Instagram Social Media Marketing

How To Successfully Use Instagram Stories As A Marketing Tool

May 6, 2020
Instagram Stories

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How To Successfully Use Instagram Stories As A Marketing Tool

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms and no proper social media marketing campaign would be complete without using it. Back in 2018 already, more than 70% of American businesses were making use of the popular platform. Instagram and Instagram Stories are a great way to reach customers, and we’ll discuss how you can do just that.

On average, Instagram has about 1 billion users every month, with 500 million using it every day. Instagram Stories has more than 500 million daily active users, showing just how popular this platform truly is.

Instagram also offers brands a great Return On Investment rate and has an engagement rate of more than 4%. It is clear that Instagram is a powerful tool that will give an already well-planned marketing campaign extra beef.

Just What Are Instagram Stories?

Despite its popularity, some people are still wondering just what is an Instagram story.  This is something that Instagram launched and is a copy of a similar feature of Snapchat. However, Instagram Stories managed to become even more popular than the feature it copied.  In fact, it surpassed Snapchat and achieved so much more than the app. On top of that, this feature keeps growing and rising in popularity.

Most basically explained, Instagram Stories allows the platform’s users to share photos and short videos with fans and followers. This content is very short-lived and is automatically deleted after 24 hours.

Whatever was shared is not shown on Instagram users’ profile grids or in main feeds. Only those connected with the person who shared the content will be able to see it. Instagram noted how successful the Instagram Stories feature was, and decided to let users save their Stories so it can be viewed for a longer period.

Where Are Stories On Instagram?

If you’re still new to using Instagram and its Stories, you may not even know where they are. Don’t despair, we’ll quickly inform you so you don’t have to search for the answers on Google. Stories are at the top of the feed on mobiles and to the right of the feed on desktops. You can click or tap on any Story to watch it or you can use your arrows or the swipe left option to see the next Story. Click on the x in the top right to leave someone’s Story and return to your feed.

How To Share A Photo Or Video To Your Instagram Stories

Now, we will quickly tell you how you can share your content with your followers using Stories. It is much easier than you think. Begin by having your content saved on your phone or computer from where you will be sharing it. Then, click on the camera icon in the top left or swipe right from anywhere in your feed.

Click on the little circle that you’ll find at the bottom of the screen to record a video or take a photo if you don’t have anything saved. If you do, swipe up and choose your content from your gallery or library.

You can draw on, or add a sticker or add text to your photo or video before you share it. If you aren’t happy with the extra features you’ve added, you can simply delete it before continuing. When you’re satisfied with what you’ve created and want to share it, you can tap on the ‘Your Story’ option at the bottom left of your screen.

All your Stories will disappear within 24 hours unless you add them to your account profile as Highlights.

Watching Instagram Stories

If you’re doing research about your competition and want to see what they share, it’s easy. (Just know that they will be able to see that you viewed their Story) You can also watch the Stories that are shared by your followers and target audience.

You can view on either the app or official website and if someone has shared a Story that you’ve not yet seen, you will notice a colourful ring around their profile picture.

When using the app, you will see Stories in a row at the top of your feed. Remember that you can only see the Stories of a private account if you follow the account. When someone has shared a Story, you will see it by going to their profile picture.

You will notice that they’ve created new content. When you are watching Stories from your feed, you will automatically see the next person’s Story next. You can skip the Story or swipe right and swipe left between Stories. To exit someone’s story, simply swipe down.

If you’re using the online Instagram site, you will find Stories to the right of your feed. You can click on any Story to watch or use your arrows to browse. It is possible to swipe if you’re using the website on your mobile. Select the x that you’ll see in the top-right if you want to leave someone’s Story.

Why Should You Make Instagram Stories Part of Your Marketing Strategy?

There are several reasons why Instagram Stories are so valuable. Firstly, there are twice as many of them posted on Instagram as there is on Snapchat. That’s because these stories reach many more people on Instagram. Thus, it is a successful way to create better brand reach and awareness.

