Are You Still Making These 10 Mistakes on Instagram Stories?

Simon Orgulan
9 min
January 12, 2024

Instagram Stories is another way to interact with your audience and add some flair to your social media presence. If you know how to use it the right way, this can be a potent tool in your arsenal. Best of all, this social media marketing tool is accessible to anyone!

In essence, Instagram Stories is a format that requires you to come up with relevant vertical photos or videos that are limited to 15 seconds in length. After 24 hours, your post disappears, which encourages your followers to check up on what you’re up to more often. To give these posts some extra exposure, Instagram places them right at the top of your followers’ app.

Unless your strategy is already bringing you some incredible results, chances are there’s a whole lot more you can do to tweak your campaigns to perfection. Below, you’ll find 10 common mistakes people often make when posting Instagram Stories and what you can do to make yours better:

MISTAKE 1: Not incorporating video content

It’s no secret that younger generations (the ones that tend to be avid social media users) have a decreasing attention span. Call it “selective” if you will, but the general trend in people’s preferences seems to be headed towards easily-digestible content that’s not too long. As it goes without saying, video content fits the bill perfectly!

Studies have shown that 95% of people will remember your message if they ingest it in a video format, whereas only 10% of them will do the same if you present it to them in a traditional text-based fashion. Talk about a major difference! The best thing about it is that you don’t need to put too much effort into producing these – most users love it when content creators do something on the spur of the moment.

Not incorporating video content is one of the common Instagram Stories mistakes, but it’s easy to fix once you realize the power of this format. Depending on your brand, the content should be somewhat casual and authentic. If you can, try to inject some spontaneity into it. Forget about using fancy cameras or equipment and simply jump into it without overthinking too much. We can almost guarantee your followers will react positively.

Keep in mind the recommended Instagram Stories dimensions for 2022 are 9:16 (1080x1920 px).

MISTAKE 2: Not including captions in your videos

Speaking of videos, don’t forget to add captions to them while you’re at it, which is another related Instagram Stories mistake.

Did you know that as much as 40% of Instagram users choose to have no sound on Instagram Stories? If you’re wondering why anyone would choose to consume video content this way, the answer is because they don’t want to disturb others, which is typically the case when they’re in public spaces or on the go.

Without even knowing, you could be excluding a sizable chunk of your audience. So how to add captions to Instagram Stories? As you’re creating or uploading your video in the official app, simply locate the sticker icon in the top portion of the app menu and choose “captions”. You can follow it up with setting some additional stylistic choices and preferences, but that’s pretty much it, more or less.

As an added benefit, including captions in your videos will also make your content more accessible to those with hearing difficulties. In a world that doesn’t care, this can be a great way to show that you’re different.

MISTAKE 3: Not taking advantage of all the extra features

Instagram Stories are all about connecting with your audience in an authentic way as you work on growing your brand. However, if you’re not fully utilizing all Instagram Stories features, you’re losing out on your content’s potential.

Don’t know where to start? We’ll give you some cool Instagram Stories ideas and how to use the extra features to make them even more unique and engaging.

- Location

Is your physical location in any way relevant to what your post is about? If you’re posting content that has to do with your local area (such as restaurant reviews, city exploration, tourist cruises, and similar), you’d be doing yourself a massive disservice not to tag it with a location tag. Another reason to use it is if you’re posting live from one of your branches or offices, which gives people an idea where they can find you.

- Gifs

Since most people are visual beings, a gif image will quickly catch their attention. It’s also a great choice if you want to direct their attention to a specific part of your post (such as your link). There’s no need to make it too flashy, just enough for it to fit the context. For example, you can simply replace your regular emojis with the ones that spin, bounce around, or have animated facial expressions.

- Polls and quizzes

Is there a question you’d like to ask your audience? Maybe you’re doing research or simply want to gather their feedback? Use polls and quizzes to make the process fun! Anything that facilitates two-way engagement between you and your audience is a good thing as far as engagement goes. So if you’re looking for Instagram Stories ideas designed to boost engagement, this is the direction you want to go.

- Post previews

Have you written a longer article and are looking to promote it? Post a preview on Instagram Stories for that extra boost! It’s a simple idea that doesn’t take that much work on your end to implement. A short summary of what they’re going to learn will do just fine. At the end of the day, it’s unrealistic to expect the entirety of your follower base to subscribe to all of your social media channels, so this is a nice way to make sure everyone sees the notification.

MISTAKE 4: Not using hashtags

We’ve already covered the importance of using hashtags in our ultimate guide to hashtags on social media, so be sure to navigate to the corresponding Instagram section to learn about the best practices and tools to make the most of your campaign. In general, hashtags are a great way to boost the reach of your post and you can use them on Instagram Stories as well. As long as your profile is set to public, this will help more people discover it outside of your current follower base.

If you’re looking for a tool that will help generate the best ones for you, we invite you to give Ocoya a try! With its built-in hashtag generator, you’ll be able to generate the most fitting hashtags designed to bring you traffic at the click of a button (we’ve described the exact process in our hashtags guide). Although there are several differences between Instagram Stories vs posts, you should be using hashtags for both. If your story is truly worthy of being showcased, you even stand a chance of having it featured on the dedicated page for each hashtag.

Volume-wise, each Instagram Story allows you to append up to 10 hashtags. With that being said, some people will have second thoughts about doing it, since including a long list of hashtags can easily clog up your post and make it look messy. But worry not! Instagram allows you to hide them, either by covering them up with a sticker or aligning their font color with the background color of your post. To utilize the latter method, simply take advantage of the eyedropper tool Instagram Stories provides you with.

