If you heard about Instagram Stories and groaned because it’s yet another social media platform you’re going to have to manage, I’m here to tell you not to panic.
Instagram Stories are a powerful tool that gets you in front of your customers in a fun and organic way, and it can even be fun to post!
In this blog post, you'll learn what Instagram Stories are and how to use Instagram Stories effectively as a promotion tool for your business.
Okay, what is it?
Introduced in August of 2016, Instagram Stories are Instagram’s answer to Snapchat’s Stories feature, so in that sense, the two platforms are doing effectively the same thing. Instagram Stories let you create and post images that stay attached to your profile for 24 hours. You can add stickers, filters, text, and drawings, and other creative touches.
The best part, in my opinion, is that you don't have to create another social media account! You're building on the account you already have on Instagram.
How to post an Instagram Story
You have a bunch of options when it comes to creating your Instagram story. You can post a video, a boomerang, a rewind, or a photo, and you can use filters to create different looks for each post.
In the below video, I show you how to post a simple text-based post while adding some features like location and weather.
To start an Instagram story, click on the camera icon in the top left corner of your homepage, and go from there! The user interface is intuitive, but here are a few points to mention.
- You can add filters to any image or video post.
- You can write and draw on your Stories, as well as add text.
- You can tag other users with the “@” symbol, which will give them a notification.
- You can use hashtags both in the text and using the hashtag feature.
- Add stickers and icons to give your image an extra pop or accent.
I’m not going to get too deep into the technical side of things, mostly because I think when you start the app up and take a look, you’ll find the interface is easy to use. However, I’ll go over more details in my free master class, if you want a better rundown. This masterclass was specifically created for those of you who don't know what to share to your Instagram Stories.
A few other points to mention:
- If your Stories have people in them, consider using Instagram’s face filters! They work exactly like Snapchat Lenses, and they’re really fun.
- You can post photos from your camera roll by swiping up or down on the Stories page. And although technically a photo has to have been taken within the last 24 hours for you to be able to post it, you can get around this by copying and pasting the image and re-saving it to your camera roll.
- Custom stickers will adjust to your specific location and details. Location, weather, time of day, and event specific tags can be added to let people know where you are!
- You can include links in your Instagram stories by clicking the chain icon in the upper right hand corner. This feature is only available to verified accounts and accounts with over 10K followers.
And there you go. That's your crash course in Instagram Stories.
If you feel like just getting a basic overview, you can stop there, but those features aren’t any use to you unless you know how to use them to market your business.
Here are my top tips for making the most of Instagram Stories for your business!
Tip 1: Showcase your content and get full attention
Attention spans are incredibly short these days. We're all watching tv, texting, scrolling through Facebook, and keeping an eye on our notifications for new distractions.
Within Instagram Stories, your audience's attention is pretty much hyper focused on your content. The story takes up the full screen so no accidentally peeking at the next post. Basically, it's encouraging your followers to live in the moment that you're sharing with them.
Tip 2: Don’t forget to use links
If you’re sharing a product or mentioning an event, don’t forget to include a link! It’s usually a good idea to put a strong call to action in to motivate people to click the link, and an arrow to show them where they need to click.
Alright, small caveat here: not every Instagram account can post links to their Instagram Stories. If you have a verified account or you’re a business profile with more than 10k followers, you can share links right in your Stories. If you don’t meet those criteria, you can always add a link in your bio and use the classic “click the link in our bio!” call to action.
Tip 3: Share polls
Everyone loves to share their opinion. Stories have an interactive poll sticker that lets you ask a question of your viewers. Followers can vote on the answer, and you get real time feedback on your question and increased engagement. Double win.
Tip 4: Take advantage of the temporary
Instagram Stories are great because they’re not permanent. Temporal and fun, viewers aren’t expecting artistically perfect and curated Stories, so you have a little more room to be laid back and silly. Show some authenticity!
What’s your office look like? What about the packing room? Where’s your team meeting today? Share it with the world!
Tip 5: Get your dimensions right.
Instagram Stories need to be phone screen shaped, which breaks down to an aspect ration of 9:16, or about 1080px by 1920px.
Tip 6: Post often!
Another advantage to Instagram Stories is that there isn't a limit to the amount of times you can post. Where Instagram posts stay on your profile and affect the overall look and feel of your feed, Stories disappear. You can post more than once without annoying anyone.
Some lifestyle bloggers have a whole platform built around posting upwards of 10 Instagram stories per day, using their Stories as a kind of vlogging platform to build emotional connections with their followers.
While this probably isn’t going to work for most businesses, don’t be scared to get your post on!
Tip 7: Be consistent
My last tip is something I recommend for any social platform: post consistently. It takes a lot of brand touches for followers to correlate your content with an impulse to buy, and even more posts for your content to reach your followers’ feeds. Posting regularly is the best way to get to the point where followers look forward to your content!
Want a little continuing education? Check out my free masterclass on the power of Instagram Stories! I’ll go into advanced techniques on graphic creation, scheduling posts, and the best practices for images that convert passive viewing to active consideration. Don’t miss it!
Andréa Jones is a social media strategist who works with lifestyle brands to build their online presence through targeted social media and content marketing solutions. She's also the founder of SavvySocialSchool.com – a membership community with everything you need to achieve visibility, growth, and engagement on social media.