When Instagram Stories first launched in 2016, I thought to myself, “This is just a copycat of Snapchat”. I doubted this new Instagram feature would be able to compete with Snapchat, because “Hey, Snapchat did it first, right?” Two years later, it seems like Instagram has leapfrogged its competitors by constantly innovating and introducing new features to keep users engaged on the platform.
But why should businesses use Instagram Stories?
Firstly, Instagram Stories are a quick and easy way to engage with other users and followers. According to a study conducted by Microsoft, the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds in 2017. Many people have attributed this drop to the proliferation of technology. The wonderful thing about Instagram Stories is that it caters to this generation of people with shorter attention spans since you can only post videos up to 15 seconds at a time. Secondly, the format of this feature is perfectly suited for mobile – you can post anywhere and anytime, making it super accessible when you’re on-the-go. Unlike the original standard square format of Instagram posts, Instagram Stories are shot vertically. Thirdly, Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours, so you won’t have to worry if it doesn’t fit your feed’s overall theme.
Here are 4 reasons why businesses should tap into the engagement potential of Instagram Stories:
Instagram Offers the Ability to Post a Variety of Content
Instagram Stories gives you the freedom to post a variety of content. You can literally post anything you want, without having to worry about ruining the “theme” or “aesthetic” of your Instagram feed. Are you launching a new product or service? Do you want to give your followers an exclusive sneak peek behind-the-scenes of your office? Looking to have one of your employees do an Instagram Story takeover? Announcing the winner of your recent social media contest? From promotional photos and videos to more fun, lighthearted content, consistently posting a wide variety of original content will help keep your Instagram Story and brand fresh. Create content that will keep your followers coming back for more!
Instagram Helps Businesses Grow An Audience
As a business, you should never stop looking for new ways to grow your audience. At the beginning when you are deciding which social media platform is right for your business, one of Instagram’s strengths to consider is that it helps businesses increase brand awareness. Over the years, Instagram has introduced a number of features to help brands and businesses reach a wider audience.
Use location tags. You can include geographic location tags on your Instagram Stories now to make your business or brand more discoverable locally and globally. Whether you’re tagging a specific location, a city, or even a country, it is an effective way to reach different demographics.
Include hashtags. You can also include hashtags in your Instagram Stories to increase the searchability of your profile and its content among the Instagram community. Just like how you can include hashtags in the caption or comments of regular posts on your Instagram feed, you can also do the same with your Instagram Stories.
Instagram Allows Businesses to Engage With Their Audience Regularly
Millenials make up a vast majority of users on Instagram, and keeping this generation engaged takes time, commitment and effort. It’s important to understand how to communicate with millennials in order to effectively engage with them on social media. Lucky for you, Instagram recently rolled out new Instagram Story features, allowing you to:
Set up a polls. Setting up polls on Instagram Stories encourages audience interaction and helps increase engagement. It’s also a great way to gather information and to see what your audience and followers like (or don’t like).
Ask questions or let your followers ask you questions. The new “Ask me anything” feature for Instagram Stories is another effective way to interact with your followers. You can either choose to ask your audience a question or let them ask you anything they want. The great thing about this feature is that your followers get to learn more about your business or brand, and in return, you get to learn more about your followers. It’s a win-win situation!
Tag other people. Just like how you can tag other users on your Instagram posts in your feed, you can do the same with Instagram Stories. Tagging other businesses, brands, or influencers, increase the chances of your brand to be seen. This is effective because when you tag others in your Instagram Stories, they have the option of reposting your story – ultimately, this helps maximize your reach.
Instagram Drives Traffic to Websites
You can also effectively use Instagram Stories for your business by posting content that drives traffic to your website. If you run a retail or e-commerce business, you can direct followers to shop your product(s) on your website. A recent study conducted by Facebook found that 1 in 3 Instagram users were more interested in a brand or product after seeing it on Instagram Stories. Earlier this year, Instagram rolled out this cool shopping feature for Stories, aiming to broaden their e-commerce push. This new feature enables businesses to:
Explore the shopping bag-shaped notification. This allows users to click on select items on your Instagram Story and shop the item(s) on your site. Instagram’s product stickers help people access product information quickly and seamlessly.
Incorporate the “Swipe Up” feature. If you’re looking to drive traffic to your website, using the “Swipe Up” feature on Instagram Stories is an avenue to do so. By incorporating effective and eye-catching CTA’s (call to actions), you can incorporate this feature to direct followers to you blog, landing pages, and more!
I hope you learned a few tips and tricks to effectively use Instagram Stories for your business. Stories are definitely something you should consider incorporating into your social media marketing strategy, especially if you are active on Instagram. Going back to my earlier statement about Instagram Stories being a “copycat” of Snapchat, I think it’s actually become a better version of Snapchat, and one that businesses can take advantage of to engage with their audience.
This post originally appeared in the WSI blog. KDMC is a former member of the WSI digital marketing global network.