If you’re wondering if you should dabble in Instagram and Insta Stories for your business or brand, you’re not alone. Many are stuck on if, when, how and what they should do with a feature like Instagram Stories too.
When Snapchat exploded into the digital social media scene, I thought nothing of it. I come from a time where everything we created and posted was meant to stay.
If you post something on social media, we want it to remain there for as long as possible until you, the owner, decide to delete it.
The fact that Instagram was launched in 2010 exclusively for iOS (I am an Android supporter right from the start, judge me not), it caught my attention. Like wildfire, everyone hopped on the bandwagon (including myself) and it gained more than a million registered users in its first 2 months. 5 years later, it had over 40 billion photos being posted on the Instagram platform!
But Insta Stories? For business? How does that work? This led me to explore how businesses can use Insta Stories to add an element of humanity to their polished Instagram feed as an offset or balance.
Nearly 80% of the Americans have a social networking profileStatista
Insta Stories’ Rapid Rise
Launched in 2016 following the popularity of disappearing online posts (yes, I’m talking about the sudden whiplash rise of Snapchat), Insta Stories is a good way for businesses to add a little more personality behind their brands. Because it only lasts for 24 hours before they disappear from your followers’ timelines, it creates a sense of urgency. On top of that, reactions to the Insta Stories result in DMs (Direct Messages as opposed to public comments).
The new generation is more public and private, both at the same time. They are more picky about who they connect with and when they do, they may not want their posts to remain online forever.
In short, they treasure content and control.
Insta Stories also help create conversations, engagement and instant interactions as a result. Users are allowed to use anything from GIFs, Emoticons, Sliders, Questions, Polls, and even Countdowns to invite instant interaction with their followers.
The rise of apps like Snapchat, Facebook Stories and Insta Stories can be attributed to their effortless use. It’s more real, does not require any form of editing (usually), and is often spontaneous which the older generation may not be used to!
And if users like the Insta Stories they’ve created and would like to keep it as one of their highlighted moments, they can add it to their highlight reel and it remains in their Instagram feed for all to see any time later even if they’ve missed the 24-hour window.
The other advantage of using Insta Stories is that instead of being a slave to Instagram’s algorithm where you might or might not appear in someone’s feed while they’re scrolling through Instagram, Insta Stories are there for only 24 hours. This helps you break free from the handcuffs of the Instagram algorithm where you see more ads than real-time posts from people you are actually interested in.
Insta Stories Goes Beyond Posting Perfect Family Photos and Sharing Cat Videos
While it is still fun to watch a cute cat and puppy blooper video or children fed lemons by their parents on Facebook, social media has evolved and the game has changed. It is now a more powerful marketing tool than ever before because it now gives power to anyone with a smartphone.
What this means for small to medium businesses is that the playing field is now pretty level. I am not going saying it is a completely level playing field because there are power players out there and it is still a money game but if you have engaging content and use it right, it’s a cost-effective way to generate lead from anyone from anywhere in the world.
While the average Insta Stories user does it for fun and keeps in-the-know with their family and friends, it’s an opportunity for small businesses to engage and connect with their customers and clients.
The bad news is that unlike other social media platforms, Insta Stories does not allow you to (not for most accounts, anyway) link directly to your website (not in a regular post) or spam your followers with marketing ploys. This will answer your question about why there continue to be no clickable links on either Instagram feed or Insta Stories unless you pay for a sponsored post.
Many people are seeing growth in their following once they start harnessing the power of Insta Stories.
I’ll make reference to someone I follow on Instagram. He’s a psychologist and growth mentor I follow on Instagram and he would post about 2 to 3 short videos on his IGTV every day. Once in awhile, I’d see an Insta Stories from him and I would actually click because I am curious about his everyday life when he’s not giving seminars or filling his Instagram feed with edited videos.
It’s a very human response and let’s just say it made all the difference in the world because he’s become somewhat more human now.
In-the-Moment Updates from Companies and Brands on Social Media via Insta Stories
It’s an amazing highlighted 24-hour limited-time-only update from companies where they can share anything about a roadshow, an event, new dishes, upcoming events, special promotions, and new items.
The more real you are, the better they will resonate with other users online.
I wouldn’t say the same thing about an individual’s use of Insta Stories but for companies, plan ahead. With the right flow and content strategy, you create the videos and images ahead of time and upload them at relevant moments on Insta Stories in the correct order.
