Did you know that 500 million Instagram accounts use Instagram Stories every day? This statistic includes personal and business use, but the number continues to grow every year as more and more businesses realize how powerful Stories are. But how do you use Instagram Stories for business purposes?
What is an Instagram Story, and how can you make this work for you? We’ll outline all of this for you below. By the end, you’ll be a pro at harnessing the power of Instagram Stories for business.
What is an Instagram Story?
Before we get into how you can use Instagram Stories, you need to understand what they are. Instagram Stories lets users share videos and photos to their “Story.” Followers can view this Story, and you can send your Story to specific users. Just like Snapchat’s Snaps, Instagram’s Stories are only visible for 24 hours before they disappear.
The Insta Story is published separately from the videos and photos you post that go into your feed. If you add a video inside to your Story, each section can only be 15 seconds long, although longer videos run together seamlessly. Your Instagram Story has a 15 minute maximum roll time when all these sections are added together.
There are a few specifications you need to know about , so you don’t create content that doesn’t fit well in your Story space. For example, you need to keep all of your stickers and text inside the blue lines to keep them fully visible. Since you know the video length, you should also know the photo or video size and aspect ratio include:
- Aspect Ratio – 9:16
- Size – 1080 by 1920 pixels
How do Instagram Stories Work?
Instagram Stories are excellent for creating engagement with your followers. Additionally, lots of brands have had massive success with publishing on this platform, including Insider and Teen Vogue. No matter if you want to grow video traffic, brand awareness, or share sponsored content, thousands of businesses are using Instagram Stories to publish fun content. This disappearing content mixes brand personality and voice without taking up too much time.
This is what makes the Stories such a powerful marketing tool. You can connect with your audience in a few seconds to keep your brand fresh in their minds. If you post an Instagram Story every few days, your followers will keep checking back to see the latest updates.
How to Make an Instagram Story
Fortunately, it’s a straightforward process to create, view, and reply to Instagram Stories. Once you get the process down, creating new stories will go quickly. To start, open your Instagram account and tap the camera button in the top left corner of your screen. You can also swipe right anywhere you’d like in your Instagram feed.
Long-press or tap the record button at the bottom of the screen to take a video or photo. If you want to make burst photos that’ll loop forward and backward, you can press Boomerang. There are several unique features on Instagram Stories like Stop-motion, Superzoom, Rewind, Live, Type, Music, and Hands-Free.
When you finish with your Instagram Story, tap the sticker, text, or doodle icon to add in any effects. Your stickers can include songs, polls, or information about your location. Finish editing and save your Story or tap Instagram’s + circle icon to share it. This post will be live for 24 hours before disappearing. You can select who sees your story, and you can hide it from specific individuals. To hide your story, you:
- Click the Profile icon to go to your profile
- Click the “Settings/More” button
- Click “Story Settings” below Account
- Click “Hide Story From” and pick who you don’t want to see the Story
Viewing Your Instagram Story
When you post anything to your Instagram Story, Instagram will put a colorful ring around your profile picture. When people click it, they can see your story. Your Story will also show up at the top of the feed. Your followers will see your profile picture in a row. There are Search and Explore tabs people can use to look for publically shared stories.
Replying to Instagram Stories
Your followers can respond to your Instagram Story with a video or a photo. They can write a message reply or use an image. When they watch your Story, they’ll see a small camera button at the bottom of the screen. All they have to do is click it to snap a picture or record a short video. They can resize and move the Story image they’re interacting with and insert it into their photos.
They’ll get the chance to apply stickers or filters before sharing the story with you. The video or photo will show up in your Direct Message inbox with the original story’s thumbnail. This feature allows you to interact with your followers and add a human element to your brand. It also generates excitement and engagement, and this is why millions of businesses have embraced IG Stories in their marketing strategies.
Other Features of Instagram Stories
Along with these main features, Instagram Stories allows you to do so much more. The biggest features you can take advantage of include the following:
If you add a location to your Story, it’ll show up on Instagram’s Explore page to boost your visibility and reach. Once you finish editing your post, click the folded smiley icon on the top of your screen. Find and click on the location sticker and put in your location. You can click the location to change the colour, or pinch and drag it to change the sticker’s location and size.
Using the correct hashtags can help people find your posts, and you can use up to 10 per Story. To get there, you’ll edit your story and click the folded smiley icon again. Look for the #hashtag sticker to open it, and type in whichever hashtag you want to use. Click enter when you finish.
Instagram’s Polls are interactive stickers. You can use them to get feedback from your followers. Create and edit your story before clicking on the folded smiley icon to bring up stickers. Look for the sticker that says Poll and click it. Enter whichever question you’d like to ask, and click on the Yes and No buttons to write in your responses. Put the sticker in your chosen location in your story and publish it.
Finally, you can check the view count on each Instagram Story you post to see how many people look at it. Go to the left side of your Home screen and click on the Your Story icon. Look at the bottom left. This is where you’ll see a view counter. If you swipe up, you’ll see a list of people who looked at every individual post from your Story. This will only show the previous 24 hours.
Do you have a burning question you’d like to ask your followers? If so, Instagram Stories allow you to ask questions to boost your engagement and get feedback. Create and edit your story before clicking on the folded smiley icon to go to stickers. Find the “questions” sticker and click it. You can keep the default “Ask me a question” or write in your own. If you click the colored circle, you can switch your question sticker’s appearance. As you start getting answers, you can look at your Instagram Story views to see them.
