If you’ve used Instagram at all lately, you’ve probably seen the multi-colored circles around profile pictures that indicate an Instagram Story. These Instagram Stories are text, photos or 15-second short videos, and they’re available to users and brands alike, all with a 24-hour expiration date. If you haven’t heard of Instagram Stories yet, check out what they are and how to use them here.
Like many brands, you may be wondering “Why do I need to use Instagram Stories AND post on my feed on a regular basis?” The truth is, Stories are the perfect enhancement tool for your Instagram branding. Because Instagram is so saturated with content, brands have to continuously post to engage with their following. Because of the overload, morning posters are missing afternoon users, afternoon posters are missing evening users, and the list goes on.
Stories populate and display differently than your regular Instagram feed, showing up with a the rainbow circle around a brand’s profile photo at the top of followers’ homepages. Stories also have the added benefit of being easier for users and potential customers to interact with your brand.
They’re also a great way to direct people to your Instagram page or directly to your website. Stories can allow you to go into detail about a sale, promotion or giveaway, or you can add sneak peeks to a new blog post or product. Using the “swipe” action on your story can even direct users in just one click. Unfortunately, this feature is only available to businesses with over 10k followers. Bummer, we know! If you’re not there yet, that’s ok! You can still direct users to the link in your profile, but don’t forget to change it for the appropriate piece of content you’re promoting.
So let’s look at some examples of brands using Stories correctly. Here we see three separate brands using their Stories to direct followers to new products on the site, new blog posts or fun giveaways, which is something users may not have seen just scrolling through their feed.
Connecting with missed or potentially missed opportunities is only the beginning. Users want to engage with the brands and people they’re following, and because Instagram is such an interactive platform, they want to feel personally involved. Using Instagram Stories for candid photos and videos makes the brand seem more human.
Another way brands can make the most out of Stories is to show intimate moments that are otherwise not postable. You can see Emily Weiss, owner and CEO of Into The Gloss and Glossier, showing behind the scenes snaps at a conference, connecting her millions of followers with her everyday life. Monki is making their new collection a little more personal with fun text and wacky outtakes from the shoot. We Are The Bowsers, a couple photography team, are sharing sweet moments of their own life, and connecting with their followers on a personal level, almost as if they are celebrating together.
Because stories are time sensitive, they create a psychological sense of urgency with the user. Users have a sense of FOMO if they miss all or part of the Stories feature. Because of the short, integrated content, users will begin to interact with your planned and scheduled content more consistently, which would otherwise be missed opportunities for interaction with your audience. When users interact with your content, the Instagram algorithm begins to weight your content higher for that user, meaning you’re more likely to show up in their feed whether you posted a photo within minutes or hours of them logging on to the app. With consistent posting, brands can close the gap on current missed opportunities and generate new followers. New followers and engagements lead to conversions, which leads to you doing a happy dance (hopefully on an Instagram Story) with a little more green in your pocket.
Here are some Instagram Story occasions your brand should take advantage of:
- Employee, kids (if you’re family-owned) and pet birthdays
- Production phase
- Order prep + shipping
- Traveling for work
- Lazy Sundays
- Company outings
- Company volunteering
- Personal volunteering
- New products and releases
- New blog posts
- Photoshoot outtakes
Takeaway: Instagram Stories are a way to put your PERSONAL VOICE behind the brand. It’s like being a spokesperson for something you believe in. Share as little or as much as you feel comfortable with, and have fun with it. Don’t you want to shop with a company you’re personally invested in?
Have you used Instagram Stories for your business? Share your insights with us in the comments below.