MISTAKE 5: Making your content look formal and stiff

We get it! Your brand has a serious undertone and you’re looking to preserve its image. While you can (and should) certainly align your Instagram Stories posts to be in line with the overall image of your brand, try to see if you can de-formalize it just a little bit to match the expectations of your Instagram audience, the majority of which tends to prefer light-themed and casual topics.

Keep in mind that Instagram (and social media in general) is meant for you to show the human face behind a corporate entity. So if you’re looking for Instagram Stories ideas that could fly with the image of your brand, you can try:

- Giving them a tour of your premises

- Talking about a client you’ve been able to help

- Showing them how it looks behind the scenes

- Introduce your staff

- Tell a funny workplace story

The term you’re looking for is “business casual”, and that’s the proverbial suit the world of social media wants you to put on. Treat your followers as insiders who have the privilege of seeing a side of you that not everyone gets to see.

MISTAKE 6: Making your posts too long and wordy

Remember the point about short attention spans we made earlier? The majority of your followers are likely to be pressed for time, so not only will you be wasting a lot of energy wondering how to make Instagram stories longer, they most likely won’t even bother to read them as a result, making them a net negative instead of a good investment on your time.

Ask yourself this and be honest about it: would you be willing to read a wall of text when all the posts that compete for your attention are shorter videos or images with short captions underneath? Unless it’s something extraordinarily interesting, probably not.

Therefore, asking “how long can Instagram stories be?” is perhaps a misguided question to begin with. What you should be asking instead is how to make each of your words count. Operate from the assumption that you’re only working with about 10 seconds worth of a reader’s time and try to make the best of it.

Here’s a pro tip: hire a copywriter! If, however, your budget is limited, another thing you can do that won’t cost you anything is making your content livelier by using creative commons images from websites like Pixabay and Unsplash. Remember that your readers are visual creatures, so make sure to treat them to a visual delight.

MISTAKE 7: Being all over the place

When you want to say something, say it, and that’s going to be the topic of your story. What you don’t want to do is go off-topic or try to mix two stories into one (it’s better to hold onto the idea and create two separate stories).

Trying to mish-mash two topics together creates several problems:

- It takes away from the power of your message

- It makes your posts wordy (see the point above)

- It makes it less likely the reader will stick around long enough to read the whole thing

Sticking to the mantra of “one idea per story” is a good rule to follow. This will help you keep your content on track and ensure that your Instagram Stories remain engaging and the narrative clear.

MISTAKE 8: Being inconsistent with your branding

When your followers come to your social media channels, they’re looking for valuable advice and content that resonates with your niche. In general, this is a proven formula that works well across all industries. Even though it’s fine to spice things up a bit with a random joke here and there, it pays to make an effort to make the joke contextually relevant and in line with what your business is about.

Then, there are aesthetic inconsistencies, another common Instagram Stories mistake. If you’re not using fonts, colors, and other graphical elements that people associate with your brand, you’re doing yourself a massive disservice. It looks untidy, unprofessional, and all over the place.

Ideally, one of your followers should be able to identify that a piece of content is coming from you without even having to look at the author bio. That’s the holy grail of consistency as it relates to growing a brand. And it’s not solely about the design either – it’s about staying faithful to the voice of your brand.

MISTAKE 9: Duplicating content without adding a fresh spin on it

When you’re looking to make the most of your time, it can be tempting to seek out shortcuts. However, the good old copy-paste maneuver is not going to cut it in this case. Even though the algorithm may or may not punish you for it (and who’s to say this won’t change in the future), you should be thinking about it from the users’ point of view. No one wants to keep hearing the same old (Instagram) story, even if it’s a damn good story.

The good news is, you can repurpose some of your old content, but instead of blatantly re-posting it, you can approach it from a fresh new angle. Let’s imagine you’re fighting the good fight and advocating for a cause. Instead of chanting “all wildlife matters” for the tenth thousandth time, you can say you’ve donated to an organization devoted to preserving it and ask your readers whether they’ve done something similar. In essence, the core message remains the same – what differs is its delivery.

Want a secret weapon for repurposing your old content without stretching a muscle? Thanks to Ocoya’s Text Summariser, you can! Simply navigate to the online application’s homepage and find the Travis AI button in the sidebar to the left.

Ocoya's Travis AI

Click it, and select “Short-form”.

Travis AI short-form

Keep scrolling down until you notice the yellow Text Summariser icon and click it.

Ocoya's Text Summariser

In the input field, enter your product, brand name, or what your content is about.

Text Summariser brand name

In the body input field, copy and paste the post you want to summarize.

Text Summariser description field

Finally, hit the big green “Generate” button below and let Ocoya do the heavy lifting for you!

Generate Text Summariser results

MISTAKE 10: Lacking discipline and not having clear goals in mind

Running any kind of social media channel that becomes successful as it grows requires rock-solid discipline and dedication. In other words, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and posting Instagram Stories is no exception. Of course, there is always the option of hiring a social media manager to do it for you, but if you either don’t have the budget or want to remain fully in charge of your destiny, that’s the mindset you’re going to have to adopt.

Unlike other social media gurus, we’re not going to tell you how exactly you should approach the matter; in reality, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. While sticking to a schedule may work for some, others are wired differently and thus may be better off letting their sudden bursts of creativity and inspiration lead the way. At the end of the day, you know yourself best, and are thus the most qualified to devise the right plan of attack, the kind that works for you. As long as you’re willing and ready to put in the work on a consistent basis, results are bound to follow.

Have you caught yourself making any of these 10 mistakes on Instagram Stories? The solutions may not be obvious, but we’ve done our best to provide a solution for each. Now get to work and apply what you’ve learned in practice!

Join 100,000+ businesses using Ocoya