When Instagram Stories first launched in 2016, it introduced new opportunities for brands and users alike to be more authentic and creative on the platform.
Now this fleeting media format with a 24-hour lifespan has become a pillar in most Instagram marketing strategies, complementing the posts you publish permanently to your feed.
But there’s a powerful feature within stories that many brands still ignore: Instagram Stickers.
It’s easy to mistake stickers as mere aesthetic add-ons, but using the right Instagram Stickers at the right time not only makes your stories more fun, but can help you achieve a variety of your marketing goals, from reaching new audiences to mastering how to make money on Instagram.
How to use Instagram Stickers: The basics
Instagram Stickers are dynamic graphic elements that can be added to both image and video stories. Some are animated, some are clickable, and others even allow users to interact directly with the story. Simply put, they make your stories more interesting, which makes users more likely to engage with them.
Stickers can be found after you’ve taken or uploaded your photo or video by tapping on the sticker icon in the top right corner of your stories’ editing options.
Once you tap on this icon, you’ll see a list of Instagram Stickers. Customizable stickers will show up first, including the Hashtag, Mention, and Location Stickers. All others can be found by scrolling down or by searching for what you’re looking for.
Once you've selected a sticker, you can layer it on top of your story, dragging it where you want it, pinching it to resize it, and tapping to cycle through different styles if they're available.
The 10 essential types of Instagram Stickers
While some stickers help to make your stories more fun, others directly contribute to your Instagram marketing goals. There’s no shortage of options to choose from, but the following customizable stickers are especially relevant for marketing:
- Hashtag stickers add a clickable hashtag to your story to help you reach more users or promote your own branded hashtags. When users click on it, they’ll be taken to the hashtag’s feed, just like if they’d searched for it manually. You can also add clickable Instagram tags, or hashtags, using the text box tool in your stories, but it won't be as noticeable.
- Mention stickers tag another user in your stories, notifying them that you’ve done so. When someone taps on the sticker, they’ll be taken to the tagged user’s profile. You can also mention other users in your caption itself, for a similar but more subtle effect.
- Location stickers tag a location in your story to expand your reach. When users tap on it, they’ll see a feed of other content with the same location tag. You can only add one per story, so choose the most relevant one.
- Question stickers let you crowdsource ideas, feedback, and responses from your audience with an open-ended question. Answers can then be shared directly to your stories as a follow up post.
- Poll stickers ask users a question, and give them two answers to choose from. By default, you can ask a “yes or no” question, or you can change the responses to create your own either/or styled inquiry that lets users choose between two answers. Users click on the sticker to answer, and the results are calculated in real time. You can see who voted and what they voted for, giving you the opportunity to engage directly with them.
- Product stickers are available through the Shopping on Instagram integration. Business accounts with this sales channel enabled will be able to tag products in their stories. Users can tap to see the price, description, and product name, and tap again to go directly to the product page to purchase. (Note: Without this integration, you'll have direct followers to click the link in your Instagram bio.)
- Music stickers add background music to your images or videos, letting you choose a soundtrack from Spotify.
- Emoji slider stickers ask users a question that they can answer with a slider (i.e. on a scale of 1 to 10), such as “how much do you love our new line compared to last year.” You can choose an emoji to represent their response, and users will be able to see the average after they give you their vote.
- GIF stickers are looping graphics from GIPHY that you can add to stories. They’re not just fun and dynamic, but can be used to add animated calls to action to your stories (e.g. “Follow us”, “Swipe up”, etc.).
- Date stickers will show the date that the photo, video, or story was created. They can be used to post throwback content to reminisce about the past, or build hype for an upcoming event by displaying today’s date.
Naturally, you can mix and match stickers in the same story to layer the benefits on top of each other and maximize their impact.
Sell more with Shopping on Instagram
Start tagging products in your posts and stories to turn engagement into purchases with the shopping on Instagram sales channel for Shopify.Learn more
Creative ways to use Instagram Stickers for marketing
1. Drive sales to your newest products
Instagram’s new Product Stickers don’t just raise awareness for your products—they help you convert that attention into sales. Users can tap on them to learn more about the featured product, and then tap again to be taken to the product page to purchase.
You can even feature multiple products in a single post to give your audience options and show off a collection of products.
2. Ask for feedback and test ideas
The temporary nature of stories make them great for soliciting feedback—after 24 hours, when you have the input you need, your story automatically disappears.
