Instagram Stories: How to Use to Maximize Your Success

Instagram Stories: How to Use to Maximize Your Success

This August, Instagram Stories celebrated its 2nd birthday! Doesn’t it feel like this feature was rolled out just a couple of months ago? I remember when Instagram Stories first arrived on the platform, and there was UPROAR from Snapchat enthusiasts! “Did Instagram SERIOUSLY just copy Snapchat? How unoriginal! Why would I post a story on Instagram when I could just post a normal Instagram picture or share a story on my Snapchat?”

In the beginning, the confusion amongst users made sense. Now, as hindsight is always 20/20, we can see that Instagram was making a smart move. The addition of Instagram stories has given users yet another way to deliver content to their followers, and also more of an incentive to spend lots of time on the platform. On top of it all, influencers and businesses with over 10k followers are able to connect with their audience in a more valuable way as blogs and online store links can be connected directly to story updates. This was a huge plus as Instagram still doesn't allow links in photo captions. Some social media users have even changed their minds and habits from favoring Snapchat to actually utilizing Instagram for sharing moments. The beauty of Instagram stories is that they don’t need the same mood and aesthetic as a user’s Instagram feed, giving the user more freedom to post 24 hours of temporary content that wouldn’t match their permanent feed.

Why should you use Instagram Stories for your business?

The real question is…“Why not?” Instagram stories are an incredibly organic way to share content that can be found by not only your followers, but also everyone searching hashtags you use. This is a huge benefit compared to Snapchat stories, which provide more of a private sharing experience. Getting people to actually follow a branded Snapchat account AND watch story updates can be incredibly difficult, whereas it feels much more natural and can be much more successful on Instagram.

Sharing regular Instagram posts can be a valuable strategy to help your brand distinguish itself as cool, trendy, and aesthetically pleasing. The best Instagram stories, however, are CANDID, which equals GOLD. Natural, in the moment content posted to your businesses Instagram story is the perfect content to develop conversation with your audience, that may not happen through any other platform or post.

When and where should you post stories?

This is a short and sweet answer… anytime, anywhere! This could be the best part about Instagram stories. Because the content posted to a story only lasts for 24 hours, there isn’t a “perfect” time to post in order to rig the system and get more engagement. Also, since the best story content is candid, it basically means you put planning to the minimum and literally post… well… in the moment! Shocking, I know! There really aren’t perfect places to film story content, as it isn’t planned, but instead you could post images and videos in your favorite coffee shops, in your office, and elsewhere in your business’ hometown.

How do you post the most engaging stories? Here are my top 9 tips…

1.) Keep product shots on the LOW end.

Instagram Stories aren’t the best place to post professional product shots…. Sure product shots can work when utilizing influencers posting links to your product with affiliate codes ( SIDENOTE: check out our other recent blog where we discuss how affiliate marketing has changed with the intro of influencers), but really, business stories need to feel unscripted and natural.

2.) Feature employees and internal company moments.

People love being able to relate to other people. Will there be an office wide taste testing on Wednesday to decide the next coffee flavor? Video it! Does someone in the office have a funny habit or nickname? Tell the world through your story! A great example of a business that shares company culture through their Instagram stories is “The Skimm.” Check them out for a good time.

3.) Utilize the highlight tabs on profile page.

Create stories that strike a chord with your target audience, and save them onto various “highlight” tabs on your profile. Over time, you will be able to develop archives of great stories onto these highlights, which basically allow you to feature your favorite stories forever, instead of just 24 hours. Make your highlight tabs relevant to both your company, and your target audience. If you’re a yoga studio, your tabs could include titles such as yoga moves, meditation tips, healthy food inspiration, and favorite yoga practice products. While not all of these highlight tabs are specifically yoga focused, they are still in the same realm and would apply to your audience very well. If you need help learning how to save a story onto a highlight tab, follow this link…

4.) Share educational live videos.

Once again, keep stories candid!!! This spur of the moment posting could include breaking news within your company such as a new product launch, a store renovation, or the pretty LED sign that was just put up. Always remember to educate your audience!!! Education can be anything from news, to DIY tips and tricks related to your product.

5.) Add music to your Instagram story.

This is a fun one. Now, whenever you take a video for your Instagram story that has poor sound, you can just replace the background noise with any song of your choice. I can’t wait until my next event in Boulder to take a video of the Flatirons with some majestic song in the background. (Taking suggestions… please email with any Instagram Story song requests). Instructions on how to add music to your story follow here…

6.) Incorporate the "Question" sticker.

Want to develop a conversation with your audience? Put a question sticker in your story. This is a great way to give your followers a voice with minimal effort. It also allows your brand to hear the opinions of the REAL decision makers… the consumers. If you’re not sure how to post the specific question sticker allowing your viewers to comment back immediately follow this link...

7.) Tag people and places. Always.

Tagging people and places, in both your regular Instagram posts and stories, is a great way to get more exposure and engagement. Always remember, people love seeing themselves, and others that they know. People also love seeing you in places they mutually love. I can’t even count how many times I have messaged friends saying something like, “I’ve been there too! Love their lavender lattes and chocolate croissants!” Also, as if engagement wasn’t enough, Instagram *cough*FACEBOOK*cough*, rewards posts that include more information such as tagged people and pinned places. Keep in mind, there is a specific mention sticker (labeled @Mention) on Instagram Stories that allows you to tag other accounts, and will notify them in case they want to repost. They are not able to repost your story, however, if you simply type their name in the text instead of the @Mention sticker. Follow this link to learn more about how to use this sticker...

8.) Share posts that you are tagged in.

Building off of the tip above to tag every person and place in your story, utilizing the @Mention sticker, if YOU are tagged in another user’s story, make sure to share it on your own account! It’s always great to see that others have interest in your brand, and sharing that exposure is a part of the game and makes your brand enthusiasts feel recognized. Follow this link if you need help learning how to share a story you are tagged in...

9.) Collaborate with Influencers.

Working alongside an influencer could be exactly what your brand needs. Collaborating with specific influencers to post about your products could allow your brand to have more recognition amongst your target audience. Bringing influencer marketing to a deeper level, planning a takeover where the influencer of your choice has control over your company’s Instagram stories for a day, could drive more traffic and followers to your page.




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