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Instagram Story Dimensions and Killer Ideas to Up Your Game

Article by Thomas J Law

Instagram is a powerhouse.

This social media titan has more than 1 billion monthly active users.

What’s more, Instagram Stories are a huge hit.

In fact, Instagram Stories grew to 500 million daily active users within a couple of years of its launch, and now has more users than its rival Snapchat Stories.

Instagram Stories Daily Active Users

But as more and more people use Instagram Stories, it’s getting harder to stand out. As a result, you need to know the ins and outs of Instagram marketing  – including Instagram Story dimensions.

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In this article, you’ll learn all about Instagram Story dimensions. And stick around: You’ll also learn about 18 Story ideas from top brands killing it on Instagram.

Let’s dive in!

What Are Instagram Story Dimensions?

Instagram story dimensions are 1080px by 1920px. This means that your image or video should be 1080 pixels wide and 1920 pixels in height. This is also known as an aspect ratio of 9:16.

Below is a template of these Instagram Story dimensions that you can download and use to create your Stories.

Instagram Stories Dimensions

To download the image:

  • Mac: Hold down “Control” and click the image, then click “Save Image As” to save it to your computer.
  • PC: Right-click the image, and then click “Save Image As” to save it to your computer.
  • iPhone/Android: Tap and hold the image until the option to save arises, then tap “Save Image.”

Why Do You Need These Instagram Story Dimensions?

If you use your smartphone to take a portrait photo or video, it will perfectly fit the Instagram Story dimensions of 1080px by 1920px.

But Instagram’s Story creator and your phone’s capabilities only go so far.

If you want to create more professional images or videos in a program like Photoshop or Illustrator, you need to use the correct Instagram Story dimensions.

Because Instagram ain’t messing around.

If you upload an image or video from your camera roll that doesn’t fit these Instagram Story dimensions, the content will be cropped and some of your visuals will be lost. Or, Instagram will zoom in on your content, resulting in poor quality.

For example, I recently took this photo of the Cornish cliffs in England:

But when I share it as a Story, the photo is shown zoomed in to fit the unforgiving Instagram Story dimensions.

As a result, the image quality is dramatically reduced, and the cove’s beach is entirely removed from the frame.

Bottom line: Any Stories you share will be forced to adhere to the Instagram Story dimensions.

By creating content with these Instagram Story dimensions, you’ll ensure that your images and videos are framed correctly and retain their high quality.

Note: Instagram accepts JPG, and PNG. images for Story, and they need to be less than 30MB in size. This is more than enough for most creators unless you’re trying to upload raw images. 

Canva Instagram Story 

You can use Canva to create a branded Instagram story using the correct Instagram Story dimensions.

Although you can use Instagram’s camera and editor to create content within the Instagram app, you can also create content in a professional visual editor and then upload it from your phone’s camera roll.

This is awesome.

Specially designed branded content can be far more eye-catching than content created with the Instagram Story creator.

Check out how Gary Vaynerchuk does it:

These images weren’t created in the Instagram app. Instead, they were created using the Instagram Story dimensions in a different program and then uploaded as Instagram Stories.

This allows Gary’s team to create a branded aesthetic with additional images, text, and graphics.

To do this, you can use a free online tool like Canva.

Simply create an account, log in, and click “Create a design.” Then, instead of opting for one of the templates, click “Use custom dimensions.”

Type in the Instagram Story dimensions 1080 x 1920, and click “Design!”

Canva Instagram Stories Dimensions

Next up:

Use the Instagram Story Dimensions Aspect Ratio to Upload Content Faster

The Instagram Story dimensions 1080px by 1920px are high-definition and the best quality visuals you can upload.

However, this isn’t always a good thing.

High-resolution images and videos are saved as large files because they contain more pixels. These can take up a lot of storage space on your device and take longer to upload than lower-definition files.

To illustrate this point, have you ever changed the quality settings on a YouTube video?

Switching to 1080p will provide the highest quality, but if a video is taking a long time to buffer, it’s often easier to drop down to 720p. This is still considered high-definition, but with fewer pixels to worry about, the video will load faster.

