I remember when Instagram Stories first arrived, and there was UPROAR from Snapchat enthusiasts! “Did Instagram SERIOUSLY just copy Snapchat? How unoriginal!" Now, It's hard to imagine the IG platform without the scroll of moment to moment Stories at the top of the feed.
Our team loves Instagram Stories for brands. They offer a sneak peek behind the scenes that every follower wants! The beauty of Instagram Stories is that they are temporary, and don't need to match the same pristine mood and aesthetic of a user's profile feed. This gives brands the opportunity to be very flexible with what they share on their Stories vs. the curated content used in permanent Instagram posts. With the different purposes for Stories and regular IG posts, users have more incentive to spend extra time on the platform, and hopefully on your content!
If your brand has over 10k followers, you're really in luck as you are able to attach blog and ecommerce links directly to your story updates. This is a huge benefit as Instagram still doesn't allow active links in photo caption.
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 a much more private sharing experience.
Incorporating regular Story updates into your Instagram strategy helps keep your brand top of mind, and also distinguish it as trendy and authentic. While the best Instagram posts (on the feed) are value filled and aesthetically beautiful, the best IG Stories are completely in the moment and candid. Take the opportunity on your Story to share User Generated Content, influencer updates, and fun videos from your team! IG Stories offer the perfect delivery method to develop conversations with your audience, that may not happen through any other platform or post.
When and where should you post Instagram 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.
Some Instagram Stories can be planned out to discuss a specific theme... like sustainability and why your company chooses to use only aluminum cans for your beverages instead of plastic bottles. This type of update could include text only Story slides, or a live video meant to educate and inform. Other times, the best Stories are completely in the moment. For example, you're at Expo West, and meet a super famous and inspirational nutrition influencer. You snap a selfie with her and post it to your IG Story to brag (while also tagging the influencer)!
Instagram Stories are meant to be fun. Natural. Authentic! Use them as a tool to highlight your brand's true personality.
Top 9 Tips for Posting the Most Engaging Instagram Stories:
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 and affiliate codes ( P.S. 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 others. Will there be an office wide taste testing on Wednesday to decide the next product flavor? Video it! 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 your profile page.
Create Instagram 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 poses, meditation tips, healthy food inspiration, and favorite yoga products. While not all of these highlight tabs are specifically yoga focused, they are still in the realm of similar interests 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… https://help.instagram.com/813938898787367
4.) Share educational live videos.
Once again, keep Instagram 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 says "You've Got This!" was finally hung 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any Instagram Story song requests). Instructions on how to add music to your story follow here… https://www.adweek.com/digital/instagram-heres-how-to-create-a-music-post-on-instagram-stories/
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... https://www.adweek.com/digital/instagram-heres-how-to-use-the-questions-sticker-in-stories/
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... https://www.adweek.com/digital/instagram-added-mention-sharing-to-photos-videos-in-stories/
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... https://www.adweek.com/digital/instagram-heres-how-to-share-someones-post-to-your-story/
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.