Introducing Stories Creator: Quickly Create Thumb-Stopping Content for Stories

As a social media marketer, a big part of your job is to build awareness of your brand and drive conversions on various social channels.

This could mean creating an engaging video for Facebook. Planning out and scheduling your tweets for the week. Writing a thought-provoking article for LinkedIn Pulse. The list goes on…

You do all of this because you want to use the unique, native features of each channel to connect with your audience. You want everyone to have the best possible experience every time they interact with your brand.

And in 2018 and beyond, there’s a good chance this means you’re also creating content for Instagram and Facebook Stories. More than one billion people use the Stories format each day, meaning it’s an amazing opportunity for your business to reach your customers on social media.

However, creating fresh content for Stories can be incredibly time-consuming — and there are only so many hours in each day.

We’ve been there.

At Buffer, we create new content for Stories daily and we know how the seemingly simple task of creating a Stories advert, highlight cover, or graphic soon becomes incredibly daunting.

So we wanted to make it easier for you to create your Stories content in a quick and lightweight way.

Today, we are launching Stories Creator

Buffer Stories Creator

Right now, we believe that Stories are the biggest opportunity for small businesses to connect with customers on social media and we wanted to give you an easy way to create Stories content.

Instead of needing various, professional design products and doing a bunch of work to create a story, Stories Creator gives you the freedom to create thumb-stopping graphics in minutes.

When building this tool, we wanted to focus on the foundation of a good story — the simple elements that keep our attention. This simplicity is what Stories Creator is all about.

Buffer Stories Creator

The fastest way to create thumb-stopping Facebook and Instagram Stories

Social media users are used to tapping through Stories as a fast rate and, as a marketer, you only have milliseconds to grab someone’s attention in Stories.

It takes something special to make people stop in their tracks and pay attention.

Designing these thumb-stopping graphics can be hard work, especially if you don’t have a designer on hand to help. Stories Creator allows anyone to quickly create Stories that catch your eye and make you want to take a closer look!

With this free tool, you can create the foundation of your Stories with text, graphics, and a background image or color. When you’re ready to post your Story to Instagram or Facebook, you can upload it, add in any other content you’d like (stickers, location tags, etc), and then send your post out into the world.

It’s as easy as one-two-three

Here’s how you can use Stories Creator to design an image for your Instagram or Facebook Stories in three simple steps:

Step 1: Add a background image or color

First, start with the background of your image. Within Stories Creator you can upload a background graphic from your computer, or set a background color from your brand color palette to keep your design consistent with the rest of your brand.

Step 1: Add a background image or color

Step 2: Add your text and graphics

Next, add graphics and text to your design. Stories Creator enables you to add up to three blocks of text to your image. You can choose from over 25 fonts, edit text size, change the font color, adjust alignment, and even add a background highlight to make it stand out.

Step 2: Add your text

You can also add additional logos or graphics to add extra flair to your design. To add additional graphics, upload any PNG or JPG images from your computer and adjust the sizes to fit your design.

Step 2: Add graphics

Step 3: Download your image and post to Instagram

Stories Creator features an Instagram Stories UI overlay to show you exactly how your post will look when it’s posted to Instagram. This means you can check that none of the important content will be blocked by the Instagram Stories UI features (such as your account’s profile image) when you post it.

Buffer Stories Creator Preview

If it all looks great, click ‘Download’ and your perfectly sized graphic is ready to share on Instagram or Facebook Stories.

Create your Stories today!

Get started with the free Stories Creator tool today!

3 ways you can use Stories Creator to up your Stories game

1. Make your Stories stand out with custom designs

Currently, many businesses simply roll out their existing Facebook Ads to Instagram or Facebook Stories by ticking the ‘Stories’ placement options within Ads Manager.

And we get this. We’ve done it ourselves. When you’re just testing out a new advertising channel or ad set, you don’t want to spend hours crafting a design when you can click a button and Facebook will automatically share your ads to Stories.

But when we started using custom designs for our Stories ads, our results completely changed. We’re now seeing clicks to our website from Stories for just $0.06!

Here’s a look at one of our generic Stories ads compared to a custom-designed ad:

It’s hard for businesses to stand out from the crowd when all adverts look and feel the same. Your Instagram and Facebook Stories ads could be much more effective with unique, full-screen (9:16) content.

To help, we’ve even built some neat templates to help you use Stories ads to drive awareness of your latest blog post or promote any sales and offers your business is running.