More people tend to actually make purchases from a brand when they’ve seen it mentioned on Instagram, or if they’ve seen it there. Having an Instagram presence is definitely beneficial for companies and services.

Instagram is a brilliant platform for story-telling and what is good marketing other than a way of telling stories. The stories that marketers tell are exciting and create a need that didn’t exist before. These stories make people want to buy your merchandise or use your service.

It is possible for brands to share stories about how they can and have changed lives. Instagram gives you that human touch that is so often lacking in marketing.

Another useful perk of using Instagram Stories is that you can share as many as you like without making it seem like you’re spamming users. These stories are very rarely seen as intrusive (unless you’re sharing content that is annoying).

Because this form of content doesn’t exist for too long and vanishes after 24 hours, you don’t need to have it polished to perfection. As a result, you can prepare less and publish more content. And content is king, as even Bill Gates has said before. People also enjoy seeing a brand’s ‘in the moment’ stories. Just make sure that you’re sharing quality, even if it’s not as well-formatted as your normal content.

Can You Tell Who Looks At Your Instagram Story?

It used to be impossible for Instagram accounts to see who viewed their Instagram Stories unless the viewers chose to like it. But that has changed since the platform decided to make that knowledge transparent. In fact, Instagram has gone as far as to allow you to edit the viewer’s viewing settings once they have watched your Story.

You can get this started by going to your Story and then swiping up. (You can go to your Story by clicking on the icon on the top left of your feed) Instagram then gives you a count of how many people have seen your Story as well as who they were. You can scroll to see the names of all the Instagram users that watched your content. As the account holder, you are the only one who can see who viewed your Story.

There is a bonus as well. Instagram gives you carefully curated options for controlling who can see your Stories. Once you have created content that you want to share, you click on the Story and swipe up. You will find the names of viewers and you can select people who you would like to hide it from. Simply click on the three dots that are located to the right of the user’s name. You can then select the ‘Hide Story From’ option. This is not the same as blocking the user, in case you were wondering.

An Alternative

Another way to make your Story exclusive is by heading to your account settings. There, enter your privacy options and select ‘Story’. There, you can select who you want to hide your Story from. All your future Instagram Stories will then be hidden from the users you have selected until you go back and change the settings again.

It is also possible to choose to share your Stories on Instagram only with your closest friends. You can make a ‘Close Friends’ list by clicking on the three lines at the top right of your profile. You’ll find the option ‘Close Friends’ and that’s where you choose yours. The next time that you share a Story meant only for your Close Friends, they will see a green ring around your profile photo instead of the normal purple and orange ring.

As a company or brand, it is important to see who has viewed your stories on the platform. You can use the information for future marketing strategies. Using the Close Friend option could be something exclusive to your most loyal followers. We suggest you watch Instagram Stories created by your competition to get an idea of what your audience likes.

How To Save An Instagram Story

It is possible to save any Instagram Story that you create and this is actually done automatically by the platform. The saved Story is saved in your Stories Archive. There is no need to save anything yourself and you can turn off this option at any time if you wish to. Simply head to your profile, enter settings and click on your privacy options. From there, choose the Story option and next to Save to Archive select the Save Instagram Story option.

Just remember that your Story will only be saved after it has disappeared when the 24 hour period is over. If you delete anything before this time, it will not be saved to your Archive. We recommend that you don’t turn off this feature as your old Stories can be used for promotion in the future.

How To Share An Instagram Story From Your Archive

If, for some reason, you want to share an old Instagram Story, you totally can. Perhaps you want to remind your audience of the great deals you had a while back or something awesome that your brand did. In that case, you can browse through your Archive to find the Story you want. You can share a Story in a direct message or your Stories.

Simply head to your profile and enter your settings to find your Archive. From there, tap on the Story that you want to share and click on ‘Share’. You will be given options on who you want to share it with.

Instagram Stories Highlights

Many accounts use Instagram Stories Highlights to wow their followers and they are incredible for brand promotion. These highlights are at the front and centre of your profile so they will show off to new visitors what your brand is all about. It is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to the world. You should give these a lot of thought because they’re very important.

