instagram poll sticker

3 Brands Getting Instagram Stories Right—and How to Emulate Them

By: Sophie Maerowitz

May 22, 2019

Those of us spending a few hours minutes a day tapping through Instagram Stories know that brands’ Stories, wedged in between friends’ content, run the gamut from intriguing (“this product looks great! I can’t wait to share this with my partner/coworker/friend”) to abhorrent (“tap away, fast, before this brand retargets me”).

How do social marketers stay away from the latter in pursuit of the former in their Instagram Stories content and ads? A look at three brands crafting winning Stories in different spaces—a local business, a tourist board and a startup—should get those gears turning for your next great Story.

Get a little “meta” and play with platform norms. Vita Coco had a blast poking fun at negative tweeters and internet trolls in their “Impossible to Hate” campaign. In a similar vein, the Vienna Tourist Board asks users to get out of their comfort zone, put their phones away and experience tourism IRL with their “unhashtag” effort. To encourage Instagram users to book summer vacations to Vienna, the brand offers up an animated promoted video Story with the “Learn More” option to swipe up (a feature available organically for accounts with with 10,000 or more followers).

In the ad (screenshot below), a picturesque metropolis is covered in a sea of hashtags overwhelming the screen in an upward motion. This movement mirrors the action the brand wants users to take. Swiping up takes U.S. viewers to a landing page offering the simple message that “the places we swipe through are not filled with life or memories—they’re littered with hashtags and diluted by filters.” Short videos play at the top of the page spoofing the unglamorous things tourists do to get the perfect smartphone shot while ignoring their surroundings. In poking fun at the crazy things we do on Instagram, within the platform, the tourist board makes a special connection with audiences without being preachy.

un-hashtag Vienna Tourist Board

The Vienna Tourist Board’s “unhashtag” Story ad

Make the most of @mentions and blocks of text. New York City’s first dog-friendly coffee shop, Boris and Horton, has no shortage of cute doggie content to ensure their organic content gets lots of eyeballs. However, part of what makes the small business’ Stories work on a practical level can be replicated by brands whose clientele doesn’t walk on four legs. Boris and Horton keeps track of the accounts that follow them and that post from the business regularly. These are their best brand ambassadors. Below, the business tags a number of dog and human Instagram accounts using @mention stickers, shrinking the tags to a legible size, while still making the most of the vertical space and image. Boris and Horton’s social media producers also separate out large blocks of text into different portions of  limited vertical space, alternating background colors for maximum readability. Plus, poll stickers make for some interactivity. Boris and Horton also make sure to tag their sponsors while offering up freebies so that a partnered post doesn’t come off as a sales pitch.

adorable puppy with @mentions

A pup awash in @mentions—and a poll sticker


Instagram post, man with dog, fonts in two different colors

Three blocks of text, using a dual color scheme


Use GIF stickers in lieu of a CTA. Driving that elusive “swipe up” action to get viewers to your site can be a challenge. Luckily, Instagram Stories’ GIF stickers—a staple of most users’ posts these days, not to mention a clever way for brands to grab UGC—can be used to get viewers’ eyes moving from bottom to top., a self-proclaimed “friendship app for nerds,” inserts some personality into its “swipe up” effort, aligning a dancing duo with the upward motion. GIFs are a fun visual element, but can sometimes crowd the image, thereby muddling your message. Quirktastic has found the perfect balance while promoting an upcoming event (within Instagram, the duo dance and gesture upward).

quirkcon instagram story

The duo on the right gesture upward for event-oriented clicks


Follow the Shake-Up on Instagram.

Follow Sophie: @SophieMaerowitz

At The Social Shake-Up