Buffer Stories Creator Stories templates

2. Add covers to your Stories Highlights

Instagram Story Highlights allows you to showcase Stories on your profile, even after they disappear. Highlights appear directly below your profile photo.

One trend we’ve seen crop up since the Highlights feature was released is adding custom covers to your highlights.

For example, Nodo Cafe displays a bunch of themed highlights on its profile and, when you tap a highlight to view its content, you’ll see the cover image first:

Using Stories Creator, you can quickly put together a bunch of eye-catching covers for your evergreen Stories Highlights to ensure your profile looks great and to encourage people to tap on your highlights.

3. Drive engagement and action from your day-to-day Stories

Stories vanish after 24 hours, so you need to ensure you’re posting engaging, thumb-stopping content each and every day.

For example:

Purewow uses its daily Stories posts to promote content on its website:

Chilly’s Bottles uses Stories to showcase new products:

And Airbnb uses simple Stories graphics to run fun quizzes for its followers:

By using Stories Creator, you can mix in custom graphics alongside your point-and-shoot photos and videos.

Take Stories Creator for a test-drive

We’re incredibly excited to share Stories Creator with you today and we’d be honored if you’d be up for taking it for a spin and letting us know your thoughts and feedback.

Create your Stories today!

13 tips for getting more Instagram likes and much more Instagram News…

How to Get Instagram Likes: 13 Tips that Actually Work from a recent Hootsuite Post…

Want to be ‘liked’ by a billion people on their mobile devices (mostly)?

What a self-esteem booster that would be.

Of course, only the greatest ad ever known to man-or-woman-kind could do that.

But, that’s how big Instagram has gotten, with 85.5 million of those 1B users in the U.S. Only Facebook is bigger. Being #2 ain’t so bad, eh? Yet, Instagram is numero uno in growth per quarter, at 5%.

Watch out FB, Instagram is coming.

Instagram is the photo-and-video-sharing network behemoth for consumers and brands. With users sharing 95 million photos and videos per day.

And for your biz?

eMarketer estimates Instagram ad revenues will balloon to $10.87 billion by 2019. A 37.7% increase since 2017. Snapchat is for slightly more mature markets, using broadband and high-end mobile devices, mostly for millennials. Instagram however, is attracting even younger people in mobile-centric, emerging markets. Most users are between 18-29 years old.

With this humongous community, how are you going to get after it?

To get your brand in front of new fans?

Read on… we’ll show you how. Let’s get straight to it.

Oh wait, silly me… forgot one thing first…

What are Instagram likes?

“And why does it matter?”

Good questions.

Like with the other platforms, just click an icon to ‘like’ what you see and hear. Though unlike the others, you don’t have to be a follower.

‘Likes’ matter because they’re often the first contact between your business and a new follower. This makes it easy for anyone to appreciate your post.

On Instagram, the ‘like’ icon takes the form of a heart.

More likes = more cred for your brand.

Think of it as a long-term, stay-top-of-mind, marketing strategy.

Onward to the tips, for reals this time.

13 real ways to get more Instagram likes

1. Share high-quality photos and videos

Of course, great content requires thought and planning. That is if you want people to actually click that heart. Three tips to help:

• Show your face. Or someone else’s. To increase your odds by 38%.

• Know your colors. Primarily blue pictures get 24% more ‘likes’ than red ones. Single versus multi-colored also increases ‘likes’ likelihood by 17%.

• Choose your filters. Thoughtfully. Filters that increase contrast, correct exposure, with a warmer tone get the best results. Just ask Yahoo and Georgia Tech. Use Instagram’s editing tools over their pre-programmed filters.

Keep things unique and varied, too. Instagram has tools for this. Here’s just 3 of them:

• Boomerang to create video loops, frontwards and backwards

• Focus to blur the background while keeping the face in focus

• Superzoom to automatically zoom in while playing a dramatic so

Here are some more tips on how to edit Instagram photos for maximum likeability.

2. Use hashtags wisely

Otherwise, you’ll make users angry. And Instagram, too.

You did your best to create great content, right? Keep up the pace with hashtags. These help others find you, even non-followers.

Finding you is the first step to liking you.

Best practices for appropriate hashtagging include:

• Use relevant tags. Otherwise users will select the ‘Don’t show for this hashtag’ option.

• Place them just right. Say, 2 or 3 of your most important tags in the photo caption.

• Need more than a few? Fine, Instagram allows 30 per post. But post them as a comment, more out of the way than your main hashtags. Find out how to do this in our Instagram Hacks post.

