When Instagram Stories first launched in 2016, it introduced new opportunities for brands and users alike to be more authentic and creative on the platform.
Now this fleeting media format with a 24-hour lifespan has become a pillar in most Instagram marketing strategies, complementing the posts you publish permanently to your feed.
But there’s a powerful feature within Stories that many brands still ignore: Instagram stickers.
It’s easy to mistake stickers as mere aesthetic add-ons, but using the right Instagram stickers at the right time not only makes your Stories more fun but can help you achieve a variety of marketing goals, from reaching new audiences to mastering how to make money on Instagram.
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How to use Instagram Story stickers
Instagram stickers are dynamic graphic elements that can be added to both image and video Stories. Some are animated, some are clickable, and others even allow users to interact directly with the Story. Simply put, they make your Stories more interesting, which makes users more likely to engage with them.
Stickers can be found after you’ve taken or uploaded your photo or video by tapping on the sticker icon in the top right corner of your Stories’ editing options.
Once you tap on this icon, you’ll see a list of stickers appear. Customizable or interactive stickers will show up first, including the hashtag, mention, and location stickers (or new stickers).
All others can be found by scrolling down or by searching for what you’re looking for. Just click on what you want to add stickers to in your Stories post.
Cute Instagram stickers
While functional stickers like hashtag and link stickers are super useful, sometimes it’s nice to add a cute sticker for the sake of aesthetics. Using cutesy stickers can be an important aspect of your branding (if it’s your style), or they can be a great way to signify a more casual Story interaction.
Whichever the case, let’s take a look at cute sticker sets available at the time of writing. The first few are keywords you can use to find cute stickers related to the word or style, then the remaining sets on the list come from specific artists.
First up is obvious: type “cute” in the search bar and you’ll see cute stickers.
These stickers are made by various artists and are designed to make the viewer think “aww.” Using cute little animal-based characters is a quick way to many people’s hearts.
Next up is the word “plants.” Some people might not associate plants with cuteness, but there are plenty of plant folks out there that do. If you don’t, these stickers might convince you otherwise.
These various plant illustrations are small, cartoon-like, and have simple animations. You can use them to convey a sense of growth or change.
Plenty of small businesses base their style or aesthetics on a pastel color palette. If that’s you, you’ll find plenty of cute stickers if you search for “pastel.”
While you might come across some odd or context-dependent stickers, most of them follow the classic light pink, blue, and yellow palette. Many use cute characters or convey cute/sweet messages.
Another well-developed aesthetic in the ecommerce space is “boho” (short for bohemian). Similar to pastel, the boho look inspires a calm and relaxed feel, typically using fall/autumnal colors.
These types of stickers can be cute because they have simple “twinkly” movements.
Moving onto the artist highlights, let’s look at Mikyla. If you search for Mikyla in the stickers feature, you’ll get the following options:
Mikyla adopts a pastel color palette and uses simple plant illustrations for the most part, but also uses language many people associate with cuteness.
Next up is Izzyink. Following the theme of “simple,” Izzyink’s illustrations mostly use words rather than images:
But even word-based stickers can be cute when they’re related to cute things or “cute” behavior.
Using a similar strategy as Izzyink, Hanmade (not to be confused with “handmade”), uses more words than pictures, but in a slightly different style.
Hanmade uses lots of cursive-style writing, which is a whole aesthetic in itself—one that lots of people find cute or pleasing to look at.
Keeping up with the minimalist aesthetic, Green Dotori uses simple graphic-based illustrations that help bring attention to other parts of a Story.
Green Dotori’s art is a great option because it’s both cute and functional, often helping you point out a call to action (CTA).
Revisiting the plant theme, wildflowerbar’s illustrations feature cute cacti, hearts, and word-based GIFs for Hungarian speakers!
Following the usual pattern, these are particularly cute because they’re small and have twinkly animation with very little movement.
Another super-cute set of stickers comes from Latifundija. These stickers are simple personifications of everyday foods or objects (plus a few Pokémon).
Having those tiny, simple smiley faces of various foods or animals is just irresistibly cute.
Studio Jonesy is a UK-based artist with a focus on “positivity and confetti.” These stickers are both cute and uplifting.
