Instagram Stories have become an essential part of social marketing since their launch in 2016, so if you’re not taking full advantage of this feature, you could be missing out. With near-constant updates and new additions coming to Stories ever since its release, it’s become imperative that businesses keep up-to-date, utilizing Stories if they want their Instagram marketing to reach its full potential. Here’s why:

  • As of November 2017, Instagram Stories topped 300 million daily users
  • In its first-year, Instagram Stories increased the app’s average usage to 32 minutes per day for those under 25, and 24 minutes per day for those 25 and up
  • One in five Instagram Stories posted by a business receives a Direct Message reply

Instagram writes that “Stories made Instagram a place for people to share all of their moments – the highlights and everything in between.”

Whether you’re creating fun and engaging Stories for your followers or running ad campaigns to entice new users, you need to take this feature into account. In this best practice manual, we’ll take an in-depth look at Instagram Stories and educate you on how to get the best and most effective results possible.

Learn from the experts

Instagram Stories sells itself on its simplicity; it’s so straightforward and efficient that it attracts approximately half a billion people each month and 95 million posts per day!

You might be thinking what chance do we have to stand out against those numbers?

Let’s look at the ways other brands use Instagram Stories to help gain insight and ideas of how to stand out from the crowd.

Behind the scenes

People have an innate interest and curiosity about what goes on behind the scenes of a company or brand. So, why not show them? One of the benefits of Instagram Stories is that they don’t have to be perfect, fine-tuned, and filtered, much like the pictures on your profile. So, you can go ahead and share without worrying about it not fitting in with your grid’s theme. Behind the scenes can be anything, from a work lunch to showing what goes on behind the camera during a photoshoot! An example of this can be seen below at one of our recent shoots with OPA! of Greece.

Create tutorials

Brands like Etsy and Pinterest do an excellent job of engaging their audience with insightful, meaningful content that resonates with both parties. Both companies are creativity-based, so it makes sense that they should use Stories for hosting tutorials such as the below! By using the feature’s slideshow format to piece together an experience with a beginning, middle, and end, you will see an increase in your content’s brand awareness & engagement, while also staying memorable.

Breaking news

Another useful idea for Instagram Stories is sharing recent or important news. Whether you hired a new employee, launched a new product/service, or started a campaign, breaking the news on IG Stories will reinforce the notion that people who watch your content are well-informed consumers.

 Host a Q&A

Q&A’s prove effective time and time again for connecting brand with consumer and vice versa. Whether you want your audience to send in questions via commenting or direct message, and film your Q&A ahead of time, or go live using IG Stories live function; both are an excellent way of engaging with your followers on a more personal level. See an example of this below, from Chapters!

Appreciate your followers and display their photography where possible!

User-generated content, or UGC, are some of the best ways to show your product or service in the real world!  As great as it is to show high-quality, polished images, nothing will quite entice possible consumers as seeing the product being used in a real-life setting. Encouraging UGC wherever possible is beneficial to both brand and buyer, as your company will benefit from free content and your followers will appreciate their images being shared! Try and engage followers in sending in photos by coming up with some fun & clever competitions with accompanying hashtags.

Influencer Takeovers

Takeovers are not only fun,” explains Gary Vaynerchuk, “but are also a great example of 50/50 value exchange—a partnership that’s mutually and equally beneficial.” Since 2012, brands like GE and Burberry have been inviting influencers to “takeover” their feeds as a way of cross-promoting and reaching a whole new audience. As shown in the below example, a model takes over H&M’s IG Stories, in a fun and insightful look at a day in the life of a model.

Things to remember:

  • Content should always be insightful, meaningful, or educational
  • There is no limit to the number of Stories you should produce; however, we recommend about 3-5 per week
  • Always be authentic. Authentic content is honest, imperfect, and real. People trust real!
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative! The more clever & well thought-out a Story, the more memorable it will be
  • Tell a story, IG Stories are the perfect narrative platform with its slideshow functionality. Use each slide to tell a story from beginning, middle, to end!
  • Use call to actions, direct people to your website, profile, or recent post
  • Promote! If you have a story that you’re particularly proud of, putting some money behind it can help give it a “boost” in the right direction! (some marketing humour there!)

Closing notes

There is little doubt that you can make Instagram Stories one of your key social media marketing tools. With clever, insightful, and honest content, you will attract more potential followers, increase brand awareness, and generate leads. However, if you would like more personalized advice and information, don’t hesitate to contact us @HookAndLadderDigital or visit our website at hldigital.ca!

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Frequently asked questions

What does Hook + Ladder do and for whom?

Hook + Ladder provides a full-service digital marketing department for established and growing brands that have a lean marketing department of 3 or less full time marketers.

What does Hook + Ladder actually do?

For the price of 1 to 2 employees’ salary, H+L provides our client partners access to a top notch social media team, digital advertising strategist, creative director and content team, email marketing, automation & analytics specialists, web developer, SEO specialists, and more.

How is Hook + Ladder different from other digital marketing agencies?

Every client partner we work with is a long-term partner. We will learn about their business and industry deeply, no different than how their employees would. We seldom take on ad-hoc project work because we have built enough marketing systems to know that ultra successful marketing takes strategy, learning, co-creation with our clients, and time.

You will have an H+L Director as your counterpart, someone who is at a marketing leadership level. You can see this individual as your Senior Digital Marketing Manager, who will work with you to build annual targets, quarterly goals, and meet with you weekly to share comprehensive progress EVERY WEEK. This is very uncommon in the marketplace and it’s a true partnership, unlike a transactional service provider relationships.

What is Hook + Ladder’s client onboarding process?

Hook + Ladder onboard new client partners with our flagship 13-week system, ‘90 Day Growth Ramp’. Each week, we tackle one or more foundational marketing elements to unlock a high-performing marketing organization for our new client partner. Learn more about the 90 Day Growth Ramp here

How much does it cost to work with Hook + Ladder?

Most of our client partners retain Hook + Ladder as their digital marketing department for the cost of 1 to 2 full-time employees’ salary. When taking into account other expenses like media budget or software licenses, most of our client partners have a marketing budget of $200K CAD or higher. 

I am interested in learning more. What are the next steps?

Contact us by filling out a form or booking an intro call with Caleb, our Chief Partnership Officer & Co-Founder.


Suite #112 - 1215 13th Street SE
Calgary, AB T2G4Y3

[email protected]


Suite #130 - 10691 Shellbridge Way
Richmond, BC V6X ZW8

[email protected]


Suite #112 - 1215 13th Street SE
Calgary, AB T2G4Y3

[email protected]


Suite #130 - 10691 Shellbridge Way
Richmond, BC V6X ZW8

[email protected]

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