In January 2019, Instagram shared some insights and figures about their story feature. To keep it simple and to show you the importance of Instagram stories, here are a couple of these insights :
- 500 million Instagram accounts use Instagram Stories every day
- 1/3 of the most viewed Instagram Stories are from businesses
- Half of the businesses on Instagram have published a story during a typical month
- 96% of US marketers surveyed plan to continue using Stories ads in the next 6 months
- Brands are publishing Stories 7 days within a month (socialinsider.io)
- Images underperform video by having a higher tap-forwards rate of 5.65% (socialinsider.io)
These show how adopted the story feature is and how deeply considered it is for marketing purposes. Stories are no longer just a millennial thing or a content creator distribution channel; it has become a massively adopted new way of spreading media on the platform. Moreover, like everything else that is massively adopted, it has become attractive to businesses and marketers.
What Are the Instagram Story Dimensions?
The Instagram story dimensions are 1080×1920 (The Instagram story ratio is 9×16). To optimize your content for every phone in the market, there is a 250 pixels margin on the top and bottom of the screen that might be cropped out on some device. That means that you should make sure that no key element of your content ends up in that 250 pixels safe zone either on the top or bottom of the screen. To be a little more thorough about these Instagram story dimensions:
- the maximum file size is 4GB, and
- your files should be in .jpg or .png if it’s an image and
- in .mp4 or .mov if it’s a video.
- It is also essential to know that the minimum dimensions for Instagram stories are 600 x 1067.
What happens if you do not respect these dimensions, ratios and sizes while posting on Instagram stories?
Instagram will automatically crop your content (by zooming in), or it will lower the quality of it, or it will just not display full screen (that is what happens when you post a landscape image on Instagram for example. In short: your content might not be ideally displayed for users on Instagram stories. While a small crop or any other slight adjustments might not be a significant issue in most cases, it can sometimes put some essential element of your content in that 250 pixels safe zone in the top or bottom of the screen that might be cropped out on particular devices. You should, therefore always try to come up with content that respects the optimized Instagram story dimensions and ratios to make sure that your content gets published the way you want it to be.
Example of a landscape photo which does not respect the standard Instagram story size
Instagram video sizes, lengths and best practises (including IGTV, Instagram live and hacks).
How to locate the Instagram story safe zone
When you post a picture, a gif, text, or any other kind of content in Instagram stories, if you move that piece of content around on the screen, you will realize that built-in Instagram stories, there is a magnetic tool that helps you get your content centered both vertically and horizontally. That same magnetic tool will appear on the top and bottom of the screen if you approach that piece of content to either the top or the bottom of your phone. To keep it simple: if you go past that zone that the magnetic tool is pointing out to you, that piece of content might not get displayed on all devices.
Example of the magnetic tool at the bottom of the screen
How to deal with landscape videos that cannot be edited as vertical
If you are a filmmaker or a YouTuber, editing your existing high-quality video content into a vertical format can be tricky or even irrelevant. However, fortunately, there is a way to post that content on Instagram stories!
The Instagram stories size and ratio are the same as full HD video, but vertical (1080×1920, 9×16). That means that you can post a story inviting your audience to rotate their phones and then post your landscape, 16×9 video content. This way, your followers will experience a full, non-cropped version of your content.
There are tons of software out there that can help you create content that has the right dimensions for Instagram stories. There is also software that helps you reformat existing content to the right size for Instagram stories.
You can for example use a video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X. While these are the most complete tools to use, they are hard and intimidating to get into. Let’s face it, these tools are way too powerful to create Instagram stories but they can help you get your video files at the right size and dimensions and they basically give you a total freedom in your creative process. But as always, freedom and power comes with a high price.
You can also use a free tool such as Canva for example that will be able to help you create pretty and elegant designs in seconds. The only downside is obviously that the customization is limited. However, if you are looking for something quick, straight to the point, and easy to use, Canva is probably the way to go!
Magisto video maker is also a great tool for video creators that also makes resizing and repurposing videos process easy and will turn it into an optimized Instagram story. The way to do it can be broken down into 4 easy steps.
1. Upload your content to the website. It can be either a video or an image, of any ratio, a high definition stock image, just whatever piece of content you want to repurpose.
2. Choose your editing style. There are already dozens of unique editing styles built-in. That step will really add editing value to your story and will make it professional looking.
