Do you get up to make a snack during the commercial break? Pay for Spotify Premium or Pandora Plus to avoid the commercials? Skip the YouTube ad as soon as the countdown lets you?
We all avoid ads when we can – even those of us who work in marketing. But if you’re using those ads to promote your business, it can feel like you’re trying to get the attention of someone who’s wearing Airpods. What you want is a way to make your marketing interactive and engaging and an audience that seeks it out. That’s exactly what Instagram Stories aims to give you.
Using the Stories feature is just one part of marketing your business with Instagram, but it’s a part that’s getting bigger every year. But what are Stories, and what’s the best way to put them to work? Let’s find out!
If you don’t know where to find Stories, look at the top of your main Instagram feed. You’ll see a round profile picture from an account you follow. If you click it, the story will fill your screen. Individual Stories only last up to 15 seconds, but they can be strung together to create a longer narrative. As accounts you follow post Stories, you’ll see the latest ones pop up on the left side of the feed. Stories only last 24 hours, so watch them before they’re gone!
That might not sound like a lot of time for something you’re putting effort into, but Stories are deceptively powerful. According to Instagram’s data, about 500 million users view Stories every day, and that number continues to grow. And those users aren’t just watching their friends’ stories: one third of the most viewed Stories are from businesses.
There are all kinds of ways to get creative and make unique, engaging Stories that stand out from the crowd:
You can add text to your Stories, but stickers can really liven them up. Add a still sticker, a timely gif, or some sparkles. Some stickers are even interactive, making your stories more engaging and even giving you a source of user feedback.
Stories are a great place to bring news to your followers or give them a first look at new products or services. Announcements through Stories feel exclusive and exciting, making viewers more likely to engage with you. Reaction sliders are stickers that fit right in with announcements, giving your followers a way to tell how they feel about the news through emojis. You can also use the Countdown sticker to help build anticipation.
Go Behind the Scenes
You don’t have to go to the moon to follow in NASA’s footsteps. They use their Stories to take followers into the operational center and behind the scenes of big moments in space exploration. You may not be launching an interplanetary probe, but your followers will still love a look at the people and process behind your products. Behind-the-scenes Stories can give you the opportunity to play with some of Instagram’s creative tools like Boomerang.
If you want to liven up your contests and giveaways, hold them in your Stories. With only 24 hours to enter, they’ll give your followers a sense of urgency and excitement. Just tell them what the prize is and how to enter – it can be as easy as “reply to this story.” You can also use your stories to promote contests on your main page or your website that Instagram users may not see otherwise.
Ask Questions and Take Polls
What do you want to know about your followers? What do they want to know about you? Question stickers let you interact directly with users, and they go both ways. They’re a great way to get feedback, which can have benefits beyond just your company’s Instagram page. Poll stickers are another way to pick your followers’ collective brain, and they’ll love to root for their favorite option.
Stories allow you to broadcast to your followers live. They’ll even be notified that you’re on air so they can tune in and send reactions in real time. You can do this on the spot, but we recommend at least a little preparation!
Add Your Location
Instagram is all about bringing people together, and one of the ways it does that is by connecting content with place. By adding your location and using location-based stickers, you can end up in that location’s official Story. Not only does it sound cool to be featured in your city, but it can also boost your Story’s impressions.
If you partner with other brands, you can both benefit. Collaborating can mean more exciting Stories, but it can also build your follower counts as fans of one brand learn about the other. The platform is also home to influencers of all stripes who are excellent collaborators. To learn more, check out our guide on how influencer marketing can help your business.
Highlight Your Best Work
Highlights are Stories that stick around. You can use Highlights to add Stories to your Instagram profile, where they’ll stay forever and ignore the 24-hour Stories lifespan. Since you only have so much space in your Bio, Highlights can let you show followers more of what your company is all about. Add links to them to give your followers more paths to the content on your site.
Stories give you limitless creative possibilities and the space to experiment. What we’ve suggested here is just a start. What are your favorite ways to use Instagram Stories? Tell us in the comments!