There is a way to create an Instagram Stories content calendar so that it feels second nature, instead of something extra.
[This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I’ll receive a percentage of the sale as compensation. The good news? It doesn’t cost you any extra! All opinions are my own.]
Instagram Stories create an amazing opportunity for business owners to engage differently with their customers, but they can also present a struggle.
One of the biggest things keeping people from using Stories strategically is that it feels like yet another thing you need to create content for. The biggest questions people often have are: What do I share? And how do I keep this manageable?
A Strategic Instagram Stories Content Calendar
Before you start thinking about what you are going to post, always look back at your social media strategy and what you are trying to achieve in your business with social media as a whole.
Your social media strategy should give you a good idea of who your ideal customer is and what they want and need. Your social media strategy should also outline your goals – the ways that social media is going to support your overall business objectives.
These two things, audience and goals, should inform your content strategy on ANY platform.
7-Steps to Consistency on Instagram Stories
I’m going to outline a 7-step method for developing an Instagram Stories content calendar that is manageable and genuinely engaging to your customers.
Does this sound too good to be true? I promise that just a little thought and planning up front can eliminate a lot of stress and feelings of always working from behind.
We will discuss each of these in depth, but the steps are:
- Decide what kind of content supports your strategy
- Theme your days for easy brainstorming and content creation
- Determine minimum number of posts per day
- Decide what is prescheduled vs. real-time
- Create your content
- Schedule and execute
- Engage, enjoy, and utilize feedback to get better!
STEP ONE. Brainstorm Content Ideas
First, come up with a list of things you can share on stories that support your social media strategy goals.
If it’s growing your website traffic, maybe you share links to your blog posts or your lead magnet. Maybe it’s a short trailer of your latest video, and you send people to your website for the whole thing. You will continually look for ways to use Stories to send people to your website for more.
Maybe your goal is growing your influence or demonstrating your expertise. You can share tips or short tutorials. Maybe you share your thoughts on a book from another thought leader in your niche. Anything that shows people that you know your stuff, and you are here to share it with them too.
For goals around connection and customer service, you can ask your audience questions. Regularly ask for their opinion or feedback on your business initiatives. Use Stories as a two-way conversation. Share parts of your life that will resonate with them – maybe this looks like common interests you have with your target audience.
For 50+ ideas and prompts, consider downloading my Instagram Strategy Guide!
STEP TWO. Theme Your Days
I love organizing ideas into categories. I find putting content ideas into mental buckets to be a helpful way to keep the good ideas coming. Stories are no exception.
Once you have a list of ideas, put a bucket or theme on each day. It could look like this:
- Mondays are for inspiration. [Quotes, goals, ideas, prompts]
- Tuesdays are for teaching. [Answer FAQs, tips, tutorials, blog posts]
- Wednesdays are for going behind the scenes. [Show product creation, workspaces, employees]
- Thursdays are for engagement. [Feedback, opinions, fun conversation starters]
- Fridays are for sales. [Pitching products or services]
- Saturdays/Sundays are for sharing personal stuff. [Weekend plans, personal interests]
Again, for 50+ content ideas and actual calendar/planning sheets to fill out, download my Instagram Strategy Guide.
STEP THREE. Decide on Minimum Posts Per Day.
Story segments are visible in Stories for 24 hours, so maybe 1-2 times per day is just enough to keep consistent content flowing.
Especially if you are just getting started with Stories OR if this is the first time you’ve thought about how to make your use of them more strategic, don’t be afraid to start small!
Want to know what keeps people coming back for more? Consistency.
Whatever you decide to do, just be sure it is something you can maintain.
STEP FOUR. Pre-scheduled vs. Real Time
Now you can decide what is pre-scheduled and what will be shared in real-time. You’ll need to think about what makes the most sense for you.
It could be that some entire days are pre-scheduled and some are real-time. Or maybe mornings are always prescheduled, but afternoon posts are real time.
As a side note: some people thrive and are more likely to stay consistent with this level of organization and planning, and some of us are better at just remembering to go with the flow because it has become second nature. Do what works for you. If you need, post a sticky note or set reminders on your phone to remind yourself to fill in the blanks during the week.
STEP FIVE. Create Your Content
Create templates for anything you are going to pre-schedule. I have templates for my blog posts, my workshops, and the writing prompts that I share weekly.
I keep these templates in Canva, and all I need to do is edit the text (like titles and bullet points, or maybe a URL), or pull in a fresh image.
For your “real-time” time slots, if it is helpful, jot down ideas of what you will talk about or share throughout the week so you feel prepared.
STEP SIX. Schedule & Execute
Use a scheduling tool like Tailwind to queue up any posts that are pre-planned. (FYI, that is an affiliate link, and if you sign up for Tailwind through my link I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)
Execute on your plan and post the content you were going to post in real time. [You’re doing this!]
STEP SEVEN. Engage, Enjoy & Improve
Each day you should spend time engaging with those that DM you, respond to your questions with stickers, etc.
Even though I hear a lot of complaints about engagement and reach on the main Instagram feed, those pictures are probably reaching far more people than your Stories will, at least at first. Think of ways you can creatively send people from your main feed to your Stories, like hinting at exclusive or expanded content.
Over time you will learn what your audience really wants to see from you on Stories. You will be able to watch your viewership trend up or down. You will see the DMs or poll votes or emoji slider responses and be able to use that to make better content in the future.
Keep it Simple, Smarty!
Your Instagram Stories content calendar can be as simple or complex as you make it. Just remember that you are ultimately on Stories to connect with customers, and support your overall social media strategy!
How will YOU start use Instagram Stories more strategically?
Molly Marshall teaches small business owners and online entrepreneurs how to systematically and simply grow a profitable online presence through social media. Get your FREE Instagram Strategy Guide now!