• Vary them up. Don’t use the same list for every post.

Which hashtags should you use?

Not the ones everyone else is using. Sure, #like4like is popular. But it’s pretty obvious to your followers that you’re fishing for ‘likes’ rather than connecting with like-minded peeps. Bots love these, too. Your stats will be meaningless, just like those tags.

Lebron James got in on the act with a vintage photo using #tbt (short for #throwbackthursday). That netted him 265,000 likes. Nice one, King James. Swish again.




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Wanna be one of the first to Congratulate you on this accomplishment/achievement tonight that you’ll reach! Only a handful has reach/seen it too and while I know it’s never been a goal of yours from the beginning try(please try) to take a moment for yourself on how you’ve done it!

The House you’re about to be apart of has only 6 seats in it(as of now) but 1 more will be added and you should be very proud and honored to be invited inside. There’s so many people to thank who has help this even become possible(so thank them all) and when u finally get your moment(alone) to yourself smile, look up to the higher skies and say THANK YOU! So with that said, Congrats again Young King 🤴🏾! 1 Love! #striveforgreatness🚀 #thekidfromakron👑

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One could write an entire article, just about hashtags. And we did.

3. Tag relevant users

Why tag someone? To encourage them to engage with your post and share it with their followers.

Or to credit them, if they took the picture/video.

Tag other Instagram users featured in your photos with an @-mention in your caption. Or, use Instagram’s tagging functionality. Either way, they’ll receive a notification.

4. Write darn-good captions

I was gonna say ‘damn-good’, but thought not to.


A nice visual plus text is like peanut-butter and chocolate. Readers will go ‘ahhhh’ (and tap the heart).

Write your captions with some TLC.

Tell your story, using words and pictures. Unlike Twitter, there’s no character limit. Make it long, or not. You get to decide. But make it count.

Some ideas:

• Ask a question. It can make the reader lean in, with interest. Sounds less promotional, too.

• Let your hair down. A little humor never hurt nobody. That ‘suit and tie’ approach… sucks. Especially for this crowd.

• Show some love. Got followers praising you? Cool. Mention them in your caption.

• That ‘less is more’ thing. True that. Sometimes a minimalist caption will highlight a striking image. Also, it can be a stylistic way to impress followers. One-liners, quotes, song lyrics… you’ve got options.

Short on caption ideas for your photos or videos? Get inspired.

5. Tag your location

Tagging your location puts your business on the map.

And, makes it dead simple for people to discover your photos and videos.

Plus, users view posts more that are tagged with a location.

Here’s how simple it is:

• Tap ‘Add Location’

• Search for your location

• Select it and post the photo or video

This becomes a clickable field for the user. Clicking on the location shows all photos and videos for that place. Your brand is now associated with this location, like a shop, hotel, or head office. Or, make it more general, for a city or town.

We good? Moving right along…

6. Get on the Explore tab

Also known as the Explore page.

What is it?

Curated topics and personalized content you will adore. At least that’s what Instagram believes, based on your previous actions and engagement patterns. Wired calls it, “the most honest place on the internet.” Ah, how nice. Click on the magnifying glass to see for yourself.

Why use it?

For your brand to become more recognized. Placing high on the Explore tab can get you new followers and a steady flow of traffic.

How to get on it

It’s not completely known, but most likely, Instagram uses these criteria to place content in the Explore tab:

• Content similar to what users engaged with

• Content with high engagement

• Content from accounts similar to accounts the user already follows

How to improve your chances

• Know your audience. Like: your target customer, their interests, and who they follow. Create a persona to target your content.

• Listen closely. Tailor your content based on how your audience is engaging with theirs.

• Use hashtags. We talked about this above. Don’t skip it.

That’s the abbreviated version. Learn more in our post on how to get on the Explore page.

7. Post consistently


• People will know what to expect. This keeps followers engaged with a consistent, versus overwhelming, flow in their feeds.

• Establishes authority and credibility. You’ll be considered a thought leader in your industry.

• Your brand will be recognized. By consistently sharing content with your target audience. 93% of organizations depend on this.

• Engage with your audience. Which makes them come back for more. Loyal customers generate more revenue. Cheaper than acquiring new ones.

• Generate leads. Give people useful, interesting content, they’ll knock on your e-door to learn more.

8. Post at the right time, too

Which is 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday.

That’s what we do. Because our audience scrolls through Instagram during their lunch hour. Since we’re B2B, our strategy is weekday focused.

