June 20 2018

Brand Your Social Media Profile with Instagram Stories as Highlights

Using Instagram as a business can be a challenging exercise because of the purely visual nature of this social media platform. Unless you work in a creative industry, finding engaging content to translate to this medium can be tough, especially video. Luckily, the platform is evolving, and the tactics of creating short Instagram Stories or longer Instagram Live videos and turning them into a permanent Story Highlight is a great solution for adding an extra layer of branding while being able to showcase your top content longer-term on your profile page.

What is an Instagram Story?

If you’re unfamiliar with Instagram Stories, those are the small icons featured at the top of your feed that include quick photos or videos which are meant to disappear in 24 hours. This was a feature Instagram rolled out to compete with Snapchat – one that has proven to be a highly popular way for Instagram users to see a quick digest of featured content.

What is an Instagram Story Highlight?

The most common complaint with the Instagram Stories were that they could not be saved for longer than the 24-hour duration. In response, Instagram introduced the Story Highlight feature to allow Instagram users to organize and feature their Stories at the top of their profile, and then they are available to view until the profile owner chooses to take them down.

Screenshot of ZAG Instagram with Story Highlights

Highlights of the Story Highlight Feature

  • A Story Highlight will appear as a circle above the main square image feed on a personal or business Instagram page.
  • In a Highlight, you can assign a cover image and a title. Then you can arrange your Stories inside that group.
  • The title of that group of Stories will stay in the upper left-hand corner as a user watches the sequence of Stories in the feed.
  • The highlighted group stays up on your profile until you manually choose to take it down.
  • You can add up to 100 Stories to a Highlight group at any time.   

Ideas for Instagram Stories Highlights

Businesses and brands have been using this as a tool for organizing groupings of related visuals to tell a more cohesive marketing story. Ideas for best utilizing Instagram story highlights can include:
  • Sharing community outreach efforts under a Community highlight
  • Sharing life stages content under highlights naming those moment. For example: Graduation, Marriage, New Baby, Retirement, etc.
  • Sharing positive reviews under a Customer Review highlight.
  • Have video tutorials? You can share those under a Resources highlight.
The possibilities can be plentiful based on your business goals. Need more inspiration? Check out these 30 visual examples.

How to Assign a Story to Your Highlights

Instagram has made it very easy to assign a Story to your Stories Highlights:

  1. Go to your profile and tap Instagram inline add image below Stories Highlights.
  2. Tap to select the Story or Stories you want to add to Highlights, then tap Next.
  3. Choose Edit Highlight. nd add the photos or videos to your highlight category. Now they will stay beyond the 24-hour window of the Story itself.

Assign Story Highlight Icon Image

The most cohesive way to arrange these highlights is to assign a cover image that reflects your brand. Instagram then centers your image, which lends well to an icon-based graphic as the cover. A few notes:
  • The Instagram story image dimension is 1080 x 1920 pixels and can be a designed image, or a real photograph. 
  • You will have to run each graphic as a Story to be able to assign them as a cover image.
Often, a fun note before or after you upload the series of cover images in your Stories will alert your audience and serve as a small announcement that you are organizing your profile.
  • This is also a great way to brand your social media profile by showing off the main topics and branded images that are related to your business or specific social media campaign.

Make Sure the Auto-Archive Feature is On

Another important note is to make sure the Auto-Archive feature is turned on in your account. It should be on by default, but it’s definitely worth a confirmation.
screenshot of how to archive Instagram stories

  • This archival feature is key for running Instagram as a business because you can bypass the removal of your Instagram Stories after the initial 24-hour period by having a backup of your content.
  • To add more Stories into your various Highlight feeds, you can push Stories from these archives into your Highlights even after they are no longer live.

Saving Instagram Live Videos to Highlights

As we’ve mentioned, Stories convert easily to Highlights. Instagram has also added the functionality that you can convert a live video into a Story, which can then be saved as a Highlight.

How to share a live video to your Stories after it has ended:

  1. Once your live video ends, you can share a replay of it. Like other photos and videos you share to stories, live video replays disappear from Feed and your profile after 24 hours, unless you add those stories as highlights.
  2. To share a replay of your live video, tap Share at the bottom of the screen after you've ended your live video.
  3. Live video replays include all the likes and comments from your original live video. The number of viewers for your live video includes everyone who watched the live video and the replay.

Then follow the steps above to save as a Highlight for as long as the content remains relevant.

Switch to an Instagram Business Profile

To fully gather the benefits of using Instagram as a business, we highly recommend that you switch your Instagram profile to a business account. (Legacy accounts are personal by default.) Doing so will give you access to analytics, the option to add a contact button on your profile, and the ability to place targeted ads directly via Instagram vs only through Facebook. Facebook shares a good tutorial on how to switch here and the Later blog has a more in-depth analytics of the difference between personal and business pages on Instagram.

Instagram is a rising star for business use in today’s social media landscape but not approaching the platform strategically can lead to poor results. Feel free to reach out to one of our social media strategists to help brainstorm ideas on what would work best for your business’ marketing needs.

  • Branding
  • Social Media

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.
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