Now that Instagram has finally opened up its Publishing API to third-party vendors, community managers everywhere are rejoicing and trying to decide what to do with all of their newfound free time.

Community Managers before:

Community managers now:

Related content: How to Switch Your Account to Instagram for Business

Instagram gave those community managers an answer to fill that free time, releasing another new feature in December that allows users to add Stories to Profile Highlights. That means that even your temporary posts could now have more permanence on your profile after they expire from your active Story.

How To Use Instagram Stories Highlights

Posting to Instagram Stories Highlights is simple enough, but if you’ve never done it, you might have some questions. Follow these three simple steps:

  1. Go to your profile on mobile and tap “+” below “Stories Highlights.”
  2. Tap to select the story or stories you want to add to highlights, then tap “Next.”
  3. Choose a cover photo and enter a story name for your highlight, then tap “Add.”

You can add more photos or videos by tapping “Edit Highlight” at any time. Even after the original story has disappeared, Stories you add to Highlights remain visible until you remove them.

Brands That Are Doing It Right

Instagram Stories Highlights offer brands an easy way to curate and showcase content they want customers to see first.

There are several ways to leverage Highlights on your brand’s profile, depending on the brand’s marketing objectives, as well as evergreen resources your audience would find informational.

instagram stories highlights 1

Not only is leather earring brand Nickel+Suede inspiring with Valentines Wishlist items, but they have highlights for what’s new, highlights for how to style its products, and a size-chart, which is also a FAQ on its website.

Stylist subscription service StitchFix is currently leveraging Highlights to feature seasonally relevant looks and some information to answer FAQs from fans and followers.

ONEHOPE wine features #FunFactFridays as a Highlight and takes viewers along for the ride at its 2018 All Hands meeting. You also see features of #onehoperecipes and featured holiday products.

instagram stories highlights 2

National Geographic Travel knows what its followers want, and created a Highlight for the annual “best photo” contest, featuring its 2017 finalists and a link to see all the best travel photos of 2017 on its website. It also features beginning-to-end stories of Chernobyl and Oaxaca’s thriving traditional fashion.

Disney Style has a loyal following of Disney lovers and has a group of influencers it leverages to feature various styles. One of its Highlights shows Disney Style employees unboxing exciting new products, while another features styles to shop, DIY projects, and a new #RockTheDots campaign in support of Minnie Mouse herself.

Not all brands can easily feature their products and link consumers to shop or purchase on .com. A great example of this is DEG client SunPower Corporation, the industry leader in solar durability and leading global solar innovation since 1985. The decision to purchase a solar system for your home or business isn’t a quick or easy decision. SunPower’s Highlights feature the answers to FAQs such as “why go solar” and “save with solar.”

instagram stories highlights 3

Bloggers have been some of the quickest Instagrammers to leverage Highlights, featuring themes to their Stories and answering questions they’re frequently asked by their followers. It also allows bloggers to have organized, quick, easily accessible content for followers that they’re able to link back to their blogs using the Swipe Up function. The Sweetest Thing blogger Emily Gemma has included consistent visual treatments to her Highlight categories, such as Hair, Makeup, Travel, and more.

theSkimm is known for its vastly female readership, quippy one-liners, and its daily email news subscription. It was an easy decision to leverage a platform like Instagram to deliver its readers quick headlines, behind-the-scenes videos, and sneak peeks into upcoming content. theSkimm is also leveraging Highlights on Instagram for stories that are not so in-the-moment that won’t be as relevant tomorrow, next week, or next month.

***Please note that if you are viewing Instagram profiles on desktop, Story Highlights will not appear.

Take advantage of clickable links in your Instagram Stories Highlights to drive traffic to your site.

Best Practices

Make sure more than one “story” is included per Highlight. This may take a bit of time at first to curate, but it will make for a much richer user experience.

Tell a story from start to finish, even if that means building on the same image, frame by frame—they are called Stories, after all.

Make your Highlights timely and relevant. The ONEHOPE example above would arguably be better if they weren’t still featuring holiday content from December in February.

Tag relevant accounts and hashtags in your story. 

Link using Swipe Up when referring to outside product, content, etc. Consumers hate having to hunt down something featured in content, especially when that expires and the point of reference is lost. Use clickable links to direct traffic to your website or promote blog posts.

Maintain visual consistency. Especially within a Highlight, it will feel disconnected and disjointed if the story or visual experience is abruptly changed. Here’s a great example of how to change subject and content while maintaining visual consistency with a Spotify Story co-sponsored by Starbucks.

instagram stories highlights 4

Free Tools

There are dozens of free tools and apps you can use to up your Story game to make sure the content is strong enough to live beyond 24 hours. Unlike Snapchat, Instagram Stories allows you to leverage your camera roll without appearing any different to users. This broadens the horizon for both photo, animation, and video content as it doesn’t need to be created or shot in-app to feel in real-time or authentic.

Guiding Tech and Social Media Examiner both have dedicated lists of apps to use for Instagram Stories, but my personal favorite is Adobe Spark Post. Not only is this one of the only free Adobe creative products, it has built-in templates for social media post sizes and can be used both on desktop and mobile.

Don’t have a great image? Spark also has a gallery of textures to use as background images, which will likely be more useful to bloggers and content creators than brands. Of course, you can also use your own assets to make sure everything stays on-brand.

Spark also allows you to add animated effects which can be the movement of a still image (see the Nat Geo Travel Best Photos 2017 Highlight for an example) or animating the text on a still image.

If you want more information on Instagram Stories Highlights or need some help stepping up your brand’s presence on social media, our social media experts can help.

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