Instagram is a platform to showcase and share stylish, highly produced images that represent a user’s best work. Instagram parroted Snapchat’s boldest feature by releasing its own version as Instagram Stories which is a great way to share events as they happen without clogging up your carefully curated feed with dozens of throwaway images.
Instagram Stories Benefits Your Business Marketing Strategy
Businesses can leverage the audience that they’ve built over the years on their established Instagram accounts. While the audience reach on Snapchat is limited to the users who follow your account, Instagram has a much larger user base (almost 100 million daily active users) (update: 200 million) giving your stories a much better reach. In addition to your built-in audience, there’s also the opportunity for increased discoverability. While the content you produce on Snapchat needs to be promoted regularly across other channels or else no one will see it. On Instagram, there are hashtags, geotags, and the Discover section to increase your chances of being found.
Better visibility of your Instagram Stories
The recent change in Instagram’s algorithm has made marketers scrambling to become visible in feeds. Just like Facebook, the organic content no longer appears in reverse chronological order. Instagram now fills up the news feed with the posts from profiles a user is most interested in based on their engagement. Here again, the Stories are a big benefit because of the slow adoption rate of users. If a user only has 10% of followers posting to stories, you have a much higher chance of being seen, which means a regular story from your business's page, would most likely show up on the top bar of the users who follow you.
How to make Instagram Stories
Making a story on Instagram is extremely easy to do. Just click on your profile icon on the top left or swipe right on the home page and capture your content. Your device will likely ask to use your camera. For the video, hold down the camera button as long as you’d like, which can go up to 10 seconds.
Instagram provides these options for recording:
Live: Share live videos with your followers in real time and once finished, the content no longer exists on Instagram.
Normal: Post a video or single image to your story, through the standard Instagram lens.
Boomerang: Use Boomerang to share a short video that plays forward and backward on repeat.
Hands-free: Record video without having to keep the record button pushed down (tap to stop recording).
Each story created with Normal, Boomerang and Hands-free mode, stays for 24 hours.
The recently released Instagram Albums feature works best in conjunction with the Instagram Stories. Once you’ve saved a story or you want to export it to your regular post grid, you can combine up to 10 of your images and videos into a single album for posting. This helps in keeping posts of a single story together, thus helping you keep your profile neat.
We’ll talk more of the various features of Instagram Stories later in this blog.
How can Businesses use Instagram Stories for Marketing?
Let’s get some inspiration from these creative ideas:
1. Showcase New Products
There are so many fun ways you could use Instagram Stories to launch a new product. A series of images, like a carousel ad, where each of the images shows off the new feature/aspect of the product. You can even do an unboxing of the new product so that customers know exactly what they will get when they get their own hands on the new product.
The beauty and wellness brand Oriflame launched their new eyeshadow palettes via Instagram stories.
2. Turn Blog content into Mini-articles
If you’re looking for a new way to display your editorial content, all you need to do is break your content into a few slides to display visually as Instagram Stories.
You can use a graphic design software to create images and then upload them in a sequence similar to your blog’s story. Start with the cover image, move on with key points for engagement and a conclusion image with a call to action link directing to your blog because links in Insta-Stories are clickable.
Shopify made use of this technique to promote their blog on Instagram.
3. Show your product in action (tips and tricks)
Give people ideas for using your product or show them what they can do or create with the product. The content should entice people to purchase your product or service. If you can do that in an entertaining and genuine way, you’ll be able to draw more people to your website and avoid potentially annoying them with aggressive sales messages. Always offer a way for people to get more information if they want. Make them click on the website link you provided, by not sharing all the information in your story!
Makeup advice page birchbox showcased the various shades of lipsticks from MAKE through Instagram Stories.
4. Host an Instagram takeover
An Instagram takeover is when a special guest is invited to temporarily take control of a brand or organization’s Instagram account, often providing a glimpse into their lives or a behind-the-scenes look at a certain event. It’s a fun exercise that draws special attention from your audience, as well as the audience of the guest doing the takeover. Takeovers are special because they act as a partnership to provide a mutually beneficial exchange of value. It can be a key tactic for growing your audience.
5. Go Live or Tease a Facebook Live event
Live videos are extremely engaging. They allow brands to show their culture or broadcast an event. The best part is that your followers get notified when you go live.
Besides, you may also use it in conjunction with Facebook live. Post an Instagram Story about a Facebook Live event to get more viewers for your live feed. Create a brief teaser story that gives a taste of what the Facebook Live event will be and include a link for the people to attend it. Use one platform to promote the other and get more engagement on both sides.
