How to use Instagram Stories for your Business

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Instagram Stories is a marketing channel that’s gaining steam, fast. Similar to Snapchat’s platform, Instagram Stories is a feature that is embedded into the normal app and lets you post videos and photo series in 10-second chunks that disappear after 24 hours. After launching last year, Stories is used by over 250 million people. Instagram Stories has one of the highest rates of engagement between brands and consumers, with one in five stories resulting in a direct message. This is big news for companies hoping to increase their brand awareness and connect more closely with their customers.

You’ve got ten seconds

Well, in fact you have as many seconds as you want - but they’ll be broken up into ten second chunks. Instagram stories can be a combination of video and photos, taken directly from your phone or uploaded from something you’ve made in advance.

One of the big features of Stories (like Snapchat) is that they disappear after 24 hours, making them particularly useful for promoting flash sales or creating a sense of urgency. When you create a story on Instagram, you can use hashtags to connect you to your brand, and mention other users. You can also add stickers, emojis, text and line drawings onto photos and video, which allow you to make your stories stand out (please don’t get tacky, though) and add a call to action.

When someone views your story, they can swipe up to send you a direct message. This is a great feature for businesses, because you can encourage people to engage directly with you.

For a closer look at each feature, check this post out.

Making the most of your Instagram Stories

Here are a few general tips for helping your business do well with Instagram stories.

Stay on brand

This can mean a lot of things, but you should always be thinking “what do viewers learn about my company when they see this” for all of your content. Besides putting your logo on your content, you can use stories to show off a particular quality - is your brand quirky and approachable? Is it luxury and stylish? Your Stories should support this.

Be wise about when you post

Because Instagram Stories only last for 24 hours, you should post them at a time when your main customer base is awake and using Instagram. This can be a bit tricky to find out - but basically, don’t send a “hey gurl u up?” story at 4am.

Post, tag, and mention a lot

Unlike posting regular photos, Instagram doesn’t restrict how often you can post a Story. The more you post, the more likely you are to end up at the top of your viewers’ feeds. Adding hashtags and mentions help Instagram know who might be interested in your Story, and you could end up on their Explore page. If you’re on an Explore page, you’ve got thousands of new people who are seeing your content.

Prep talk

While there are plenty of reasons you’d want to post a natural and candid video (say, if you’re attending an event or meeting a customer), you should also prepare some of your content in advance. You can design banners and photos with your brand logo and look using a free editor like Canva or PicMonkey and upload them to your Story.

Mix it up

Instagram Stories are a great platform to mix up the type of content you have. You can do a combination of promotions for sales and fun, insightful posts.

Crank it up to 11

Use sound! 70% of Instagram videos are watched with the sound turned on. This means a good soundtrack, talking on the video, or the existing sounds of the event you’re at can add to your content.

Don’t forget to leave your number

A call to action is crucial for all content you post. Do you want people to go to your website from the link in your bio? DM you to unlock a promotion or find out more? Comment on your latest post? Let your viewers know what kind of engagement you’re asking for.

And here’s where we pick up the story

Here are a few basic ideas of what kinds of stories you can make that can increase customer engagement. But the most important thing is to get creative, and be specific! Stories are a good way to have a short and snappy bit of media work in your favour.

Build anticipation for a new release

You can stretch out your message over the course of several photos, with each photo containing one or two words. Try announcing a new product or a sale in an Instagram Story, with the release date or sale code on the last photo.

Time’s up

Make a discount code that is only available until the end of the 24 hour story. Those that manage to get the discount code will feel extra special.

Show what you’re up to behind the scenes

One common type of Story is to simply point your video camera on the production end. Introduce a colleague who is in the process of making your product, or show off your offices. Keep it short, fun and specific - and always leave a call to action at the end.

Peek into an event

If you’re going to a trade fair, conference or other type of industry event, Stories are an awesome way to give a buzz of what’s going on. Film a speaker you’re inspired by, introduce people you’re meeting or even narrate why you’re there while filming your surroundings.

Ask for DMs to get the goods

Promoting items with special offers is a good use of Instagram Stories, but one way to up your engagement is to require collection by direct messaging your company, rather than clicking on a link. This gives you an opportunity to say hi, put a friendly face to your company, and maybe even ask another question about your customer.

Looking for more ideas? Take a look at these examples.

Ready to start using Instagram Stories?

Here’s a good step-by-step guide on how to actually make or upload a video or photo series for Instagram Stories. Don’t see Stories as an option on your Instagram? Try this troubleshooting guide.

We’d love to know how Instagram Stories helped your business - or what you’re looking to do next with your social media marketing. Get in touch with Elkfox for help on all types of marketing and digital design.

Images via @realisationpar, @glossier, @fme_apparel, @christydawn