Its been a few months since Instagram launched its latest feature, Instagram Stories. With this, you can upload images or videos to your live story that disappear after 24 hours. These stories appear at the top of the app instead of down in the usual feed. If you think that sounds familiar, that’s because this feature is very similar to Snapchat Stories. However, a benefit to businesses is that Instagram Stories are right there in the Instagram app. While there is no denying the popularity of Snapchat, it is still a fairly new way for people to connect with the brands that they love.
Instead, Instagram is a much more frequently used platform. You likely have a much larger audience on Instagram than Snapchat, and for that reason, Instagram Stories is a great way to engage with your audience. In fact, after only two months Instagram Stories reached 100 million daily active users. With this much popularity, businesses need to get on board with this feature. Here are some of the best ways you can use Instagram Stories for your brand.
1. Go Behind the Scenes
It is pretty well known that Instagram is known as a platform where people or brands post their “best” moments. Pictures that are high quality and interesting get posted, rather than more candid or messy shots (most of the time). However, Instagram Stories gives you the option to post those “less than perfect” moments. For example, if you are on set shooting images for a new product, you may pick one image to post to your Instagram. With Stories, you could post a variety of images and videos that take users behind the scenes and give them a more detailed look at what is going on. In fact, this concept of posting everything instead of just highlights is part of what fueled Instagram to create this feature in the first place.
There is also a concern that too many posts on Instagram will appear spammy to users, which is another reason why people usually only post once per day. Now you can post as much as you want to your story without worry of annoying your customers. All of your Stories are grouped in one place, and automatically disappear after 24 hours.
2. Promote Other Content
Instagram Stories is a great place to promote other content that you produce. For example, if you run a blog you can update your Story whenever a new post is up, just like the above example from Shopify. Consider posting the title of the article along with a short teaser to get people interested to read your content. Your audience on Instagram and audience that reads your blog may be different, so this is a great way to draw people from this platform to your website to see your other great content. And in fact, Instagram is currently testing out a feature that will let verified accounts post links within their story so that users can go directly to your content.
3. Feature Your Customers
It’s common knowledge at this point to include your customers in your social media. You should always be engaging with your audience by way of liking photos, reposting images, and commenting on posts that people share. Stories is a new way to interact with your audience. For example, they may produce a short “testimonial” video that you may want to post to your Story. Or, they may take photos or videos with your products that you also want to feature. Again, with this feature you can post as much as you want without fear of over posting, and you also don’t have to worry as much about quality control.
You likely have a very specific aesthetic to your Instagram page (and that’s a good thing). A user image may not quite fit that look or be of the quality you are looking for. Instead of posting to your feed, you can post it to your Story and not have to worry. Keep in mind that Instagram Stories lets you post photos and videos from your camera roll, so a user can send their content and you can post it easily. This is especially useful for ecommerce brands. Stories helps build that personal connection to your brand that can sometimes be hard to do when you are totally located online.
4. Exclusive Content
As with any new platform or tool, people may be slow to adopt using it. If you aren’t seeing a lot of engagement with your Stories (which you can monitor via the analytics that tells you how many people have viewed each Story you post), you might consider posting something exclusive. With something posted specifically to Instagram Stories, and nowhere else, you are encouraging users to look in order to get that specific content. Keep in mind that this content should provide value to your customers, so consider something like a discount code or a sneak peak of a new product. In the above example, J Crew advertised a new product via their Instagram Story and alerted their users when and where the sale would take place for the item.
5. Featured Products
Finally, use this tool as a way to take a more detailed look at the products you have. Again, there is only so much you can show in one image or video posted to your Instagram feed. With Instagram Stories, you can post a series of images and videos showing off and discussing your products. This is a chance for you to get creative, as there are plenty of fun editing tools you can use. Especially for ecommerce brands, you need to provide as much information to your customers as possible so that they feel confident making a purchase online. Instagram Stories will help you to show off your products and continue to build your brand image.