Instagram Stories – tools to help you get creative!

Graphic show of Instagram stories on a phone

What are Instagram stories

Instagram Stories appear in a row across the top of your feed. These appear in order depending on our favourite accounts, so the accounts you interact with most will appear first.

This is also helpful to understand how other people view your stories too, if they don’t interact with your account your Stories will be further down in the queue.

Stories are represented by a pink and orange circle around the account profile image. These can be accessed by tapping on the profile image.

Instagram Stories are active for 24 hours. The content schedules from oldest to newest.

You can access Stories by clicking the camera icon at the top left of the screen or swiping right from your feed.

Here you can take a photo, create something interactive or start a video. I would encourage you to swipe through the menus at the bottom of the screen, as there are numerous options and filters you can use.

More engagement

Over 400 million people use Stories daily. As they are at the top of the feed they usually get accessed first, and get more engagement. There are more options to interact with stories including quick reactions, voting in polls and asking questions.

Slide to the left

Instagram Stories acts as a slide show of photos and videos, you can click on the right-hand side to get to the next frame, or swipe to get to the next account.

You can view along the top of the Instagram Story how many stories have been uploaded in that 24 hour period. I recommend uploading one every 3 hours and focussing more on reactive and engaging content – save your curated images and captions for your main feed.

Saving your Stories

Highlights are collections of Instagram Stories curated on your bio page. Stories only stay active for 24 hours, but can be found and added to highlights. Click the (+) sign on your profile and create your own highlight reel. 

These can be set-up with slick covers to match your brand.

Effectively they are mini albums, and you can add and remove both live and archived Instagram Stories. You could use these, for example, to show products, testimonials or events.

This gives people landing on your page more things to look through, and effectively getting more engagement on your profile is good!

Can I use Hashtags?

By using the text too can type in relevant hashtags. You can use up to 11 hashtags in your Stories. I would, however, add to that a couple of things.

Don’t use all 11 in every story

Instagram is constantly looking to improve the quality of the platform so is getting tougher on bots and spam. By constantly using all 11 hashtags you run the risk of being flagged as spam. You also want to make sure the hashtags are relevant to the post or image. Don’t just use popular hashtags to get attention, as this won’t be beneficial for your account.

You can hide them!

Rather than having lots of text covering your page you can use the eye-dropper tool and recolour your hashtags to match the background. You can then use two fingers to shrink the text and hide either in a corner or under a sticker.

Share your post to stories

You can share your, and other people’s posts to your Stories using the paper aeroplane symbol under the post. This is a great way to highlight a new post and to encourage people to click and read your post. When someone else shares your post, you can view this by click on the three dots at the top right of your post.

Tag you’re it

Similar to Hashtags, you can tag up to 10 accounts using ‘@’. Again make sure you don’t do this all the time, and you are tagging in relevant accounts. You can be blocked or reported for doing this if it is not relevant.

Basic menu

Here you can get creative and use the tools within Instagram Stories. It is worth taking some time to go through the tools and identify why which ones would be useful to you.

They also regularly change and update!


This is for photos, I’m sure you have seen similar photos before. This works on photos already taken, or uploaded from the gallery.


Unless you have 10k subscribers you can only add a link here to your IGTV.


This effectively saves your image, great if you create your Stories all at once, or love it so much you want to reshare at a later date. You can only save this way before posting.


This gives you access to a range of fun pre-made characters, gifs and so much more. Look out for trending stickers too! These can be used to cover up blemishes in images or even your hashtags.

Stickers go beyond just looking good, there can help encourage more engagement by including polls, question boxes and countdown options. 

Drawing tools 

Get creative, see more info below!


You can type or paste text directly into Stories. You can select the text alignment, text size (using the slider on the left), font by selecting the button at the top this will scroll through them.

You can also click on the A** symbol to add a background to the wording, which you can recolour. 

The text tool also acts as a clipboard. So you can copy and paste images into Stories too. This is a great way to create collages.

Get creative with drawing tools

You can access drawing tools through the squiggle between the text and sticker icons.

The creativity with these tools is seemingly endless, and they are constantly being updated and improved. Here are some of the basics, but I encourage you to play and test to see what works for you.


This acts as a basic felt tip tool, allowing you to colour whole areas or draw basic shapes. You can select a colour using the palette at the bottom. The colour palette gives some pre-set colour options, and if you swipe left there are more on the second screen. You can also hold on a colour to bring up the full-colour palette. The eyedropper tool on the far left means you can select colours from your photo – very useful when creating something beautiful or branded.

You can also use this recolour the whole screen by selecting a colour, then selecting and holding the screen until it turns a solid colour.

You can adjust the size of the brush by using the bar on the left-hand side.


You can use this to draw a line and an arrow is automatically added to the end. You can also use the palette to change to any colour. Use this is you need to direct your audience to a call to action.

Highlight – Translucent pen

This acts similar to the pen but is a translucent colour. Again you can adjust the size of the brush using the slider on the left-hand side, and recolour the whole page by holding on the page.


I’m not sure what the technical name for this tool is but I think it acts similar to a neon sign. Working in the same way as the pen but with a coloured glow. This can work as dots or lines.


Removes any mistakes or unwanted areas you can create with the tools above. Nice and easy!


Another pen tool that works the same as the others but draws like a piece of chalk.


Have I mentioned Canva today? I know I love it and use it regularly.

In Canva you can get pre-made Instagram Story templates which you can recolour and change the text to suit. You can also create your own in the correct size.

This helps if you are pre-making your branded content for ease, you can make, save and then upload when needed.

You can upload these files as images, and even use the creative tools over the top. So you can create branded backgrounds and use the text tools and stickers within Instagram to make them even better!

Canva will also allow you to create cover images for your Highlights, but be mindful these are small and circle so will be hard to see – so check your design. 

Swipe up insights

Once your story is live you can access the insights or responses from your audience by opening the story and swiping up.

Tag me

Make sure you tag @digitalreeds in your Stories so I can see your great work! If you have any questions on Instagram Stories drop me a direct message on Instagram.

Instagram stories overview of tools

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