7 Features of Insta Stories that are Great for Organic Content


It’s no secret that Instagram is one of the big dogs of social media. With more than one billion monthly active users, it’s now a staple part of the social media landscape. Its Stories feature is also hugely popular. This ephemeral content doesn’t exist on your main profile and instead disappears at the end of the 24 hours, leaving room for your next round of content.  An estimated 400 million Instagram stories are made and viewed every day, with a third of the most viewed coming from businesses rather than individuals.

Insta Stories specifically have some great features that make it a brilliant place to create organic content for your education institution. We’ve showcased seven features of Insta Stories you may not be using enough, and given you a few ideas of what content you can create with each.  

Feature 1 – Polls

One great feature of Insta Stories is the voting function. Users can pose a question to their follows and get back a simple split answer decision. The app offers a huge range of versatility as you can change the answers beyond just a simple Yes/No. For an educational institution, you could pose questions to your followers about if they are going to a campus event or get their feedback about college hoodies. Thinking more creatively, a faculty could have great fun with this feature as a way of engaging with students both current and prospective. For example, the English Literature Department could pit Shakespeare plays against each other in a voting system across a week.  

Feature 2 – Sliders

The slider feature is a simple sliding scale that can be placed either horizontally or vertically into the Story. Different emojis can be attached to the answers and it can either be used to show general appreciation for the story or to give an answer to a question. This has more functionality than the standard two answer format of the voting feature, as questions can be numerical values on the sliding scale. Examples of interesting content could be trivia facts about the university/course-related facts or to show love for previous events.

Feature 3 – Ask a Question

Another feature includes an ‘Ask a Question’ box that then sends the responses as messages back to the user. Users can post answers back to their stories, but this has limited character response. Another option is using the platform to gather questions to answer at a later date, either in a longer form video on Instagram or on another platform such as YouTube.  

This could be a great option for educational institutions for events. You could pose questions to potential students ahead of an Open Day and then have a specific speaker slot to address these in person. Q&A panels for guest speakers could become more involved, with students able to pose questions beforehand on Instagram. This raises awareness for the event prior and reinforces it afterwards as answers could then be posted back to Instagram stories.  

Feature 4 – Live Streams

Livestreams are now a classic on many different platforms and Insta Stories is no exception. More than 100 million Instagrammers watch or share Live every day so this feature can have a huge reach. You could live stream a snippet of the music event in the Student Union, show registration for the Open Day or go behind the scenes at some of your bigger events.   

These can now actually be combined with the Q&A feature discussed above, to give real-time answers to questions from followers. You can post a Q&A sticker in your Insta Story and then field questions as they come in. This could be a great pre/post event informal interview with guest speakers or a great informal chat with faculty representatives for prospective students about the details of their courses.  

Feature 5 – Countdowns

Countdowns, as the name suggests, are a countdown style clock on the screen. These are excellent for building hype around a specific event or launch of some sort. A tongue in cheek option is a dissertation deadline countdown, though your students may not appreciate the constant reminder!  

More realistic options could include the date of your undergraduate drama showcase, the date of your next open day or a countdown to A level results day. Generally, the countdowns work best when started between a week or two out from the event and should be used in combination with the other features as they can be a little dull on their own.  

Feature 6 – Swipe Ups

A popular feature for ads and brands in Instagram stories, this allows the individual to ‘Swipe Up’ to be then taken to another location. This can either be the individuals main Instagram profile, another individual on Instagram or indeed off the site completely to a different page.  Got a specific page on your website you want to share? Swipe up to see. One of your lecturers has posted an interesting article? Swipe up to see. Want to show off your student paper’s latest blog post? You get the idea.

Feature 7 – Highlights

Whilst ephemeral content is designed to disappear, with Insta Stories you can combine posts to make a ‘Highlight’ on your channel. If you did several different Stories all linked to one event or theme, you could then post these as a highlight afterwards. You could have one for an open day, so if students can’t make it in person there is a virtual one for them to look through.  This could contain pictures/videos of the campus, a Q&A section for commonly asked questions and a swipe up for where to go for more info. You could take this even further with a range of course-specific highlights, which could be especially powerful around times like Clearing.

And the best part about these is you can combine them in as many different ways as you want. For maximum impact, why not try a total takeover as a ‘Day in the Life of’ from one of your own students. Let them livestream their commute to lectures, field questions from prospective students about their lifestyle, and swipe up for their lecture timetable. They could poll students about what social events they go to that day; Showcasing the number on offer and then put everything into a Highlight onto the main profile for posterity.

As with all social media presence, careful monitoring is key. Social interaction is a two-way street, and the internet doesn’t always play nice. The important thing is to attract positive engagement, and negative feedback or trolls can derail organic content so just keep a close eye on what is working and what isn’t.  

There are loads of different ways to create organic content that’ll leave a lasting impression with all these different features. These are just a small handful of ideas to get you started in making the most of Insta Stories for your educational institution.