Instagram stories have over 400 MILLION active daily users, a massive number that is only going to get bigger as more and more people take to the app every day to share snippets of their lives and promote their businesses. Many of us are guilty of ignoring Instagram stories and only focusing on our feeds + engagement, but it’s time for you savvy business owners to realise that stories are here to stay. So if you’re not using this feature to grow your business, now is the time! And if you are already an IG story user, let’s make sure you are using them to their full potential.
Why are they so important?
- In an app that is so focused on curating a perfectly filtered grid and crafted captions, authenticity and relatability are quickly becoming things of the past. Instagram stories allow you to quickly connect with your followers and show them real, authentic and behind the scenes glimpses that posts on your IG feed just can’t do. People crave these real-life insights as it allows them to get to know the personalities and stories behind accounts, this will increase your ‘likeability’ and trust with your followers and help to convert them into paying customers.
- They are an awesome (and easy) way to provide your followers with value and important updates, without them having to search for that info on your profile. Again this helps to strengthen the relationship between you and your potential customers and it ensures that your news or announcements are more likely to be seen.
- They help you to beat that pesty Instagram algorithm! By encouraging users to engage with your stories, they are then more likely to have your post appear in their home feed because they’ve shown an interest in your account + your content.
- They are the future! With new features regularly coming out on Instagram such as IGTV, highlight reels and story shopping tags, it’s clear that they are the focus of future development for the app – so you may as well get on board now!
- And did I mention that over 400 million people are using them on a daily basis? That is a lot of eyes! Don’t let that potential audience go to waste!
Okay, you get the picture. Now for some top tips to help you get savvy on your stories to boost your business!
GEOTAGGING + HASHTAGGING
If you head to your sticker menu and tag the location of your story or a hashtag, more people will see it. More eyes = more potential new followers = more potential new customers! If you feel as though the geotag or hashtag is an eyesore on your story, just shrink it down loads so it’s not visible – as long as the tags there you will still be seen when people search the location or the hashtag and view its recent story.
Just like tagging locations, tagging other users helps to reach more accounts too. The user you tagged will be notified about your story (it will slide straight through to their DMs) and they will then be prompted to re-share it in their own story, whether it’s an image or a video. Obviously if they then share your story, this will increase your reach even further.
SHARING USER GENERATED CONTENT (UGC)
The benefits of tagging are a two way street my friend! If you encourage other people to tag you in their stories, you will then be notified and will be able to share their stories on your stories. (Still with me?) Sharing your followers’ Instagram stories on your stories is an awesome way of engaging with your customers and showing them some love! It’s also an epic way to toot your own horn in a humble brag kind of way. For example if a customer has received your delivery in the mail and is RAVING about your beautiful packaging and speedy delivery, this is the perfect thing to share on your own stories for your followers to see! Think of them as an interactive and visual customer testimonial.
Ever see something on your feed and think “that is too beautiful not to share!” well now you can share it on your stories without having to do the screenshot > crop > upload trick. If you click on the little paper aeroplane symbol on the bottom left of the post in your feed, a pop up menu will appear with options to share the post to other users via DM. At the top of that list it will say ‘Add Post to your Story’ – hit that button and hey presto it’ll appear in your story! Instagram automatically adds the tag of the account that posted the picture for you. Utilising this feature is a great way of engaging with other accounts by sharing their content and promoting their profile, as well as providing your own followers with more inspiration, value or giggles. You can also use this method to share a post from your own feed to encourage profile visits.
SHOPPING + PRODUCT TAGS
Retailers rejoice! Instagram is creating more and more ways to help followers shop directly from your feed, and now they can do it from your stories too. To do this you need to have a business Instagram account that is synced to your online store or Facebook catalogue of products. After you add an image or video to your stories you can then head to the stickers menu to add a product tag on top of your content. If your followers then tap that tag it’ll pull up the product name + price, as well as a link that takes them directly to your website so they can shop the item. Be careful to do this in moderation, some users won’t want to be constantly sold to as it can feel spammy. Note that you can currently only add one tag per story.
If you have over 10,000 followers or a verified account, you can add links to your stories by heading to the link icon at the top of the screen next to your stickers menu. When your followers see this story they will see the ‘swipe up’ text at the bottom of the screen, which takes them straight to your linked website. This is an awesome tool to encourage your followers to head to your site without them having to navigate to your profile and the link in your bio.
POLLS + QUESTIONS
When users engage with your stories they are showing the algorithm that they have an interest in your content, which means your posts are more likely to show up in their feed. A super easy way to encourage users to interact with your stories is by using the questions and poll features which you can find in your sticker menu. As well as benefiting your algorithm, using questions + polls is actually an awesome way of finding out more about your audience, what they’re interested in, how you can provide value to them and how to test out new ideas. Ask them which product they prefer, how they would style an item or what they want to see more of.
Just like Instagram posts, keep your stories different and interesting. Play with the ridiculous number of options available – use photos, videos, boomerangs, superzooms, filters, draw on your photo, throw some emojis on there and if all else fails, find yourself a GIF… whatever tickles your fancy. Just keep it fresh!
SHOW YO’ FACE!
It might feel awkward or uncomfortable at first but showing your face is an absolute MUST on Instagram stories if you really want to build and solidify that authentic connection with your followers. This is especially important if you are an independent business owner or freelancer! People often buy from small businesses because they believe in supporting them over chains and large corporations. They get that feel good factor knowing that they are helping someone get their dreams off the ground, so it’s important to strengthen that connection with them! Let them get to know you and share the journey with you, it’ll make you more memorable and increase the chances of them buying from you in the future. You don’t need to look perfect and your script doesn’t have to be practiced, stories are all about real life – so make it real!
Not knowing what to share can often be a hurdle that puts people off using stories. As well as your lovely face and sharing content from other users there are actually a HUGE number of other things you can be showing off in your Instagram stories. Here’s a little brainstorm for you: show how your product is made, how you style your home, piles of packaged up orders, your recent blog posts or podcasts, how cute your dog looks, how you spend your lunch break, a quote or image that has inspired you, a sneak peek of a new collection, a meeting you’re going to, events you’re exhibiting at, introduce a new client you’re working with, your favourite recent purchase or brand, get excited about an upcoming launch, share morning routines, exercise tips, how-to’s, DIYs, recipes, recommendations… the list goes on and on. Get people on board with your journey and provide them with value and inspiration!
Stories are viewable to users for 24 hours until they are buried away into your archives. Highlight reels are a fabulous feature from Instagram that allow you to display your stories in different categories on your profile for up to a year. This is a great way of batching stories together to give your profile visitors an insightful overview into certain aspects of your business such as ‘new in’, ‘behind the scenes’, ‘latest posts’ or ‘our services’. Stay tuned for another blog post soon on how to master these to their full potential!
As you can see, the ways of using Instagram stories are practically endless and create so many AMAZING opportunities to authentically engage with your audience, attract new followers, provide value and share your message. If you want to grow your business organically they are such an incredible tool to use. Remember that this is a part of social media that you don’t have to pour ridiculous amounts of time into to create something ‘perfect’ – HAVE FUN with them and show the world what you’re all about!