Instagram recently announced that a whopping 15 million businesses now use the app as part of their social media marketing strategy. In this post we look at Instagram’s ‘Stories’ feature and how you can use it to really boost your company social media presence and engage new audiences.
Unlike normal Instagram posts, Instagram stories won’t appear on your public profile and last only 24 hours before being removed. There are three main types of story – image, video, or Boomerang which transforms a burst of photos into GIF-like animation. Just like standard Instagram posts, your story may appear as suggested under the Explore tab. If you add a hashtag or location sticker, your story could also appear in those specific story rings too – making stories a fresh way for new people to find and engage with your content.
Stories also give companies more opportunity to reach current followers. Since the changes to Instagram’s algorithm, ranking of posts in a followers’ feed is no longer just based on time of posting. A number of factors are said to be taken into account – whether the user regularly interacts with your account, if the content is similar to other content they engage with, and how popular the post itself is.
Combining posts and stories as part of your social media planning will give you the best chance of maintaining visibility in your followers’ feeds. Next, we’re going to look at some of the benefits and strategies you can adopt through Instagram stories to connect and engage with your audience.
Show off products
Use stories to create videos displaying your products in action. This is perfect for beauty and clothing brands to showcase items on different people or in various settings. If you’re a company selling handmade items, step-by-step ‘how it’s made’ stories are a great way to share the creative process behind your product.
Stories can also be used to promote certain pages or products on your website or online shop. If you have a verified account, you can add links via your story directing to your website or product landing page. Above, @urbanoutfitters promote their metallic collection with attention-grabbing imagery and a direct link to shop right away. Even without a verified business account, you can direct followers to a link placed in your bio instead.
Take it live
As well as uploading past recordings, you can share unfiltered live moments right from your phone. Your followers will receive a push notification to their device as soon as you go live (unless they have actively turned this off), which drives your audience to tune in right away. You can live stream for up to an hour, and your story will disappear as soon as the session is over – although you can choose to share the recording for an extra 24 hours.
Live stories are great for music artists to give a sneak peek of a new track – or for companies to live stream from a product release or other promotional event. @sigmabeauty use live streaming above to promote their new collection of make-up brushes. The addition of live chat means businesses also often use stories for Q&As in real-time and even Instagram ‘takeovers’ with special guests. After ending your broadcast, the in-app insights display how many of your followers tuned into the stream. You can use the percentage of viewers vs total follower count to track the engagement and success of all your live sessions.
Announce company news
Let your followers know about new releases through stories, or create a sense of urgency with time-limited offers that end when your story expires. These are a great way to get people excited and keep followers opening and interacting with your stories. Due to Instagram’s algorithm, the more your follower engages the higher the ranking of your stories – so the greater presence you’ll have in their feed in future.
A perfect example of a promotion with stories is shown above, from @coyo_uk. They use beautiful imagery and a short snappy title to give attention to their giveaway in partnership with @lani_hair. By following the mention within the story, their audience can learn more about the promotion in a couple of taps.
Connect with your audience
Stories can help to humanise your company and express your brand in a fun and genuine way. They’re an opportunity to post authentic, raw content which is much more immersive and allows followers to better connect to you. Businesses often share behind-the-scenes videos of company life and team events through stories. Check out the below story during a shoot day with @nobodyschild for a great example of this. You can add even more personality by getting creative with filters, stickers and pens.
Stories also allow people to reply directly via DM, which makes them the perfect place to get chatting to your followers. Asking for feedback on current products or requesting opinions on future ideas can provide some really useful insights and also help fans feel involved.