While an Instagram Story may be gone after a day, Highlights are different – they can stay forever. You can curate them to share collections of Stories that your followers can watch whenever they want to. Because they are placed in such an important spot on your account, they should be interesting and creative. You should choose your best photos or videos for your Highlights.

How To Use Instagram Stories Highlights

Start by heading to your profile and choosing the Story Highlights option and then clicking on the + or New buttons. You will then choose the Stories that you want to add to your new Highlight. Choose carefully so that everything you add flows nicely into each other.

Next, you will have to choose a nice cover photo and this can be a thumbnail from one of the stories in your Highlight or a new image that you add from your library or gallery. Choosing a new, branded photo is a great option and makes things more interesting. It also looks more professional.

Ant that’s all there is to it. You can be very creative here and create great Highlights to share with the world.

How Do You Use Instagram Stories As A Marketing Tool?

Of course, you need an Instagram account, and if you have this all set up, you’re ready to start. Once that is done, you can go on and read our advice on how to use these social features to increase your brand awareness.

Create A Content Strategy

Plan out the kind of content that you will be using on your account. Make sure that you have researched what content works on Instagram. Don’t use anything that will not attract your audience. You don’t want any time or effort wasted on stories on Instagram that won’t drive engagement. Share interesting photos and videos with your audience to keep them intrigued.

Establish Goals

At this point, you should be well aware of the audience that you are catering to. You should also have a clear idea of what your goals are on Instagram. What kind of engagement rate do you want to achieve? How many followers do you want to gain? Do you want more brand loyalty?

Your Identity

What kind of identity do you want to have on Instagram? You have to build your content around this. The way you want to be seen will greatly affect the kind of content you will share. Your Instagram Stories form the biggest part of this marketing strategy and need to enhance users’ perception of your brand.

Content Variation

You’ve established the kind of content you want to share, so now you have to choose in which forms you will share it. Photos and videos are the most obvious choices as they are the most creative. Sharing textual content isn’t ideal when it will only last a 24 hour period.

Product-based content

You can use content that is inspired by your products. It is a great idea to use Instagram Stories to show off your merchandise. If you’re selling a service, the same idea applies. Get creative with this.

User-Generated Content

If you’ve managed to build up a fanbase already, you can make use of content shared by your followers and fans. User-generated content is a very good way to show the world how cool your brand is without saying anything. You can ask your followers to send their photos or videos that you can use for your Instagram Stories. Or, you can ask them to share their own Stories with your branded hashtag and product/service mentions.

Social-Based Content

This will be defined by what your brand is. If you’re not selling physical goods you can share any kind of content, really. As an example, you can share social activities and events that are related to your brand. Travel blogs like to share collages from popular destinations – this is a form of social-based content.

If you put your mind to it, you will be able to find millions of ideas on what content to share on your Instagram Stories.

More Tips On How To Use Instagram Stories To Enhance Your Marketing Strategy

Show Off Your Relatability

You want to interest social media users so show them that you are fun and can be relatable. You’re not a cold and distant factory looking down over ‘peasants’, you’re ‘one of the guys’. This will create a sense of trust, which will make loyal customers of those who admire your brand and what it stands for. Sure, Instagram Stories only stick around for 24 hours but you can create a sense of reliability with them.

You will have to find creative ways to show your human side to Instagram users and it could be tricky sometimes. But when you do, exhibit it on your Instagram Stories. Create a feeling of impulse and whimsical happiness. Stories on Instagram can be a brilliant way to show your audience how fun and awesome your brand is.

Interact With Your Audience

Nothing creates trust quite like actual interaction. Instagram Stories opens the door for this quite wide. You can make use of features such as hashtags, GIFs, stickers, polls and location tags to get started. 

People can find you and reach out, giving them a feeling of importance and connectivity. If you use hashtags, you can also make yourself more memorable to users. You can also use polls to give your users a voice and hear what they have to say. Customers like it when brands allow them to have their say. This is also a great way to get real-time feedback.

