Landscape (horizontal): This orientation is the perfect choice for “bigger” photos, panoramas, and HD videos. Posts look best in landscape orientation when you use a high-quality 1920 x 1080 px image. If you can shoot videos in full HD, the best format is 1920 x 1080 px. If not, you should use the format of at least 1200 × 673 px for your landscape-oriented video posts.
- Portrait (vertical): The format is 1080 x 1350 px. It’s suitable when you need some extra space to display a subject. It’s also perfect for posting your Pins on Instagram, as it fits the Pinterest format very well.
Extra tips for creating proper Instagram Stories
We’re not going to include a ‘how to create Instagram Stories’ tutorial for dummies here, as it’s something every average Instagram user can figure out on their own. But still, here are three tips to make sure you’re posting quality content with the right Instagram Story size.
TIP #1 – Shoot with your camera in the vertical position
TIP #2 – If you need a quick fix for your Instagram Story dimensions, just take a screenshot of an existing photo
TIP #3 – Take advantage of all the story formats, including photos, short videos, live videos, rewind videos, and Boomerangs
Helpful apps for creating Instagram Stories
Instagram has pretty neat editing tools built into the app. However, if you want to play around with editing, design and Instagram story size without worrying you might mess something up, a little extra help cannot hurt. So here are some apps that can come in handy.
Easil is a popular choice among Instagram story aficionados and marketers. The best thing about Easil are pre-designed templates and tools that will enable you to create amazing marketing materials. Templates are grouped according to various marketing goals, and all you have to do is personalize them. Resizing takes one click, so you won’t have to spend too much time worrying about the right Instagram story dimensions.
Price: Basic plan comes for free, while paid plans start at $7.50
2. InShot App
This app is a must-have for editing Instagram story videos. Why? Because it will enable you to convert any video from your phone to proper Instagram story size – with zero loss in quality. It doesn’t matter how you recorded it – you can switch to vertical, horizontal or square format, InShot App will automatically adjust the background color to your video.
You can also use this app to trim Instagram story videos, speed them up or slow them down, add music, filters, stickers, and various effects.
Price: Free, with in-app purchases
How Can Businesses Take Advantage of Instagram Stories?
Sell a product or promote your brand
Instagram stories enable businesses and brands to include their call-to-action while making it more visually appealing.
If you’re using a business profile, you can include a link or you can prompt your followers to visit your webpage by swiping up. In addition, you can use stories to tell your followers to interact with your profile, where you can include a link in your bio.
Do market research with Instagram polls
One of Instagram’s relatively new features allows you to add polls to your stories. Polls are especially handy when you need to quickly gauge the public opinion or check your target audience’s pulse. Ask a question and watch as your followers’ answers flood in. It shows exactly who answered what so that you can have insight into each individual’s opinion.
Use Instagram stories in a creative and effective way and you’ve got yourself a free, real-time, highly-targeted market research.
Offer behind-the-scenes look into your business
Unlike regular Instagram posts, where you have to post only the perfect photos that impeccably represent your product or brand, Instagram Stories enable you to get a bit more creative and share some ‘insider’ posts that may not be as high-quality as the regular ones.
Why should you offer a behind-the-scenes look?
Instagram story teasers are a good way to give your followers a glimpse of the new developments within your business. They can be used to build excitement around some future products or announcements. Such a sneak peek will get your brand stuck in their heads and keep them eagerly anticipating your new release.
Display user testimonials (or other user-generated content)
User testimonials are always a great source of promotional content. What better way to showcase the content created or shared by your customers than Instagram Stories? This way, you’ll avoid flooding your main feed with user-generated content but you’ll still be able to share it.
And who knows, you might even make someone’s day by re-posting their content.The same applies to any positive press your brand might get. For example, if you’re a clothing brand and a celebrity or an Instagram influencer posts a photo wearing one of your pieces, you should take advantage of such free publicity and repost their photo to your story.
Use paid Instagram Story ads
Launched in January 2017, Instagram Story ads feature was first available only to the biggest names in the industry, such as Nike, Airbnb, General Motors, Netflix, and so on. Later that year, it opened up to businesses of all sizes.
When creating your ads, you have limited time to impress as photo ads last 10, while video ads last only 15 seconds. We’ve already discussed the importance of Instagram story dimensions, but you have to pay attention to the duration as well.
A good Instagram Story ad should draw the followers’ attention with appealing visuals, engage them with a strong message, and include an effective call-to-action.
Moen, a leading faucet brand in the US (probably not really our first pick for Instagram Story ads) got 45% more impressions after running just one campaign, while Fido, a Canadian wireless provider, got a video completion rate of 24% from one of their campaigns.
7 Major Brands Rocking Instagram Stories
These 7 brands have taken their Instagram story marketing dimensions to the next level.
Airbnb has created its own Travel Tuesday series of Instagram stories. It’s a mix of professional photos and user-generated content designed to inspire their followers with ideas for their next travel destination. It’s an interactive quiz of sorts, where the followers have to guess the place in the photo, while after the reveal, they’re prompted to swipe up and are directed to the company’s website.
Cheerios uses the Instagram Story feature to give a personal shout-out to their individual followers. Enough to brighten someone’s day (and help grow their audience)!
Hubspot effectively uses Instagram stories to create even more engagement with their audience. Their formula is simple but effective: promote an interesting article > engage your audience with a fun call-to-action > offer an incentive for their engagement.
4. Mercedes Benz
Mercedes Benz has mastered the art of engaging with car enthusiasts worldwide using Instagram stories. A huge car show coming up? Share a teaser or a sneak peek and a bunch of car enthusiasts nearby will come rushing to see their favorite models in person. A great example of a behind-the-scenes look at Mercedes’s car show at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
5. Game of Thrones (HBO)
With pauses between seasons so long that several winters may come and pass in the meantime, people behind the Game of Thrones show had to come up with something that would keep their audience engaged. Then somebody came up with a more brilliant idea – why not profit from that engagement? As a result, the Game of Thrones social media team decided to use their Instagram stories to promote their fan-made merch.
6. Pacific Northwest Wonderland
Pacific Northwest Wonderland has a pretty simple and straightforward (but effective) approach – they offer incentives to their loyal followers by using Instagram stories to get their followers to click on a link in the bio, offering a limited-time promotion.
Twitter simply shares highlights from their feed on Instagram Stories. Swipe up and you’ll end up on Twitter (or be prompted to create an account or download the app if you haven’t done so already).