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16 Ways To Drive Engagement On Instagram Stories

Your aim on Instagram Stories should always be to build community and connection. Because ultimately that’s what leads to sales. The more your audience starts to chat to you and dm you in response to your Stories, the more you are building a meaningful relationship with them. And when they know, like and trust you, then they are ready to buy from you.

And there’s another benefit to your audience interacting with you on Stories. All of the following boost your algorithm for your whole Instagram account:

  1. Dms
  2. Audience clicking on your polls/quizzes and other interactive stickers
  3. Your audience watching the entire sequence of your Stories through to the end (it indicates to Instagram that it was compelling content)

But how do you do encourage that interaction? Just merrily posting about your business and life may not be enough. I’d definitely recommend employing a bit of strategy to get those clicks and dms flowing!

Here are my 16 tips to help you drive engagement on Instagram Stories

1. Be real

If you literally show only lovely images from your life of you doing lovely things, it can be pretty hard for your audience to relate to you. However if you get real with them, the conversation starts to flow.

Katya Willems sharing muddy white trainers on Instagram.
I decided to share my white trainers in bog disaster with my audience

2. Ask your audience’s advice

I ask for my audience’s advice for selfish reasons – it’s so useful!!! I was planning a day trip to London recently and I wanted some tips on what was actually open and where I should go. I was rewarded with some great tips. And it gave me the opportunity to bond with my audience too.

Katya Willems Instagram Stories asking for tips for a trip to London.

I asked my audience for tips for my day trip to London

3. Run Polls

Audiences LOVE a poll. Doesn’t matter whether it’s silly, serious or mundane, people love to have their say. It encourages those important clicks that are good for your algorithm and it’s also a great way of conducting market research for your business!

Katya Willems runs a poll on Instagram Stories.

I ran a poll to find out what people thought of my peach kitchen. It wasn’t favourable!

4. Use the Question Sticker

You could use the interactive sticker question to ask a business question, to get people to sign up to your newsletter or for something trivial like film recommendations!

Using the question sticker in Instagram Stories to ask for film recommendations.

I asked my audience for film recommendations

Katya Willems audience giving her film recommendations on Instagram Stories.

Here are the suggestions I got in response to my question sticker

5. Celebrate happy times

If something really good has happened, or you have an anniversary or birthday – share it! I’m always surprised at how much love I get from my audience when I share simple wins or celebrations.

Katya Willems sharing an anniversary in Instagram Stories.

Celebrate elements of your life – it’s a great way to connect with your audience

5. Share what you’re watching/reading/listening to

This is one of the easiest ways to get your audience dm-ing you. Everyone wants to chat if they’ve read the same book as you or watched the same TV programme as you. Even if you both thought it was RUBBISH, it will get you chatting.

Katya Willems Instagram Stories sharing The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher.

I shared the Carrie Fisher book I was reading on Instagram Stories – it was a good conversation starter

6. Offer advice

When I share useful advice that I know will really help my audience, it starts a lot of converstaions!

Katya Willems Instagram Stories sharing 4 apps to improve your Stories.

I shared 4 apps that can tart up your Stories recently – my audience loved it.

7. Shout out other accounts on Instagram Stories

In the post below I was shouting out an account I’d discovered that I found really inspiring. I thought my audience would love it so I shared it and tagged them in. It can be a great conversation starter with the account you are shouting out.

Katya Willems Instagram Stories sharing @thistimeincolour account.

I tagged and shared this beautiful interior accout I found

8. Tag people in posts

You can tag up to 10 people into your Stories. Tagging people in your Stories then allows the taggees to share your Story getting it in front of new audiences. It also may spark a conversation with those taggees. Although make sure the post is relevant to them or it will be very irritating! In the Story I’ve shared below I was tagging 10 Inspiring Instagram accounts that I’d written about in a blogpost. It was a very complimentary post, so chances were that the people I tagged were at least going to say thank you via dm or if I was lucky they’d share the Story themselves.

Katya Willems instagram stories where she tags lots of other accounts in.

Tagging relevent accounts into your Story is a great way to start conversations

9. Share behind the scenes of your business in Instagram Stories

And that includes the messy behind the scenes as well. People love to see what really goes on in the day to day of running your business, it sparks curiousity and conversation. This is a photo I shared on Stories after I’d created an Instagram Reel. I wanted people to understand what had actually been involved in the process.

Katya Willems behind the scenes Story of her office.

My office, lighting and tripod set up for creating a Reel

10. Use the DM me button in Stories

I’m really new to using this, but I think it’s a great interactive sticker. Your audience needs reminding that you want them to get in touch. A DM me sticker will give them the nudge they need.

Katya willems instagram stories using the DM me interactive sticker.

The ‘DM me’ interactive sticker is a great way to encourage those DMs

11. Share ineptitude

If you portray your life as polished and perfect, people won’t relate to you. If you are quite open about the fact that in some areas of your life you mess up and don’t know what you’re doing, your audience will feel much closer to you and want to chat to you. Also people love to get in touch when you’ve had a disaster. So many people messaged me when I bumped my car!

Katya Willems Stories about a car prang.

I share my ineptitude on Instagram Stories

12. Ask your audience how you can serve them better

It’s so simple. Ask your audience how you can help them. Although make the questions or polls quite specific. If I just said ‘How Can I Help You ?’ I’m not sure I’d get much response. But if I ask questions like – ‘Would You Like More Content About Talking To Camera?’ – I’m making it easier for my audience to reply.

Katya Willems runs a poll on Instagram Stories.

I did a poll to ask my audience what content they wanted from me

13. Talk to camera in Stories

For a start we are drawn to human faces, so people will be more inclined to stick with your Story if you appear in it. But also the warmth, intimacy and authenticity that will radiate from your Instagram if you appear on camera will help your audience to really connect with you and make you feel more accessible.

Katya Willems talking to camera on Stories.

I talk to my audience regularly on Stories

14. Talk directly to your audience

Instagram isn’t a broadcasting platform, it’s a platform for talking in a really human and conversational way to your audience. If you talk to them in a natural inclusive way they will be more inclined to reply to you.

Instagram Stories asking audience if they'd watched the Keith Herring Documentary.

I talk to my audience like I would a friend

15. Really listen to your clients and followers’ and get to know their ‘pain points’.

Provide content that really really articulates what they are going through. Offer comfort, understand and tips. I knew over the summer that a lot of people had been complaining that they had lost their Instagram mojo, so I articulated their problem to them and offered help.

Katya Willems in dungaree shorts.

In this Story I reflected back to my audience that I knew where they were at.

16. Be a work in progress and share that process

I’ve been completely open about my learning process with the new feature Instagram Reels. I’ve shared the steps it’s taken me to get better at using the feature and encouraged my audience to join me in practising. This is the beauty of Instagram, you can share your processes and encourage conversation around your journey.

Captions on Stories about Reels.

I was open on Stories about my learning journey with Reels

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for driving engagement on Stories.

And do DM me on my Instagram account and let me know how you get on with my tips!

If you enjoyed reading this, you might like to try A Quick Guide To Instagram Reels.

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