The same is true when it comes to any digital media.

But here’s the thing: When you change the number of pixels shown, the shape of the video doesn’t change because all of the settings use the same aspect ratio.

Remember, the Instagram Story dimensions aspect ratio is 9:16.

Using this ratio, we can work out which smaller Instagram Story dimensions will also work:

  • 1080px by 1920px – The best resolution available
  • 720px by 1280px – Still HD, but with faster upload times
  • 450px by 800px – Starting to lose quality, but much faster upload times
  • Etc.

The fewer pixels, the less definition.

However, if you want to avoid large files and slow upload speeds, you can create content in these sizes and it will still fit the Instagram Story dimensions.

Stay in The Instagram Story Dimensions Safe Zone to Make Way for Important Elements

Sometimes it’s not just about the content you post in an Instagram story, but the elements that accompany it.

In Story, you can use stickers, polls, text, boomerangs, hashtags, and more to encourage more people to engage with you. Just make sure they’re in the safe zone. 

Let me explain. 

When you post an image or video, Instagram recommends leaving nearly 250 pixels of the bottom and top free from stickers, text, or other elements.

Why? Because those areas are reserved for other important elements, such as the swipe up button that people press to visit the link mentioned in the story.

So if you want to make the most of Instagram stories, it’s best to stay within the Instagram Story dimensions safe zone.

Instagram even helps users stay within the safe area. 

For example, I selected an image of a treadmill from my phone, and I also added an ask a question sticker so people can engage with my story. 

When I moved the sticker at the top left of the screen, two blue grids popped up to indicate that I’m close to crossing the safe zone.

Instagram Story safe zone

If I go past the safe zone and place my sticker there, I would block the area reserved for my profile icon and profile name. 

So all I had to do is move the sticker away from the blue grids.

The grids also appear at the bottom, left, and right. This helps you see how your image is centered.

If you’re aiming to center specific elements in your story, you can rely on the grids to find the middle, both vertically and horizontally.

Dimension-wise, you’re in the safe zone when your elements are within 1080px by 1420px.

Keep The Instagram Story Dimensions Video Length In Mind

Instagram Stories limit video length to 15 seconds per individual story. Can you get your message across in such a short time? Certainly.

Choose one core thing you want to convey to your audience and create a video around that subject. Use your most intriguing frame at the start, then pick one or two key frames to bring your message together and grab viewers’ attention.

It’s also important to add some emotions to your video. This helps to build a personal connection between you and the audience. 

The most effective way to evoke feelings is to think about what will make the audience relate to your video. 

Take a cue from this 15-second video commercial by the plumbing supply manufacturer Moen.

It features a child sharing a story about his grandfather and his experience with a Moen product. The video evokes positive emotions that create feelings of joy and happiness.

Emotional stories will go a long way in helping you motivate your audience to act immediately.

Of course, not all messages can fit into a 15 seconds video. And Instagram understands that – the platform accommodates up to four 15 seconds videos to help you create a sequential story to explain your point. 

You can also record a 60 seconds video at once, and Instagram will divide into four Stories for the audience. 

Instagram accepts videos in either the MOV. or MP4. format, and they need to be less than 4 GB in size. You can use an online tool like Freemake Video Converter to render your videos in the right format.

If the conversion reduces the video’s quality, try a video compression tool like Online Uniconverter as an alternative. Compression tools reduce the file size without affecting the video’s quality.

18 Instagram Story Ideas from Brands Killing It on Instagram

Now that you know how to use the Instagram Story dimensions to create your own branded content, let’s look at the types of content you can create!

Here are 18 Instagram Story ideas from some of the top brands in the world.

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1. Create Content Series: Gary Vaynerchuk

It can be difficult to come up with great content ideas for social media every day.

It can also be difficult to build a strong connection with your audience if you’re inconsistent, or your content lacks a brand theme.

The solution? Content series.

Garyvee Instagram Stories

This is one of the ways Gary Vaynerchuk manages to share so much high-quality content using Instagram Stories every single day.

