How Savvy Businesses Use Instagram Stories

It’s safe to stay that Instagram Stories is a hit. The feature, which allows you to post a series of photos and videos that expire after 24 hours, launched in August 2016 and has already amassed over 150 million daily active users.

Instagram is now including performance data in the Business Tools dashboard, giving companies greater insight into what sort of content is resonating with their audience (which can help inform important branding decisions across the board).

Translation for you? If you haven’t already started using Instagram Stories, it’s time to get cracking.

But before you dive in, make sure you have a grasp on what the platform is all about — and how to leverage it effectively for your business goals. Because while glossy and polished images are what typically resonate on Instagram proper, Instagram Stories is all about letting your hair down a bit.

Here are some ways innovative businesses are using Instagram Stories as both a sales channel and for brand engagement.

Limited-time offers

Instagram Stories expire after 24 hours. That makes it a natural place to instill a sense of urgency about time-sensitive promotions for your business. In a campaign last fall, J. Crew used Instagram Stories to tease its new Jane in Pink sunglasses with a limited-time sale (screenshots below).

JCrew Instagram Stories

Create a narrative

It’s called Stories for a reason — one of the most engaging ways to use the platform is to craft a narrative. Post a series of shots that highlight your creative process (a before-and-after makeover, for example), take viewers through a day in the life of your business (like the life cycle of a croissant), show one of your products in action “in the wild,” or give a tour of something you have expertise in. AFAR media’s editors, for example, regularly take followers on journeys through cities all over the world.

Exclusive sneak peeks

Teasing new products on Instagram Stories is a great way to drum up hype. And coupling those posts with a pre-order call to action helps spike sales.

Unscripted moments and behind-the-scenes tours

Everyone loves to look behind the curtain. So post rough and unpolished behind-the-scenes tours, with a special eye for those unscripted moments. Documenting these breaks down barriers between you and your customers, giving people a genuine feel for what makes your brand tick. It’s also an excellent way to forge a more human connection to your business.

Get wacky with added visuals

The editing tool allows you to add emojis and text to your posts. And the drawing tool lets you scribble all over them. So go wild from time to time and show some personality. Starbucks, for example, used the neon drawing tool (a particularly fun one) to add some pizzazz to a post about its iced Americano.

Tutorials

Promote your expertise with step-by-step tutorials. If you’re a hair salon, for example, do a how-to for a trending hair style. If you’re a coffee shop, show your followers how to make that perfect pour-over.

Create mini-articles

Find an article on your blog that’s easy to parse out into a series of “slides.” (Listicles lend themselves well to this type of transformation.) Make sure to include a cover image that frames what the story is all about, and a closing page with some sort of call to action (like going to the blog to read more).

It’s estimated that close to 71 percent of all businesses will market on Instagram this year. These tactics can help you create fun and compelling content that cuts through the noise.

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