Other than the positive vibes on offer by Studio Jonesy, a few of them are specifically useful for small businesses, such as “Giveaway,” “I can’t wait!!!” and “Click me.”
Coming back to the written word stickers, Ohlalalita has a ton of cute stylized stickers of words that people and businesses can use.
Lots of the words in these informal stickers we associate with cute behavior such as “ta-daa,” “ootd,” and “yay!”
Our final set of cute sticker recommendations is from Ketnipz. The artist behind Ketnipz created this character and lots of people found it cute.
What makes it even better is that the artist has the character doing cute things in short GIFs that help make your Story relatable.
Types of Instagram stickers
While some stickers help to make your Stories more fun, others directly contribute to your Instagram marketing goals. There’s no shortage of options to choose from, but the following customizable stickers are especially relevant for marketing:
- Hashtag stickers add a clickable hashtag to your Story to reach more users. When users click on it, they’ll be taken to the hashtag’s feed, just like if they’d searched for it manually. You can only add one per Story.
- Poll stickers ask users a question and give them two answers to choose from. By default, you can ask a yes or no question, or you can change the responses to create your own either/or-styled inquiry that lets users choose between two answers. Users click on the sticker to answer, and the results are calculated in real time. You can see who voted and what they voted for as well, giving you the opportunity to engage directly with them.
- Question stickers let you crowdsource ideas, feedback, and responses from your audience with an open-ended question. Answers can then be shared directly to your Stories as a follow-up post.
- Location stickers tag a location in your Story to expand your reach. When users tap on it, they’ll see a feed of other content with the same location tag. You can only add one per Story.
- Mention stickers tag another user in your Stories, notifying them that you’ve done so. When someone taps on the sticker, they’ll be taken to the tagged user’s profile.
- Music stickers add background music to your images or videos, letting you choose a soundtrack from Spotify.
- Countdown stickers add a countdown timer toward a specific time and/or date (useful for product launches or events).
- GIF stickers are looping graphics from GIPHY that you can add to Stories. They’re not just fun and dynamic, but also can be used to add animated calls to action to your Stories (e.g. “Follow us”).
- Shoppable stickers are available through the Shopping on Instagram integration. Business accounts with this sales channel enabled will be able to tag products in their Stories. Users can tap to see the price, description, and product name, and tap again to go directly to the product page to purchase.
- Emoji slider stickers ask users a question that they can answer with a slider (i.e., on a scale of 1 to 10), such as “How much do you love our new line compared to last year?” You can choose an emoji to represent their response, and users will be able to see the average after they give you their vote.
- Date stickers will show the date that the photo, video, or Story was created. They can be used to post throwback content to reminisce about the past or build hype for an upcoming event by displaying today’s date.
- Link stickers replaced the swipe-Up feature, allowing you to link to content outside the Instagram app in your Story.
Naturally, you can mix and match stickers in the same Story to layer the benefits on top of each other and maximize their impact.
Creative ways to use Instagram Story stickers for marketing
1. Ask for feedback and test ideas
The temporary nature of Stories make them great for soliciting feedback—after 24 hours, when you have the input you need, your Story automatically disappears.
Poll stickers, emoji slider stickers, question stickers, and quiz stickers each present opportunities for getting different types of feedback, depending on the type of survey question you want to ask.
You might use an emoji slider to ask your followers to rate something on a scale of 1 to 10. Or you could use the poll sticker to ask them to pick a side in a popular debate.
Not only can you learn more about your audience this way, but you can even use Stories as a testing ground for new product and marketing ideas.
2. Host an AMA to connect with your followers on a personal level
Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions give your followers direct access to you, the person behind the brand, in a way that most social media content doesn’t.
Using the question sticker, you can facilitate this Q&A format and pull back the curtain to offer your followers a chance to get to know you.
Your followers would likely love the chance to ask big questions that your About Us page doesn’t answer, like what products are coming up or what your favorite book is.
Let people know that the best questions will be answered in your Stories, and get ready to watch them come pouring into your notifications.