He has the #DailyVee, the #60SecClub, #WallPaperWednesday, and #AskGaryVee, to name a few.

These recurring content themes make consistently sharing great Instagram Stories far easier. So, create a content series that you can run daily or weekly.

2. Promote Long-Form Content: Travel and Leisure

Do you write blog posts for your website? Maybe you run a podcast? Or perhaps you create YouTube videos?

You can use Instagram Stories to promote other content to your Instagram followers. You’ve already done the work, now it’s time to share it!

Take a look at how Travel and Leisure does it:

If you have more than 10,000 Instagram followers, Instagram gives you the option to add links to your story. This allows users to swipe up on a story to visit your chosen link.

But what if you don’t yet have 10,000 followers on Instagram?

Well, for now, you can still direct people to the link in your Instagram bio, which you can update for each new piece of content you promote.

But beware, users will quickly grow tired if you simply promote other content.

In this case:

3. Recycle and Build on Your Other Content: Condé Nast Traveler

Try recycling the best parts of your other content into awesome Instagram Stories. This is a great way to create quality content quickly. Just take your blog post, video, or images and repurpose them for Instagram.

Obviously, you can still promote the original long-form content, too.

However, just make sure that your Instagram followers derive value from the Story without having to click over to view the content.

Condé Nast Traveler does a great job of this.

They promoted their annual road trip guide with a careful balance between interesting facts and promotional calls-to-action.

4. Create a Game: HubSpot

Creating an Instagram Story game is a great way to engage your following. And thanks to the Instagram Stories poll stickers, it’s extremely simple to do!

Let’s look at an example from HubSpot.

In their recurring content theme, “2 Truths & A Lie,” they pose three statements and ask viewers to guess which are true and which one is a lie. Then they reveal the answer.

HubSpot Instagram Stories

It’s simple and highly effective.

5. Share User-Generated Content: Mercedes Benz

Your customers are an untapped source of incredible content, and all you have to do is ask them if you can share it.

Many users will be more than happy for you to post their content if you credit them and they get a few new followers.

Mercedes Benz regularly shares Stories featuring customers’ images to promote their cars.

6. Collaborate and Post an Interview: Starbucks

Everyone has an interesting story or viewpoint to share – why not present some of them as Instagram Stories?

If you interview someone in your niche, you’ll get some great Story content, and they’ll get promoted on your account – it’s a win-win!

You could also showcase someone’s thoughts behind your new product or release.

Starbucks recently collaborated with S’well and artist Curtis Kulig to launch a new bottle design. Then, they posted a short interview with Kulig as an Instagram Story.

7. Document Moments and Events: Vans

When it comes to creating content, Vaynerchuk says, “Document, don’t create.”

This is wise advice.

Let’s get deep for a moment: All creation is a form of documentation in some way. A Renaissance painting, a scientific journal, or an Instagram Story are all ways of documenting something.

The Renaissance painting documents beauty, the scientific journal documents facts, and the Instagram Story documents what happens in a particular moment in time.

So, capture moments and share them with your audience.

This could be day-to-day personal moments, or in this example from Vans, a large-scale event.

Vans Instagram Stories

8. Host a Competition or Prize Draw: Converse

Creating a simple contest or prize draw is a great way to engage your followers.

Check out how Converse does it:

Plus, you can send users to your website to enter and use the prize draw as a lead magnet.

“Lead magnet” is the fancy marketing term for “bait.”

Basically, you provide something of value in exchange for people’s contact information so that you can market your products or services to them.

If you’ve spent more than five minutes online, you’ve probably seen it plenty of times: “Submit your email address to be entered into the prize drawing!”

The lead magnet can be anything of value, such as an ebook, a free consultation, or indeed, entry to a prize draw!

9. Do a Takeover: Think Grow Prosper

A takeover is a simple collaboration where you and another Instagram user create content to appear in each other’s Stories.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a big fan of takeovers, and Think Grow Prosper recently let Vaynerchuk take over their Instagram Stories:

GaryVee Instagram Stories

Takeover collaborations are an extremely effective way to quickly grow your following through cross-pollinating your audiences.