Poll Stickers, Emoji Slider Stickers, and Question Stickers each present opportunities for getting different types of feedback, depending on the type of survey question you want to ask.
You might use an Emoji Slider to ask your followers to rate something on a scale of 1 to 10. Or you could use the Poll Sticker to ask them to pick a side in a popular debate.
Not only can you learn more about your audience this way, but you can even use stories as a testing ground for new product and marketing ideas.
This Instagram Story from The Gap, for example, uses a fun emoji poll to learn more about their audience's preferences, while showcasing some of their products.
3. Host an AMA to connect with followers on a personal level
Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions give your followers direct access to you, the person behind the brand, in a way that most social media content doesn’t.
Using the Question Sticker, you can facilitate this Q&A format and pull back the curtain to offer your followers a chance to get to know you.
Your Instagram followers would likely love the chance to ask big questions that your About Us page doesn’t answer, like what products are coming up or what your favorite book is. Let people know that the best questions will be answered in your stories, and get ready to watch them come pouring into your notifications.
4. Share user-generated content and encourage others to create their own
User-generated content can be a powerful addition to your content mix, but only if others see it and recognize that it was created by a fan and not by you.
Using Mention Stickers, you can share UGC in your stories and then tag the creator so they get credit and a public thank you. This will show that you value your followers and encourage other users to share content, too.
Better yet, you can also add your branded hashtag to direct your audience to check out more UGC or contribute their own.
If you’re in a rush, a strategy that I often use is to ask permission from users to directly share stories that you’re tagged in. When sharing, I add a "📸credit" next to a Mention Sticker tagging the original poster. These posts generally have high engagement rates, and I’ve found they encourage more users moving forward to tag your brand in their stories, too.
5. Create more relatable stories by adding a soundtrack
Music Stickers can help establish a certain mood or feeling and effectively grab a user’s attention. From lip syncing along on video to playing holiday music over your photos, these Stickers offer a lot of opportunities to get creative with your Instagram content.
If you aren’t sure where to start, Instagram has its music sorted by “Moods” and “Genres,” in addition to letting you search for specific tracks, letting you add snippets of hits from big names like Drake, Cardi B, Fleetwood Mac, and other artists on Spotify.
Music Stickers can also help you express yourself as a brand and connect with your audience through your shared tastes in tunes.
6. Promote your branded hashtags
A lot of brands will try to harness the power of Instagram hashtags to get users talking about their brand in a way that is easy to monitor. They’ll use branded hashtags, or contest- or event-specific hashtags to generate awareness and encourage users to also post content using the same tags.
Since hashtags often get buried in your Instagram posts, stories are a great way to bring them to the forefront of your audience’s attention.
When you have a branded hashtag populated by content from your fans, you can even start using the Hashtag Sticker to direct your audience to this gallery of content. When Story viewers click on the Sticker, they’ll immediately see all the other posts containing the tag, which can serve as powerful social proof.
7. Tag locations of events you’re attending
Are you attending a tradeshow, a conference, farmer’s market, or other event? Whether you’re actively selling your products or just networking, post a story to show your followers that you’re there in person and make sure to add a Location Sticker.
This won’t just let your followers know you’re there, but also help others at the event discover you if they’re also browsing the location tag.
For good measure, you can also add specific instructions on where they can find you and the event hashtag as a Hashtag Sticker, which other attendees may be searching for.
8. Ask customers to choose between two products
Using Poll Stickers and asking customers to choose between different products is an excellent way to promote two items at once, share visible social proof, and learn about your audience’s preferences.
The ease of participating will work in your favor, and everyone else will be able to see the results live.
Many users will want to vote simply so they can see how others are voting, and once they see the results, it may even encourage them to purchase.
9. Use date stickers for flashbacks or to hype up events
Sometimes it’s fun to look back, which is why #TBT (#ThrowbackThursday) is such a popular hashtag. When you want to share content that happened in the past, this is a good way to do it. It establishes context and is particularly powerful for sharing stories about past events like anniversaries, conferences, or milestones.
When you select an old Instagram Story from your archive it will appear in the editor with the Date Sticker by default, making it easy to reminisce about and reshare these moments.
Date Stickers also work well if you’re counting down to a particular event, like a sale or a pop-up shop. Attach the date sticker to a sneak peak photo or behind-the-scenes video, and let users know how much time they have left before the big event.