3. Share user-generated content and encourage others to create their own
User-generated content can be a powerful addition to your content mix, but only if others see it and recognize that it was created by a fan and not by you.
Using mention stickers, you can share UGC in your Stories and then tag the creator so they get credit and a public thank you. This will show that you value your followers and encourage other users to share content too.
Better yet, you can also add your branded hashtag to direct your audience to check out more UGC or contribute their own.
If you’re in a rush, a strategy that I often use is to ask permission from users to directly share Stories that you’re tagged in. When sharing, I add a "📸 credit" next to a mention sticker tagging the original poster. These posts generally have high engagement rates, and I’ve found they encourage more users moving forward to tag your brand in their Stories, too.
4. Create more relatable Stories by adding a soundtrack
Music stickers can help establish a certain mood or feeling and effectively grab a user’s attention. From lip syncing along on video to playing holiday music over your photos, these stickers offer a lot of opportunities to get creative with your content.
If you aren’t sure where to start, Instagram has its music sorted by moods and genres, in addition to allowing search for specific tracks, letting you add snippets of hits from big names like Drake, Cardi B, Fleetwood Mac, and other artists on Spotify.
Music stickers can also help you express yourself as a brand and connect with your audience through shared tastes.
Note: If you don’t have access to music stickers yet, Instagram is slowly rolling them out and they should become more widely available in time.
5. Promote your branded hashtags
A lot of brands will try to harness the power of hashtags to get users talking about their brand in a way that is easy to monitor. They’ll use branded hashtags, or contest- or event-specific hashtags to generate awareness and encourage users to also post content using the same tags.
Since hashtags often get buried in your Instagram posts, Stories are a great way to bring them to the forefront of your audience’s attention.
When you have a branded hashtag populated by content from your fans, you can even start using the hashtag sticker to direct your audience to this gallery of content. When Story viewers click on the sticker, they’ll immediately see all the other posts containing the tag, which can serve as powerful social proof.
6. Tag locations of events you’re attending
Are you attending a tradeshow, a conference, a farmers market, or another event? Whether you’re actively selling your products or just networking, post a Story to show your followers that you’re there in person, and make sure to add a location sticker.
This won’t just let your followers know you’re there, but will also help others at the event discover you if they’re also browsing the location tag.
7. Ask customers to choose between two products
Using poll stickers and asking customers to choose between different products is an excellent way to promote two items at once, share visible social proof, and learn about your audience’s preferences.
The ease of participating will work in your favor, and everyone else will be able to see the results live.
Many users will want to vote simply so they can see how others are voting, and once they see the results, it may even encourage them to purchase.
8. Use date stickers for flashbacks or to hype up events
Sometimes it’s good to look back, which is why #TBT (#ThrowbackThursday) is such a popular hashtag. When you want to share content that happened in the past, this is a good way to do it. It establishes context and is particularly powerful for sharing Stories about past events like anniversaries, conferences, or milestones.
When you select an old Instagram Story from your archive, it will appear in the editor with the date sticker by default, making it easy to reminisce and reshare these moments.
Date stickers also work well if you’re counting down to a particular event, like a sale or a pop-up shop. Attach the date sticker to a sneak-peak photo or behind-the-scenes video, and let users know how much time they have left before the big event.
9. Drive sales to your newest products
Instagram’s new product stickers don’t just raise awareness for your products—they help you convert that attention into sales. Users can tap on them to learn more about the featured product, and then tap again to be taken to the product page to purchase.
You can even feature multiple products in a single post to give your audience options and show off a collection of products.
10. Use the “sound on” GIF to get users to enable sound
One of the most understated uses for Instagram stickers is to turn implied actions into explicit calls to action.
Since videos play without sound by default, the “Sound on” sticker can make it clear that sound is an integral part of the content they’re viewing.
It encourages users to enable sound, even if they likely wouldn’t have otherwise thought to.
It’s a simple addition to your video Stories that can help you keep your audience’s attention longer.
11. Collaborate with other businesses
Sometimes building relationships with other brands is a smart way to market your business, and sharing some love on Instagram can benefit both of you—especially if they return the favor.
Shoutout exchanges are an easy-to-implement and effective co-marketing tactic, as long as you can find a complementary brand with a target audience that overlaps with your own.
