Depending how old you are and how long you’ve been on the social scene, you may remember a time when Instagram was just a place to share pictures. Small snippets and viewpoints of user’s daily life. A photo of your colorful salad bowl, or a capture of the loving gaze your four-legged friend was giving you. Today, as with most online media channels, the social network has exploded into a leading force behind global brands and a top platform contender among social media users.
Even with newer sites like Snapchat vowing for dominance, the photo sharing network continues to beat the competition and bring in millions of users per day. That’s because it’s delivering content the way consumers want to view it. That’s especially true with the introduction of its “Stories” feature in August 2016. As perhaps one of the defining moments for the social site, the feature opened the space for businesses and users to connect in a quick, friendly, and familiar environment.
In this post we’ll take a closer look at the Instagram Stories feature and why it’s become one of the top ways for businesses to gain viewer engagement as well as share tips for success.
Intro. To Stories
First the basics. An Instagram story is a short video or image post that is only visible for 24 hours and can be found by both your followers and non-followers. Much like the popular “Snapchat” feature, the post disappears after 24 hours and viewers who find content interesting or appealing can follow to see future posts. This is different than the traditional timeline method of scrolling endlessly through posts from accounts a user already follows, in search of an attention-grabbing image to maybe stop to read the caption for.
Today’s users are looking for quick, in-the-moment, and appealing media to consume. Attention spans and instant gratification have reached all new highs. More importantly, Instagrammers are there for inspiration and to find ways to fulfill their aspirations. For businesses, this means a unique opportunity to connect with customers, grow fans, and create brand loyalty.
Understanding the IG Algorithm
According to Instagram, the stories feature gets over 300 million active users daily. From influencers to celebrities and some of the world’s biggest brands, the social media platform has everyone watching, engaging, and following along with what they’re doing.
Perhaps one of the greatest things about the Stories feature is that not only is it discoverable by all, it’s also always at the top of the page and is not being shuffled in people’s timelines, lost somewhere among the sea of other content producers vying for eyeballs.
Unlike the algorithms that have been put in place to keep user related content high up in the timeline feed, stories works by measuring signals such as timeliness of the post, viewer frequency, interactions with accounts, and pushes content to the front that each user is most likely interested in. Over time these tools improve and learn more about users.
Tips for Engagement
As a marketer, the task then becomes creating not only unique and engaging Instagram stories, but finding a way to spark action from viewers and ultimately drive a sale.
To start, you must understand what sorts of things are gaining the most attention and start doing them. Get on Instagram live and start offering customers a sneak peek at the process of what you do behind the scenes. Do a tutorial or launch a sale. Share a warm, welcoming personality behind your brand. Engage, ask for feedback, and comment back. The more you can show how you’re “living in the moment,” the more you’ll find followers interested in what you have to say.
Other ways to grow viewership and engagement levels include tagging your stories location for those close by and using the right hashtags to attract a relevant audience. Instagram even has stickers you can apply that allows you to directly engage with your audience. The very popular poll sticker is customizable and let’s people viewing your story tap on a choice to vote. To see results you simply open the viewer list and you will see the total number of votes and what the majority of people voted for. The newest sticker release from Instagram is the “Questions Sticker” giving your audience the chance to ask you anything while you answer publicly and in real-time. All these things will help you increase interaction, while also helping you to appear more often at the top of the page, in a user’s timeline feed, and have the best chance to make a lasting impression of your brand.
What are some of the ways you’re using Instagram Stories to talk to your customers? Are you finding success in the ability to connect live with customers? What sort of things are you sharing when you go live? Tell us in the comments below! And if you want help to improve your social media marketing strategy, contact Zero Gravity Marketing today!