How To Start Using Instagram Stories To Increase Your Followers and Engagement Without Buying Ads

Albert U
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Over 500,000 people view Instagram Stories every day. Mark Zuckerberg expects Stories to become the most common way that people share across social apps. And with 70% of shoppers using Instagram to find products, it’s worth your while to get your eCommerce business onto the platform.

But if you’re just getting started or still under 10,000 followers on Instagram, you’ll want to master Instagram Stories’ free features first.

By doing so, you’ll make the best use of your marketing dollars. You'll grow the number of followers organically. And you'll cultivate a highly engaged community.

That will give you a strong foundation for joining the millions of businesses spending on Instagram ads ($20 billion in 2019).

Before we start, let’s make one thing clear: you’re creating FREE Stories yourself, not buying ads. We’ll be sticking to things that you can start doing right away.


Let’s dive in.

Make the Most of Stories’ Visibility

Instagram Stories take up prime real estate space on the screen as they are displayed at the very top of the app. What that means for you is that simply by creating stories you’ll be more likely to show up in front of your audience.

We’ll get into what content you want to post in a moment, but first realize that:

  • People have to manually scroll through one post at a time

  • When they click a Story once, the app will automatically play through other Stories

And the more a user watches your content, the more priority Instagram gives to your new Stories.

This gives you a chance to be seen and heard with minimal user effort, but only if you actually create Stories.

So what Stories should you be posting?

Create Personal Instagram Stories

Here's quick distinction between your Instagram feed and your Stories. Your Instagram feed is the place for carefully curated posts. On the other hand, Instagram sees its Stories as “a quick, easy way to share moments and experiences.”

By getting personal and less “polished,” your Instagram Stories will be more welcome. Why? Because they will feel like the casual content that users see from their friends.

There are several ways to share with Instagram Stories:

  • Use hashtags: This gives you the chance to reach other people interested in your keywords. But make sure that the keywords are relevant to you and your brand.

  • Use geotags: This is especially important when you’re traveling or at conventions. Even if you’re always in one spot, it makes you seem more real to the viewer. And people from the same location now have that extra bit of connection with you.

  • Live streams: Instagram found that people go to Stories for live, unedited content. What could be more in-the-moment than a live stream? Not only that, but you’ll be using stories to do what our next section covers: engaging your audience.

Create Engaging Instagram Stories

Instagram reports that “68% of people say they come to Instagram to interact with creators.”

Instagram Stories has developed a wide variety of features to encourage sharing and engagement. Here are some of the best ones to master:

  • Adding a poll: Ask engaging questions to boost user interaction. Little Mistress added a poll to their Instagram Stories asking how many recycled plastic bottles they used in their outfits.

  • Starting Q&As: You can let people ask questions about you, or you can ask questions and have the viewers respond. Either way, you’ll get to know each other, and you can continue engaging them by posting more Instagram Stories with your responses.

  • Mention followers by name: This is the perfect way to turn your followers into fans.

    Maybe they’re winning contests. Or they're showcasing your products. As Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

  • Again, live streams: You can do all of the above and more with this option. Just make sure to promote it first so that you have a lively audience to interact with.

Create Instagram Stories that You Want to Disappear

This might be a good time to mention that organic Instagram Stories (those that aren’t paid ads) will disappear after 24 hours unless saved.

At first glance, that might make you take a step back from making Stories at all. Why go through all this effort to make Instagram Stories if they’ll just disappear?

To answer that question, let me ask you another one: What time-sensitive content would you want to post?

How about:

  • Teasers and trailers for upcoming events and product launches

  • Early access posts

  • Announcing discounts and flash sales

  • Recurring ads for your products

  • Announcing giveaways and contest winners

  • Q&A requests and responses

  • Promoting new posts

  • Personal takes on current events

  • Travel pictures to/from/at relevant events

  • Casual content/behind the scenes

You may want to keep some of these as permanent posts. Sales announcements may be enticing for some brands, and annoying for others. It all depends on the impression you want to make on your audience.

Just know that you can keep drawing in new followers without cluttering up your Instagram feed.


You can increase your engagement and follower count without relying on paid content. All you need are personal, engaging posts that draw people in and get them excited about you. Professional copywriters help you win the crowd while staying true to your voice. To learn more, book a consultation with us here today.

Albert U

Albert is a certified copywriter at Albert’s focus on the relationship between business and storytelling draws from, and is inspired by, his own life experiences. He has experience as a solopreneur, in the aerospace industry, and emergency health services.

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