Instagram stories are here, and then they’re gone.
They only last 24 hours, so if you want to get results from them, they’d better be good.
Instagram stories were one of the platform’s very first Snapchat-like features, which have since exploded into popularity.
They garner a massive amount of views, and can be incredibly influential.
To get those results, though, you need to know how to use them. We’re going to show you how.
Why Use Instagram Stories?
You can find Instagram stories at the top of your feed, and they’ll stream seamlessly from one users’ content to the next.
According to HootSuite, the feature gained 150 million daily viewers within six months; it took Snapchat 6 years to hit that number.
In addition to the fact that you could get a ton of users watching your content, there are a few other benefits to consider. One of the largest of these advantages is that your story will take up a users’ entire screen, and in today’s work, if you have their full screen, you have their full attention.
Anytime there’s an additional medium or a new way to reach your target audience, use it. Or at least test it. You never know what your audience will respond to most, and the more they’re seeing your content, the better.
#1. Create a Collection of Stories
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Instagram stories work best when you actually tell a story. You can upload multiple different individual stories, one after another, to create one larger, mostly-seamless narrative.
This is beneficial for two reasons. The first is that using storytelling in marketing is always a great strategy. It’s powerful, and it’s memorable, and having multiple images or videos combined to tell a great narrative can get you big results. In the example below, Stitch Fix told their “Powered by Women” story by highlighting employees, helping to shape their brand’s story.
The other is that users sometimes have a tendency to scroll quickly through stories from brands, but if you have several individual stories that make up a larger one, you have a better chance of keeping their attention than if you had 4 stories that each had nothing to do with the others.
#2. Use All Features to Full Potential
You definitely don’t need to use every feature in every story (and you shouldn’t), but you should use a different stories features to enhance your content. Mix it up with text overlay to get your point across quickly and emojis to resonate with your audience. Use filters, and draw on your content with the drawing features.
Make your content fun and engaging. Using these features will make your brand seem approachable, but it can also help you drive your point home.
#3. Don’t Forget the CTA
While you want to tell your brand’s story, you should always have a point to the story and a goal behind it. What do you want users to do once the story is over? Get creative with this.
You can, for example, promote a new product like Ben and Jerry’s did, and remind users at the end to go pick one up at their local store.
Another option is to post multiple stories of user generated content, and end the story with a note encouraging users to create UGC. Give them a topic (like “show us your Easter basket” or “How do you wear it?”) and give them the branded hashtag to attach to it so you can find it later. (I haven’t seen anyone do this yet, but please someone do this!).
No matter what, it’s not enough to just show a product or information about your brand and hope that users read your mind. Tell users exactly what you need them to do, and it might just surprise you how many of them do.
#4. Use Instagram’s Story Analytics
We didn’t have them for a little while, but we have them now. Instagram’s Insights (available for business accounts only) now give us analytic information about our story performance, too.
To access your insights, click on the bars icon above your newsfeed and next to your username. This will take you to your Insights.
On the next screen, scroll until you see your Stories section. Click on “See More.”
You’ll be able to see the number of impressions each of your stories received, telling you your reach.
You’ll also be able to view the number of replies your stories got (which you’ll get when a user clicks “message” while watching a story), and the number of exits made before your story was over.
You can view story information from the past hour, seven days, and fourteen days. That seems to be as far back as it goes, though, so record any information and data you want for long term analysis off-platform.
Bonus: Add “Swipe Up” Links
Verified business profiles (and currently only these profiles) can add “Swipe Up” links to their stories. When a user swipes up, they’ll be taken to a designated landing page or a specific site page. In many cases, “Swipe Up” CTA will be accompanied by text like “to learn more” or “to shop.”
When you create a story, you can click to link symbol at the top of the post to add swipe up links. You’ll be asked to enter the URL you want to send users to.
What About Instagram Live Stories?
Instagram live fits into the stories feature, and it comes with a ton of added benefits. When you go live, some of your followers may be alerted with a push notification, encouraging them to click and view it. You could also have your video appear in the “Top Live” section of Instagram’s Explore, which could put you in touch with new members of your target audience.
And now, Instagram has resolved my biggest beef with the feature: as of the last month, you can now save your broadcast after it’s over onto your camera roll, and reshare it on either Instagram or Facebook later on. There is no longer any downside to using this feature (as long as you’re fully prepared to go live beforehand).
Instagram stories have become an integral part of the platform, despite the fact that, yes, I rolled my eyes a bit when they came out. (Can you blame me? Who would want their hard-earned content to disappear after a day?!) Because they’re a big part of the platform, businesses will benefit by using them.
It’s important to note that all of these strategies (minus, at this point, the Swipe Up tip) will be just as effective for the just-rolled-out Instagram Story Ads, which can go a long way in helping you expand your reach even further.
What do you think? Do you use Instagram’s stories for your business? What use cases do you find most effective? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!