Since the launch of Instagram Stories over a quarter of a billion users including businesses are using the platform to grow brand awareness, increase traffic and expand their social media reach.
Thanks to Stories, Instagram is now the fastest growing social media network and one of the most popular ways to engage with an audience. Instagram Stories work as an engagement tool because Stories are exclusive, time-limited content that when done correctly no-one will want to miss out on.
FOMO—fear of missing out—happens when great content is created but the lifespan is limited. If an Instagram Story is just an ordinary picture with no added value users will switch off especially if it’s being sold as something exclusive. So whether you are adding photos or videos to your Story just make sure you’re adding value.
Here are some ways you can add value to your Instagram Stories and increase engagement.
Consider live broadcasting if you’ve got an event or something you can share in real time. Your followers will be notified that you’re live and when you’re done you can save the video, share it to Stories for 24 hours or delete it. If you know something is going to happen and you really want to get that FOMO going use Stories to advertise ahead of time and once you’ve done it delete the broadcast so only your live followers get access to that content – it’ll create heaps of interest for your next live video.
Instagram has some seriously cool video effects and tools to help users get creative and produce sensational content: Boomerang, Stop Motion, Superzoom and Hands-Free.
Boomerang loops up to three seconds of video so it’s perfect for promos, ads and general japes.
Remember those flip-book cartoons we used to make at school? Well Stop Motion is the video version of that, seamlessly knitting several images together to make a cool video that goes way beyond the stickman you’d jot on your grid-paper maths book.
Superzoom video incrementally zooms in on your subject, which is great for creating drama or for some observational comedy but the real beauty of superzoom is that you can add a soundtrack and create mini-movies.
Hands-Free mode is great if you want to set your camera up to film video for you and don’t have a buddy on hand to help (pun absolutely intended and I’m not even sorry). All you need to do is set your camera up where you want it and shout “ACTION!” (purchase of a Director’s Chair and clapperboard entirely optional but totally necessary if you really want to commit.)
Instagram Stories is all about the flourishes and extras: the stickers, the polls, the location tags, hashtags, text, colours and filters. The options are endless and the more fun you can make your Stories the better the engagement.
Posting a simple photo is usually a no-no for Stories; it’s not unique or exclusive enough to warrant a 24-hour countdown to deletion. Thankfully you can add some funk to your posts with stickers and even turn your own photos into stickers.
Have some fun with text and drawings. The pen tool will help you add embellishments and doodles or to highlight words. Use text to add a pithy quote, description, teaser or observation to your image or video and don’t be shy to add some panache to your text with rainbow colours, backgrounds and strokes.
Finally, add locations, hashtags and polls to your Stories. Locations and hashtags will make your Stories more searchable and two-choice polls can help ramp up engagement as they easy to take and just as easy to share. It’s far simpler for someone to tap on a poll than it is to write a comment and often the simplest data is the best when gauging customer interest for products or services. Plus polls are innately friendlier than requests for feedback.
Final thoughts and feelings
Firstly, make sure your Instagram Stories are shareable otherwise what’s the point? It’s like having really great news but only telling one person and swearing them to secrecy. “Hey, I graduated top of my class but don’t tell Dad because I thrive on the expectation of disappointment.”
And as with all content, keep it fresh and regular. Don’t post something once and then come back in a few weeks. Line-up content regularly and evenly spaced. Unlike other platforms you won’t need to time your updates for certain times as they’ll appear in your newsfeed for up to 24 hours.
Finally, have fun with it! Instagram Stories is engaging because it is fun and the time limit gives you licence to be creative and try new things.