In 2016, social media giant Instagram debuted a game-changing feature: Stories. This feature allowed users to upload a short video or image that will instantly appear on their profile before vanishing 24 hours later. This feature is now used by over 500 million Instagrammers every single day. 

Today, Stories are one of the most-used aspects of the platform because they offer a fleeting, real-time glimpse into someone else’s life. The feature also offers a collection of easy-to-use unique filters and stickers that you can use to customise your Stories.

As more schools start to create Instagram accounts to engage new and existing families, it’s essential to understand how best to use this feature. To learn how to harness the power of Instagram Stories for schools, check out these handy tips!

Instagram for schools 101

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, Instagram offers two key opportunities for schools to take advantage of:

  1. It allows you to showcase your brand, facilities and activities, essentially acting as a ‘digital brochure’ to attract prospective parents to your school.
  2. It builds engagement and enthusiasm within your existing school community, particularly as it encourages families to engage with and share new school content.

There are two places that schools can share their content: permanently in their main grid or for 24 hours by using the Stories feature. If schools wish to feature a Story permanently on their profile, they can also take advantage of the ‘Highlights’ feature — more on that later.

How to upload an Instagram Story

To upload an Instagram Story, simply open your Instagram app and tap your profile circle either at the top of the home feed or on your school profile page. By tapping on your profile circle, you’ll be taken to your camera so that you can film, take a photo or upload a pre-filmed video or photo from your camera roll. 

Once you’ve chosen your content, tap to add it to ‘Your Story’ — you should see this at the bottom of the screen. This Story will remain on your profile for 24 hours, and it will automatically disappear after this time length. Instagram also provides helpful features such as filters and templates to help you keep your Story on-brand and engaging.


insta stories exampleinsta stories example

Adding Stories into a Highlights reel

If you want to hold onto your Story, you can add it to the Highlights reel that we mentioned earlier. You can do this during or after the 24-hour time period. Highlights are a great tool to provide viewers with instant insight into your school’s community without making them scroll through your entire feed.

Instagram will create suggested Highlights for you, or you can create your own and choose categories such as ‘Events’, ‘Classroom activities’, or ‘Sports days’. Clear labelling helps to provide your visitors with an idea of what content to expect before they view it.

How to improve using Stories insights

During the 24 hours that your Story is live, you’re able to view your insights about your Story’s performance. You can do this by tapping on the Story and swiping upwards. Once you swipe up, you can see how many users have viewed your Story (and who they are!) by tapping on the ‘eye’ icon. 


stories viewers example

If you’d like to receive further Instagram insights and analytics, you’ll need to convert your Instagram account into a business profile. To set this up, search ‘switch to professional account’ in the settings section of your account. Follow the prompts to connect your Facebook business page to your Instagram account. 

Once you have a business profile, you’ll be able to easily see the number of impressions, views, reach, forward clicks, and backward clicks that have occurred on your profile. This information is handy to school marketers as it helps you understand: 

  • the size and reach of your audience 
  • which content is the most engaging to your audience
  • the content that isn’t working or is causing viewers to disengage.

Instagram content opportunities for schools

Once you’ve mastered the process of posting Instagram Stories it’s time to start leveraging content opportunities. Here are our three ideas for Stories that your school can use to engage your audience.

1. Broadcast your school events 

School events are the perfect opportunity to mix up your social media content. You can use Instagram Stories to promote your event before, during, and after. A great example of a school event that you could promote using Instagram Stories is your open day

School open days usually consist of large crowds, your school brand displayed throughout your grounds, and lots of student and staff involvement. This means it’s the perfect time to film some authentic and engaging content for your Instagram Story. Allocate a staff member to capture different aspects of the open day through videos and photos and upload them in real-time to generate interest. 

You can also encourage attendees to share their own videos and photos from the day by creating opportunities for user-generated content, such as media walls or branded gifts. You can easily capture and share the Stories by encouraging users to tag your school in their Stories and use a strategic hashtag.

Uploading footage as it happens allows you to capture the excitement and atmosphere of the event and relay it to your audience. After the day is finished, save all your Stories to an open-day Highlight, in order to broadcast the experience to prospective parents and students that weren’t able to attend. 

2. Allow students and teachers to take over your Stories

The term Instagram ‘takeover’ refers to the process of another user controlling your Instagram Stories for a certain period of time. Many businesses use this collaboration technique to reach new followers and showcase their brand through fresh eyes. Your school can test this out by organising a group of students or a teacher to take over your school’s Instagram account for an afternoon. 

The takeover could be on a special day for your school (such as a swimming carnival or a school musical rehearsal) or it could be a regular day in the life of a person in your community. If you’re looking to make the takeover a regular feature, switch up your content creators to keep the perspectives fresh and unique.

3. Share snippets of the school day

To you, a regular school day may not be a particularly interesting thing to highlight across your social channels. To a prospective parent, however, the day-to-day activities of your students can be a big selling point when they’re considering where to send their child to school.

Even showcasing simple things, like books that are being studied in English or a peek into your Science lab can provide interesting insight into your community. Sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses of a regular day allow you to show off your facilities, staff, and students in a way that is authentic to your school.

This content can also be engaging and interesting to your existing families, as they are able to see firsthand what a day at your school looks like for their children.

Getting started with Instagram Stories for schools

By now, you should hopefully have a good idea about how your school can use Instagram Stories to engage existing and prospective families. If you’re looking to get started using Stories on your school Instagram account, all you need to do is start shooting footage and sharing! 

Just remember, before you post, you should add:

  1. Hashtags — they allow users to find your Stories when they search for your school or other relevant hashtags.
  2. Tags — if you feature a business, school, or special guest in your Story, make sure you tag their account to give them the option to reshare your post.
  3. Stickers and text — you can add some creativity to your Story by adding gifs, music, location tags, and polls.

If you would like more social media tips and tricks, make sure you take a look at more Insights resources. We have so many posts that will help you to make the most of your social media accounts — check them out today!

Published 5 October 2021