Instagram moved away from the reverse-chronological feed, but timing still matters. They explain on their blog, posts are ordered based on:

• Likelihood of their interest in your content

• One’s relationship with your brand

• Timeliness of posts (an emphasis for us)

• Timing is everything. What’s yours?

Find out by:

• Knowing your audience

• Testing different times

• Measure what works, what doesn’t. Do more of what does.

9. Run a “like-to-win” contest

Say I offered you a free flight to your next holiday destination. You only needed to post a cool photo of yourself on vacation.

Would you do it?

Of course.

That’s the seductive play of an Instagram contest.

There’s a few types of these contests. We like the like-to-win one best.

It’s simple to do. Just ask users to like an Instagram photo of your brand, so they can win a prize. It’s a great way to connect with your audience and get people excited about your brand.

Set goals and metrics to see how it’s working.

• For building brand awareness, measure follower count, engagement, and website traffic

• For an annual sale, measure purchases, year-over-year engagement, and landing page traffic

You get the idea.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

Get the free checklist right now!

10. Ask your followers to tag their friends

You can also encourage your followers to tag their friends in the comments. For example: “Tag someone you know who needs a vacation!” This can help expose your Instagram account to a larger network of people.

11. Comment and ‘like’ posts of others

Do this and Instagram will reward you, because they care most about engagement.

When a post receives a bunch of likes and comments, Instagram sees this as quality, engaging content that more people will want to see. So then…

• Get on and scroll your feed

• Like what you like

• Write useful comments (not patronizing ones)

Participate in a social community that actually cares about each other’s posts. Not much more to say than that.

12. Share your Instagram posts on other channels

No need to keep things to yourself.

Increase your reach by sharing your posts on other social sites. But, alter them a bit versus just posting as is. So it works best for that platform and audience. For instance…

• Address your Facebook friends differently than your LinkedIn connections

• Edit your message to fit Twitter’s 280 character count limit

• For Pinterest, post just the picture

Use formats wisely, too.

Multiple hashtags work well for Twitter and Instagram. But on Facebook or LinkedIn, you might not get the same results.

13. Use Instagram ads

Remember that $10.87 billion in revenue by 2019?

You want some of that, right? Just like 2 million other companies.

Here’s some ads to help you get more likes on Instagram:

Photo ads

Use these to tell your story and showcase your products using compelling images.

Parachute Home used these to promote a 60-night trial of their bedding, using a Shop Now call-to-action.

Their beautiful stuff aimed at 18-54 year-olds, for their core customer profile. The result? A 3.7 times return on spend. With a click-through rate 2 times that of ads on other platforms.

Video ads

As we now know, Instagram users are crazeeee about videos.

Videos were posted 4 times more than photos in 2017, compared to 2016.

Seems you should do the same.

OGX, a global hair care brand, created a video campaign around ‘Rock What You’ve Got”. This featured women celebrating their diverse hair textures and styles, targeted to millennial women.

This reached an impressive 61 percent of the target audience in the US. The same in Canada, UK, Germany, and Australia combined.

Video ads can be up to 60 seconds, but OGX shows a solid video doesn’t need to be long, as theirs was only 15 seconds.

Carousel ads

These let users swipe through a series of images or videos, with a call-to-action button connecting them directly to your website. Use more creative freedom to tell a longer story.

That’s what Kayla Itsines, founder of fitness empire Bikini Body Guide did.

She created and published a series of carousel ads for her workout app, Sweat: Kayla Itsines Fitness.

This showcased short fitness sequences demonstrating how users could exercise anywhere, anytime with the app. She targeted women aged 18 to 42, reaching 6.4 million people. With an incredible 21-point increase in brand awareness.

Woohoo! Gonna work on my bod right after completing this post. I’m inspired.

Sight, sound, and motion to inspire people around your brand and products.

Stories ads

These are full-screen ads appearing to users between Stories they’re already viewing from people they follow. 400 million Instagram users view Stories every day.

Choose how often people see your Stories ad. Stories expire after 24 hours, ideal for sharing limited-time offers and promotions.

Stories ads look like a regular post. The call-to-action works like a swipe-up feature, taking users directly to your website.

Good stuff for getting more Instagram likes using ads. Read even more about how to advertise on Instagram.

And that’s the story of how to get more Instagram likes

Now you know how to get more likes, which will get you more followers.


But that’s not the only way to get more followers. Here’s 21 more ways.

A marketer’s job is never done.

And we can help…

Save time managing your Instagram presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish photos directly to Instagram, engage the audience, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.

