6 Ways You Can Use Instagram Stories For Your Business

Instagram has a new feature called Instagram stories that has been out for about three years now. It is a new way to showcase your life without actually posting it on your feed. The way Instagram stories work is very similar to Snapchat stories. You can take a video or photo and post it on your story and it only lasts for 24 hours then poof! It’s gone. Off your story for good. Well, not technically. Let’s talk about how you can use Instagram stories can help your business

 

Instagram Story History

As we all know, or now know, Facebook bought Instagram back in 2012 for a whooping 1 billion dollars. I wish I had one billion dollars to buy a whole other company, don’t you? After Facebook bought Instagram, they wanted to own more unique and original sharing on their sites, which was reportedly down 15 percent every year since 2016. It got hard for Instagram to boost sharing frequency because most people who use Instagram would only post their best of the best photos, meals, and locations. Do it for the gram am I right? 

 

Most people do not post on Instagram every day because either nothing post worthy is happening in their life or they just do not feel like it is a special enough occasion to make a full post about. Then stories were created. With this new feature, it allows you to post content that is not necessarily “good enough” to post or does not fit into the aesthetic of your feed. The beauty of Instagram stories only lasting 24 hours is that you won’t have to worry about that not so cute selfie you posted or deciding if you want to delete that new picture you posted because it didn’t get 100 likes in 20 minutes. 

 

Instagram stories are also a great tool for those people that want to post more than one picture but do not want to clutter up their feed or double post, or maybe even triple post. 

 

Instagram had some trial runs with other apps to try to compete with Snapchat such as Slingshot, Poke, and Instagram Bolt, which unfortunately did not do so hot. People did not want to have to download another app on top of Instagram, so these were removed from the app stores. 

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How Do Instagram Stories Work

 

So how to Instagram stories actually work and how are they different or the same as Snapchat stories. Some similarities that Instagram and Snapchat stories has is that they both lasts only 24 hours. They are in 10 second time increments and you can tap the screen to fast forward or go backwards with the stories. 

 

You can post something that is already on your camera roll to your Instagram or Snapchat story like a memory. You are also able to make your story more personable by adding text, drawings, emojis, filters, and different color filters. 

 

Your followers have to click on your profile in order to view your story so if you purposely did not want to view someone’s story, you don’t even have to click on it if you don’t want to! You can save your stories before or after posting it, but make sure to save it before you draw on it if you don’t want the edits in your original photo. 

 

Now, what are some of the differences of these stories. With Instagram stories, they appear in a row at the top of your main feed instead of a separate screen like Snapchat stories. Anyone you let follow you on Instagram, if your page if private, can see your Instagram story once they start following you. You don’t have to be following someone, as long as their profile is public, on Instagram in order view their story. You have the ability to block or mute Instagram stories if there is that one person who is just posting way too much and you don’t want to see it anymore.

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To post a new photo or video on Instagram, you just have to click the camera icon in the top left corner or slide right to open it. Snapchat only allows you to post through the camera. 

 

Now for the more creative differences that you may not have even noticed. On Instagram, you have three different brush types to choose from: standard, translucent highlighter and color-outlined neon. Snapchat only has one brush feature. 

 

Spying on somebody and need proof? That’s what screenshots are for. On Snapchat, it notifies you if someone has screenshotted your photo, but on Instagram, the user you are screenshotting will not get notified. 

 

Now that we’ve covered all the cool features Instagram stories has and how it compares to Snapchat, let’s discuss how to use Instagram stories for your business. 

 

1.     A Day in the Life of Your Business

A popular type of video to make nowadays is “A Day in the Life”. Whether you are a YouTuber or just someone having a little fun on Instagram, it’s fun to make and watch! Businesses can utilize this by showing their followers and customers just exactly how they run the business they all know and love. The Pink Lily Boutique is a women’s fashion boutique located in Bowling Green, KY and they frequently show their customers around their offices, the warehouse that hoards all the fashionable clothing, and behind the scenes looks at photoshoots. 

 

This is a fun idea for a business to do because it is different than just posting the same outfit or couple of dishes if your business is a restaurant. This is a more personal approach that will get followers excited!