10. Use the “Swipe Up” GIF sticker to get more click throughs
If you have the ability to add links to your stories—you need to have over 10k followers and a Business profile—it can be an effective way to drive traffic through your stories.
But sometimes users need a bit of a push to follow through on the action—especially since these subtle links are found at the bottom of your Story.
There are several “Swipe Up” GIFs available through the GIF Sticker that you can use to draw attention to the fact that your story includes a link.
Even if you don’t have the ability to add links to your stories, you can still use this strategy to draw attention to important parts of your story that you really want people to see. Maybe this is a URL or a date.
Animated arrows and flashing GIFs that read “Follow Me” or “Check it out” can also be used to add hard-to-miss CTAs to your content. Be sure to browse the GIF library whenever you feel your story could use an explicit call to action.
11. Use the “Sound On” GIF to get users to enable sound
One of the most understated uses for Instagram Stickers is to turn implied actions into explicit calls to action.
Since videos play without sound by default, the “Sound on” Sticker can make it clear that sound is an integral part of the content they’re viewing.
It encourages users to enable sound, even if they likely wouldn’t have thought to otherwise.
It’s a simple addition to your video Stories that can help you keep your audience’s attention longer.
12. Collaborate with other businesses
Sometimes building relationships with other brands is a smart way to market your business, and sharing some love on Instagram can benefit both of you—especially if they return the favor.
Shoutout exchanges are an easy-to-implement and effective co-marketing tactic, as long as you can find a complementary brand with a target audience that overlaps with your own.
Use either the Mention or Location Stickers to tag other businesses when sharing stories about them. They could be a vendor, an industry influencer, or just a complementary business. If you’re hosting or participating in a sale, event, or contest together, even better.
13. Get festive with seasonal Instagram Stickers
Whether it’s April Fool’s Day or Halloween or Thanksgiving, people love getting festive—especially when it comes to Stories. Seasonal Stickers will pop up at the appropriate time for almost every major holiday you can think of, making it easier for you to add a seasonal touch to your Stories without any extra effort.
Nothing suggests a possible Christmas gift idea quite like an animated Santa Claus walking across your stocking stuffers. Or that there's a hot BFCM sale happening now like a flashing "15% off" GIF.
Tracking your performance with Instagram Stickers
Instagram stickers are a great way to get more engagement, traffic, and social proof out of your stories, in addition to brand awareness. In order to understand the effect that different stickers have on your content, however, and how effective they are overall, it’s important to monitor their performance.
The best way to do this is to carefully monitor your stories’ performance in Instagram’s Insights. Instagram’s native analytics report has a section under the “Content” tab dedicated specifically to stories, where you can view how each story performed based on certain key metrics.
These metrics include:
- Impressions: The total number of times your story was viewed
- Reach: The total number of unique accounts who saw your story
- Profile visits: The total number of times a viewer visited your profile from your story.
- Forward swipes: Users who skipped to different photos or videos within your Story
- Back swipes: Users who went back to different photos or videos within your story
- Exited Stories: Users who completely exited their stories after viewing yours.
- Replies: The number of users who replied to your Story
- Next Story: The number of users who swiped ahead to skip your Story entirely.
- Link Opens: The number of click-throughs on your Swipe Up links
For Instagram Stickers, in particular, you should definitely monitor Sticker Taps to see how many users are interacting with each sticker in each Story. This can tell you how compelling your stickers are to your followers and whether they're having their intended effect.
You can only track stories data in your native Instagram analytics for 14 days, so keep careful track of the data. If this feels like a hassle and you want a big-picture view, third-party tools can you give the same information but store it for much longer periods of time.
Look for patterns here. If some of your Stories have record-high impressions and reach but very little engagement, take a look at why. Do certain stickers seem to have an impact on engagement rates, like replies or back swipes to re-watch a story? Are people ignoring your stickers because of the placement or size?
You’ll start to see how different stickers affect your stories’ performance, which can inform how you use them moving forward.
Instagram Stickers: A fun and functional feature
Instagram stickers are more than just a fun add-on that layers smiley faces onto your Stories. They can play an integral role in Instagram marketing, allowing you to generate social proof, engagement, reach, brand awareness, and traffic to your profile and even your site.
Best of all, they can be combined together in all kinds of creative ways.
Stickers are a valued part of your Instagram marketing toolkit and, with a bit of strategy, they can help you get more out of every story you publish.