In other words, some of their audience will follow you and some of your audience will follow them.

Plus, having another person or influencer show up in your Instagram Stories is akin to a brand endorsement.

Vaynerchuk explains this perfectly: “It’s the modern-day equivalent of guest appearances on rap albums. If you’re an up-and-coming artist and Kanye West shows up on one of your tracks, it’s viewed as a seal of approval from Kanye.”

What’s more, you don’t need to give away your Instagram log-in details to the other person. Simply send each other a few images or videos to share.

10. Tell a Story: The Outbound

Humans need stories.

Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist and author, said that the “human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.”

So why not use Instagram Stories to tell a story?

The Outbound did exactly this when they told a story about a couple who bought an old VW bug in Mexico and went on an adventure.

11. Promote a New Product: Lego

Have you ever seen the way Apple fans react when a new iPhone is released?

If you’ve grown your audience with openness, authenticity, and integrity, they’ll be thrilled when you announce a new product.

Lego recently shared an Instagram Story promoting their new Lego Batmobile.

But be warned: An audience that feels no genuine connection with a brand will resent such promotions and consider them self-serving and desperate.

This is why branding is so important.

So before you post purely promotional Stories, make sure your audience will be receptive.

12. Showcase Testimonials: Nike Football

Testimonials are an effective way to harness the awesome power of social proof.

Social proof refers to the undeniable fact that people are heavily influenced by other people’s opinions and actions.

Marketers understand this very well, and it’s why you’ll often see brand endorsements from influencers and celebrities. These endorsements reassure people that buying your product is a good decision.

Nike Football regularly posts testimonial Instagram Stories, such as the one below featuring professional footballer Fran Kirby.

13. Get Topical: Condé Nast Traveler

If you’re feeling stuck for ideas, look to current events for inspiration.

Whatever niche you operate in will have news, developments, and goings-on that you can report on to create great Instagram Stories.

In this example, Condé Nast Traveler shares Stories featuring travel news from around the globe.

14. Tell Your Followers’ Stories: Vogue

Another way to involve your followers is to share their stories and opinions. Reach out to find people with something to say.

Vogue does this extremely well in their Instagram Story series, “#DearVogue.”

Dear Vogue Instagram Stories

15. Get Personal: HubSpot Life

Transparency and authenticity are powerful ways to create personal connections.

In fact, a whopping 94% of consumers say they’re likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency.

Hubspot understands this so well, they have a dedicated Instagram account called Hubspot Life that’s “on a Mission to make business more human.” They use the account to show what it’s like to work at HubSpot.

HubSpot Life Instagram Stories

So don’t be afraid to get personal and showcase the people behind the brand.

16. Post Something Inspiring or Thought Provoking: Marie Forleo

Everyone needs a little inspiration and motivation now and again. So try creating Instagram Stories that deliver a dose of these powerful feelings!

Take a look at how Marie Forleo does it:

Marie Forleo Instagram Stories

And if you’re looking for entrepreneur inspiration and motivation, follow Shopify on Instagram

17. Go Behind the Scenes: Aritzia

There’s always more to a business than meets the eye, and these behind-the-scenes details can make some extremely compelling content.

Fans of brands often love to learn about how everything comes together.

This is why fashion boutique Aritzia recently shared how they used 3D printing to create their new window displays.

Artizia Instagram Stories

18. Mix It Up: Yoga Girl

Hopefully, by now, you have plenty of Instagram Story ideas – but if you ever get stuck, don’t be afraid to switch it up!

Yoga Girl shares a mix of different types of content. The images below show a group yoga session, family time, and a sponsored post.

Summary: Instagram Story Dimensions

Instagram Stories is more personal than the Instagram feed.

So showcase your personality, and don’t be afraid to get creative and try new things. Then, you can explore further or drop the idea depending on how your audience responds.

And when you create content to upload using the camera roll, don’t forget to use the correct Instagram Story dimensions.

Which Instagram Story idea are you going to try next? Let us know in the comments below!

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