Now that you’ve got the hang of uploading content to your Instagram Stories and navigating within the app, it’s time to maximize the impact of your posts. My experience using Instagram Stories in both a personal and professional capacity has helped me identify 10 ways to effectively utilize this powerful tool as a travel blogger:

1. Stay in the Moment

One of the things that initially drew me to Instagram Stories as a way to share my travels, especially on hosted trips, was how quick and easy it is to post. Unlike traditional Instagram posts, Stories feels like a much more organic and in-the-moment way to share. I didn’t have to worry about editing images or composing the perfect caption. Instagram Stories was the perfect quick way for me to show my followers what I was up to while incorporating partners and destinations.

2. Create a Narrative

The best Instagram Stories do just that . . . they tell a story. Even though this type of social media is quicker and more ephemeral, it is still important to create a Story your followers can move through. This will not only help your followers stay engaged, but also help keep reader retention high through the end of your Story. Regardless of the length or complexity of your Story, be sure to create content that leaves your followers wanting more.

3. Tag Your Location and Partners

The ability to include location geotags and other Instagram handles within your Story is one of the platform’s most valuable features. Not only is this a wonderful way to recognize when you’re collaborating with a partner or destination, but it also allows you to drive traffic to another location or account.

To tag another Instagram account, simply type @ followed by the user’s handle. Instagram should pre-populate a list of accounts that you follow or engage with as you type.

Locations can be added to your Story by adding a “Location” sticker and searching for the location you would like to include. Another great reason for adding a location sticker to your Story (geotagging) is the potential for your content to be pulled into the larger general local Story, which is visible to viewers who don’t follow you.

4. Use Hashtags

Using hashtags in your Instagram Story is another great way to expand your reach. Hashtags work similarly within Instagram Stories as they do on normal posts. Just like location tags create location-specific Stories, there are also composite hashtag Stories that will include your content and help you reach new audiences.

5. Give Your Followers a Behind-the-Scenes Look

It seems there has been more discussion recently about how “perfect” the lives of bloggers and influencers often seem on Instagram. Using Instagram Stories for travel bloggersis a unique way to show they are not.

Since Instagram Stories disappear the next day, they are a great way to capture and share daily life. Sure, some days will include exciting partnerships with sponsors and trips to bucket list destinations. But other days will be filled with lots of work and time in front of a computer. And it’s alright——even humanizing——to share those aspects, too. I especially like teasing what I’m currently working on or giving sneak peeks before I’m ready to publish content on my Instagram Stories.

6. Link Directly to Content

For users who have more than 10,000 followers, Instagram recently rolled out changes that allow users with business profiles to add a link to Instagram Stories. Followers can then view that link by swiping up during your Story. This is a great way to use Instagram to drive traffic to your site, but also to participate in sponsored campaigns without cluttering your normal feed with sponsored posts that don’t convert well.

Not sure if you have a business profile or that one is the right fit for you? This post from the Later Blog is really helpful in determining if you should make the switch or not.

7. Get Feedback from Your Followers

When it comes to content creation, feedback is invaluable. But reader surveys can be cumbersome and ineffective. With one of the platform’s newest features, you can now poll your followers within Instagram Stories. Granted, you are limited to a simple “this or that” style poll, but this an incredible way to add a deeper level of engagement to your feed.

To add a poll to your Stories, select the stickers icon and choose the poll option. You will then have the ability to type a question and edit the responses to be something other than “Yes” or “No.” After readers respond to your poll, they will be able to see the results in the form of percentages. I especially enjoy that on the analytics end because you are able to see exactly who selected each response.

8. Consider Creating Custom Graphics

Now that Instagram allows users to upload Stories directly from their camera roll, the possibilities for custom graphics are endless. Consider creating a template or two to help promote your upcoming content or use as an introduction to a longer story.

If you decide to create your own graphics outside of the app, the ideal dimensions for Instagram Stories images are 1080px width by 1920px height.

9. Pay Attention to Your Analytics

The analytics dashboard for Instagram Stories is surprisingly powerful. You’ll need to have a business profile to access this information, but if you do, not only can you see who has viewed your Story, but you can also dig into how many individuals tapped on the location or hashtag stickers you included, or clicked through to a partner’s account. These numbers can be especially valuable when you’re working on sponsored or partner content.

Instagram also recently added a feature that archives all past Instagram Stories so you don’t have to constantly save them to your camera roll. This feature is exceptionally helpful when you’re sharing past partnerships or digging into older analytics.

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

Like anything, the best way to learn how to use Instagram Stories is by doing. The more you play around and consume other users’ Stories, the easier and more intuitive the process of creating your own will be.

It’s also important to remember that Instagram Stories is changing all the time. Take advantage of new features as they are released and don’t be afraid to take the time to find what works best for you and your audience.

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