So, Instagram Stories has been around for a few months now and I think it’s safe to say it’s here to stay. Having had the opportunity to play with Instagram Stories myself, and to watch what others do with it, here’s a few ideas of how to effectively use Instagram Stories for your business.
What is it?
Instagram Stories allows users to share a chronological slideshow of videos and pictures with their friends on the platform. On both formats, these streams disappear after 24 hours and can be enhanced with drawings, text and emojis. According to the company (which is owned by Facebook), more than 100 million people are using it every day!
So, how do you make the most of it if you’re a business owner?
1. Showcase special offers – Got a limited time discount, or a one off sale? Tell your followers. Refer them back to the link in your bio, which will take them to a specific landing page for the offer. The point to remember here, is that an Instagram Story will only be around for 24 hours and so it will instil a sense of urgency in your followers.
2. Give ‘behind the scenes’ and creative insights into your business – With the new Stories feature, your followers can see what inspires you to share the photos you post, see how and where their favourite products are made, or see who is behind the creativity. Whether it’s an early design sketch, a video of you visiting the manufacturer behind your product, or simply a high-quality product shot of the final item, these glimpses into your creative process can build a new level of trust with your audience.
3. Invite people to message you – Have your followers use Instagram’s Direct Message (DM) feature to claim your offer. Ask your followers to reply right away to one of your Instagram stories via DM. For example, you could say, “Send us a DM in reply to this story and we’ll send you the coupon”. Using messages provides another method of engagement and another chance for customers to develop a deeper relationship with your business.
4. Host an Insta Chat or a Take Over – Invite a person of interest or importance to run your account for a few hours. A wedding decoration hire company could takeover the account of a wedding photographer… The wedding hire company could create content about how to dress a venue. The photographer could create content that shows how certain decorations can make fantastic photos. Takeovers can expose your audience to new content, expand your reach, and help you increase your useful following. People love to hear what the specialists have to say about a topic or a situation and so an Insta Chat could work easily as well. An Insta Chat is essentially a short Q and A – your followers send in the questions and you answer them through Instagram Story posts.
5. Offer advice, tips and tricks – If there’s a major news story or trend impacting your industry, break down important facts into a series of images overlaid with captions offering context. Put a twist on the traditional product demo with a series of how-to images. It’s a great way to tell the audience that your brand is a specialist in your field and can help without asking for anything in return. The key is to tap into the experience your product / service creates – the solution, not the product / service. Starting a dialogue by sharing tips or advice will show your followers that you care about them.
And that’s not all – there’s new features on Instagram Stories
Instagram has made a trio of updates to Stories:
1. The ability for users and businesses to add links. Instagram said that adding links will “allow people to go deeper on content they see in stories. For example, a musician can link to her new song, or a media company can link to an article”. This feature will begin as a test with verified accounts only. You will spot the ‘See More’ links at the bottom of some stories when this is being used.
2. The ability to create a Boomerang directly within a Story – Boomerang takes a burst of photos and stitches them together into a high-quality mini video that plays forward and backward. Previously, you needed the app to create a Boomerang, but now all you have to do is swipe left below the record button when creating a Story.
3. The ability to add ‘@ mentions’ in Stories – You can now share who you’re with or thinking of in a particular Story by tagging them with an @ mention. Mentioning people in stories works the same as it does in captions and comments. When you add text to your story, type “@” followed by a username and select the person you’d like to mention. Their username will appear underlined in your story. And when someone taps the mention, they’ll see a pop-up that takes them to that profile.
How will you use Instagram Stories?
These five ideas on how to effectively use Instagram Stories for your business are just the start. I bet that you can find another few 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.
Because of social media channels like Instagram, today’s audiences expect more from your business’ storytelling. If you’re a Norfolk business owner who is stuck for ideas or maybe you don’t know how to make the most of social media for your business, GET IN TOUCH to discuss how we can help.