Instagram Stories just changed the game on Instagram
If you don't already know, I'm here to tell you that you need to get on Instagram's new feature "Stories". First of all, it's not going anywhere. Did they copy? (Maybe, yeah, but so what). It's time for you to stop playing and get it together. You keep discrediting the new tech features that continues to appear (no pun intended). You're unsure how you're going to market to your current audience, and you most certainly haven't even began to think about how you're going to reach people that's outside of your current friend group. What’s so great about Stories? And how can you use it to accomplish your goals?
I'm here to tell you why Instagram's Stories feature is here to stay and how brands can leverage it to get more exposure and drive more engagement.
How Does it Work Exactly?
Instagram Stories are a new way for users to share pictures that a user might not want to remain on their profile indefinitely. Instead, Stories are shared with followers at the top of the regular feed and are deleted automatically after 24 hours. If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
If you’re not familiar with Snapchat Stories, Instagram’s new feature will seem completely fresh. It’s a slideshow of photos and videos that you can add to throughout the day, with each addition expiring 24 hours after it was posted. These stories don’t clog up the main Instagram feed, which looks the same as it always did. At the top of the app, you’ll notice a new bar with your friends’ profile photos and a plus sign icon in the top left corner. Tapping on the plus sign lets you create a story, and tapping on a friend’s profile photo lets you view their story. You’ll know a friend has updated their story because a colorful ring will surround their profile photo in the top bar.
How are Brands using Instagram Stories?
After exploring stories for the last few months I started to notice different ways brands are now taking advantage of this new feature. Using the stories format, brands have opportunities to connect with their audience and visually inspire them with their brand stories.
How are Instagram Stories different from Snapchat?
Well first, let me tell you how they are the same. Both platforms run on the same idea (obviously we know Instagram may or may not have copied snapchat directly). Simply put, you take a picture or short video and post it under your profile, where your followers—all of them, or a select group, depending on your settings—can watch it for a span of 24 hours. Regardless both are super powerful platforms - but let me tell you the two biggest reasons why brands are engaging more with Instagram over snapchat.
Built In Audience
Unlike snapchat, you already have a built in audience as soon as you create your first of many "stories" on Instagram. (I don't understand) Great let me explain - With Snapchat you're only limited to certain segments and one of them is your friend group. There's a challenge in building up a snapchat audience.
In addition to the built-in audience on Instagram, you also have the opportunity for increased discoverability. The content you produce on Snapchat needs to be promoted regularly across other channels or else no one will see it. Or you must follow someone on Snapchat to discover his or her content. On Instagram, there are hashtags, geotags, and the Discover section to increase your chances of being found. Also, Instagram Stories are also searchable and appear publicly on a profile if a profile is set to public. Snapchat content can disappear into the void unless someone knows exactly what to look for.
So I'm basically saying, If you have an active audience base on Instagram, you should jump on Stories quick!
One of the most underrated features, that you need to be paying more attention to is the Instagrams Analytics feature. With Instagram Analytics, you can learn more about how your posts are performing and discover which type of content gets the most Instagram engagement! And that's just the beginning! Instagram also allows you insight into your audience lives, how old they are, and when they’re most frequently engaging with your content. This is important because you can now build strategically without guessing whose seeing or engaging with your posts.
Now, How Can I Use Instagram to Drive Engagement?
There are many ways to increase engagement on Instagram, but I'm going to focus on two main areas that I use often, which cost nothing and I believe are the most effective: Instagram Live and Stories.
Instagram Live is the new ability to stream, in real time, from the Instagram app. Your community will then get a notification saying that you're "live" which just means you're now the host of your own life, event, t.v show, tutorial, etc. The possibilities are endless in the ways you can use "Live" but since I'm building a brand I use Instagram Live as an incredible way to increase website traffic & sales.
Tips for a Successful Live Stream
Have A Clear Purpose
Like we mentioned above, think of your live stream like a mini-show, podcast episode, or blog post come alive. Have a clear topic and points. It helps to bullet things out ahead of time to keep yourself on topic. Remember that people are popping on and dropping off all the time, so it’s helpful to quickly recap your points from time to time.
Keep it Concise
I think live streams can be long or short, depending on the topic, and what your audience wants and expects from you. But most times people are not going to dedicate 20-30 minutes just to watch you. So make sure to get your point across in half the time.
Involve Your Audience
Ask questions and tell viewers to comment with their answers. Respond to them and make your stream as much of a two-way conversation as possible.
Send Them Somewhere Else (Call-to-Action)
As with all social media, the goal is to get someone to take the next step with you. Social media might be where someone discovers you or first engages with your brand, but you need to get them back to where you do business. Send them to one of your freebies or opt-ins. Comment with, or mention, a short link to a specific blog post that complements what you are talking about. Use your live stream to gain leads.
Tell a "STORIES"
Most recently, I created a series of "stories" that received a lot of engagement (below). (Everyone was in my dms asking me how I did it). Most of the dms were from people I didn't know. The most important aspect of "stories" is actually telling a story. Great story telling is one way to differentiate your brand. Story telling allows you to connect and engage with your audience on a deeper level. Because I know the brand that I've built, I was able to tell a story that my audience would understand, share, and simply love. Before you create a series of stories, really stop and think who are my audience and how will they relate to my content.
How was I able to reach people I didn't even know?.. You can now use hashtags and geotags directly on your Instagram stories. This allows other users to search for you or watch stories of certain locations. These new features on "stories" opens up your brand to a whole new audience without spending a dime.
Below I've included my personal Instagram "stories" that everyone seemed to love! As you can see below, I made sure once I created a great story, I made sure to tag users, add geotags and hashtags.