Users interact more with brands on Instagram than on other social media platforms, so it’s important to expand online marketing efforts on Instagram. In August of 2016, Instagram rolled out a new feature known as Instagram Stories. Read on to learn more about how to leverage features like Instagram Stories to enhance your online visual and social content.

Photo Credit: http://blog.instagram.com/post/148348940287/160802-stories

What are Instagram Stories?

If you’re a Snapchat user, you’ll be familiar with the idea behind Instagram Stories. Stories on Instagram are slideshows made up of visual content (photos or video). Each piece of content only lasts for fifteen seconds, and as a whole, stories only appear on the platform for up to twenty-four hours. (In other words, Stories aren’t directly published to a user’s profile, so they aren’t accessible after they’re gone.)

Features like this one were once only unique to Snapchat. However, now users can create Stories on Instagram and on Facebook. Another difference between Stories and normal Instagram posts is that users cannot like or comment on content in Stories. They can, however, direct message the Story creator.

Why Make Instagram Stories?

First of all, Stories are highly visible. When you post a Story, your profile photo will appear at the top of your followers’ feeds on Instagram. Additionally, users engage with Stories. As users flip through your Story, they can direct message you. You’ll be able to see at which point during the Story they decided to message you. You can also add information to pieces of your Story such as hashtags, location, and URLs for users to follow. As you post Stories and build your online presence, your Instagram Stories will expand brand awareness. Your followers can also choose to share your Stories with their friends via direct message. (Just be sure to check your message requests, so you don’t miss any new communication

Not only are Instagram Stories engaging, but they can also be used for pre-testing content. If you post a Story and specific images or videos get a lot of attention, you can choose to publish content from your Story to your profile. If content performed well in the Story, it’s likely that it will perform well on your profile and encourage engagement. Always check the analytics on your Stories, like how many messages you receive and views, to see what’s working and what isn’t working with your audience. The more engaging content you can push to your profile, the more likes, comments, and followers you will gain.

Tips for Creating Compelling Instagram Stories

So once you’re ready to create Instagram Stories, the first step is to adjust your settings to your own needs. If you want users to be able to direct message you from your Stories, then you need to enable that feature under Settings. You can also edit who can see your Stories.

Mix Up Your Content

Like with any other form of content online, make sure that you provide a mix of content and bring variety to the table. Repetitive content isn’t going to get you noticed on a visual platform like Instagram. Strategically curate your content and set up a content schedule for each month. To save time and make sure your content is varied, you can schedule your Instagram posts for the entire month in one day.

Don’t Be Shy with Stickers

Make your Instagram Stories fun and different by adding stickers and emojis on top of your photos and videos. You can even create still images using solid colored backgrounds and adding stickers and emojis to communicate specific emotions and messages.

Photo Credit: https://www.imore.com/sites/imore.com/files/styles/xlarge/public/field/image/2017/03/instagram-stories-geostickers-1.jpg?itok=tjnOcjE0

There’s more options for stickers now than ever and some of them even add functionality to your Story. For example, you can add a poll sticker, so that viewers can vote Yes or No. Be sure to ask an engaging question with your visual content, so your followers will respond to your poll. A poll is another way to measure your engagement with other users.

The selfie sticker feature allows you to take a selfie and then make a sticker featuring your face. This personalizes the content and lets your audience get to know you. Your content will definitely be unique with addition of the selfie sticker.

Encourage Users to Shop Your Feed

Feature your products in your Instagram Stories, and let users know that they can purchase the items from the Shop the Feed link in your profile description. Take fun photos and videos with your products that illustrate to potential customers how they can use the products. This will increase not only our engagement but also your sales.

Rock Out

Add music to your Stories with your phone. It’s easier to do than it sounds. Just play music on your phone with a music app and then record your video. When you post the video, the music you were playing will be captured in your video.

Tag it Out

You wouldn’t post an image to Instagram without adding hashtags, right? You can also tag out your Instagram Story by adding text to your images. The hashtag will be searchable, even though it’s on the image (instead of in the caption of a traditional Instagram post). Hashtags allow you to brand your content, drive traffic to your Story, and contribute to trending topics and themes. For example, add a Day of the Week hashtag to your content, like Throwback Thursday, Motivation Monday, Words of Wisdom Wednesday, and Sunday Selfie.

Get Geographic

Use the new location stickers in your Story. It lets your audience know where your business is located, and your Story will also be visible to users browsing the Explore feature by location. Not only can you promote a new location, but you’ll also encourage local followers to visit your business for the first time.

Tell a Story

A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes it’s nice to have some freedom and more to work with. Instagram Stories are an opportunity to tell a story using the slideshow function. While marketing a business, you want to engage your audience by sharing a compelling story. Share your personality and what your brand is about. For example, Instagram Stories provide the opportunity to share behind-the-scenes content. Take photos of company events, share snapshots at a tradeshow, and share photos of historic or scenic spots the next time you take a business trip.

Photo Credit: https://maximizesocialbusiness.com/5-instagram-stories-ads-examples-learn-27291/

But don’t stop there. Vary the content and increase brand awareness by telling different types of stories. Some businesses feature their products in Instagram Stories. Use the slideshow to share education on your product and the features. Or answer a common question you get from your followers by featuring a Story that shares and explains the answer. Instagram Stories can also be used to push traffic to a website page or a blog post. Whatever story you decide to tell, be sure to keep it fun, interesting, and varied. To promote traffic to a specific web page, you can add a link to a photo or video in your Story; just tap on the paperclip icon while creating your Story and you’ll be able to add a URL.

Make it Stand Out

Use a mix of Instagram Story features and the tips and tricks detailed above. With any technique, you need to be sure that your Story stands out among the crowd. Use text, shading, highlighting, color, and pen thickness to make your content pop. Make sure it’s easy to read and visually pleasing. You can add backgrounds, use the eraser tool to make photo features stand out, and write words on your content with the pen tool.

You can also vary the format of your Story content. You can post normal videos, GIFs, still photos, make stopmotion animations, take a handsfree photo, and use the superzoom feature to zoom in on objects and people. You can even post a video that plays backwards.

Most Importantly, Have Fun!

The most important thing to remember is to have fun! Use Instagram to share your personality and to entertain. Instagram is a fun and playful platform where people go to find engaging content. No matter what your business is about, everyone enjoys photos of food, puppies, cats, and humorous content. Be a responsible marketer, but don’t take yourself too seriously, and you’ll go far on social media.

Square 1 Group is a boutique web development firm that specializes in creating personalized, professional websites. We pride ourselves on providing individualized service and maintenance and support for our clients. Additionally, we offer other services, including search engine optimization, content creation, online marketing strategies, lead generation, and more. Feel free to contact us today to learn more.