We at StatusbrewHQ recently organized a meet-up event '#LifeAtStatusbrew' for the university students to experience how it's like to work at a start-up. Here's a compilation video of the Instagram Stories we published to share the event preparations.
6. Valuable Q&A’s and User Feedbacks
People love to hear what the specialists have to say about a topic or a situation. You can do it on Instagram as brands do on Twitter chats. Post a photo or video to let your community know about your short Q&A (or call it Instachat). Include when it happens and what it is about.
Don’t forget to take the user feedback at the end to make both a personal connection and work on improvements for the next time.
Photographer Jeffrey Gerson used Instagram Stories for Q&A round with his audience.
7. Limited Offers and Giveaways
Special offers seem extra-special when combined with the unique benefits of Instagram stories. The scarcity of Instagram stories gives the power to distribute your business’ special offers so that your branding efforts deliver a better result. The time-critical nature of the Instagram story engenders a sense of urgency for your customers and potential sales lead. They’re far more likely to pay attention in a fear to miss it out before the story expires.
You may post a ‘coupon’ with a link to redeem the offer or ask users to reply right away via DM to avail the offer. Using messages provides another touch point for engagement and another chance for customers to develop a deeper relationship with your brand.
Famous Indian shopping website Flipkart uses Instagram Stories to display latest sales and offers.
8. Celebrate Company Milestones
Got a company milestone coming up? Create a story to highlight your company occasion and look back on all of the great things your company has accomplished. Add variety to the story by interviewing customers or employees about their best company memories. At the same time, remember to stay on brand! Reflect your brand’s personality with the right colors and tone, and keep in mind that the employees who appear in your video are the face of the company.
Every business has a lot of stories to tell than we realize. Treating them like exciting events is a great way to humanize your brand and keep your customers interested in what you do.
9. Announce News
Making the announcement on Instagram Stories reinforces the idea that people who watch your content are important to you. The news could be anything from a new release to a change in your pricing. This encourages your audience to continue watching future installments plus, it’s a great opportunity to get followers excited about your news.
Fashion website Koovs announced its Disney collection via an amazing set of Instagram Stories.
Instagram Stories features (and how to use them?)
Let’s have a look at some of the great features Instagram Stories has to offer to enhance the overall experience.
Unlike Snapchat, Instagram Stories lets you add as much text as you want to your story images or videos. Simply tap anywhere on the screen to start typing. Moreover, bring out your inner artist by experimenting with various font colors, sizes and alignments.
Instagram offers customizable sticker options besides the regular emojis to add fun graphics to your content. With various stickers like the location, weather or time of posting, each customizable sticker offers several options which can be cycled between by tapping on the sticker, once it’s in place. Other sticker options include enhancements such as glasses and hats. Instagram occasionally offers seasonal stickers for a limited time. You can add as many stickers as you like to your photos or videos.
Mentions and Links
Unlike Snapchat, Instagram Stories lets you add links or mention other users in your Story. It works pretty much the same way as with regular Instagram posts. Simply tap Aa to add text, then type the @ symbol followed by a username or a working shortened link. When someone watching your Story taps the mention or the link, they’ll see a pop-up that takes them to the mentioned user’s profile or the link’s address. On Instagram Business profiles, the links bring up an option to Swipe-Up the screen to view the link, without leaving the app.
Filters and Drawing
Just like regular Instagram posts, you can add various Filters to your Stories. Once you’ve shot an image or a video, just swipe the screen left or right to cycle through the available filters.
Besides filters, you can unleash your inner artist by tapping on the marker icon in the top-right corner, and select chisel-tip or neon brush tools. Using one or more of these, you can draw what your heart desires. You can also change the line thickness and colors as per your need.
Like content posted in the main feed, Instagram offers business insights on their Stories post as well. Brands using a business profile on Instagram have access to Reach, Impressions, Replies and Exits for individual Stories, while the regular profiles offer just the number of views and the list of viewers.
Using Instagram Stories for your business shows that you’re not only knowledgeable about new social media trends, but also agile enough to apply them to your own business. These were some of the ideas I could think of for leveraging Instagram Stories for your Business growth. I bet you would have a lot more practices that you can use on Instagram Stories for your Content Marketing strategy. Let me know in the comments what you think about Instagram Stories and how you will approach this new feature.