How to get more eyeballs on your Instagram Stories in 2021

When it comes to audience engagement with organic social media posts, the immersive, visual, mobile-first experience of Instagram still beats all the other platforms.
Arguably the most compelling post type on Instagram is the Story. Rolled out in 2016 as a clone of Snapchat Stories, Instagram Stories are fun little bursts of media that are a bit more informal than the feed and with more room to try new things. The crucial thing to keep in mind when promoting your business with Stories is that Instagram has not let the feature stagnate.

Some 70% of today’s young adults regularly turn to Instagram Stories for entertainment, according to a recent study from VidMob. As a result, Instagram has steadily enhanced the options for story functionalities and interactive elements, which include polls, question stickers and even calls-to-action that allow you to include custom links.

What this means is that there’s a ton of potential to really engage your audience with creative, fun Stories, but it’s also incredibly easy to fall behind if you’re not paying attention. Instagram closely monitors Story performance, and if your audience isn’t engaging, the algorithm shunts your Stories to the bottom of the pile, where your bite-sized chunks of content won’t get the chance to shine.

If you want to ensure you’re maximizing the potential of Instagram Stories to reach your audience, here are some tips to help.

Make the first visual extra engaging

You’ve probably seen stats about how the average human’s attention span is shortening, and it’s as true for Instagram Stories as anything else. Wibbitz reports that the average Instagram Story video view lasts for just a few seconds, your window of opportunity to hook people is brief.

Give your viewers a reason to stick around by ensuring that the first few seconds are extra eye-catching. There are a lot of different ways to do this, and you’d do well to browse Instagram Stories yourself to see what stands out, but the most straightforward way is to subvert expectations – surprise, shock and stun your viewers with something they can’t instantly grasp and absorb, and they’ll stick around.

For example, you can give the focal point of your video an unusual background; you can make a photo black-and-white with a single vivid pop of color; or you can animate elements to move in ways different from a viewer might expect.

Instagram’s native video editor is fine for the basics, but not great for editing these types of overlay effects. If you’re really keen to make your content stand out, it’s best to invest some time in learning how to use an external app to make your Stories more engaging. For example, Videoleap’s Mixer feature lets you mix different ource clips together to amplify that sense of the surreal.

Explicitly ask for engagement

To get more views on your Stories, remember that the entire purpose of Instagram’s newsfeed algorithm is to show the best content to the most viewers. They determine that by measuring engagement. Does the viewer stick with the Story? Do they tap away? Do they exit altogether? Does the viewer actually respond in some way? All these signals let Instagram know how much exposure to give your Story in subsequent sessions.

Viewers have the option to reply to and share Stories, which obviously is a big check mark in Instagram’s book, but by actually asking for that engagement from your viewers – whether by comment, poll, slider, or other format – you’re much more likely to get it, be favored by the algorithm, and expose your Story to more people.

One account that does this super well is Red Bull South Africa. They post regular Stories called “SwipeUps”, which always seem to pop up in my feed, highlighting new content on their website about extreme sports and encouraging viewers to swipe up so they can link out to the article pages. When I comply, this signals a high level of engagement to Instagram.

Make your Stories accessible to everyone

Remember that plenty of Instagram users frequently swipe through their feeds silently, as we watch on public transport, or while taking a quick break at work, so it’s a good idea for you to create the video content in a way that it will be fully understandable even without the sound off.

This is also a matter of best practices, as people with hearing impairments will appreciate it as well. There are a few apps you can use to automatically add and edit captions to your Stories, such as Apple Clips or AutoCap for Android. “The most important thing about good captions is readability,” marketer Meryl Evans recently told Bustle. “If they're not readable, people won't get what you're saying.”

It’s simple, it’s easy and it increases your potential audience size.

Don’t limit yourself to one type of media

Instagram has given you the tools to add many different kinds of media to your Story: images, video, backgrounds with text, grids, emoji, stickers and more. Don’t be tempted to think of Stories as an extension of your feed, or just a place for monologues. It’s chock-full with the ability to let you really stretch your creative wings.

There are two great reasons to try several types of media. First, Instagram is continually releasing new features for Stories. If you’re on top of what’s possible, you’ll be a pioneer in that Story element by the time the rest of your peers are just trying it out.

Secondly, by experimenting with different elements, you’re giving yourself more information. What do your viewers respond best to? What format is best for the Story you’re delivering? For instance, your viewers might prefer a set of images of your new product line, or they might prefer to hear short interview snippets from your CEO.

Stay on top of the latest trends and take advantage of the insights and options Instagram provides in Stories to make sure you’re getting the most views possible.

Instagram Stories are vital for growth

It’s easy to miss the importance of Stories, because they look deceptively simple. But by making your Stories accessible, focusing on the first three seconds, experimenting with various types of media and explicitly asking for engagement, you can take your social media engagement to new heights in 2021.

About Boris Dzhingarov

Boris Dzhingarov graduated UNWE with a major in marketing. He is the CEO of ESBO ltd brand mentioning agency. He writes for several online sites such as,,, Boris is the founder of and
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