One problem I see is that companies may have to forego the idea of perfection. Insta Stories has very little to do with perfecting the right shot compared to Facebook photos and Instagram feeds. It’s all about keeping things real, engaging, and fun.
Here are some of the things you can add to your Insta Stories to make it more engaging:
- @Mention someone else
- Fun, informative stickers
While individual Instagram users are free to use any font, color, type of emoji, location, and hashtag to their Insta Stories, companies and brands might want to use a more consistent tone. Reason? You want it to be instantly recognizable!
This is especially true if you already have a legion of fans following you on Instagram.
Make sure you’re being consistent with fonts and colors every time you post content to your Instagram Stories. You want your brand to be recognizable to your followers when they’re checking out Stories from their friends and the brands they love.
In short, Insta Stories is an awesome way for storytelling! It reels your viewers in because people are always curious about what happens behind the scenes, be a part of something they love, and…who doesn’t love a good story?
In 2017, it was reported that more than 200 million people view Insta Stories
Letting User Generated Content Snowball
One of the best things about Insta Stories is that, unlike Instagram Feed which restricts resharing in an annoying way (to me, anyway), it allows for resharing and reposting. If an attendee at your event is sharing the story online on their own personal account but mentions or tagged you, you’ll get a DM about it.
That’s User Generated Content (UGC) you can use in your own Insta Story feed!
Click on the ‘Add this to Your Story’ button, customize the Story to your liking, add more texts and emojis, use the @mention and tag function, and add it to your own Insta Stories.
Now, your customers, who are also Instagram users, are a part of not just your real event but also a part of your online journey. You’ll flourish off of each other. Share the love, they say…
More than 85% of young Instagram users appreciate user-generated content and trust them more than stuff the company posts on their Instagram feeds. UGC is like testimonials from satisfied and happy customers who are also on the Instagram bandwagon.
The key to using Insta Stories is to:
- Be as real and authentic as possible
- Keep it simple
- Actively involve other people
- Make it raw and fun
- Make it engaging
- Let loose, no corporate stuff is necessary or even welcomed here
- Remember that it is a part of social media’s storytelling feature
One of the most important reasons for a business to indulge in a little Insta Stories time is that they’re highly discoverable and viewable by people outside of your follower circle. They may last for only 24 hours but if it’s fun and relevant, others who may not have known about you, your company, or your brand, may inevitably discover it while they’re using Instagram using #hashtags.
And last but not least, remember that the end-consumer are people, even if you’re in the B2B market. Everything they do online is based on emotions. And nothing moves them more when you’re willing to give them an inside scoop. And people buy from people despite the loyalty factor.
Create Stories for the purpose of being Highlights, with an eye catching cover they’ll transform your Instagram page into a brochureHopperHQ
Unless you’re exclusively marketing to businesses (even then, there’s room for argument), using Instagram and Insta Stories is a must for almost everyone now, be it a small business or an international brand name.
So, before I go, here’s the breakdown of what’s in this article and I sincerely hope you consider using Instagram and Insta Stories as a part of your online marketing strategies and efforts.
- Insta Stories lasts for only 24 hours and disappears after that
- You can add the Insta Stories to the highlight reel featured on your Instagram profile
- Insta Stories create better engagement
- The tool creates urgency and this leads to more views
- They’re more personable and easy to connect with
- Adds the human touch
- Younger consumers are using Insta Stories instead of other social media platforms
- You get better control over your content
- Insta Stories allows for better conversations and engagement
- It’s less than perfect so, requires less effort
- It lets you break out of Instagram’s algorithm
- It levels the playing field between small/medium businesses and international brand names
- It shows behind-the-scenes moments that are engaging and more genuine
- It can snowball and can be reposted by someone within your circle
- Lets your followers and other Instagram users be a part of your journey
- You can make use of User-Generated Content
- People buy from people and people trust people who are genuine and real more than companies who constantly promote their products/services
- It’s free…what else is there to say about this? =)
All the best,
If you’re looking for someone to help you plan, strategize, market and manage your social media accounts or manage your online ads, get in touch with me and let’s see how we can take your game to the next level. If you’re also on Instagram, feel free to follow me here!
Note: Featured image credit: Weekend, girl lying in bed served fruits and food by Thought Catalog on Unsplash