More than 250 million people use Instagram’s Stories feature, and it’s steadily growing faster than it was since the beginning of the year. It’s just over a year old, and has taken over Snapchat in popularity, but it begs the question – are you using it as part of your brand’s social media strategy?
Instagram Stories is flourishing, and even Forbes Magazine reported back in May 2017 that influencers were seeing an average of 6-10% of their followers open their Instagram Stories on a daily basis – an incredibly high engagement rate. So what exactly is Instagram Stories, and why do you need it?
Stories on Instagram are temporary videos or photos that are strung together to form a slideshow gallery that tells – you guessed it – a story. Instagram has built its reputation and success around being a social platform that delivers polished visuals with a variety of filters, and now Stories helps users capture everything in between to create a bigger, richer story than just a series of individual photos can provide.
Instagram Stories helps you create authentic content for your followers and builds up the personality of your brand. Posting lots of content is great, but you don’t want to annoy everyone by posting too much. Instagram Stories is on a whole new level because it allows you to post as many videos or photos to your story as you want – without affecting your main news feed.
You and your brand can have a lot of fun with Instagram Stories, that’s for sure. If you're in a creative industry, the feature allows you to show off your ideas. For example, if you run a Hair Salon, Stories is an opportunity to share all five angles of a new hair colour or hair style you’ve just spent hours doing on a client – why post just one individual photo, when you can tell a story through five different images of the same client, in the same post?
Try showing some behind-the-scenes videos to give a taste of the people working in your business, or the clients/custoemrs that come in on a regular basis. You can make them live too (much like Facebook’s live video feature). One idea is to give audiences a sneak peak of a new product you’ve just had delivered, an editorial photoshoot you’re attending, or step-by-step ‘how to’ guides. Light-hearted as well as exclusive content works extremely well and builds trust with your followers. Instagram Stories lets you humanise your brand.
Another interactive idea for a live Instagram Stories video is a simple interview with a customer while they are in your business. Ask them what they’re looking for today, why they’re excited to be there, and what makes them come back time and time again.
Instagram Stories is a great extension to the platform. Posts are generally more well-groomed and strategic, whereby Stories is a great way to truly show what your business is all about. But what makes the feature even more appealing is that it has a temporary 24-hour time frame. This can give your brandthe benefit of creating a buzz around a special promotion you might like to give and gets viewers to take decisive action quickly by booking an appointment, purchasing an exclusive product or even just to visit your website and take action in another sort of way.
Stories gives your business the potential the experience increased digital exposure, especially if you interact with other users after posting to your story. Live video, for example, is extremely engaging, and though Instagram Stories does not (yet) allow for a long, uninterrupted broadcast like Facebook Live, it does allow your business to make your Instagram account the place to go for live, interactive content.
Instagram Stories doesn’t allow for anyone to publicly comment or like on your Story. If a viewer wants to respond, they need to tape the ‘send message’ icon on your post to chat with you directly. You might be thinking this is a bad idea – on the contrary. It’s actually wonderful, because more people will start using Instagram Direct, and you won’t have to measure your worth by likes and comments. If you don’t want anyone to respond to your story, the setting is easily changed.
One-third of the most viewed Stories come from businesses according to Hootsuite in February 2017, and one in five gets a direct message from its viewers. Those are impressive engagement numbers!
There are so many exciting ways you can capture your audience’s imagination with Instagram Stories. It’s something your business should be using as customers crave more inventive content to watch and interact with. Experiment with content and test out what works best, because Instagram Stories is the perfect social media feature that lets you bring new ideas to the table.