Social media is one of the best resources for brands to get their name and products in front of shoppers and target audiences. When it comes to brand awareness and user engagement, a strong social media presence is imperative. For businesses that really want to engage with their users, promote their products, and reach extensive audiences, a social strategy is a must.
But for brands that are still navigating the complex and diverse social media scene, learning which features work to best support growing your business can take time. Aside from running paid social ads, leveraging influencers, and creating postable and shareable content, how else can social media help market your business to users?
Instagram Stories, perhaps one of the best-kept social media marketing secrets, is a seriously underrated feature that can take a brand’s social status to the next level. They allow users to become familiarized with your business and learn more about your products through shareable, branded, short-form content. Instagram Stories is most commonly used by brands to boost awareness, build engagement, and drive sales. From paid ads and influencer-sponsored content to product drops, sweepstakes, and engaging with customers, Stories does it all.
What Are Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories allows brands to share short-form content in a slideshow format. Stories can feature anything from product drops and announcements (like enter-to-win sweepstakes) to interactive polls and quizzes, shareable content, website links, question and answers, and 15-second videos perfect for product demos or reviews and influencer collabs. Essentially, Stories are one of the best ways to share tidbits of content that wouldn’t necessarily live on your profile.
As you share images and videos to your account’s Story, they will appear together like a slideshow that users can click through. One thing to note: Your stories will disappear after 24 hours. So, think of your Story as daily highlights you want to feature to potential shoppers. Just be sure to refresh your Stories daily to keep feeding users fresh content and live updates.
Although they disappear after 24 hours, Instagram Stories are a great way to grab attention in the here and now. You can post as many videos and photos to your Stories as you want, and they won’t affect your main feed. Stories offer you a piece of digital real estate in which you can showcase anything you want about your brand, giving users inside information they might not otherwise glean from your blog posts or website pages.
How Are Stories Used in Marketing?
Brands that use Instagram Stories have a variety of tools and features they can leverage to easily interact with audiences. Some of these include:
- Geographical location tagging
- Linking to a blog, website, or products
- Questions and answers
Each of these features – along with the other content you create – helps to grow your followers and facilitates brand engagement.
Types of Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories can take all sorts of shapes. The possibilities are seemingly endless, but here are a few of our favorites.
Promoting Blog Posts
Your brand’s Instagram Story is a great place to promote recent blog posts. When paired with the “Swipe Up” feature, you can send your audience straight to the post. This makes it easier and more convenient for users to access your blog, which acts as an incentive to browse your latest posts and engage with your content! This helps with lead generation and facilitates driving users and followers to your pages.
Promoting Instagram Posts
As your brand gains followers, promote your latest posts on Instagram Stories. Whether they’re product demos, sneak peeks at new collections, enter-to-win sweepstakes, or big brand announcements, share them to your Story to promote engagement and maximize views. It’s not guaranteed that your audience will see everything you post to your page on their feed. So, it’s essential to take advantage of every opportunity for views. By publishing your posts to Stories, you’re doubling the chances of them reaching your followers.
Perhaps the best way to leverage Stories to facilitate new purchases is by sharing product drops to your Story. Whether your seasonal new arrivals just dropped or you’re launching a limited edition product, throw in a teaser and a call to action to click the link, or add a swipe up and let Stories drive engagement and purchases.
Tools in Stories
The great thing about Stories is they are an opportunity for brands to get really creative. Instagram offers a variety of tools right in the app that facilitates engagement and welcome followers to connect to your brand. From stickers to GIFs to music and more, Stories are easy to make fun, fresh, and branded.
Consider creating a poll for optimal engagement and welcome feedback from your followers. You can also utilize Story filters to make your content really pop. It’s never been easier to create branded, shareable content that’s eye-catching and unique.
A variety of outside inventors have also developed technologies that make it easier for you to post exciting Stories to your brand’s Instagram page. For instance, you can find Story templates that are beautiful and super easy to edit. Some apps let you upload images and videos directly from your camera roll and edit them before you post to Stories. Some apps allow you to film product demos and post them right to your Storyboard.
Use the tools available at your fingertips to make the best experience for your audience.
Public vs. Close Friends
The whole point of having a social media presence is to get your brand in front of users. With this in mind, you should always have your profile set to “Public” to maximize reach and engagement. This way, even those who don’t follow your brand can access your content, which helps to build interest among new audiences.
With that said, the “Close Friends” option does offer something special. Close Friends is like the VIP room of Instagram. It gives your followers a taste of some exclusive content that is only available to them. Who you add to your Close Friends list is entirely up to you, but we recommend hand-selecting users who belong to your rewards program or who are actively engaging with your posts.
As a marketer, you can use the Close Friends option to promote behind-the-scenes footage, deals on new merch, and exclusive offers. The point is that you’re curating a private list of users who will enjoy your brand on a more intimate level. Remember, making your followers feel valued and special will only keep them coming back for more.
Reposting and Sharing Content
Reposting or sharing other users’ content helps you gain credibility and usher in user-generated content. For instance, if a customer reviewed your product on their page or posted a photo wearing something from your new collection, be sure to share this to your Story. Not only are you positively engaging with your customers, but you’re also showing other followers that you value feedback.
Instagram Stories’ Best Practices for Brands
While there’s a lot you can do with Instagram Stories, we have a few go-to tips and tricks that are guaranteed to boost your brand. Here are a few best practices to take your social media strategy to the next level.
Educate with How-Tos and Tutorials
Stories are a great place to provide sequential, step-by-step instructions. For example, take a look at Equinox‘s story highlights. Their brand does an amazing job of creating content that’s informative, easy to digest, and relevant to their brand. For instance, see how you can better your fitness positions and yoga poses in 15 seconds or less right on their Story!
Insert Polls, Quizzes, and Questions
Pick your followers’ brains with fun questions on Stories. It’s a great place to start conversations with your audience. Take a look at Benefits Cosmetics‘ Instagram for inspiration.
You can utilize your Stories to make announcements about sweepstakes, new products or collections, and anything that will generate excitement among your followers. Dropping announcements on Stories keeps followers in the loop and lets people know what you’re up to. Need an example? Check out Freddy’s Stories highlight, which has been creatively and purposefully built to hype up the company’s latest locations when they open.
Use Third-Party Tools and Resources
Hootsuite is a social media strategist’s go-to for all things Instagram Stories. From scheduling your Stories in advance to managing your posts, this service makes it easy to become a social media master.
Zero Gravity Marketing: Your Social Media Marketing Resource
Social media is a tricky field to navigate but neglecting to establish yourself on leading platforms can set your business back. Our team at Zero Gravity Marketing is here to solve the riddle that is social media engagement. To enhance your social strategy and take your brand to infinity and beyond, contact our team!