Use either the mention or location stickers to tag other businesses when sharing Stories about them and what they do. They could be a vendor, an industry influencer, or just a complementary business. If you’re hosting or participating in a sale, event, or contest together, even better.
12. Get festive with seasonal Instagram stickers
Whether it’s April Fool’s Day, Halloween or Thanksgiving, people love getting festive—especially when it comes to Stories. Seasonal stickers will pop up at the appropriate time for almost every major holiday you can think of, making it easier for you to add a festive holiday touch to your Stories without any extra effort.
Nothing suggests a possible Christmas gift idea quite like an animated Santa Claus walking across your stocking stuffers.
13. Use the link sticker to drive traffic
One of the most useful stickers to businesses now is the link sticker. Not too long ago, Instagram got rid of the swipe-up feature that was limited to accounts with 10,000 or more followers and introduced the link sticker.
Adding a link sticker to your Story will label the link with the website address by default, but you can opt to customize the link text in a more creative way.
For example, in the above Story, Gymshark made the link sticker part of the sentence it wrote in the rest of the Story.
14. Raise money for a non-profit with the donate sticker
Another sticker that has been getting love recently is the donate sticker. As a business with some level of influence with your followers, you can encourage them to donate to a good cause either related to your industry or one that follows your brand values.
Similar to the link sticker, the donate sticker will automatically add text asking users to donate to the selected charity. But you can change the text to whatever you want (within character limits). Side note: Instagram will only show charities that have Instagram accounts linked up with donation information.
15. Encourage users to create UGC with the “add yours” sticker
The final sticker on this list is the “add yours” sticker. With this option, you can create a chain of Stories originating from your profile that all use the same sticker.
When you use the “add yours” sticker, you can click on it to see which users have created a response. This is a great way to discover new profiles to interact with as well as generate UGC related to your brand or industry.
Tracking your performance with Instagram stickers
Instagram stickers are a great way to get more engagement, traffic, and social proof out of your Stories, in addition to brand awareness. In order to understand the effect that different stickers have on your content, however, and how effective they are overall, it’s important to monitor their performance.
The best way to do this is to carefully monitor your Stories’ performance in Instagram’s Insights. Instagram’s native analytics report has a section under the “Content you’ve shared” tab dedicated specifically to Stories, where you can view how each Story performed based on certain key metrics.
The metrics related to Stories include:
- Impressions: the total number of times your Story was viewed.
- Reach: the total number of unique accounts who saw your Story.
- Profile visits: the total number of times a viewer visited your profile from your Story.
- Forwards: users who skipped to different photos or videos within your Story.
- Back: users who went back to different photos or videos within your Story.
- Exited Stories: users who completely exited their Stories after viewing yours.
- Replies: the number of users who replied to your Story.
- Next Story: The number of users who swiped ahead to skip your Story entirely.
- Link clicks: The number of click-throughs on your link stickers.
Though you can also monitor the following metrics from the same place:
- Call button taps: how many people clicked on your call button from your profile page.
- Business address taps: how many people clicked to view your business address from your profile page.
- Text button taps: the number of users who tapped to text your business from your profile page.
- Website taps: how many users clicked on your website button from your profile page.
You can only track Stories data in your native Instagram analytics for 14 days, so keep careful track of the data. If this feels like a hassle and you want a big-picture view, third-party Instagram tools can give you the same information but store it for much longer periods of time.
Look for patterns here. If some of your Stories have record-high impressions and reach but very little engagement, take a look at why. Do certain stickers seem to make an impact on engagement rates like replies, or back swipes to view a Story? Are people ignoring your stickers because of the placement or size?
You’ll start to see how different stickers affect your Stories’ performance, which can inform how you use them moving forward.
Instagram stickers: A fun and functional feature
Instagram stickers are more than just a fun add-on that layers smiley faces onto your Stories. They can play an integral role in Instagram marketing, allowing you to generate social proof, engagement, reach, brand awareness, and traffic to your profile and even your site.
They’re a valued part of your Instagram marketing tool kit and, with a bit of strategy, they can help you get more out of every story you publish.