While Instagram is an ever-changing platform, the Instagram stories feature has only been growing year-over-year since its initial launch in 2016. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Instagram, just getting into it, or don’t know that much about how to leverage Insta-Stories for marketing, get ready. It’s time to buckle up, keep your hands, feet, and arms inside the metaphorical car at all times, and let’s go!
First off, what’s an Instagram story, and why should your business care about them? They are short images or video clips that only last for 24 hours and play for ten seconds when viewed. However, unlike Snapchat, once the 24 hours is up they can be viewed in a story archive for you to see. They are also separate from your own feed, existing instead at the top of the Instagram app. So if they’re so short-lived, they shouldn’t matter that much right? Well, just like how some people think the world is flat, that would be wrong (seriously people, the world is round, we have pictures and video from space to prove it).
Keep in mind your story will follow the same profile privacy settings, so if you want more people viewing them for optimal marketing you’ll need to adjust your settings accordingly.
While this will vary business to business there are a variety of content types you can post. If your business is product-based, showing a demo of your product and/or how to use it can be a good idea. If your business is more service-based, testimonials are a great place to start for content, or creating a “behind the scenes” look at what goes into making your service great. Small giveaways also encourage engagement, as do answering common questions about your product or service. This is just one place to start though. If you have daily updates to your business, like new food for bakeries or restaurants, those can also be great to share.
While you’ll most commonly see images on Instagram by swiping left or right at the bottom of the screen, you can also do much more. By swiping once to the left at the bottom wheel you can go live right then and there on Instagram. This is a great way to highlight a feature of your business through marketing. Swiping once more to the left will get you to the “type” screen which makes it easy to create a typed post with whatever colour background you choose.
Swiping right will give you a whole host of options for fun videos. Boomerangs are one of the most common: a short two-second video that plays forward, then in reverse, back and forth in an infinite loop. Superzooms are pretty much what they sound like: a video that zooms in super fast on your video subject. There are plenty of fun filters to play around with to make your superzoom more fun. The last three modes are focus (great for selfie photos as it blurs the background around a person) rewind (will play a video clip in reverse) and hands-free (to avoid having to hold down on the screen to record video).
Instagram stories have multiple features unique to them, one of which being stickers. These graphics, gifs, and others can add a fun element to your post design, but there are a few which stand out to improve your story engagement and improve your Instagram marketing strategy.
The first of these is the hashtag sticker which also has the potential to show up in the feed for that hashtag.
Another important one is the location sticker because it has the potential to show up in that location’s feed.
Finally, the mention sticker tags another account, so if you’ve got another business, product, or person in your story you can tag them. That way, your story will show up in their feed and potentially snatch up some of their followers like a more morally-conscious social media Swiper (and no Dora Explorers to ruin your day).
Wouldn’t it be nice to know how many people actually viewed your story? Good news! Instagram provides basic analytics for all stories. One of the more useful statistics is how many people followed your account after viewing your story. You can get a little more granular and even find out which story it was they converted from.
If you’ve designed out a post specifically for your story, you don’t have to let it go to waste; you can access your camera roll from Instagram. To access it from the stories camera just swipe up. Alternatively, you can tap the square in the bottom left with a thumbnail of the most recent picture in your phone’s gallery. If you want to design out content optimized for your story, the best dimensions are 1080px (wide) by 1920px (tall) with an aspect ratio of 9:16.
Since your story will only be up for 24 hours posting at the “optimal time” to get the best marketing results for your story isn’t necessarily required (unlike regular Instagram posts). That being said, posting your story at the time the majority of your followers are online is never a bad idea. In addition, quality standards are much lower for Instagram stories. That’s not to say you shouldn’t strive to share quality content, but just keep in mind people are more forgiving if you want to snap a quick candid at something like a company sports game where your team is totally dominating.
Since stories get in front of your audience more often than regular Instagram posts, it’s a perfect opportunity to build your brand following. Try to include some kind of call-to-action in your stories like “check out our website to learn more”, or “link in bio for more info”. This tip won’t apply all the time, but you should try to incorporate it into your story strategy as much as possible. Ideally, you want to get people off of your Instagram and onto your website or online store where they can complete a conversion.
Did you know you can change the background colour of your post? Tap on the pen tool in the story camera, tap on the first pen tool and select a colour from the bottom colour wheel. Tap and hold anywhere on the screen to fill the screen with that colour. If you want a background colour but with lower opacity, select the marker tool (the one to the right of the default pen tool) and like before, tap and hold on the screen until the background changes. Want to “hollow out” some of the colour to make the picture underneath visible? Just use the eraser tool to erase sections of the fill colour. If you want to undo any action just press the undo arrow at the top left to undo once and keep tapping it to continually undo.
If you have a particular post you want to promote, but want a direct link on your Instagram story, it’s easy to do. Just tap on the post you want to share and press the little arrow beside the comment button. If you want to change the way the shared post appears in your story, just tap on the shared post once for a different look, or tap again to go back to the default way it appears. You can still add all the normal pieces of stories to your shared post, so get creative and add relevant stickers and copy to improve your marketing results!
Although stories just last for 24 hours, you can draw attention to specific ones through Instagram’s highlight feature. You’ll need to have the stories archive turned on to do this. Go to Settings > Story Settings > and tap Save to Archive. Access your archive once activated by pressing the clock with the arrow surrounding it on your profile page. Tap to select one and there will be the option to add it as a highlight below.
Highlights are best added as related groups. For example, one highlight section could be “Office” with photos of candids around the office. Another could be “Products” showing off stories where you highlighted your products. You can even add custom covers to your highlights to keep your brand design consistent and entice people to click on them.
Now that you’ve read up on all our tips, you’re ready to start sending out stories like a pro! Did any of these help? What story tips helped you the most? Let us know in the comments below!