Instagram, the platform which encourages users to find beauty everywhere, is used by millions of people every day. Allowing them to transform day-to-day photos and videos into memory-filled content which can then be shared with the world. Chances are that your brand is already using this platform to drive awareness, communicate directly with your followers and build a loyal fan base.
In one of its biggest updates ever, Instagram rolled out Stories in the summer of 2016. By then, people were already familiar with this feature because Snapchat had first introduced the Story format back in 2013. Similarly to Snapchat, Instagram Stories serves as a way to journal moments from our daily lives in the form of vertical photo or video updates that get deleted after 24 hours.
With this in mind, think of Instagram Stories as a way to supplement your main Instagram content with bonus info for loyal followers and to hook in new users with glimpses of your most striking content. For example, many businesses use Stories to publish behind-the-scenes content, how-to’s related to their products or to remind viewers about their most recent blog posts or special offers. Regardless of what the content might be about, Stories can make a very engaging format that appeals to consumers without the need to revamp your current marketing strategy. This makes Instagram Stories a valuable real estate where every smart marketer should invest their time in.
For starters, here are a few reasons why Instagram Stories might be a good addition to your existing social media marketing toolkit:
- 500 million users now use Instagram Stories every day
- 1 in 4 Millennials and Gen Z-ers look for Stories of the products or services they want to buy
- Instagram Stories accounts for 34% of Instagram’s sponsored content
These are big numbers that businesses should not ignore. It means that social advertising on Instagram has reached a maturity level that allows marketers to explore new creative ideas for their ads and everyday content, especially if they are looking to target a younger demographic of users.
So, in this blog, we would like to share with you everything you need to know about how you can stand out with Stories in 2019.
Share your Expertise and Provide Value with Stories
Whatever your Stories entail, it is essential to keep your audience in mind. One of the most effective ways to connect with social media users is to position your brand as an industry authority whom they can rely on for the information they require. This means that you should become a valuable beacon of information and expertise in your industry by providing hints and tips about how to best solve your customers’ problems. For generating advice content, keep a list of the most frequently asked customer questions and share your answers in Stories. You can then collect and organise your Stories content into different Highlight categories which will be available for users to view after the 24 hours are up.
For example, HubSpot often use their Stories as an educational tool where they offer helpful tips for their followers and, hence, confirm their position as a trusted marketing leader.
Tell a Story Though a Weekly Series
People are hard-wired to react and respond to a compelling story and every brand has a story to tell. So, you should use social media as a destination where fans can get to know you and your brand better. Make sure to include interesting topics of conversation; such as stories of your achievements and learnings, what motivates you and what things you care about. By showing your customers that you share their thoughts and ideals, they will become more emotionally invested in your brand.
To do that, take advantage of the captions functionality of Instagram Stories to help your brand personality and voice shine through. Booking.com is a brand skilled at using their Instagram Stories, not only for showcasing some of the breath-taking places people can book trips to by using the site, but they also provide viewers with a series of valuable travel tips for a variety of travel-related adventures.
Give your audience a sneak peek from behind the scenes
For increased sense of intimacy with your brand, use photos or video content from behind-the-scenes activities on your Stories. From what goes into making your product to introducing your team to your Instagram followers, your behind-the-scenes content can be about anything that your customers might benefit from knowing. Remember that no matter how mundane or ordinary something may seem to you, your audience might find this information truly fascinating.
For example, MailChimp uses Stories to introduce their followers to the company’s employees and other inner workings through a series of short videos titled “A Day in the Life”.
Promote Your Products with User Generated Content
Promotions do not always have to be about discounts. Although discounts are still important and highly engaging, an alternative way to encourage brand interaction and persuade your customers to buy is through sharing your followers’ Stories and celebrating their success. For an added exposure to the collection of products you offer and a social confirmation of your brand’s awesomeness, you can utilise the Story feature to promote your products directly to your viewers. The great thing is that Instagram Stories and Instagram Highlights allow users to implement the ‘Swipe Up’ feature, which ultimately redirects the traffic to a relevant landing page on your website where customers can purchase your products.
For instance, beauty brand Urban Decay Cosmetics re-shares their customers’ posts about their makeup products in Stories for more genuine and relatable recommendations.
Ask questions, create quizzes and take polls
Instagram Stories is equipped with a swathe of interactive features that are super easy to use and can aid in cultivating a unique level of loyalty and intimacy with your brand’s followers. For instance, on one occasion Starbucks used the Stories’ polling sticker for asking their audience’s opinion on whether you should store your coffee in the freezer or not. Based on this poll, Starbucks then created a Story on ‘Essential Coffee Tips’ where they offer their educated opinion on the question. So, by asking your audience to participate in a poll, you will not only be able to create more engagement, but also learn about your audience’s preferences for your products and how they like to use them.
For a more interesting discussion, you can also pose open-ended questions to your audience or allow your followers to pose questions to you through Stories’ interactive question sticker. Each question or response can be highlighted in an individual Story, giving you an opportunity to showcase your authority, build trust and develop deeper relationships with your Instagram community. The cherry on the cake is that when a user reaches out to you and responds in such a way, this signals to Instagram’s algorithm that your content is valuable to your audience from an analytical perspective and that you should be higher in your followers’ news feed.
Get Found with Hashtags and Location Tags on Stories
You might be surprised to learn that many people find local businesses through Instagram. Now, with locations in Instagram Stories, it is possible for users to view recent Stories marked with the location sticker corresponding to their location search. Additionally, your location tagged Stories are visible at the top of Instagram’s Explore page, targeting a selection of users depending on their frequent searches or local area. This means that adding location stickers to Stories, makes it easier for local and service-based businesses to be found by potential customers.
Similarly, you can also make use of hashtags in your Stories relating to your business industry, topic, style, or another factor. So if you are using a branded hashtag for your business in Stories, users will be taken to that same hashtag gallery when clicking on the link and will be able to view your content and learn more about your business. Implementing these tools strategically means expanding your reach to more potential customers and driving traffic to your business.
With 500 million users watching Instagram Stories daily, this feature’s engagement potential should not be overlooked. Stories can be a great and easy way to gain additional traffic through Instagram, so start using this amazing feature today!
But if you feel overwhelmed by all of Instagram’s functionalities and you are looking for some more personalised advice for your business, click here to check out our new tailored social media training sessions! Or get in touch via the enquiry form below.