How to Create Instagram Stories that Generate DMs

If you’re active on Instagram, you know that engagement and reach has shifted from in-feed posts to Instagram stories! This shift has left a lot of businesses feeling panicked about their decreasing number of “likes,” but for businesses who sell directly to their customers through social media, this is actually good news!

Instagram stories allow brands to share more intimate, playful, and customer-forward content. But most of all, Instagram stories bring your business one step closer to connecting with your followers 1-on-1, all thanks to the DM.

Today I’m going to share with you some ways you can craft your Instagram stories to optimize for customer interaction and lead customers to your inbox where you can continue a more meaningful conversation.

Before you can expect a response to any of your posts, you need to start with creating content that your followers are interested in. That means taking some time to follow your ideal customer, explore their page and find out what value or entertainment you can provide them. Remember to always reply, interact, and engage with your mutual friends’ content, too. This is key in continuing to develop relationships.

Once you’ve got an idea of what may interest your followers, ramp up your posting to 5-10x per day. Several studies have found that posting somewhere within that sweet spot is just enough to make yourself visible to your followers without overwhelming them. Just make sure that these posts aren’t all at once! Otherwise, you risk alienating or bothering your followers.

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Instagram Stories are named as such for a reason. Your posts should first and foremost tell a story to your followers. Use basic storytelling structures (with a beginning, middle, and end) to engage, provide value, and offer a call to action to your audience. Nailing this rhythm is the key to becoming a successful IG story user. (No more singular “ask me about this product” posts.)

After you’ve gotten comfortable using the basic features of stories like locations, GIF stickers, drawing tools, and boomerangs, it’s time to ramp up the strategy behind your posts. (Many of you are likely already at this stage!) Your future customers are used to seeing you and recognize your content. Now, get them to dip their toe in the water by interacting with your story in a very simple way!

Ask basic questions about your followers’ habits, likes, lifestyle, preferences, and any other topic you can think of. These questions don’t necessarily have to relate to your product, just relate to your brand and followers. The point is to give them the opportunity to take an extra step to interact with you. (This is comparable to choosing to double tap on a photo instead of just scrolling by.) Post a series of polls and slider stickers or use them to top off a set of stories. (Think back to that 3-part story structure!)

Once you’ve tested the waters with this “less demanding” form of engagement, move to a deeper question, poll, or opportunity for your followers to ask questions. Use that beloved question sticker or send folks directly to your DMs. Either way, this asks followers to take another step towards engaging with you, one that may require them to pause and think a little more than a poll or slider sticker will. Once folks have taken the time to think about your post and offer their own response, they are much, much more likely to continue the conversation with you and be open to purchasing from you. (This step would be comparable to commenting on a post in response to a question or topic you’ve written about in a caption.)

By offering multiple opportunities for engagement, you’re able to see who is willing to go how far to interact with your content and formulate a strategy with how to continue conversations with those customers. For those who continually respond at level one but never at level two, go ahead and reach out directly. Thank them for their continued support of your stories or simply for following and interacting with you! Then, continue conversations with your level two repliers either on your story or via DM.


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This basic framework will help you generate and analyze leads through your stories, but be careful you don’t get stuck in the same routine. There are THOUSANDS of ways you can structure your story using this blueprint without repeating the same content over and over again. Here are more specific, creative ways you can lead followers to your DMs:

  • Quizzes

Use poll stickers to create a quiz for your followers over several stories or by creating a “this or that” template for them to fill out and repost. For example, help them discover their skin type by answering a series of questions and offering your assessment via DM. You can then recommend a product to them directly or lead them to a Highlight of information based on their result! This can work for any beauty or lifestyle product.

  • Q+A Sessions

Propose a specific topic to your followers and give them the opportunity to ask questions. Collect questions ahead of time and answer on IG Live later, or respond one at a time to generate more interest. Send a “thank you” message to each follower who asks a question and offer them additional information via DM.

  • Success Story Takeovers

Hand-pick some clients with incredible success stories and have them take over your IG story! Let them poll, chat with, and interact with your followers and generate new leads for you. Continue the conversations they start with followers in your DMs.

We can’t WAIT to see what creative stories you can come up with! Make sure to follow us on Instagram @digitalbrandenvy for more digital marketing trend updates and tips. For our weekly trainings and exclusive case studies, join us inside Digital Brand Envy.