Instagram 101: How to Use Instagram Stories like a Boss
What’s the point of Instagram Stories and how can I leverage it for my business?
Instagram stories have been around for a couple of years now but it astonishes me how many Instagram users do not see the point of using Stories as part of their Instagram marketing strategy for their business. So let’s take a quick look at what Instagram Stories can do for your business if used well!
The idea of Instagram stories was um... “borrowed” from the very popular Snapchat. Instagram was (and still is) very popular but it was becoming more and more curated. People only posted on their Instagram feed after they had a chance to edit their photos and only posted pictures that were deemed “Instagram worthy”. Nothing was being shared in the moment, which kind of took away from the social aspect of social media. Snapchat filled this gap with videos and photos and fun captions that only stayed live for 24 hours. It was a great way to share what you were doing in the moment. Instagram adopted this ideology and launched Stories back in 2015 (?). Instagram followers now had access to the humans behind beautiful curated Instagram feeds.
Now let’s go through my favourite Instagram Stories features from a strategic perspective and how to use them to market your business.
Instagram Stories have their own feed
As we know, Instagram posts are subject to certain algorithms that make them visible to only a portion of your followers. Your post becomes more visible when you are getting good engagement with it (comments and likes). Your feed is not chronological, it is based on Instagram’s ever-changing algorithms that we are always trying to beat. So, what’s great about Instagram Stories is that when you are actively using Stories, your profile is highlighted in another part of the app - at the top in a horizontally scrolling feed. I am not entirely sure how Instagram determines who’s Stories you see first, but I believe it’s related to who you engage with the most. So, your bestie will most likely always be first.
Instagram Stories Geotags
I’m sure you knew that stories had geotags but did you know what they can do for you? Instagram geotags can increase your viewers if your story is added to your location story for all to see. Anyone viewing that story can stumble across your story, which is what we want! I wish I had some tips as to how to get noticed in those location stories but I do not, just keep using the right ones in your area and you might get lucky.
Instagram Stories Hashtags
Yep, you can hashtag IG Stories too! When using hashtags, always choose hashtags that are not super super saturated (like 6 figures) but ones that your ideal follower would be using and looking at too. Just like the geotags, you could be featured on that hashtags story. Try it and engage with other users who use that hashtag.
Instagram Stories Poll
Polls are an amazing way to create engagement. Just like you want to create engagement with your followers on your traditional feed, the same goes for Stories. Creating polls for just about anything gets people clicking on your story and engaging with you. Obviously, it works best if your poll is relevant to your business but fun enough that your followers want to participate.
New Feature Stories Highlights
Until recently, stories were only on your feed for 24 hours until they expire. Now, there is an archive for your Stories and you can pull your favourite Stories and add them to a Highlight on your Instagram Profile. I think this is genius because you can add valuable stories there such as industry tips, meet the team, promotions, upcoming events, event recaps and more. I added some Instagram Tips introducing this feature which created a ton of engagement and an unboxing of some Christmas cards Bow + Wrap sent me to share. This feature is helpful to get more from your posts than just the 24 hours. To use this featured you simply click the grey plus (+) in the highlights area and select which Stories to Highlight. Give it a short but clear name so users know what they are clicking on. Keep it there for as long as you want but I suggest changing it up often to keep things interesting.
Instagram Stories Live
This is a great feature (that I need to use more often myself). It allows you host a live feed similar to Facebook live where users can interact with you live on video. They can comment and double tap hearts to show they are participating and present. The newest feature allows you to invite viewers to pop on as a live video guest! I haven’t tried this yet, but my friend Sudduf and I are going it try it soon. This would be great to let viewers jump on for a Q&A to ask their questions or to interview an expert! Another bonus to IG live is that followers might get a notification that you are live and you get bumped to the top of the Stories feed with a special "live" label that highlights you on followers’ profiles. You now have the option to keep your IG Live for 24 hours rather than have it expire once your Live is over. There is no time limit on Live either so if you have a lot to say, you may want to say it in a Live so it doesn’t get cut up.
Instagram Stories Tips
- Have fun with it! Use the stickers to dress up your Stories and have fun with the writing tools.
- Use brand consistent colours. Use the dropper tool to pull a colour from your image so it looks sharp.
- Play around with the other video and photo modes like superzoom, rewind, hands-free, stop motion. Everyone's favourite is Boomerang.
- Remember your videos are only 15 seconds long. Say what you gotta say quickly!
- Spend time engaging with other stories and always respond to direct messages to your stories. You want people to feel like they have direct access to you and your brand.
- Less is sometimes more - a super long Story with more than 10 or 15 stories sometimes will get less viewers by the end of it since not everyone will stick around until the end. Say the important stuff near the front of your Story.
Now the single most asked question I get from clients is… what do I post in Stories? As I mentioned before, your Stories should be a window into your brand. Always remember who your ideal client or customer is and post content that is of interest to them. Let them get to know the people behind the brand and stay away from over-curated Stories. Save the curated and fully edited photos for your Instagram feed. This is your chance to show what really goes on behind the scenes and share your personality with the world. It allows your followers to feel a more personal connection with your brand which is the whole purpose of Social Media. Establish yourself as the expert in your field with tips, tutorials, comments and story-telling. There is the word we are looking for... STORY TELLING! Tell your brand's story through your Stories to create a more engaged audience.