Every story you post should align with your brand’s voice. Fortunately, there are several design templates available to help you create stunning IG Stories. You can also find GIFs to add to your Stories by looking in Create Mode. It’ll automatically resize, fit the screen, or duplicate. You can add additional GIFs, stickers, or text to drive engagement.
How to Use Instagram Stories – Nine Possibilities
Now that you know what Instagram Stories are, how to create them, and a few fun features, we’ll outline several ways you can use IG Stories for your business. Each one of the following ideas can help drive engagement and boost your business’s reach.
1 – Contests
Do you have a new product you want to give away? You can host a short, 24-hour contest on your brand’s Instagram Story. This short time frame creates a sense of urgency that encourages your followers to act. Take a short video or a photograph of the prize to feature in your Story, and include the entrance rules. For example, you could tell your followers to reply to the Story with their email, and you enter this email into a drawing.
At the end of the contest, randomly pick a winner to give your newest product or service to. You can also incorporate hashtags like #contest, #giveaway, or #competition to increase your reach and find people who don’t follow your business’s page.
2 – Announcements
Due to Instagram Stories’ instant nature and short time, they make an excellent vessel to share announcements like new product launches, general updates, or new staff. Announcements are fantastic opportunities to post behind-the-scenes footage. Your followers will feel like they’re getting an insider’s look at your business while learning about the staff and the culture.
Use them to show your company’s personality and human side! Maybe you have an epic prank war going, or you’re going to introduce a new package material or service. This boosts both brand engagement and awareness.
3 – Live Events
If you plan to schedule a live event on Instagram, make sure you warn your followers in advance so they can watch it as it unfolds. The more engagement and views your video gets, the higher your chances are of having Instagram feature it in the “Top Live” section of the Explorer area. Additionally, this gives you time to come up with a script or a rough idea of what you want to say.
There are dozens of things that you could host a Live event for with your business. You could unveil new features, services, or products. Maybe you have an exciting event you want to document or a limited-time discount. You could hold a Q&A session with your followers as well.
Instagram really pushes these events, so they promote each one by sending notifications to your followers that lets them know you started your Live streaming event. You’ll also find your live event featured at the top of your IG Stories bar, and this is the first thing people see when they look.
4 – Countdown Announcements
The countdown sticker is one of the newer additions to IG Stories. If you have announcements, sales, or competitions, a countdown sticker is a great way to generate excitement. Any users can set a reminder for the countdown deadline.
When they do, you’ll get this data, and it’ll tell you exactly how many of your audience members are the most engaged. It’ll also tell you which audience demographic is more engaged. In turn, you’ll be able to use this data to build a strong fan base. Additionally, higher engagement means more products or services sold.
5 – Highlights
Highlights show users the best parts of previous posted Instagram Stories. However, brands and businesses are able to pin Stories to the top of the Instagram profile, and this allows you to use them like a biography extension. The highlights can tell any followers or visitors what you do, your mission, who your brand is, and display services or products. You can add eye-catching titles to these stories to encourage engagement.
If you create your IG Stories for the sole purpose of creating highlights, you can turn your Instagram page into a miniature brochure that showcases everything you do. Even if you don’t use this tactic, you can still pick and choose your best stories to host in this way. You’ll want to use attention-grabbing covers and give your audience a lot to look through. This will keep them coming back to your page and spending longer learning all about your company.
6 – Collaborations
If you want to collaborate with an influencer or another brand, Instagram Stories has a unique take. You can find relevant businesses that you think your followers will benefit from. For example, if you’re in the makeup industry, you could ask a beauty influencer to collaborate with your brand. They could post a video of them trying out your products and giving their opinion.
You could follow it up with a short Q&A Live session. Throughout this process, you can mutually promote and talk about each other. Using influencers may cost you, but there are dozens of other ways you can collaborate. Have a short brainstorming session and think about how your business could benefit from teaming up with someone for a short collaboration session.
7 – Reaction Slider
The reaction slider allows users to respond to any Stories you post on Instagram. All interactions with your Stories go back to Instagram’s algorithm that tells the platform how engaged your audience is and how good your content is. Knowing this, it makes sense that brands use this reaction slider to boost their engagement scores.
You can add several different icons by your reaction slider. A lot of brands use the “heart eyes” option, but other companies utilize anything from sparkles to eyes for cosmetic-based companies. You should try out a few different ones and see which one aligns with your brand the best.
8 – New Post Announcements
Along with how much engagement your post gets, Instagram’s algorithm also measures how fast each post earns engagement. As a direct result, brands promote their most recent post in their Instagram Stories achieve the best results possible. One tactic is to blackout the thumbnail to encourage people to click to see it.
If you have over 10,000 followers on Instagram, you can link to your post with a call to action, or CTA. This CTA may say something like “Swipe up to Like.” This encourages faster response times and higher engagement overall. Since so many brands are using this tactic, it couldn’t hurt to try it with your own account and see what happens.
9 – Templates
Templates are very popular with influencers. Brands use them to help their followers get to know the company, services, or products. You can design a nice template that your followers can take a screenshot of and fill in. When your followers fill it in and post it to their Story, they’re doing the marketing for you, because it has your brand information on the template itself.
Contact Kontentino to Boost Your Instagram Presence Today!
Are you ready to give your Instagram presence and engagement a boost? If so, Kontentino can help. They have several unique tools available that can help you coordinate, plan, and schedule your Instagram Stories. Kontentino invites you to look around their tools and sign up for a free trial. You won’t be disappointed with the results!