Over the years, Instagram has become one of the biggest social media networks, making it a focal point for marketers around the world. Globally, more than 1 billion Instagram accounts are active every month, with more than 500 million users using Instagram Stories every day.
The engagement rate of Instagram stands at 4.21%, which is an incredible 120 times higher than Twitter and 58 times higher than Facebook. Although Instagram posts were the only means of posting content on Instagram for quite some time, the addition of Instagram Stories has proved to be a valuable tool for marketers to engage with their audience. While an additional promotional tool might sound overwhelming, you can always schedule your posts with Postfity and let it do the publishing work for you.
What You Need To Know About Instagram Stories
With Instagram Stories, users can share pictures and short videos with their audience, which are automatically deleted after 24 hours. It doesn’t appear in the profile grids of the users, nor does it show up while scrolling their main Instagram feed. Stories appear in circular icons at the top of the main feed, and only stories of the accounts that a user follows are displayed.
Images for an Instagram Story have a dimension of 1080×1920 pixels, which is in a 9:16 aspect ratio. You can upload pictures or videos of any size, but that will leave blank spaces in the story or get cropped. The duration of a story is 15 seconds, which is the time photos remain displayed and is also the maximum length of videos.
8 Ways To Use Instagram Stories As A Marketing Tool
1. Promote Your Products
Instagram Stories is a unique media for promoting your products. You can do so using a picture or a 15-second promo video to showcase your product. Utilize the features offered within the stories to increase your reach and views. Use appropriate hashtags and location tags to extend the reach of your stories to non-followers. You can also use GIFs, emojis, or music to combine with a picture and make it more appealing.
Here, Dior (@Dior) is promoting its product using a short clip that highlights the product, along with the hashtag #WeWearRouge. It uses the blank space left due to the dimensions of its video clip cleverly to make the story visually appealing.
2. Get Creative With Instagram Stickers
Instagram offers a range of stickers that you can use to boost conversions and increase engagement. You can tag your products with Instagram’s shopping stickers, along with your details, and utilize an organic tool to get your audience to shop directly from your Instagram stories. You can also change the text color of the product sticker by tapping on it.
Moreover, Instagram has announced that businesses can now share stickers specifically for food orders and gift cards in their stories. You can use Gift Cards to sell redeemable vouchers and allow customers to put food orders directly from your stories. You can also encourage your audience to share your stickers in their stories if they like your service. This can serve as a very efficient tool to generate word of mouth. Additionally, you can use geotags or location tags to appear on local searches on Instagram.
Instagram also offers a Countdown Sticker, which you can use for your upcoming events. When you are promoting an event or occasion, you can add a sticker that counts down to a date and time that you set.
3. Share Your Web Content
Unlike Facebook, you cannot share a clickable link to your Instagram account for your blog post. But there’s a more interesting way to do so. You can share a photo or video with Instagram Stories that is relevant to your content and use the swipe-up feature to redirect to it.
Here, The New York Times (@nytimes) posts a brief overview of its article, and all the user needs to do is swipe up to read the article.
4. Engage Your Audience
Engage with your audience using polls, quizzes, or questions. You can also use occasions or holidays to get your audience to interact with you. Question stickers are a great way to interact with your followers.
Here, @etsy posted this story to get their followers talking about their new year’s resolution. By featuring the answers, it is generating organic user engagement.
5. Feature User-Generated Content
Showcasing user-generated content helps you build a connection with your audience and also works as a tool to generate word of mouth. You can ask them to send you their pictures or tag you in their posts or stories, which you can share on your own. You can also ask the users to add branded hashtags to get featured.
For example, Off White (@off____white) features posts of users wearing their products, and by doing so, they are making way for more brand awareness.
6. Drive Traffic To Your Blog
Like any other web content, you can use the “Swipe Up” link feature to drive traffic to your blog. When you publish a blog post, you can get your audience to read it by sharing the link on your Instagram Stories with a relevant photo/video/animation.
Here, the World Economic Forum (@worldeconomicforum) adds a short clip in the background with a one-liner to say what the post is about. The user can swipe up and read the content if it interests them.
7. Use Highlights To Tell A Story
Your stories don’t have to disappear after 24 hours. You can add your best content as highlights showcasing the brand-defining content whenever a user clicks on your profile. You can add as many stories as you want in your highlights.
For example, Harvard Business Review (@harvard_business_review) sorts its content using highlights, which is a great way to help users navigate according to their needs.
8. Get Featured On Explore
The Instagram Explore page features algorithm-selected posts and stories for each user. You can target your posts to get featured on the Explore page to get a boost in reach and engagement, as Instagram showcases the most relevant posts and stories to its users.
Videos autoplay in the Explore page, so they have a better chance of reaching. Highly visual stories that don’t have too much text also have a great chance of getting featured. Stories also need to represent your brand’s visual identity. But stories that you repost from other users are less likely to be featured on the Explore page.
Tips And Tricks To Ace Instagram Stories
Maintain Your Brand’s Visual Identity
Having a consistent visual identity across your content helps you to be instantly recognized by your users. It also helps you to get featured on the Explore page and generate more reach.
So, for the best results, use consistent colors, fonts, and templates for your content on stories. You can also keep a style guide for your designers to maintain throughout your content on Instagram. Your goal should be to make your audience relate your visual identity to your username.
Shoot Vertically For Stories
Although it is much easier to use the same content for promotions in all social media channels, it is not a great practice for a platform like Instagram. Stories not only have different dimensions but are also different in the way users perceive them.
You can create unique designs for stories using interactive elements like stickers and hashtags.
You can also repurpose content by cropping or making all the necessary edits to make it look appropriate for stories.
Nike’s Jordan Brand (@jumpman23) crops a picture to have vertical dimensions and adds animated texts in its product announcement story, without making it look out of place.
Design For Sound Off/On
A total of 60% of Instagram Stories are viewed with its sound on (source: Facebook). This means you need to create content for your stories which are equally appealing with both sound on and off. If you are adding a video with voiceover, or a short clip from an interview, consider adding subtitles for having an equal impact with sound on and off.
BONUS TIP: Tell A Story, Literally
The most effective way to catch the attention of a human is by storytelling. Instagram Stories provide a great platform for telling stories. You can engage emotions within your content and hold on to that.
Create a story for your brand and showcase it proudly. Integrate it with your overall Instagram strategy. Connecting with your audience with a story helps you nurture a strong relationship with your audience.