Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has become one of the most popular social networking apps for creating content and connecting with others. The image sharing platform is now used by over half a billion people each month, with a whopping 95 million posts and 400 million stories being created daily.
Those ‘influencers’ who were quick to embrace the platform early on and monetise their following, turned out to be pioneers in the world of online business. As Instagram is all about visuals, it provides a powerful medium for creative industries and brands to reach new audiences and cultivate a significant following.
Since launching in the social media world as a mobile photo sharing platform, Instagram has broadened its appeal, particularly to advertisers. Instagram has evolved into a brand awareness platform, with the potential to bring in sales through product discovery. The app has established itself as a vital tool in digital marketing to strengthen brand performance online. Ongoing development have resulted in a greater range of services, enabling an immersive shopping experience, sponsored posts, direct messaging, albums (multiple images per post), live video (video content has soared by 80%), and Instagram Stories. With its clever improvements, the future is looking bright for Instagram, and business.
If you want to stay competitive on Instagram, it’s time to get on board with Instagram Stories. Stories have shifted the way Instagram is used, upping the ante and turning the platform into something more than an online image gallery.
What are Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories is a Snapchat-like feature that lets users create photo and video sequences (using effects, stickers and filters), which vanish after 24 hours. Compared to standard posts which may require great lighting and angles, Stories are based on a less formal format capturing fleeting interesting moments, perfectly suited for mobile experiences. Content shared to Stories won’t appear on your main Instagram feed, but you can choose to share Stories through ‘Story Highlights’, permanent groups of stories that live on your profile. These will still leave your story after 24 hours, but will exist indefinitely.
Why use Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories are a fun way to create (and consume) content, enabling your business to keep existing loyal followers engaged, while also enabling new audiences to discover your brand. Brands have taken notice, with a third of the most viewed Stories on Instagram now being created by businesses, whose promotions result in direct messages which in turn lead to sales.
How to use Instagram Stories?
- Log into Instagram and click on the camera icon in the top left or the ‘+’ on your profile picture. It might also say “Your Story.”
- Tap the white circle in the middle to take a picture, hold it for a video, or tap the gallery icon in the left corner (or just swipe up) to use existing media on your phone. Besides photos and videos, Stories also give you a variety of modes to create in other formats (e.g. type/text based posts, live streams, looping videos etc).
- Edit your photo or video using Instagram’s various editing options. Instagram Stories offers you many ways to get creative, so make the most of all the options at your disposal to bring content to life. Combine text, pictures, videos, stickers, filters, interactive polls and doodles to produce fun and interesting content.
- Add hashtags and a location to your Story.
- Tap the “Your Story” button to post to your public Story, “Send to” to send it privately to your followers via a Direct Message, or “Save” to download it to your phone for later.
- Once you’ve created your Story, check out how it’s performing.
- View metrics like impressions and reach, but also interactions on your stories, such as how many have people commented.
- For more info see: https://business.instagram.com/a/stories/how-to
Creating Instagram Stories
Telling a story
The best Instagram Stories are just that — stories. You can either create simple fleeting moments, or piece together clear simple stories or experiences, with a beginning, middle, and end. Good story tellers know their narrative and inject emotion to make their story compelling and memorable. Don’t forget elements such as music or sound effects, which could help enhance your story.
Authentic content is honest, imperfect and real – both in message and execution. Authenticity and integrity are essential ingredients in storytelling, they produce trust. When businesses don’t tell authentic stories to their audience, they risk being perceived as fake.
Social media audiences expect the brands they follow to provide them with something of value – whether this is information or entertainment. If you can create content that provides value, and do this consistently, then you will maintain and grow your following.
Visual storytelling is a creative way to connect deeper with online audiences. But to cut through all the noise (aka all the other Instagram Stories), you have to be different. Instagram Stories offers plenty of features that enable its users to view things differently, to be creative and innovative. Create a compelling and dynamic story — and your audience will take notice and remain loyal, rewarding you with attention, engagement, and action.
Rather than producing Instagram Stories on a whim, invest time and resources into creating a Story. Plan ahead and do your research if needed, to ensure you create compelling and meaningful content that strikes the right chord.
Promoting your Story
Promoting or boosting your Story will help you gain more exposure, by capturing the attention of a wider audience and driving action. This is well worth doing, especially if your business is just starting out on Instagram and is still low on followers. Promotions are also a useful strategy if you have must-see content designed around a special offer, event, or branding initiative.
Driving engagement levels
A call-to-action or CTA, is one of the most important elements of your Story because it provides direct instruction via relevant links, informing viewers what to do next. As a brand, the last thing you want your audience to do is nothing. Without a CTA, your audience’s default action will likely be to continue swiping to the next post. You want people to engage with your content, to like it, share it, comment, or explore your brand further – potentially making a purchase off your website.
Feedback and questions
Have you utilised Instagram Stories for your business? If so, what are your thoughts? We look forward to your feedback and tips, just leave a comment.