(Pocket-lint) - If you don't get Instagram Stories, you've come to the right place.

It's been a couple years since Instagram launched this feature, and it has truly taken off, adding several tools and options over time so that you can get creative with your storytelling. So, we've assembled the top tips and tricks we could find to help you master Instagram Stories

What are Instagram Stories?

Snapchat was the first to introduce a "Stories" feature, but now practically every social network has copied it, including Facebook and Instagram. It essentially allows you to upload videos and pictures and then broadcast them to people who follow you in the form of a reel that lasts for 24 hours. After that time, they disappear. There is no limit to how many you share, and there are tonnes of way to spice them up.

To watch someone’s story on Instagram, just click on the red circle around any profile photo of someone you follow at the top of the home screen. To leave stories, just swipe down. For more information about Instagram Stories, see our explainer guide here.

If you want tips and tricks, keep reading.

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How to share an Instagram Story

To share a photo or video to your story, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the camera icon or swipe right from anywhere.
  2. Tap capture button to take a photo, or tap and hold to record a video.
  3. Alternatively, choose a photo from your phone's library or gallery.
  4. Tap the pencil, letters, or stickers icon to draw or add text or a sticker.
  5. To remove text or a sticker, drag and drop it on the trash icon.
  6. When you're ready to share, tap Your Story in the bottom left.

Note: You can also save your story to your camera. Once you take a photo or video, click on the bottom left “save” (arrow down icon). You can also view your story and click on save at anytime to save “video” (to just save the video) or “save story” (to save the whole story).

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Instagram Stories tips and tricks

Add a highlight

You can choose stories to save on your profile that can be viewed longer than 24 hours. This is handy if you have a promotion or just something special you want people to be able to see. To share a “highlight” make sure you have the Instagram Stories Archive feature turned on: Settings > Story Settings > and click “Save to Archive.” Next, on your profile, below your bio, click the “+ New” to add a new Highlight.

You can choose from archived and live stories to add to your highlighted stories. After that, they’ll be featured on your profile.

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Add a link

To add a link to your Instagram story, click the “link” icon on the top right once you have recorded or uploaded your content. From there, you can type in or paste in a link. We recommend asking people to “Swipe Up” to access the content you’ve linked. Unfortunatly, you do need at least 10,000 followers and a business account to access this feature.

Mention someone in stories

When sharing a photo or video to your story, you can mention someone: Once you take a photo or video, tap the letters icon, then ype @ followed immediately by their username, and select the person you'd like to mention. When you mention someone in your story, their username will appear in your story with an underline. Anyone who can see your story can tap it to go to their profile.

People you mention will get a push notification telling them that you've mentioned them in your story. They'll also get a DM from you that includes a preview of your story. This preview disappears from the message thread after 24 hours. You can mention up to 10 people in each photo.

Re-share Instagram posts to stories

You can share an Instagram post to your story by clicking the arrow/share button and then adding to your story. Keep in mind that when you share someone's post to your story, anyone who views it can see who originally posted it and can view the original account. If you’re tagged in someone else’s story, you’ll get a DM with the same option to repost that story for the next 24 hours.

Add a mention to your own story

When someone mentions you in their story, you’ll have the option to repost it, adding the photo or video to your own story. The feature, called @mention Sharing, is initiated when you tag a user in your story. An alert will appear saying, “Mentioned users may repost this story for 24 hours.”

You'll also get a notification via DM that you were mentioned with a link to “Add This to Your Story.” Simply tap and the story will be shown in a preview where it can be customised. When added, followers will see the original poster’s username, and they can tap it to see their profile.

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Ask your followers a question

Instagram offers two easy tools to get input from the people watching your story.

First, you can choose to create a poll. Select the “Poll” sticker, type in your question, and enter two options for followers to choose between. As people select either option, the poll will update its percentage. You can choose the slider sticker instead and customise both the question you ask and the sticker you use to label the slider. Followers can then drag the slider to express their reaction to your question.