3. Choose your music. It’s free, even for commercial use. There is no more need to look for boring royalty free music for hours, everything is already built-in!
4. Pick your aspect ratio. If you want to post it as an Instagram story, export it in portrait.
The tool is very easy to use and will give you high quality results in no time, without any knowledge about video editing, everything is taken care of automatically.
The App Store is full of editing software for Instagram stories. Not only these apps are fairly easy to use, they are also a great source of inspiration if you are struggling coming up with new ideas. Unfold is a very popular app for creating stories. You can’t use all the features with a free account, but you can still make pretty designs and get inspired by the possibilities and templates that the app offers.
What will always work, is to trust Instagram, they have built in enough tools inside of their app to help you get the best out of your story content.
How To Engage With Your Audience Using Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are already full of built-in features to help you engage with your audience. You can, for example, take a poll, or leave your audience a little space so they can ask you questions directly, you can leave a link and your followers will just have to swipe up to access your website or any other external internet link (this feature is only accessible for accounts with more than 10,000 followers) or you can just document your journey as a person.
However, if you want to go further in the storytelling process (because that is what Instagram stories is best known for) here are some ideas that you can implement today in your Instagram stories strategy to engage more with your audience and followers.
Tip #1: Repurpose your existing content
This one is probably the easiest to implement in your strategy. Take your most successful blog posts or YouTube videos, and reformat them for your Instagram story. You can make a short, vertical edit (15 seconds) of your video and post it on Instagram stories with subtitles – because you have to keep in mind that most people consume content without sound on social media. For your blog posts, take the thumbnail picture of your article, sum up your point in a sentence and invite your followers to read more of that story on your blog by using the swipe up feature built-in stories or the link in the bio if you have less than 10,000 subscribers.
Tip #2: Ask for input
The Instagram story interface makes it extra easy for your audience to reach out to you directly and react. So it’s a great idea to take advantage of that and ask your audience questions. This way, your audience can feel involved in your process or your journey. Ask your audience about how they feel, what they think of your new product, or ask them what they need. Remember: the first step to good marketing is getting to know your audience and customers.
Tip #3: Source user generated content
This one is considerably less time-consuming. Find content your audience has posted that is relevant to you and your brand. Then, message these people and ask them if you can repost their posts or stories in your stories if you credit them. Most people will accept because almost no one will refuse free exposure. Make sure you tag the creator in your story. It is not only polite and respectful, but it also allows these people to repost to your story. Which means that your account will also gain exposure. Both wins!
Credit @airbnb on Instagram
Tip #4: Host a competition or a prize drawing
Promote a competition on your Instagram stories: showcase what you are offering to your audience, and redirect them to your website to capture their email and make them enter your contest. Use Instagram stories to promote the value you are bringing to your audience. Use it as a bait for people to visit your website and leave you their email address.
Credit @chicadegallo on Instagram
Tip #5: Story games
Play a little game with your audience! This is an excellent way for you to get to know them and for them to engage with your brand and spread your branding to their community. The way it works is simple: post a picture where you invite people to screenshot it, draw on it to answer to a question, or ask them to draw on it to choose if you have asked a multiple choice question. A good example would be the picture below:
Credit @storygamesforinsta on Instagram
Credit @shopkins_world on Instagram
Tip #6: Share your tips `-)
Let your community know how you run your show, here is a great example from @elephantasticvegan
Your audience could screenshot that picture and then repost it in their Instagram stories, and they would use the built-in tools to fill it in or to give their opinion or anything else. You can even ask them to use a specific hashtag, that way, you can find all the user-generated content in one place, and you can repost it to your own stories to encourage people to participate.
In short: Instagram stories dimensions and sizes
Instagram story size is 1080×1920, which is full HD, but vertical, it has a ratio of 9×16.
There is a 250 pixels margin on the top and the bottom of the screen that might be cropped out on specific devices. So to keep it safe, it is simpler to make sure that no key element of your content is located in those Instagram story safe zones.
Instagram stories are an excellent way to engage with your audience, and they are quite quick to come up with. It is a more spontaneous way of sharing content, and it makes it more comfortable for your audience to engage with it. Instagram already has tools built in the app to help you create your content. This makes it a lot easier to create spontaneous content on the go, and that will look more authentic to your audience. Authenticity being the main reason why you should implement Instagram stories into your digital marketing strategy.