As social and live content consumption gets more and more popular, Facebook (who owns Instagram) continues to add features that meet those consumer demands. One of the main ones being the Snapchat duplicate “Instagram Stories” which has surpassed Snap usage.

This feature within Instagram has allowed brands to deliver more interesting and up to date content.

Like all “organic” social media, there are some catches. Your content does not get seen by everyone and you need to follow the below guidelines to maximize the effectiveness of this channel.

how to use instagram stories

On a daily basis, more than 300 million users can be found on Instagram’s Stories feature, which begs the question, if your business isn’t using it, why not? According to the Instagram blog, users spend on average at least 24 minutes a day on the site.

Instagram Stories User Growth

Need more convincing? How about this little factoid from Instagram? One out of five stories gets a direct message.

That’s a pretty solid reason to consider upping your Instagram game by using this feature.  

In this post, we’re going to look at how you can use Stories to effectively boost interaction and sales.

This infographic goes into more detail about how some of the world’s leading brands have put this feature to use.

instagram stories

Source Katka Pavlickova

What Is the Instagram Stories Feature?

It’s pretty simple. You post a short video to your feed. The video can be about whatever you like—you can even shoot it directly off your phone, straight from the Instagram app. You’ve got fifteen seconds, so make it count.

All you need to do is to tap the camera icon while the app is open and then choose the type of content.

You can choose between:

  • Live: This allows you to post as you’re filming. People can comment while you’re busy broadcasting, and you’ll have the option to post it to Stories when you’re done. This is a good option if you know what you’re going to say and that you can control the environment you’re shooting in.
  • Normal: Here you’ll choose—one tap and you take a photo, holding it down will allow you to film a video.
  • Boomerang: Not sure what to film but have a good GIF to share? Boomerang mode creates GIFs that loop for up to three seconds.
  • Superzoom: This feature is a lens that keeps zooming closer to the subject. It’s good for a big reveal. Have fun with this by adding an awesome soundtrack as well. 
  • Rewind: This is more of a fun lens as the video gets filmed in reverse, but it can also make for a change if you’ve been posting the same thing over and over again.
  • Stop Motion: This is great for a bunch of product shots. Stop Motion creates a video out of still shots. So instead of people having to click through to the next photo, this lens creates a slideshow, as it were.
  • Hands Free: Not everyone wants to shoot immediately when they pick up the phone. Maybe you want to position it differently, or focus on another area. Just make sure that you have something you can rest your phone on so the picture will remain in focus and the phone won’t shake. When you’re ready to shoot, say, “Action.”
  • And… We are sure that Instagram will be adding more options as well.

Then just shoot your video and post. You’ll have the opportunity to add a description, location, stickers, etc., before the post goes live.

That’s all there is to it. The post will stay live on the site for 24 hours and then happily move off into internet oblivion never to be seen again. Which is a big advantage when you want to build a loyal following, or when you want to test out new ideas.

instagram stores 04

What About Hashtags?

You should be using hashtags—sparingly. Make sure they’re as relevant as possible to your content and limit the number of hashtags you use. How many is best?

Here’s a quick clue: the answer is not as many as possible. You can add up to thirty in total, but according to Statista, between two and five is the magic number.

They got this figure from a study based on 200,000 Facebook posts, which while not the same channel, still provides a good indication of what to expect from Insta.

Think of it this way, every extra hashtag you add decreases the likelihood of engagement from users interacting with the post.

Stickers Aren’t for Business, Surely?

Oh, but they are. Stickers are a fun way to help your video stand out from the rest. Even if it’s something as simple as a smile sticker, it adds an extra element of fun to your video.

This channel is not all about serious business posts, so take advantage of that.

There are tons to choose from—you can add a special holiday sticker, or even just a day of the week sticker. Have fun with this one, and your followers will as well.

instagram stores 05

Set the Location

You can use a sticker that shows your location. This is useful because people looking for Stories relating to the particular area will be able to see a group of posts about the location.

Your post could be among them, and it’s a great way to drive local traffic to your door.

Want Quick Engagement?

Why not set up a poll? This is an excellent way to get your followers involved and to discover if people really are interacting with your content.

Use the Poll sticker and choose your questions carefully. Ideally, you want answers to be outside the standard yes or no response.

Allow the Sharing of Stories

This one may seem self-evident, but if you want better engagement than just people liking your posts, you’ll need to go to your Story Settings and enable sharing.

That way, people can send your story via direct message.

You’ll get extra views without even trying.

Consider Adding Some Writing

This can be easily done to add some text to the video. All you need to do is to hit the Pen icon on the screen once you’ve finished filming.

This could be a great way to add content to your website, like a list of ingredients, etc.

Find a Related Instagram Account

Why not share the love with another Instagrammer? Tagging them before posting means that they get a shout out, and hopefully, they’ll return the favor at a later stage.

