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21 Creative Instagram story ideas to keep your followers engaged

You probably already know that reels attract new followers. But now that you’ve attracted a bunch of new followers, how do you keep them engaged?

You keep your Instagram following engaged by communicating with them through your Instagram stories. While posting every (other) day might be impossible to fit your schedule, a (quick) creative Insta story will make your audience interact with your account which pleases the algorithm.

Keep reading to find a list of creative Instagram story ideas. I mainly focussed on artists in this article, but you can easily swap the ideas for something related to your niche.

1. This or that poll

A big feature on Instagram stories that use engagement is a poll. Especially when you create This or That polls.

With this or that polls you give your audience two options. This can be done with words, or better: images. Then you create a poll that shows arrows. They will tap to vote.

creative instagram story ideas

Ideas for This or That polls:

  • This or that art medium
    • Painting vs drawing, oil paints vs acrylics etc.
  • Colors
    • Yellow vs Blue
      • To make things interesting, don’t go for the obvious colors. Grab a powder blue vs a yellow ochre.
  • Brands
    • Winsor and Newton VS

You can do as many as you like in a row. I typically do 5. Also, people love to view what others think so they might vote just to see the results!

2. Ask your followers’ opinion on something controversial

People love to give their opinion. But instead of blatantly asking ”what do you think?” give them a (controversial) line.

The more controversial, the more engagement you will have. An example of an artist’s controversial line is:

”Is tracing an okay practice?”

Oh boy do people go wild for that one…

creative instagram story ideas

Share their opinions afterward. When people see that you share other people’s views, they will not only want to read every single one, but they are also more likely to send you their own opinion because they see you give others a voice on your account.

Tip: keep a folder on your phone with reaction memes. Use these as a background for when you post your audience’s comments.

3. Ask your audience’s favorite….

Another question you could ask is about favorites. But to spice things up, ask for their least favorite something.

Everyone automatically knows their favorite x. But they don’t often share their least favorite x.

This question stands out because it’s different. Don’t only share the results but share the results + give a comment.

creative instagram story ideas

I included my own answer to invoke a reaction.

4. Give a look behind the scenes

People love to know how things work. Better yet, they love how you, someone who inspires them, work.

Example: Show how you store your paints.

Other behind-the-scenes story posts ideas:

  • Create a boomerang of your printer printing art prints
  • Show a video of you unboxing a small item
  • Post a sped-up video of you working on your computer
  • Show a (sped up) video of you packing orders
  • Let your audience see your camera set-up
  • Show certain tools you always use
  • Share an image of a stage of your creative process.

Remember it’s only a story post, so you can just quickly snap a picture and post it.

5. Post snippets of positive feedback/comments

To let your audience know your business is the real deal, share snippets of feedback. This is a great way to sell yourself to your followers and increase trust in you and/or your brand.

To do this you need genuine reviews. You can automatically ask this when someone purchases something.

If you don’t sell anything you can always post a screenshot of a positive comment that someone has left. This too creates trust and believability.

It also makes people comment in the future because they see you reacting to comments.

6. Share something that inspires you

Share an image of something that inspires you. Make sure to tag the creator of the shared post as well, because depending on where the person lives, not everyone gets a notification someone shared a post of theirs.

Not only may the person reshare your story, but they will also appreciate you which creates a nice connection.

However, I recommend not posting too many stories like this. This is because your audience wants to see you, and not necessarily someone else.

7. Share something relatable

Create a story post about something relatable to your niche. This can either be positive or negative. For example, as an artist, I could make a post about how I accidentally drank from my paint jar cup instead of my teacup.

I believe negative relatable things will cause people to engage more. A negative relatable thing about my niche (art) is the constant ask of people for me to draw them for free.

If I make a post about this others will surely react to it!

8. Share a meme

A quick and easy Instagram story post is to post a meme or funny picture about your niche. These kinds of posts are often greatly reshared!

You can find memes by just googling them. Or search for one of those meme accounts on social media. Just be sure to stay on topic with your own niche!

9. Give a shout-out to a fellow creative

This one is similar to posting someone who inspires you, but this time make sure that the person is within your niche.

State reasons why you love them. Your post might be reshared which results in more exposure.

10. Share a quick tip

A simple quick tip is great to post in your stories. It can be as simple as: ”Instead of doing this, do this!” Et voila, story is done.

11. Share a milestone achievement

Sharing a milestone achievement is great for engagement because people love to see others reaching their goals. Plus, if they congratulate you you can send them a private message thanking them!

You can do multiple posts for this one. Share what your achievement is, and perhaps do a little backstory in a separate story.

You can even tease your audience by telling them you’ll create a post/video/reel and go in-depth on how you achieved your milestone.

12. Share the drink you use when painting

Showing bits and pieces of your lifestyle makes your audience get to know you on a personal level. That’s what stories are all about!

Show the drink you are drinking during the time of posting.

