Instagram stories have grown increasingly popular, with high levels of views, engagement, and rising numbers of users creating their own stories. Considering Instagram’s ever changing algorithm, which some users believe has resulted in fewer views and likes, stories are especially important to help improve visibility on your content. Businesses especially should be taking advantage of Instagram stories as apart of their social media marketing strategy to engage with their current followers and to get more followers on Instagram.
What is an Instagram Story?
An Instagram story is a series of pictures and videos that is shared for only 24 hours. After 24 hours, the story disappears from your Instagram profile (unless you purposefully save it). Stories can feature captions with various fonts, stickers, GIFs, and much more. To refresh your knowledge on how to use Instagram stories, check out our guide to Instagram stories.
Why Should I Use Instagram Stories To Promote My Business?
Stories are discoverable on Instagram, meaning that even if you don’t follow a certain account you may see their story on Instagram’s explore pages, through hashtags, locations, or from other users sharing or responding to branded stories. Instagram stories are also more likely to reach more users because they are posted for 24 hours and easy to find at the top of Instagram’s newsfeed. Unlike normal posts, which need to be carefully timed at peak hours of activity to reach more viewers, stories are easily accessible during their 24 hour period.
Instagram stories also offer businesses a chance to share their brand aesthetic in a more informal medium; stories tend to be more casual than normal Instagram posts, giving brands a chance to share content that may not have been post-worthy. Instagram has reported that ⅓ of the most viewed stories come from businesses, so your business should start sharing stories if it isn’t already.
How To Use Instagram Stories for Business
Businesses and brands can take advantage of Instagram stories in a number of creative ways. How you choose to implement Instagram stories depends on your brand. Consider what makes sense for your business in terms of goals, products and services offered, and your brand image. The following ideas have proven successful for various brands on Instagram and may work for your business as well.
Host a Q&A on Your Instagram Story
A great way to engage with customers is to hold a question and answer session on your story. Instagram has added special features to their stories that make it easy to hold a Q&A: the question sticker makes it simple to start a dialogue with followers. Brands can post a story with the question sticker saying “Ask me a question”, allowing followers to respond with questions that they can then re-share and respond to on their story.
Another strategy is to ask your followers a question, like “What is your favorite product?” and allow them to respond; sharing their responses on your story shows real-time reviews and customer satisfaction.
You can also hold a live Q&A if you have a representative camera-ready. Simply go live on Instagram and respond to comments as they pour in. Just be careful if you do decide to host a live Q&A, as you’ll have to be prepared to answer whatever questions come in.
Shout Out Customers or Employees
Use Instagram stories to shout out customers. You can share user-generated content if customers tag your business, showing how you care about customers and encouraging others to share positive reviews in hopes of their post being shared as well.
You can also shout out employees, giving followers a behind-the-scenes look into your company and offering your employees some well-deserved appreciation for their hard work. This can humanize your brand and showcase the real people behind your business’ success.
Go Behind the Scenes
In the same vein as sharing an employee shoutout, you can go even further behind the scenes and share more about the inner workings of your business. Share a look into headquarters, show how products are created, or showcase your company culture in the office.
Host a Takeover
Another way to give customers a behind-the-scenes look into your business is to host a takeover. An employee could share a story about their normal day at work, or you could have a brand ambassador of some sort host a takeover where they show how they use your business’ product or service.
Share Brand News and Special Offers
If you have news to share about your brand, like a new product or a new store opening, share the news via Instagram story. This can give your followers a sneak peak of something new, and it allows for great engagement as users can respond to your stories or share them to their own story. You can also offer special deals to customers, whether it’s discounted items, coupons, giveaways, etc. Special offers will give users an incentive to follow you in hopes of similar offers in the future.
Engage with Customers
Aside from the “Ask me a question sticker,” there are other ways to engage with customers through your Instagram story. Use the poll sticker to create a poll for followers to answer, use the countdown sticker to hype up an upcoming sale, event, or product, or use the emoji slider to gauge customer love for a product or post.
Establish Your Brand Aesthetic
Instagram stories are generally more casual than posts, so stories are a great way to share or reinforce your brand aesthetic. You can post more stories than you can posts (without being annoying) so stories can help to further establish what your brand looks like and believes in. Since stories are less formal, you can share other news or fun facts that are not directly related to your brand, which can help show what your brand believes in or is interested in.
Instagram Story Ads
In between the stories that users follow, Instagram places sponsored story ads. To reach an even larger audience than a normal story, consider purchasing an Instagram story ad for your business. Instagram’s stats have revealed that 60% of users have discovered new products on Instagram, so engagement with advertisements is evidently high. With Instagram Story Ads, users can swipe up to go to your brand’s website, bringing more web traffic and, hopefully, paying customers.
Instagram Story Tips for Businesses
Follow these tips to successfully share stories on Instagram. As a business, you should have a strategy in place for how and when to post stories, as well as to figure out what content to share to best represent your brand.
When To Post Instagram Stories
Since stories are up for a full 24 hours, the time that you post doesn’t matter as much as it does with posts. If followers log on to Instagram at any point during those 24 hours, they will have an opportunity to view your brand’s story at the top of their newsfeed. Timing of Instagram stories mostly matter if you’re hosting a live video, as you’ll want to go live when you know your users are online to engage with your video.
How Often to Post Instagram Stories
Users tend to share more stories than posts, and sharing stories frequently or multiple times a day is considered normal and less likely to get flagged by Instagram than spamming newsfeeds with posts. There is no hard and fast rule about how often you should post Instagram stories as a business – it mostly depends on your content.
If users are consistently engaged with your stories, try posting more and see what happens. Posting too many stories or super long ones where users have to click fifteen times to get through them can be seen as annoying, so try to gauge interest to strike a healthy balance. Instagram stories can be muted, and you don’t want followers to mute your brand and miss your stories.
Use Location Stickers
Location stickers on Instagram stories allow you to tag your location, whether it’s the city you operate in or a more specific location. Tagging your location can help your story reach a larger audience because the story can be featured on the explore page story for that location. Location stickers also help you reach a more targeted, local demographic.
Add Hashtags to Instagram Stories
Add a hashtag sticker, or multiple, to stories to further expand the visibility of your content. Adding a branded hashtag for your business can encourage followers to use or follow your brand’s hashtag. Using popular hashtags will allow your story to be featured on the explore page for that hashtag, much like a location tag, and can help you find new followers and customers.
Add Links to Instagram Stories
To add links to an Instagram story, you must be verified by Instagram or have at least 10,000 followers. Adding links allows users to swipe up and go to your website or a particular product page, depending on what links you choose. Learn more about how to add links to Instagram stories.
Share Instagram Posts as Stories
To increase engagement on your posts, share them to your story and encourage followers to check them out, like, and comment. This can help bring more users to your account page, where they can choose to follow you or even go to your website if you have a link in your bio. Many users have complained that Instagram’s algorithm has resulted in fewer views and likes on posts, so sharing your post as a story can drive more users to that page.
Include a Call To Action
A call to action tells your followers what to do next. Whether you want them to share their thoughts, engage with stickers, go to your website, or follow your page, let them know what action to take next so that they don’t simply view your story and move on.