Do you want to create Instagram Stories that will wow your audience? With over 300 million people using Instagram Stories daily, this feature provides a great platform for businesses to drive a ton of engagement and value to their followers. Still, due to the rising number of people using this feature, it keeps getting harder for businesses to cut through the noise and scale.

To get ahead of your competition and harness the full potential of Instagram Stories, it is crucial that you create stories that are compelling, engaging and that create a truly personal connection with your audience. Here are a few tips on how to make an Instagram story like a pro:

Opt for natural lighting

Just like any photography or video, lighting can make or break your Instagram story. This, however, does not mean that you go out and invest in professional lighting or set up a studio. The best lighting is natural lighting. Outdoor lighting tends to be more flattering to all skin tones and allows you to avoid strange shadows. For best results, take advantage of golden hour lighting - after sunrise or an hour before sunset. Midday sunlight can be too bright, causing strange shadows and overexposure.

Keep video length and editing in mind

Since Instagram Stories only lets you post videos that are up to 15 seconds long, make sure to keep your footages snappy through the use of editing software. Editing software provides a great way to ensure you are able to fit your content in the 15-second snippet, allowing your story to flow smoothly without any awkward cutting.

Keep branding consistent

Just like you would keep branding the same on printed materials as you would on your website, you need to ensure the same consistency spreads to your stories as well. Branding consistency is crucial on your Instagram Stories because it strengthens brand recall, and does not create confusion or division amongst followers. You need to make sure your users have the same experience with your brand regardless of the medium they are on.

Use appropriate hashtags and locations

Using hashtags and locations in your Instagram Stories allows users, even those that aren’t following you to easily find your content. Therefore, make good use of them. If you are having problems putting together hashtag ideas. Do a simple search on the platform using words that your audience use to search for your products or services. This will provide a list of the top hashtags around them and how many posts are using them.

You can also check out your competitors to see what hashtags they are using. Just note that hashtags, just like keywords can get competitive. Therefore, do not go for general hashtags like #food or #travel. Instead, think about the favourite foods people buy from your restaurant or top travel destinations and tag those specifically. The goal here is to get as specific as possible with your hashtags. Also, make sure to include locations in your Stories. This will help your content to appear is someone does a location search.

Use polls and mentions

These features provide a great way to encourage engagement with your audience. Polls not only get users engaged with your content but also provides a great way to find out what your audience is interested in. Consider using polls to ask questions that will help you craft future content.

Mentions also provide a great way to boost engagement. For instance, if someone mentions or hashtags your brand in their post, consider re-sharing it in your Story and mentioning them.

Linking out provides a great way to drive traffic from Instagram to your website, online store or any other place you would like them to go, giving you conversion opportunities. However, this feature is only available to accounts with over ten thousand followers at the moment.

To add a link, upload your photo or video to Stories and a chain link icon will appear at the top of the story. Click on the icon to add up a URL and wait for the checkmark to turn green before clicking done. Provide a CTA text on the post to encourage users to click on the link. If you don't have the numbers yet, send people to the link in your bio just like you would in a normal post.

Instagram Stories provides a host of tools that if used well, can take your stories to the next level. Just make sure to test what you are doing to find what resonates most with your audience and optimize it.