As social media sites add more and more features, it can be challenging to stay on top of what really works for your small business. That’s what I’m here for! To help you navigate the world of social media marketing, and Instagram in particular. If you’ve been successful at engaging your audience on Instagram consider adding Instagram stories to your marketing strategy.
What are Instagram Stories?
You may have noticed circles with profile pictures at the top of your home feed on Instagram. Click one, and you’ll see videos and photos compiled to tell — you guessed it — a story. Usually, there’s a theme, like a behind-the-scenes tour of a chocolate factory or exclusive access to an event.
Stories only appear for 24 hours (though you can also pin them to your profile to extend their value). The benefit of Stories is that they stay at the top of your followers’ feeds, greatly increasing the likelihood of them being viewed. Stories are wonderful marketing tools in that they help your followers get to know your brand in more than a single photo. You can craft a narrative using not only the video or images you upload but also with added text and links. Here’s how to get started.
- Plan Ahead
Creating Instagram Stories may take a little forethought, so add them to your marketing calendar. If you know you have a big event coming up or are releasing a new product, these are excellent subjects for a Story. While you don’t need to have a script and professional videos/photos, you should have at least an idea of what you want to include. Center your components around that theme rather than just throwing a bunch of photos together and calling it a Story.
You can even create a regular schedule for your Stories. Maybe Monday you focus on a product, Wednesday you interview one of your employees, and Friday you do something fun that engages your audience.
- Set a Goal
To help you figure out that theme and actually get results from your Story, set a goal. Are you trying to build awareness of a new product or sell tickets to an upcoming event? Get people to click to your newest blog post? Get feedback on new color options for a product?
- Take Advantage of Features
Stories have so many features to take advantage of. If you’re looking for customer feedback, incorporate a poll to see which option people like better. You can also add text on top of a video or photo and even draw or add stickers to them. Add a hashtag or geotag so that people who are looking for those tags find your Story.
Instagram also offers Live videos. Once you start filming, your followers will receive a notification that you’re Live, and they can tune in. You can also save these Live sessions as part of your Story. You can also tag someone with their Instagram handle to give them a shout out and reason to share your Story. You could choose a winner for a giveaway or just highlight another user you think your audience should follow.
Bonus Features: These features are currently only available to business accounts with more than 10,000 followers. You can add clickable links to your Story, or a swipe-up link that instantly takes viewers to your website.
Ideas for Instagram Stories
The sky’s the limit in terms of what you can focus on for your stories, but here are a few ideas. Test out different ones and see which get the best engagement.
Ask for comments on the story as entry into a product giveaway. Or you could hold a trivia contest via Instagram Live and the winner to answer the most questions correctly gets a prize.
Give your followers the opportunity to ask you as the business owner anything about your company or products Live.
Make viewers feel like they’re at your event by taking lots of photos and videos and uploading them to your Story. Aim for more behind-the-scenes stuff to give them more sense of value.
Host regular interviews with your employees or influencers in your field to get people eager to tune in. Add in a Q&A session for even more engagement.
Product Sneak Peek
Make your Instagram audience feel like VIPs by giving them early views of products you’re releasing soon. Include a discount code so they can buy it as soon as it’s available.
Considering changes to your product? Get your audience’s input for free by using polls and showing options via Stories.
Instagram Stories, while they may take a while to get accustomed to, really can provide an innovative way to engage with your audience, drive traffic, and increase sales, all with zero investment beyond your time.