Create a solid background

To create a solid coloured background on your photo or video, press on the top right for the pencil icon, then choose your colour, and press and hold with your finger for a few seconds until your background is solid. You can also use the eraser to remove part of the solid background.

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Create an opaque background

Want your coloured background to be see-through? Then, after following the above step, press the pencil icon, and tap the marker icon (second from the left in the middle). This will create create an opaque screen so you can still see the content you're sharing.

Use the full colour wheel

To select any colour in the color wheel, click on the pencil icon on the top right. Then press and hold on any colour to access the color wheel. That's it! You can choose any color you want. Don’t forget you can also change the size of the brush on the left side.

Use colours in images

You can also use colours in your images. Press and hold on the colour wheel and then move your finger to the part of the image to grab that colour. To go a step further, you can erase part of the background with the eraser tool.

Change font size

You can change the font size of your text in two ways: First, type, then on the left, you’ll see the option to increase the font. Alternatively, once you’re done typing, grab what you typed and use two fingers to expand it. You can do this with stickers, too.

Layer your captions

First, add a caption to your content and decorate per usual. Then, tap the "Save” arrow in the corner of the screen and tap the “Your Story” icon to add it to your story. Next, select the photo you saved from your camera roll to add to your story. Add - or layer - a second caption over the first, and repeat until you've reached your desired effect. You're essentially saving your photos and re-uploading them to layer your captions.

Ditch the square captions

If you're sick of the square-corner backgrounds on your captions, try using the pencil tool to draw a different shape, whether they be circles, ovals, hearts, and and then place a caption over your new shape. Make sure to select the caption without any background (just text).

Use different fonts and sizes together

With this, you have to add each letter or word as an individual caption and position them. Write the first word or letter, then choose the colour, and drag it into position. Add another caption in a different colour, resize it, and drag that where you’d like it. Repeat forever. Don't forget that you can also change the font itself! Gone are the days of having just one font choice. Instagram recenly added neon, typewriter, modern, and strong.  

See other sticker options

Once you select a sticker, you can tap it to see the other options. So, for instance example, a coffee cup can turn into a cup of tea.

Pin your stickers

Yes, you can also “pin” your stickers. If you want the stickers to be featured in parts of a video, then press and hold to pin them wherever you want. For instance, you can pin an arrow sticker near someone to point them out throughout the entire clip.

Turn your face into a custom sticker

Tap the stickers icon at the top of the screen. Next, tap the camera icon on the side of the second row that pops up from the bottom. Your face will appear at the center of the screen. (If you tap your face, a white border will appear around the sticker. Tap again to go borderless.) Make a face and press the white circle beneath your face to take the photo. Then, size and position the sticker.

Add a gif

Gifs are a fun way to add some fun to any story. Just swipe up and click on GIF, and then search for the perfect one to add.

3nions (YouTube)

Change the weekday's sticker colour

You know that sticker that tells the day of the week? Well, did you know that if you tap that sticker while editing, it will change colour? Yep. It's true! To find the “day of the week” sticker, tap the sticker icon and select it from the tray. Then, tap it again to change the colour.

Add music to your story

Add music to your story by playing it on your phone while you record a video. Alternatively, you can tap to add a sticker while viewing a photo or video on your story. This will pull up a page full of stickers that you can add to your content. Next, find the new sticker labeled “Music” in the second row. You will immediately see a long list of popular music, though you can also search and sort by moods and genres.

Use a third-party apps for more effects

You can also use apps like Videoshop or VideoLap too add music to your story. In fact, there are several apps that can up your Instagram game by letting you add moving text, capture live video, record your screen, and more. It's worth browsing around your app store.

Embed Spotify links in Instagram stories

Now you can share Spotify links that will allow followers to click straight through -- it’s simple.

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Go hands-free

Tired of holding the capture button down while you tell your story? Below the button, you can swipe to the far right and choose the hands-free button so you don't have to fret about it. You're welcome.

Want to know more?

See our other Instagram tips guide:

Writing by Maggie Tillman.