How To Use Instagram Stories for Business

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When Instagram first introduced the Stories, it was perceived as a blatant and shameless copy of Snapchat’s core feature. Although it was true in the beginning, Instagram’s already massive ecosystem of users and brands saw Stories evolve in a completely different manner.

Unlike Snapchat which started as ephemeral chat that eventually became a social media platform, Instagram was already a very established social media platform with a high number of monthly active users. What made Instagram experience such success with Stories where Snapchat struggled, was Instagram’s ability to provide content creators and businesses with tools and support they can use to monetize their works.

Almost all businesses who decided to invest time and resources into Instagram Stories are already reaping rewards. For brands who are still in a limbo on whether to use Stories or not, it is my hope that this article will be able to urge you to take action.

Less Permanence Means Less Perfection Required

Instagram posts have become the representation of perfection. Images need to be properly shot, and videos must be properly produced. While social media gurus keep reminding brands to show their honest and human self when we are online, we can’t help but feel this disconnect in the message as to what our brand’s social media platform is supposed to be. Thankfully, we do not have to fret with Stories.

Because Stories only last 24 hours, all users can be as casual as they want with their audiences. And brands can also do the same. Stories is the perfect platform for brands to post their daily behind-the-scene clips that help connect the human side of a business to audiences. Also, because it demands less perfection, we do not have to worry about post-production. Shoot that simple and amateurish video, swipe in some built-in filters, add some stickers and mentions, and voila it’s done! Even if you are really embarrassed by that video you just posted, rest assured they will be gone the next day.

Go Live on Instagram Stories

Facebook has always been pushing Live videos as a preferred way of content creation. So much so that even if a user mutes all notifications from Facebook and Instagram, they will still be informed when someone starts a Live video.

Brands have seen incredible success with Live videos, especially because it allows them the opportunity to communicate directly to their audience on the spot. Firstly, you got to find out what to talk about. Then, it’s best to announce your upcoming video at least 3-4 days before so that your audience will know when it’s coming. Then, just go Live on time and see the crowd come in. As you are presenting your Live video, be sure to check up on your audience’s comments and respond to them whenever you can. It makes a lot of difference when they know you’re paying attention to them.

Engage with Polls, Sliders and Questions

Over the years of social media usage, people have learnt to quietly consume content without leaving any texts. This is even more apparent with brands, because commenting on brands’ posts will open opportunities for spams and trolls. With Stories’ stickers, audiences can privately engage with brands without having their comments openly visible to the public.

For example, if you have a potential product launch and would like to know which of the two colors to release first, you can post a picture and attach a Poll Sticker allowing your audience to click on their options. You can then obtain feedback, and your audience will know that their feedback will be confidential. Instead of a simple YES/NO response, you can also use the Slider to gauge multiple responses from audiences by sliding to a preset marker.

Another very useful Sticker is the Questions. Post questions or request for audience feedback, and see opinions and comments flow in privately. Only you can see the messages, so you don’t have to weed out trolls and at the same time learn from genuine feedback.

Post Weekly Round Ups or Reports

If you’ve followed big tech journalism brands like Mashable or Vox, you can see how they make the best of Instagram Stories as a News platform.  As an industry expert, a brand can compile the top stories of the week, use apps like Canva to design the layout, and post them on a weekly basis. While this does not immediately and directly translate to a brand’s sales, it helps keep your audience interested in your account.

When to Post on Instagram Stories?

You’ve heard of the magic time to publish Instagram posts every day to receive maximum reach. While posts are already being governed by algorithms that rendered this matter irrelevant, we also do not have to worry when it comes to Stories. Because Stories only last for 24 hours, your content will stay at the top of your audiences’ “To Watch” list until they attend to it.

Links, Mentions and Locations

Posting on Stories also requires some Hash-tagging and Mentioning legwork. Like Instagram posts, always remember to add Location stickers, relevant hashtags, and also Mentions if available. It helps your Story reach out to more non-audience network, which will ultimately attract more Followers.

If your Instagram Business account has more than 10,000 Followers, you can also attach external links to your Stories. This will allow your audience to swipe up and be directed to your landing page or sign up form, based on what type of engagement you are looking for.

Instagram is known and loved for its simplicity. It is everything Facebook cannot be, because it doesn’t have the stifling features that makes Facebook such an overwhelming platform to use. But with Stories, Instagram is allowed to let all the bats out, with the caveat that it will only last 24 hours. Stories is a beautiful mess of over-the-top sales, amateur images and videos shot with finger-smeared lenses, and undiscernible vocals overshadowed by howling winds. But it’s all okay and the users allow it. Because in 24 hours they will all disappear, giving way to a new batch of similar madness.

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