Rope In The Help Of Influencers

Influencers have gained a lot of power on social media, becoming superstars who promote brands and entertain fans. If your social media marketing strategy does not include the use of an influencer yet, you should really consider working it in. The Influencer Marketing Industry is set to grow to approximately $9.7 billion in 2020

There are many types of influencers and all of them come with great benefits. Use them and host ‘Instagram takeovers’ on Instagram Stories. This allows an influencer to take over your account for a day, or vice versa.

Of course, before the takeover happens, you’ll have to work with the influencer to create buzz around the event. Build up some hype and even create some competitions or giveaways around the idea. It is a fun way to introduce your brand to a much wider audience.

Use Ads

It is only natural that you use advertisements on your social media accounts – it’s what they’re used for by brands. You can do that with Instagram Stories as well. Instagram makes use of Facebook’s ad system and it boasts great targeting ability.

You can target ads based on the language, location, behaviour, demographics, interests and more of Instagram users. The genius of the ad system that Instagram uses is that users often don’t even realise they’re watching ads.

That’s because they flow so smoothly with story transitions that it’s hardly noticeable that an ad is being played. However, the impact is made and your ad will reach your audience.

Directly Talk To Your Audience

Instagram Stories allows users to get directly in touch with brands. Use this to your benefit and reply to messages quickly. Be warned though, you may be overwhelmed with the influx of direct messages.

It is a wonderful way to create more connections between brands and customers. This can be a double-edged sword if you’re not dedicated. If you don’t reply soon enough, people will talk about your unresponsiveness. So make sure that you’re always keeping a close eye on your DMs.

Examples Of How Companies Made The Most Of Instagram Stories

There are many brands that are making Instagram Stories work for them. Let’s take a look at a handful of them and what they did.

Starbucks

This popular brand uses Instagram Stories to share testimonials from its customers and launch new products. Obviously, a lot of the content revolves around Starbucks’ drinks but the Storied don’t ever feel like ads. Because they use such a friendly tone, people are attracted to and entertained by Starbucks’ Instagram Stories.

Starbucks

Starbucks shows that marketing can be fun and interactive if done right. They also use quizzes and questions in their Stories on Instagram, which pulls in their audience. 

Outback Steakhouse

Of course, this brand shares images of food with their Stories on Instagram, and it is very popular on the platform. They also incorporate polls into their content, being very engaging with followers and fans. Although they have ‘traditional’ ads, Outback Steakhouse has a fresh and friendly tone that welcomes users.

Outback Steakhouse

This brand proves that you don’t have to let go of traditional ways of marketing, as long as your content is visually appealing. By using images of the kind of food they sell, they’re making people want to drop in for dinner or lunch.

NASA

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has one advantage the rest of us don’t have: stunning space photos. They use their unique images and offerings to show off what sets them apart. Also, NASA enjoys sharing polls and fun facts with their audience using interesting and sometimes cheeky Stories on Instagram.

Like NASA, you should use what makes your brand special and show off with it. Make it clear to social media users why they should support you. Give them appetizers that will make them ravenous, if you can. Try to be as interactive as possible. 

Instagram Stories - NASA

NASA’s quick and interesting Instagram Stories are able to pull in many users. Learn from this and do the same. Strong content will not only pull in your followers but keep them hooked. Another thing that makes NASA popular is that it posts jargon-free content. You don’t need to have a degree in rocket science to be entertained by them. Do the same for your audience, let them get involved without the need to think too much. Be accessible – this is important.

Conclusion

You have now been handed many tools to make Instagram Stories work for your brand. Use all the information shared here to enhance the experience of users on your social media account. For the most part, keep it simple and be creative when you create a Story for Instagram. Remember that your audience is human and wants to be entertained. If you do, you’re definitely on the right track.  

Once you understand how Instagram Stories work and their many benefits, you can use them as impressive tools in your marketing arsenal. Take full advantage that this level of engagement gives you as a brand, and build strong relationships with your followers.

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