Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media networks, particularly among younger users. More than 800 million monthly active users are on the social media network with predictions that the number could soon hit one billion. If you aren’t already using Instagram in your online marketing, Instagram stories are something to consider for the next leg of your marketing journey.
The advantage of Instagram stories is that you can use them to engage your audience. Instagram allows you to easily track how well your stories perform so you can come up with a strategy that gets better results over time. Just remember that Instagram is a more image-based type platform, and you need to use the highest quality images available that relate to your product.
If you’re new to Instagram stories, you may feel uncertain about how to proceed. Here are seven ways to use stories to improve your branding efforts and develop a loyal fanbase.
1. Create a Theme
One way you can stand out on the platform is to create a theme that ties into your brand. For example, if you run a bakery, you might start a theme of Donuts for Breakfast Mondays and post a story about who is buying your donuts and what they’re doing with them, sharing a new photo and story every Monday. The theme can be whatever you choose, and you can even create your own hashtag to go with the theme.
Whatever themes you choose, keep in mind that you should have a consistent tone for your followers and remain reliable. If they expect a post on Mondays, then schedule a post every Monday.
2. Share Unique Information
The great thing about stories is that you can drive the conversation. The core of your post should be the image, but how can you take it a step further and present some unique information not available anywhere else? Users want advice, easy shopping and ideas they can insert into their own lives. The more unique your take on the topic, the more likely it is your story will be shared.
Who What Wear shares stories that point the user to more information. In one post, they show a leopard print jacket and talk about how it is on trend and that there are seven other trends right now that every fashion girl should have. They include a note to click on the link in the bio to find those items.
3. Find Humor
Studies show that around 46 percent of Instagram users like a good laugh. If you can add some humor to your Instagram story, you’ll have a better chance of people sharing your story and gaining some traction with new followers.
Humor isn’t always a natural niche to ease into. Humor is entirely subjective, and it’s difficult to know if what you find funny will be well-received by consumers. First, stay away from sensitive subjects that might offend any of your customers. You’re in the business of attracting customers — not driving them away. Unless your product or service directly ties to the topic, stay away from religion, politics and hot-button social issues.
Run your funny stories past a panel of other employees and see how well the humor plays with a variety of personality types. Gather ideas, refine your humor and also track how well your audience responds to your humor.
4. Add a Poll
Businesses can now add polls to their stories. Polls allow you to engage your followers and get some buzz going about trends in your industry or even compare specific products that you sell. About 400 million users a day view stories on Instagram. Adding a poll allows them to become a part of the story.
Rimmel London Norge does an excellent job of reaching out to their global audience, using a variety of images and languages in their stories. Note the poll about which lip color people prefer most, which they tied into a prize drawing for the product.
5. Sync With Facebook
Instagram allows users to share single stories to their Facebook stories feed or to set things up, every story automatically posts both places. Navigate to your Instagram app. Click on your profile picture, then the hamburger menu icon at the top right. Go to Settings/Story Controls. Scroll to the button where it says “Share Your Story to Facebook” and slide the button to the on position.
If you don’t want every post to go to Facebook, you can choose to only share specific stories within each post. However, if you want to save time and be more productive, share your Instagram stories directly to Facebook and engage your audience in both locations, creating some cross-platform promotion opportunities.
6. Utilize Video
Video content is growing on Instagram, just as it is growing across the Internet. About 25 percent of Instagram ads are videos. An Instagram video can be up to one minute long. It’s smart to add text, too, as a lot of videos are watched without sound.
Videos add to the overall story of your brand, allowing your followers to get an inside look at your business and what you do on a daily basis.
Brunch Boys highlights various places to eat and foods the vlogger/blogger personality tries. One of the things that works well is the videos that quickly show how the food item is made and discusses what makes it so unique. By the end of the video, the viewer’s mouth is watering, and they can’t wait to give the restaurant a try.
7. Include Tags and Links
Instagram offers a tool to its business users that isn’t available in Snapchat, and that is the ability to add tagging and links. Links allow you to engage consumers and get them to visit your website or go to a map that shows where your brick-and-mortar establishment is.
Tagging also allows you to team up with influencers and other businesses on Instagram, so you can share one another’s stories and expand your audience. Only some users can add a URL to their stories. However, if you are verified to use this feature, there will be a link that says “See More.” Users can either tap the link or swipe up to go to the link.
If you haven’t delved into the Stories feature of Instagram yet, now is the time to do so. Track the results of each campaign you post, digging into Instagram’s analytics and tracking the reach of each post. With a little effort and analysis, your stories should earn you new followers and drive traffic to your website.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.