13. Share the paper/canvas/sketchbook you’re currently using

We all have phases in which we love a particular thing. Show your current favorite sketchbook. (Or favorite website, dress, make-up palette… convert it to your niche!).

14. Post a picture of your walk today

Another lifestyle post is to post a picture of your walk today. Show the environment you’re currently in.

15. Post a picture of your dinner

What’s for dinner? Let your followers know. Perhaps share snippets of you cooking dinner!

16. Share a timelapse that isn’t worth creating into a reel

Create a sped-up video of your creative process utilizing a video editor for Instagram. For me, that would be a time-lapse of one of my drawings.

17. Post a WIP

Stories are the perfect place to show off your WIPs (work-in-progress pictures). Save the final image for your regular feed.

18. Take your audience shopping

Make a short video of you grabbing some stuff off the shelves of an (art) store. Then you can add another This or That story asking which item you should buy. A two-in-one!

19. Let your audience decide your next project

Another form of a This or That poll is to let your audience decide your next artwork for you. Give them options as to which reference you should use.

Other ideas to let your audience pick is:

  • Certain colors
  • Day or night
  • Mood
  • Gender
  • Pose

You can post this in your stories and make a reel about it later.

20. Ask what art medium/supply your followers would love to try

Use a question sticker to ask your followers what art supplies they’d love to try. Maybe they’ll tell you about something you’ve never heard of.

21. Ask your audience’s opinion about a current topic

For example, a couple of months ago the brand Daniel Smith was a hot topic in the watercolor community. The comments below each post of Daniel Smith were heated. If you were to ask a question regarding this matter on your stories it will surely invoke some comments that you can share.

I did the same thing when art NFT’s were a thing. Everyone in the art community was divided on whether or not they supported it, so I decided to write an article about NFTs.

Why you should keep your Instagram following engaged

One of the goals of having an Instagram account is to reach and attract as many people as possible, right?

Well, once you’ve collected your audience the next step is to have them engaged with your account.

You should keep your Instagram audience engaged because engagement lets Instagram know your audience wants to see more of your content. This makes Instagram push your content to the front of your followers’ feed, which makes your regular posted content appear at the top the next time you post.

And that’s the current struggle many people face with today’s Insta algorithm: Even though you have a lot of followers, your content doesn’t always show up at the top of your audiences’ feed.

The simple solution for this is to post creative, interactive stories.

What to post on your Instagram story

The goal of posting on your Instagram stories is to get engagement from the people who already follow you. The people who engage with your stories are then likely to see more of your posts on their feed.

Posting stories is also a great alternative when you are unable to post a regular picture to your feed. Stories can be a low-effort casual, but impactful Instagram strategy.

There are 4 main things you can post on your Instagram stories:

  • Opinions
    • Make your following engage with you by asking for their opinions
      • People LOVE to share their opinions
  • Let them get to know you – the person behind the brand
    • Make them feel like they get to know you as a friend, rather than an acquaintance
      • This will make your audience feel part of your inner circle
  • Relatability
    • Share specific situations so they know they’re not alone
      • This will surely invoke a reaction
  • Entertainment
    • If you make them laugh your audience is more likely to drop a like on your story or even share

A regular Instagram post VS a story post

The difference between a story and a regular Instagram post is that regular posts require a lot more time and effort because they are meant to be seen by pretty much everyone. Story posts are often more casual and intimate, they can be created on the go so that people can have a look into your day-to-day life.

Think about it this way: you’re more likely to quickly update your friends about the little things happening throughout your day than you are to update your acquaintances.

You want your acquaintances to have a certain image of you. Professional, stylish, skillful… But you can 100% be your goofy self with friends.

And guess who’s more likely to support you by liking, commenting, and engaging with you? Your friends of course!

Think of posting to your Instagram stories as updating your friends throughout your day. Be yourself!

How often should I post on my stories?

Since stories disappear after 24 hours, you can post more frequently there. The best way to find out how often you should post to your stories is to test it. I recommend posting no more than 5 stories per day.

The more often you post, the fewer people are likely to view all of your stories. I’m not sure, but maybe the algorithm will think that people are less interested in your content when they don’t finish viewing all of them. Just my theory.

According to social media coach Modern Millie, letting your stories expire is actually a good thing (start at 1:50-4:00 to view the part that’s relevant to stories!):

Reasons why your followers interact with your stories

Stories are only seen by people who actively tap on your story. Regular posts can be viewed by everybody who follows you, anyone who decides to browse the hashtags you used in that post, PLUS everyone who decides to browse your account at any later date.

But story viewers want to know more about you. The person behind the brand.

Other reasons people watch your story are:

  • They want to know about your lifestyle as an *insert niche*
  • People want nuggets of helpful information
  • Your story viewers want to be part of your inner circle

Find out why people view your stories and use this information to your advantage for your next post.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Let me know if you have any other story ideas I should add to the list!

See you next time,

♡ Laura

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