8 Instagram Tools to Quickly — and Effectively — Grow Your Client’s Instagram Audience

With over 800 million active users — approximately 500 million of whom use the platform daily — it’s little wonder that so many businesses want to be active on Instagram. With the platform’s recent introduction of a new native payments feature, it’s clear that there is greater potential for monetizing Instagram than ever before.

Of course, whether you’re the social media manager for a small startup or you oversee several accounts at a larger agency, you know that growing an Instagram audience isn’t always easy. After all, effective Instagram marketing requires much more than posting a new photo every few days.

Thankfully, there are several tools now on the market that are making it easier than ever to help your clients grow their Instagram audience. Here are a few that could have a big impact on your own endeavors.

1. Kicksta

Growing the audience for a client account doesn’t happen passively. You need to find relevant users on Instagram and interact with them in a way that will encourage them to follow your account. While it’s not always difficult to find potential audience members, engaging with them can be very time-consuming.

Kicksta streamlines this process by essentially doing most of the heavy lifting for you.

You submit the accounts whose followers you wish to gain, and Kicksta then likes posts of users who follow these top influencers. These organic interactions are a great way to gain real Instagram followers for your client — and with Kicksta, you don’t have to do the manual work yourself.


Quality images are an absolute must for growing your clients’ Instagram accounts. But if you don’t have the latest equipment or a lot of time to devote to photo editing, it can be difficult to create the stunning posts that will attract new users.

VSCO offers sleek and easy-to-use photo and video editing services for Instagram. Even when you’re short on time, VSCO’s filters and other editing tools will enable you to consistently produce beautiful content that generates real engagement with your client’s target audience.

3. Woobox

Few online activities are better suited to drive engagement and reach new audience members than contests. Targeted, incentivized contests can go viral in a way few other social activities can — and Woobox can help you make it happen.

This tool’s simple campaign builder platform allows you to quickly build customized photo competitions, coupon giveaways, quizzes and other engaging content. Better yet, integration with multiple platforms can allow these contests to achieve a reach that extends beyond Instagram.

4. FameBit

Influencer marketing is another core aspect of building a large Instagram following. Sponsored posts, contests and reviews can all drive new users to a client’s account. Of course, finding influencers who are willing to work with you can require a lot of trial and error.

Because of this, many social media managers use FameBit, which allows them to connect directly with influencers who are interested in new campaign opportunities. By using FameBit’s system to set up your campaign type, budget, and other factors, you can quickly connect with influencers who will be the right fit for your needs.

5. Iconosquare

Each client’s audience is unique — but without analytics, you may never discover the differences that affect how these groups respond to your content. With its in-depth analytics tools, Iconosquare ensures that you gain the insights you need to help each of your clients accomplish their goals on Instagram.

Iconosquare even allows you to analyze performance based on the time content was posted or by which hashtags were used, allowing you to identify the little details that can make or break a client’s campaign.

6. Juicer

Many of your clients likely use Instagram in an effort to improve their web traffic — but why can’t their website help grow their Instagram audience? Juicer gives you a simple resource for aggregating content from a client’s Instagram feed on their website.

Not only does this make the website itself more engaging; it also has the potential of introducing website visitors to the client’s social media accounts. Best of all, automatic updates make this feed a truly hands-off audience builder.

7. AutoHash

Hashtags are one of Instagram’s top discovery tools (leading to an average 12.6 percent engagement increase), but to truly benefit from hashtags, you need to know which ones to use.

AutoHash streamlines the process of researching and selecting hashtags for client posts by using AI to provide a list of relevant hashtags based on the objects it identifies in each photo. This way, you can quickly add the best hashtags for each post and increase the likelihood of new audiences discovering the content.

8. Planoly

Creating and scheduling Instagram posts for your clients can be very time-consuming — but it doesn’t have to be. With Planoly, you get what amounts to a visual organizer for your clients’ accounts, allowing you to schedule posts several weeks in advance with its drag-and-drop system.

Planoly even allows you to curate and repost content from your followers. Simplifying post-scheduling will leave you with more time to focus on activities that will bring the greatest growth to your clients’ accounts.

Giving Your Clients the Boost They Need

As you use the above tools to streamline, coordinate and even automate some of your responsibilities related to Instagram account management, you’ll be better equipped than ever before to grow your clients’ audience.

By pairing these tools with other tried-and-true growth hacks, you won’t merely increase your clients’ audience size — you’ll also help them generate actual revenue.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

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