This is also a simple way to make sure that someone you want to shout out to knows you’ve done it. They’ll get a notification on their feed.

Check on Who Has Watched Your Story

If you click on the “Your Story” button on the home screen, all you have to do is to swipe up to see who has viewed the content.

It’s a good idea to do this from time to time, and to check out those accounts as well, so that you can keep track of who your main audience is.

Keep an eye out for repeat visitors as this can be a good way to tell that you’re posting content that people like. After all, if they didn’t like it, they would hardly keep coming back, would they?

This is also a way to keep track of which Stories worked out to be the most popular.

Take the Time to Center Stickers and Text

The center of your screen is prime real estate, so put the most important information there. If you don’t center your text, you run the risk of some of it being cut off when people are scrolling through.

Don’t forget that Insta adds information to the bottom of the screen, like your account name and when the story was posted. Don’t let that drown out the info.

Add a Soundtrack

instagram stories 02

Source Namroud Gorguis

Yes, most people will watch your story without the sound on. But there are going to be those who don’t mute it.

Consider adding music to help reinforce the images on the screen and set the mood.

I Don’t Want All That Effort to Go to Waste

Got a video that you’re really happy with? One you’ve spent some time producing that you don’t want to head off into the sunset after twenty-four hours? Then click on your story, and then the “Highlight” button.

You’ll have to rename the file, but once you’ve done this, it will feature on your business’s profile page.

Aim to Be on the Explore Page

If you can get your post onto the “Explore” page, you can boost views significantly. The way to do this is by assigning the right hashtags and encouraging engagement.

This is not the same as the Popular page on the site. Each person’s Explore page is populated with content based on what they have liked and commented on before.

Want Some Simple Ideas to Get Started?

Of course, most readers at this point will have decided that the Stories feature is a good bet for businesses. But getting started is another story. How do you decide what to post?

In the next section of this post, we’ll go through some easy ideas for creating content effortlessly.

Just remember that the videos have to be short.

There are programs that you can use to create a series of short vids, but the best tactic is to stick with short and sweet videos that get to the point.

  • Tutorials: Obviously, you are not going to be able to show someone how to create a masterpiece painting in the allotted time, but you can show them simple things. And if the tutorials feature your products, you score bonus points.
  • A Behind the Scenes Look: This might seem like a bit of a corny thing to share, but a lot of people are interested in what goes on behind the scenes, or they want meet the support staff. It’s a way of letting potential clients see the care that goes into making a product and helps them connect with the brand at a deeper level.
  • Use It to Break News: Okay, so you’re not going to want to post information about how Larry in accounting’s bunion is doing, but if you have some interesting news to share, this is a great place to do it. Has there been a major breakthrough in your industry? Are you getting in a new product line? Talk about it.
  • Make a Listicle: When all else fails, create a list of the top ten anything. Ideally you should stick to things that are related to your business in some way. So a travel agent could, for example, choose the Top Ten Bucket List Destinations. The idea is to create a short list with great visuals and information that is easy to scan.

Our Top Hints to Keep in Mind

instagram stores 03

Source Fynn schmidt

Tell a Story

The picture above is infinitely more interesting than the standard ones that we see of the Giza plateau because there’s some life in it.

You can almost imagine the cart driver calling out or see yourself climbing on a camel.

The best Stories are actually stories. Make sure that your videos have a logical sequence to them.

Be Real

You want to present great content, but you want it to be real. Your videos don’t have to be perfect, or even too polished, as long as the message is sincere.

People know that nothing is perfect—anything that looks too perfect might be written off as fake.

Make Sure Your Content Adds Value

Long, in-depth videos about why your brand is the best are going to stroke your ego but do little else besides.

Audiences on social media go there for fun, and they want the brands to provide them with good value

This could be something that’s informative or something that is purely entertaining. The point is, aim to create value for your audiences with every post you make.

That way, they’ll want to keep checking your page and are more likely to share posts.

Don’t Forget Creativity

Insta is a less formal setting, so make sure you use it to its full advantage by getting creative with posts.

This creativity will allow your brand to stand out on the channel.

That’s a Wrap

In this post we’ve aimed to give you an overview of Instagram Stories and why your business should be using it.

If you still feel that this is not the channel for you, why not check out this post about marketing on Facebook?

If you’ve decided that Instagram is the right channel for your business, and you have some inspiration for creating your first story, why not let us know what step you’ll take next?

Comment below to let us know what you’re planning.


Publisher Bio

Alex Slichnyi, community manager at 99Firms.com, is an avid learner of all things IT. He is a savvy SEO specialist who loves traveling because it allows him to experience hands-on the many facets of life.

Email: alexander@99firms.com
Twitter: @AlexSlichnyi

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