How to use Instagram Stories to benefit your business

Published: 29/06/2018

Unless you have been living on Mars, you are bound to have come across (or probably use) Instagram. It is the very image focused cousin of Facebook and Twitter, in that it is a video and photo sharing social media platform, giving the user the ability to edit/filter their content. Undoubtedly one of the most prominent features of the app is Instagram stories. This feature allows a user to upload their pictures and videos into a seamless thread throughout a day - before it disappears 24 hours later. It’s also something many brands and small businesses are using as a way to reach their audiences.

So if this is not something you have been thinking about in your social strategy, perhaps it’s time to do something a bit different and Instagram stories is certainly very ‘in’ right now. Let’s take a look at ways you can utilise the app to benefit your business:

Allows you to tell an actual story

One of the most common missions that many businesses will claim to do, but many don’t succeed at, is creating a narrative around their brand. Instagram stories lets you do this - literally. For instance, you could create a set of photos and pictures in a typical day at the office. Show your followers what’s going on in the business. Take stories to meetings and to various parts of your office. Perhaps it’s someone's birthday? Great, make sure this is a part of your story thread. Maybe some staff are playing ping pong at lunch - you know what to do. It’s a fantastic way to engage with your audience in a way that they can get to know you more intimately. Let’s say your office are spending the day working with a well known charity - perfect. Now all your followers can see all the great work you are doing with your local community.

Poll your audience

One of the newest features on stories is the ability to take polls - something particularly good for businesses looking for an easy way to engage with their audience. You could use this in a number of ways. Let’s say you have a cupcake business, you could use a poll as a way to pitch ideas for new flavours. Ask your followers if they would prefer blueberry or red velvet for your next flavour. Now we wouldn’t suggest going by this alone, but it is a great way to gauge the view of your followers in a cost effective way. This is audience insight in the truest sense of the word. Take advantage of it and give your fans a place where they can help shape your decision making.

Add links to allow further interest

Whilst you want to appear fun, friendly and human, you will want some kind of end goal - namely, to turn fans into eventual customers and advocates of your brand. There is no shame in seeking this - you need to make a living after all. And Instagram stories allows you to add links to each post. If you have a business account, you are able to add URL links that can go directly to your site. People who are curious about your product can then be told by you to 'SWIPE UP' as a call to action. This will direct them to the link and they can then take a more direct look at your product. They will already know about what you do from your stories. This means a certain level of trust will have already been gained - giving you a great opportunity to get a new customer or subscriber. It also shows that there are direct benefits of using stories and they can link directly to any product or offer that you are currently promoting.

Calls to action

Don’t be bashful or shy. If you have a product or offer which you want to shout about, then Instagram stories is perfect. Why not add some overlapped text to your video or photo about something you are doing. Back to the cupcake scenario: put up a picture of your newest flavour and say something like 'Dropping tomorrow' or 'Preorder now'. Be as active as possible in your language, as this is the best way to get a call to action going. You are also showing your audience what they can get through your post, so it’s not annoying or disruptive. They are fans already of what you do, so don’t be afraid to be a little bold or brash. This is Instagram - selling and storytelling are intertwined to the point where it’s hard to distinguish the two. Take advantage of this and delight your audience.

Takeover

Don’t worry, this isn’t something hostile. This is about taking over a brand’s Instagram stories for 24 hours as a way to promote yourself. If you’re relatively small and the brand that you're taking over is one which is very large, this can be incredibly advantageous for you. Why? Well it allows you to connect with an audience that you may not have been able to on your own. You will be able to showcase what you do on a much bigger scale and if people like what you are about, it could lead to lots more interest being generated. But remember to create the branded hashtag in your feed. That way, your takeover will be more searchable.

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