Stories are undoubtedly Instagram’s most powerful feature. They offer brands many different ways to promote their products or services. We can see content strategies shifting towards making Instagram and Stories the primary channel for showcasing products, communicating with an audience and engaging them on a completely different level than was ever possible before.
Sounds like a dream medium to invest your time and money into, right? Let’s dive into how you, as a brand, can fully harness the potential of Instagram’s Stories. But first, let’s quickly go over what an Instagram Story actually is.
An Instagram Story is a slide show of photos or videos, with each slide lasting only 10 seconds, and the whole publication disappearing after 24 hours. The only way to keep your Stories visible is to save and categorize them at the top of your profile.
Stories give you a different way of presenting your content and offers to your audience. They’re quick, engaging, and should be light and fun. You can use this platform to create organic content, but in order to find more fans and potential customers, you can also launch a paid campaign and test the results.
7 ways to use Stories in your everyday communication
There are plenty of ways to interact and engage with your audience using Stories. Here are a few examples of how to use different features to grab your fans’ attention.
- Product communication
Use Stories as a content teaser. Show upcoming products, share announcements, updates, and new features. This format is perfect for promoting a short version of your creative and then using the ‘Swipe Up’ option to redirect users to the full piece. You can also promote your special offers and sales by adding a ‘Countdown’ feature to your post. Countdowns are perfect for showing your customers how much time they have to take advantage of an offer and gives them a little nudge to act.
- Live Q&A sessions
This is a perfect way to show the human side of your brand. Invite experts, influencers, brand ambassadors, or even just your colleagues to discuss some hot topics in your industry and let the audience ask questions. The more natural and casual the interview is, the better. Your fans should feel like they’re active participants, so don’t forget to check the questions regularly and moderate the Q&A session. Lately, on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, this feature has become increasingly popular, not only among influencers but also with brands and activists who have been forced to move all of their communications online.
- Customer Testimonials
Sharing customer testimonials will help you build trust by showing your audience that people genuinely like your product. There’s nothing better than having your customers act as your brand ambassadors by voluntarily creating content and talking about your product. Every content strategy’s ultimate goal is to receive User-Generated Content (UGC) and use it in everyday social media communications. Don’t forget to thank your customers for this recognition and tag them in your Stories. They’ll appreciate you reaching out personally and showing them that you value their effort.
- Answering questions (FAQ)
Stories are the perfect medium to answer frequently asked questions publicly. Some of your customers might not have the time and energy to write you a private message even if they have questions or issues. You can use Stories’ ‘poll yes/no’ feature to ask if the answer was helpful, or you can pose an ‘open question’ to solicit additional queries. You can also share ‘how-to’ videos and tutorials to explain how to use your product. This is a great way to gather a lot of information regarding your users’ needs and maybe even get some suggestions about how to improve your products.
Stories are a great way to organize a giveaway using the quiz format to ask your customers specific questions for the chance to win a prize. You can also add other ways to win, such as re-sharing info about the giveaway on their own profiles, liking the fan page, or tagging a friend who might be interested in the competition. Activities like these can help increase not only your fan base but also brand awareness. Make your giveaways fun and engaging and offer valuable prizes so your followers can see they’re worth their time and energy.
- Behind the scenes
Stories are great for making your brand more personal and presenting the real people behind the product. If you have a physical product, you can show the production process step-by-step. You can also document company celebrations or introduce your Customer Support team so your customers know who they’re talking to on a daily basis. If you have any company pets, why not share some pictures or a funny video and use one of the Stories features to have people vote on the cutest pup?
Use Stories to tell stories! Interview your brand ambassadors, team members or anyone else who has an inspiring story. Your content does not always have to be about directly promoting your product; it can be valuable, educational, funny, and inspirational. A good ratio is 80% high-value and 20% promotional content. Find the right balance for you, and make content your audience will like so they naturally engage and come back for more.
- Think about your target audience. Create content that fits your followers’ interests. Think about how they consume content. Do they prefer videos, gifs, or still images? Adapt your content strategy based on your audience’s reactions to your posts.
- Don’t overthink it! Your content doesn’t have to be perfectly polished. Share a story if you think it’ll catch your followers’ attention. Unlike your Instagram feed where the posts need to be beautifully edited, Stories can be a bit more spontaneous, so focus on the engagement factor rather than the look.
- Engage! Engage! Engage! Use interactive features like questions, polls, and quizzes. Don’t forget to add relevant hashtags and tags. This is what Stories are all about. Whenever you create a new set of slides, always have the engagement factor in mind.
- Keep your Stories quick and to the point. Don’t overwhelm your audiences with too much text or too many slides. If it’s too messy and complicated, they might quickly tap out of your story.
- Redirect. Add a swipe up if you can. Stories are there to tease and engage, but the majority of your campaign, competition, or blog article should be presented on an additional landing page.
- Think about the details. Add an icon for ‘Sound On’ if there’s music. Ensure there’s a nice flow between each story so your followers don’t get confused and can easily find the CTA.
- Measure the results. Set KPIs for each post and make sure to check the results on Instagram Stories Analytics.
- React to your fans’ love. Don’t ignore your fans’ reactions. Make sure to (at least) tap the response twice to like it. Better yet, write a personal message to show that you appreciate their love.
- Have fun with your content. Stories tend to be very informal. Even prestigious organizations like NASA use them to create inspiring, fun, and easy to digest content that everyone can understand and engage with.