 

2.     Go Live!

Another new and fun feature that Instagram and Facebook has is their live feature. Going live means you are literally live streaming and all your followers can watch in real time. Start by posting an Instagram story a couple of hours in advance or even a day, to let followers know exactly the time and date you will be live. You can even save your live and post it on your story for 24 hours for those people who missed the session.

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You can do anything when you do an Instagram or Facebook live. Let’s say you own a restaurant. You can go live and show followers, new and old, around the restaurant, to meet the staff, and maybe take them through a brief cooking lesson! Retailers can use this to show new arrivals of merchandise and any sales they have currently or coming up. Companies can even host a question and answer session on live so customers can get live info right then and there. 

 

3.     Giveaways and Contests

We all love a good contest, right? Winning free merchandise or services just for liking a picture or reposting a post. You can use Instagram stories to post that you have a contest or giveaway coming up. Post the rules on your story so people can quickly see how to enter without having to go to your feed to find the rules. Have your followers repost your story to their story as a part of the giveaway rules. This will give you exposure and maybe even more contest entrees! 

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4.     Promote Products and Sales

Use Instagram stories as a quick way to share new products. Give a short demonstration of how your product or service works and how people can get involved or work with your business. You can even post about what sales you are having. I know for one that I go through my Instagram stories before I scroll through my feed, so it is a good idea to post all details on your story, so your customers definitely see it. 

Check out how to create a story that will help market your business.

Different businesses can use Instagram stories to post about different topics. Fashion retailers for example can use Instagram stories for showing off new clothing, promoting sales they are running, you could even include customer testimonials. People can tag you in their Instagram story using your product or service and Instagram will notify you that someone mentioned you in their story and you can take that and repost it on your own story. That was a mouthful huh? Repost customer testimonials and show new followers just how much people love your brand! It is super simple and one of the easiest ways to free marketing!

5.     Highlights

In addition to Instagram stories, they have also introduced Instagram highlights. Highlights allow you to organize photos and videos you posted on your Instagram story to something similar of a folder and people can go back and look at what you previously posted. 

 

You can be creative and have highlight covers which are just custom images or icons that represent the topic of the stories that are saved. Some examples would be things like outfits, travel, food, the possibilities are endless. 

 

How do you create an Instagram highlight? It is quite simple actually. You can create a highlight from an active story by tapping and opening up the active story, clicking on the “highlight” icon on the bottom, and finally tapping the plus icon to create a new highlight, and there you go! Now you have created a highlight and can post your story to the appropriate highlight folder to be viewed after the 24 hour period.

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Now to add a highlight from an archived story is a little trickier so let’s walk through it: 

·     First, go to your profile and tap Story Highlights below your bio

·     Next, tap the plus icon

·     When you are in the new window, tap and select the stories you want to appear as a highlight and click next. You can click “edit cover” to choose which story will appear as an icon or you upload an icon

·      Enter a name for your highlight and tap add. That’s it!

Sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it. It will take some practice to totally get used to using Instagram stories and highlights, but with a few tries it’ll be easy peezy in no time!

 

6.     Polls and Reaction Sliders

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Questionnaires are fun but sometimes you want to switch it up. Instagram stories give you the option of running a poll that your followers can interact with. You can use polls for many reasons such as market research and customer feedback, and you can get as creative as you want! Get your customers opinions on new products and new marketing tactics. After all, you wouldn’t be a business without your loyal customers.

 

Reaction sliders are a new feature Instagram recently added to stories as a way to respond to the content of your stories. Brands use reaction sliders as a way to boost engagement. The most common emoji used with the reaction sliders are the heart eyes emoji signifying how much a customer loves your product. You have the ability to slide the emoji as far as you want to show your interest in the product and if you love it or totally hate it. 

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The possibilities and ways that Instagram stories can help your business are endless. You just have to play around with all the features offered and see which ones work best with your company and what your customers are loving the most.  Want to understand why your business needs social media? Click the link to learn more.

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Kierra Amerson

Social Media Intern

Caffeine Marketing