Beat The Algorithm: How To Rock Your Instagram Stories

Jenna Kutcher 

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August 22, 2018


Goal Diggers, we all know social media is one of THE best ways to get the word out there about your business… but sometimes it can get tricky. Today, I wanted to focus on one specific facet of social media that rarely gets taught but can make a GIANT impact on how you’re engaging with your audience: How to ROCK your Instagram stories! If you are not utilizing IG stories yet, it’s FINALLY time to get on board. And if you are… it’s time to make sure you are using it to its full potential because it is one of the most unique, impactful ways to move your business forward, engage with your fans in an authentic way, and expand your connection with your followers.

Live video is a newer feature in the social media world and with additions like IGTV happening, it’s clear Instagram is sending us a message that if we aren’t using video yet, we better figure out our strategy with it. Essentially, we have a few different options to record ourselves, publish it,  and chat with your followers/potential clients. It can be intimidating absolutely, but it is so incredible because it allows you to connect with your audience in real time (and beyond!) and adds an irreplaceable level of humanness and uniqueness to your brand. You essentially get to draw in your potential clients and spread your message in an authentic way for free!

Let’s dig in and get specific on the strategy around IG stories and many ways to utilize this feature— from swipe ups, photos, graphics, text overlay, live video, featured stories and MORE! You can use it from your personal or you business page,  but regardless, there are certain tips to making sure your message gets across and properly received!


Instagram stories matter. They create such an authentic way to bond with your audience, speak to what you’re passionate about, and give a sneak peek into life behind the pretty squares. Stories provide a way to turn your followers into FANS. Why? Because your followers feel like they know you, they are behind the scenes with you and are given an opportunity to truly feel connected to your mission when they see sneak peeks and an uncurated look at your work. When people feel like they know you as a person, they feel invested and connected in your mission!

Also, let’s not forget that Instagram Stories have OVER 300 MILLION active daily users (that’s over 60% of all Instagram users AND almost double the daily usage of Snapchat….) Safe to say, insta stories are here to stay, and today I am walking you through the A-Z to feeling confident, boosting your views, inviting engagement, and using stories for beating the stinkin’ algorithm!


Trust me, I get it, I used to HATE going live on Instagram stories. I felt like I had to be “on”, look perfect, and say everything flawlessly. I used to stress about how I looked, sounded, and about what I was sharing…. And with time, I learned something really important. No one wants perfect anymore!

In such a styled, curated world – going live on video is an easy way to show our followers exactly what we are like in real life! How cool is that?! Okay, Jenna, we get it- going LIVE is important, but that doesn’t make it feel any easier, especially when you are just starting out on Instagram stories. With time, you will learn how to make them feel authentic, relatable, and also purposeful! I am sharing my hacks to feeling confident, on brand, and ensuring that my message is communicated! I can truly say Instagram stories are one of the biggest tools you can use to grow your business and I have some tricks up my sleeve…


Remember how I just said people are sick of perfection? It’s true! While knowing this is comforting, it still feels good showing up to record your Instagram story feeling confident and ready to go! This step will look different for all of us— some of us it takes putting on “real” pants, some of us it’ll mean doing a meditation before, or doing a light touch up of makeup, But whatever it is that makes you feel GOOD and ready to bond with your following is the method you should choose! For me personally, I’m willing to show up live no matter how I look, but there’s no denying that I do feel extra ready and sure of myself on the days where I feel put together.

Another step to help you feel prepared and confident is having a general idea of what you’re going to say during your story. This doesn’t mean you have to follow a script by any means, but it does mean that your brain is focused and ready to let the words flow! Doing a little mini mental checklist of the things you want to say will allow for a fluid, intentional story that ensures your message is shared!


Here’s the trick: SHARE IT. Share the awkward moments, unstyled photos of your home, candid laughter with your husband, WHATEVER it is that is actually #reallife, share it! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, but people are CRAVING authentic moments. The curated and perfectly styled have a place in your world but don’t forget to always bring the REAL LIFE to social media. Not only will your followers eat it up, it will help ground you and remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. For me, I love recording my puppies, small moments with Drew, and those awkward outtakes of reality. Because guess what, social media rocks, but it’s the real-life moments that matter!


Probably the thing I talk about MOST on this show– KNOW WHAT YOUR AUDIENCE WANTS. Utilizing the poll feature on Instagram is a great way of doing this! Not only can you easily get feedback on business moves you’re making (EXAMPLE: Would you guys prefer a free resource on Instagram or Pinterest?), but you are also inviting engagement, showing Instagram that people interact with your content, and ensuring that your profile gets seen.


Use geotags, hashtags, and tag accounts. While this seems like a small decision, it increases the chances that your story will be seen when people are looking into that specific tag.  Using these elements could also get you featured in the story for a particular location or hashtag. How cool is that?
This one is pretty straightforward and simple, but could increase your exposure!


Use links in your Stories to increase sales, generate leads and gain traffic. A great way to do this? Utilizing the swipe up feature! The exact numbers are constantly changing, but just know this… the conversion rate on SWIPE UPS are insanely good. It’s so easy for a follower to see the ad and in the moment swipe up to whatever you are promoting. I always talk about on this show how you have to make things as EASY as possible for your clients, and swipe ups are a great way to quickly direct them in the right direction. (Fear not, if you do not have a swipe up option, you can still use live video, graphics, and ads to direct them to a link within your bio!)


