Since its release in 2010, Instagram has served as an amazing platform to market businesses and sell products to previously untouchable demographics.
At first, it was a business’ job to master the art of the perfect post, curate effective hashtags and learn how to interact with their followers. But, as every social platform does, Instagram soon evolved to incorporate more exciting and engaging features like Stories and Reels.
Now, brands need to know how to capture their products and services in snappy Reels and eye-catching Stories that combine the best of their social tool arsenal.
All this talk of clickable videos and disappearing posts may sound alien, so we’re here to help guide you and illustrate why these features are vital to any modern marketing plan.
What are Instagram Stories and Reels?
Stories and Reels are now a vital part of the Instagram platform – both for brands and customers. These features offer an interactive and personalised step in the user journey that was previously unavailable to brands just a decade ago.
The Stories feature was introduced in 2017 and, since then, has been used to gain deeper insight into personal lives and day-to-day business. They usually offer a more interactive look into brands and their products or services.
Stories are visible via your profile picture, and any images or videos posted there last for 24 hours before disappearing. You can revisit these posts in your archive, however, and even create ‘Highlights’ to store them permanently on your profile.
Stories can include tags to other profiles and locations and, most usefully, URLs that direct users to your product pages. Brands can also pay to host targeted ads between peoples’ stories as they scroll, which helps to culminate more convertible traffic.
Reels were introduced in 2020 as 60-second curated clips that users can add to their profile feed. These videos are also shareable in Stories and on the scrollable Reels explore page, making profiles more visible by increasing the chances of discovery.
This feature provides a creative and interactive opportunity to advertise your products, effectively giving you more airtime with both existing and prospective consumers. You can freely edit these clips, meaning you can stitch together existing videos and re-publish the clips via your story to garner more traffic.
Does my business need Instagram?
Instagram can play a key role in your business’ online social presence, helping you connect with people who were previously out of reach. It’s especially useful when targeting younger audiences as it enables you to position yourself within the focus of this demographic, using both paid and organic social campaigns.
Instagram is also an excellent platform for learning about audience behaviours and the success and failures of competitor approaches.
From Stories to Reels, Lives to in-feed posts, the site is a great place to exercise your marketing strategies through trial and error and perfect skills across a variety of social mediums, all of which are relevant in today’s highly saturated market.
Find out more about getting started with Instagram for Business.
How to Create an Instagram Story
Head to your profile, or the top left corner of your feed, and click your profile picture. Or you can click the box with the ‘+’ on the top banner and select ‘Story’.
Either choose an existing photo or video or select the camera and take one.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll have the option to add:
- Filters and effects
- Gifs and stickers
- Profile and location tags
- Link stickers to product and service pages
If you want to add a link, select the link sticker option and add the URL. You can also change the sticker text to optimise your link further.
Adding links to product pages on your stories is a great way to boost traffic to your site and convert those numbers into sales. Each of your linked Stories should act as an efficient product ad, helping you to bypass the ‘tricky’ parts of conversion within the consumer journey – e.g. followers finding and navigating your site to become customers.
Once the user is on your site, you should make it as easy as possible for them to check out – which is where a useful tool like Square Online Checkout comes in. With Online Checkout, you can create eye-catching buy buttons and streamline the payment process, for both you and your customers.
How to Create a Reel
Head to the box with the ‘+’ on the top banner of the Instagram home screen and select ‘Reel’.
Either choose an existing video (or multiple videos) or record a new one.
You can also record multiple clips to stitch together for the same Reel.
From there, you can edit your video by:
- Adding audio
- Choosing after-effects, such as filters, text, and animations
- Changing the alignment and speed of clips
You cannot add a clickable link to a Reel as you would a Story, but you can help users navigate to your profile, where you can add a link to your site in your bio.
You can really get creative with Reels as there are so many ways to change and edit your clips to flex your marketing muscles. It’s worth trying out a few different approaches and creating some test videos before you commit to posting.
How to use Instagram Stories and Reels to Promote Your Business
Now you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to figure out how you can use these tools to boost your brand and direct followers to your online store. Here are a few ideas that you could incorporate into your Instagram marketing strategy.
Host an Instagram takeover
A great way to pique user interest is by utilising other high-profile accounts to expand your reach and gather more brand attention. A takeover is effectively a collaboration with another user who temporarily ‘takes over’ your account by posting fun and engaging Stories and Reels.
They would also share this content with their audience, which naturally helps to broaden your reach, grow recognition, and boost online sales. By lending their influential voice to your brand, it markets your company as one their audience can trust – and, importantly, one that is relevant to them as a consumer.
Create short online tutorials
Online tutorials are a great way of opening up B2C communication channels, while also providing users with useful knowledge they can take away from the interaction. For example, you could create a guide on how to use a specific product, how to get the best results from a service, or even an on-trend tutorial. If you keep on-brand and stay sales-relevant, you can have fun with it.
Keep in mind that social media marketing is a two-way street – both parties should gain something from every interaction. Your audience shouldn’t feel like they are simply being used for sales, especially on an ‘informal’ social platform like Instagram.
Create ‘day in the life’ content
Similar to the above, ‘day in the life’ content is a great way to interact with customers and followers in a friendly and accessible way. This is your opportunity to offer a deep dive into the everyday goings-on of your company, which, as well as being a great creative venture, illustrates that you are a brand that values transparency.
Do your research to see how other companies structure similar content and find a format and an angle that best suits your brand image. Make sure to continuously reflect on follower preferences and ensure that your posts are snappy, on-brand and engaging.
Your social media platforms should be set up in a way that works for you and your customers, as well as being fun for anyone and everyone to engage with. This is why Instagram plays a key role in any modern brand’s marketing strategy.
In addition to being effective marketing tools, Stories and Reels provide great opportunities to be creative and try something a little bit different when driving online revenue and engagement. So, why not give it a go on your business Instagram today?