Social media is a constantly-evolving aspect of digital marketing making it tricky to master. The number of popular social platforms alone poses enough challenges – not to mention the ever-changing landscape of app-specific features and trends. When you put it all together, it’s enough to keep any marketing team on their toes. But it’s clear that a good social media presence can be the propelling strategy that skyrockets your brand to the top.
One of the most popular platforms for brands is undoubtedly Instagram. With its visual-forward style and ability to attract micro and macro-influencers, it’s a prime spot to share your brand’s best content.
Instagram’s “Stories” in particular are a highly effective tool for marketers. In this quick guide, we’ll go over what makes Instagram Stories so unique, and how you can best integrate them into your social media strategy.
Instagram Stories Explained
Since being introduced in 2016, Instagram Stories have changed the way users and brands alike use the platform. Essentially a slideshow carousel for pictures and videos, Stories allows users to share content and supplement posts with gifs, text, music, and more. Each “Story” lasts 10 seconds and remains live on the platform for 24 hours (unless you add your Story to your page as a “highlight”).
There’s currently no cap as to how many Story pages you can upload in a day, but it’s important to note that 1 – 7 is considered the optimal number.
Why IG Stories Work For Businesses
Stories offer a fun and low-maintenance way to engage with your audience, grow awareness, and convert leads into sales. And the data doesn’t lie: according to Instagram, a third of the most viewed Stories have been created by brands.
Let’s break down some of the top benefits of using Instagram Stories for your business.
Let’s say you’re a local café, and you’ve found that still pictures of your menu items perform best when it comes to likes, shares, and comments. Instagram Stories can shake up your content mix without affecting the flow and design of your feed.
You could film behind-the-scenes videos of your staff baking a popular item, or create a Story poll asking people what new item your team should introduce next. And when you publish less formal content, people view your brand as more authentic and genuine.
Drives Traffic to Website
With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to leave a link in your bio to attract new customers.
Now, business accounts with at least 10k followers have access to Instagram’s “swipe-up” Stories feature. With this feature, brands are able to attach a link to their Stories, allowing users to visit your web page with a single swipe. If your brand is able to use this feature, don’t be afraid to get creative with it! Encourage users to check out your homepage, a new product listing, a recent blog post, or even link to non-native content like YouTube videos.
If your brand isn’t at 10k yet, you can still leverage Stories to drive web traffic. In addition to telling people to check out the link in your bio via regular photo captions, mention your account in your Story posts or add an arrow pointing to your avatar to lead people to your link.
With a business account, you’ll be able to discover key metrics from the Stories you post. While views and impressions are helpful, Stories allow you to learn more about the actions people take on posts, including how many people swiped or bounced.
Tips on Instagram Stories Best Practices
As more people use social media as a shopping resource, it’s critical for your business to create content that’s informative and showcases your brand in the best way possible.
Here are 3 tips on how to step up your Instagram Story game from good to great.
Be Creative – But Stay on Brand
Like we mentioned before, Instagram Stories are the perfect place to share more informal, spontaneous content. Experiment with different mediums like photos, videos, and polls to see what your audience responds well to. Stories also provide plenty of ways to get visually artistic with their paintbrush tools and extensive gif and image library.
Just be sure to keep your content consistent and on-brand. It can be tempting to go overboard with all of the Story features, but if it doesn’t align with your brand, you might leave viewers confused.
Focus on telling stories that create an in-the-moment kind of connection with your viewers. And if you’re having trouble coming up with creative content, consider sitting down and creating an actual storyboard.
There’s no like or comment option for Instagram Stories, so if you want to keep people engaging with your content, you’ll have to strategically use the interactivity features available within Stories – like hashtags, mentions, swipe-ups, and polls.
Another way to create a sense of interactivity is by partnering with local influencers to host a Story takeover. It’s one of the easiest ways to reach new followers and build your brand.
Takeovers allow influencers to temporarily “take over” your account to give your followers a look at your products or services from an outside perspective. During these takeovers, influencers directly publish content on your Stories, often with several plugs for your brand/incentives for your audience added throughout the day.
Done right, takeovers can be a win-win for both your brand and the influencer you choose to partner with.
While most people respond best to Stories when they feel organic and spur-of-the-moment, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a content calendar in place!
Sit down at least once a quarter to go over potential opportunities and shareable moments. That way when those moments arrive, you’ll be prepared to create quality content on the fly.
No matter what kind of business you’re in, Instagram Stories offers up an effective and user-friendly way to transform your brand’s social presence. However you decide to use it, it’s a tool you should definitely keep in your marketing strategy at all times.