Instagram stories create a great chance to draw attention to a  post on your feed or a certain link. For example, it’s common to “cover” a new post, create a little mystery, and create a hook to get them to look at it! (Example: “Can’t believe I just shared this photo…)
Not only does this boost engagement on that specific post, but it drives people to your feed, thus increasing the chances you’ll show up higher on their feed at later times.


A really fun (and under-utilized!) way to use your story is for Instagram takeovers! A “takeover” is the term when someone else or another business uses your story, usually for 24 hours. Instagram takeovers create a great opportunity to introduce your audience to someone else (or vice versa!). With this, you would want to pick someone closely aligned with your demographic and are aligned with your mission. They are quick, build a mutually beneficial relationship between yourself and another influencer and it provides a super organic way to grow your audience!


First off, what is IGTV? It’s designed for videos over 60 seconds. Picture it like youtube and Instagram having a baby! The point of IGTV is that Instagram users can now make longer videos, which can potentially become more-engaging content for followers. I myself haven’t used IGTV (yet…), but here’s a quick tutorial. Once you click on the IGTV icon you can scroll content, search for specific topics, or even contribute your own material!

SO: they golden question… why would you use IGTV? Maybe you feel limited by the time limits on current Instagram videos. Or maybe you’ve dreamed of creating some sort of Instagram series that people can few for a prolonged period of time, or maybe you have a project in mind that involves longer videos targeted at your Instagram audience.  All in all, it’s a great option and I’m excited to see how it grows!


In March of 2017, Instagram allowed businesses and accounts of all sizes to run Instagram story ADS! Meaning that your ad gets pushed out to current followers and some new followers!

Here are some key tips to maximize your ad:
-Photo ads stay up 10 seconds and videos can be up to 15 seconds
-Use catchy graphics with bright colors/clean fonts
-Use your wording to relate to them and draw them in
-Have a CLEAR call to action

Instagram ads are a GREAT feature. Over 120 MILLION clicks happened in the last 6 months from these advertisements! Wild!


Now, Instagram is letting you collect stories so they can live on beyond 24 hours. These are featured stories that can help expand your brand and can be categorized and grouped with other similar stories. I love following the JK5 method here in determining which featured stories to create and save and I love popping my best stories into a featured one, so people can watch it after the 24-hour mark.


While I love the real life, unedited moments, there is also a time and place to bring beautiful graphics and branding to your stories. As I always preach, there are a few keys to good branding (and these apply to your stories!): stay consistent, use similar colors, and familiar wording and fonts. I am not saying you have to edit perfectly made graphics for every story, but make small choices like picking cohesive filters, colors, and fonts. Not only does this organically expand your brand, but it creates a great opportunity for followers to get “hints” of what your business is like.


One of my favorite ways to use Instagram stories is to let people peek “behind the scenes” of a normal workday or a big project! It’s such a fun way to naturally invite them to be a part of them and include them on the journey! For example, I always pop on my stories the days that I record a lot of Goal Digger episodes to give a sneak peek at guests, topics, and my set up. (Usually me bra-less on my couch drinking wayyy too much coffee). And although it may seem like a small choice to let people in behind the scenes, it creates a spark for them to be excited about upcoming episodes and gives them a sneak peek of what it *really* looks like when I record so that they can feel more engaged in the process. Doing this on stories is such a great option as we all know the journey isn’t *exactly* Instagram material… and stories allow you to explain the process in a really authentic way! So whether you are writing a book, working on a blog post series, rebranding, or launching a new product, share bits and pieces to get your audience engaged in the journey!


In addition to going “behind the scenes” there are so many ways to organically promote a product that don’t blatantly seem like “selling”. You can be wearing one of your products and swipe up, you could do a quick chat about a new product and link it in bio, you can tag an affiliate, or explain a new launch! The options are legitimately endless! One thing that live video allows you to do is to convey enthusiasm and explain things in a way that it is hard to do in words. It may feel awkward at first, but give it a whirl. Two simple rules: be authentic and show passion! Your followers will get excited about whatever you are excited about. How great is that?!


I am so excited to talk about this new feature! Instagram recently revealed the ability to easily share a video/post you are tagged in— simple go into your message inbox when someone tags you in a video and click this creates a super great way to share testimonies from clients or followers. For example, if one of you tag me in a story saying you LOVE Goal Digger, I can add it to my story!

In summary, Instagram stories are a total game changer in the social media world. It can be intimidating absolutely, but it is so incredible because it allows you to connect with your audience in real time (and beyond!) and adds an irreplaceable level of humanness and uniqueness to your brand. You essentially get to draw in your potential clients and spread your message in an authentic way for free! That is crazy! I want you to do WHATEVER it takes to get confident and ready to reach your dream clients! Happy recording, friends!


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  1. Wow!! Thank you so much!!! I learned A TON!!!! I already shared this blog with my business team!!! Xo, Val

  2. August 2018 Favorites + *Giveaway Time* ⋆ Find Your Dazzle says:

    […] I’ve been listening to the Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher lately and loving it. If you are a blogger or social media influencer then she has some awesome tips for growing your platform and engaging your readers! I really enjoyed episode 181: Beat the Algorithm. […]

  3. […] downloaded any episode that seemed relevant to IG. Little by little I was learning more about the power of Stories, saying no to IG Pods, and …. Plann. The Instagram Scheduling tool that Jenna talks a lot […]


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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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