Instagram Stories for Business and Branding
Instagram stories are all the rage right now! What with over 300 million daily active users and growing every day, there is no doubt that stories are where the action is. But so many marketers don’t understand the power of stories and those who do don’t always know how to best utilize them. On today’s show, we are going to dive into Instagram stories. I will share with you some key features, usability tips, and tools to make the process easier.
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Now on with the show!
Let’s start with the basics: Stories live inside of the Instagram app. You see them every time you login. They are those circles at the top. Stories from personal profiles (not business pages) can be shared to Facebook stories for additional exposure. Stories last 24 hours and can be downloaded to your phone if you so wish to save them for later or to repurpose them. One last thing you probably should know, Stories are vertical. That’s right, if you shoot video or take photos for your Instagram stories you will need to embrace the vertical orientation.
The next thing you need to understand is the value in doing stories for your business and brand. There is no denying that the user base is there. With over half of Instagram’s users on stories you have more opportunity to get in front of new people in fun and more creative ways. Stories can get you more eyes on your profile, get you more clicks and action AND is great for not only branding but also generating traffic to your blogs and websites.
A quick case study:
Over the past 2 weeks, I have done a bit of experiment on one of my client’s Instagram pages. Initially, my client’s profile was getting about 50–60 views in a week. At the time we were doing one story per week to help promote her weekly Facebook live show. After a week of doing stories consistently every day, she jumped to 106 views. That was all based on stories I pre-recorded with her and pushed out on her behalf throughout the week. (a great option for those of you managing a client’s Instagram).
Last week, after seeing the results we were already seeing, she asked that I give her a quick training on how to do it herself. Welp friends, this week her stories have helped bring her profile views up to 123, up 32 from the previous week. Her impressions have gone up to 6,313 up +2702 in the last 7 days. Reach is at 1177 up +557 in 7 days. Her stories are ranging from 150 to 350 views per story and many of the viewers are not currently followers. (She only has 649 Instagram followers so this is not a large account by any means). The early success has been wonderful to see and now with my client on board 100% we are creating fun and informative stories that people are responding to.
The great thing about doing Instagram stories is you do not have to design anything. Truth be told the best stories are the ones featuring YOU. I am a big fan of mixing up your stories and creating a string of stories that tell an actual story. Here is an example of one that my client and I did recently:
*Background, my client is a Midwife in California.
Story 1: She asks the controversial question “You’re drinking wine and your pregnant”
Story 2: Super Zoom to create suspense in a fun way
Story 3: Explains why it is not a big deal if you have a little bit and a call to action to check out the link to her Midwife Monday Facebook live to dig in deeper.
The progression of the stories string together to keep people engaged and encourage them to keep watching. The key to stories like these is not to make them too long and to keep people wanting more.
Here is a quick formula for your next series of IG stories:
- Intro — what are you going to talk about
- step 1
- step 2
- step 3
And that’s it. You can mix up your stories with video, graphics or text to keep thing interesting.
Okay let’s talk about the top 10 tips for creating successful stories
- Have fun.
- Stories are not supposed to be boring. This is your opportunity to have fun and let your personality and brand personality shine. Stories are a great opportunity for you to build trust with viewers.
- Use the location sticker whenever possible.
- Using the location tag will get you far more views and expose you and your brand to all kinds of new people that may not be already following you.
- Use the hashtag sticker.
- Just like with the location sticker, the hashtag sticker can get you in front of more people. If you have done a hashtag search on Instagram as of late you may have noticed that many include as story circle at the top. This is where stories from various accounts are featured because they use that hashtag in their story.
- Mix it up.
- Don’t be afraid to throw some boomerang, video of you and graphics into the mix to keep things interesting. Just make sure it all comes together to create a fun story. (check out the show notes for an example of how we mixed it up with one of my clients recently)
- Don’t be afraid to get on camera.
- I know that many people are camera shy but trust me when I say that you on camera is the best thing you can do on stories. This is especially important for personal brands and individuals you are consultants, REALTORS, speakers or coaches.
- Use a call to action if you have one.
- Stories are fantastic for teasing longer content. If you recently wrote a blog or did a podcast you can jump on stories and give some key tips as a teaser then direct people to the link in your bio to learn more. If you have over 10k followers you also have the ability to add a link directly in your stories!
- Get people more engaged.
- Another great call to action is asking a question. You can ask a question and simply ask that people message you with the answer or try out a poll sticker and see how your viewers vote. All are fun ways to get people engaged with your stories.
- Tag other pages when you are talking about them.
- They will get a notification in their messages and it is a great way to build relationships with other brands.
- Get creative!
- One of my favorite things is to play with the different colors for fonts and use the marker tool to create different designs. Think outside the box and mix up what’s on the screen to keep people interested (just don’t get too cluttered)
- Don’t be so hard on yourself.
- Stories are supposed to be fun and not so buttoned up. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes as you learn. If you really don’t like something you can take it down. No big deal. But give it a chance. The more you use stories the better they will get and the more fun you will have using them. I promise.
Now a couple of tips for those of you managing other’s Instagram:
Okay let’s say you are a social media manager or assistant and you are managing the stories for your company or for a client. Well, things may not be as simple as jumping on camera. So here are a couple of tips to help you with creating stories that you can do for others:
Pre-create graphics and video that are more text heavy.
You can use tools like Canva, Adobe Spark, and Pic-Monkey to create these graphics. Some of these tools already have a template for stories but if you need the dimensions they are 1080px x 1920px.
Up until recently, Instagram would only let you pick files to share on stories that were on your camera roll for the past 24 hours. They recently got rid of that restriction which makes your job so much easier. Either way, if you don’t have that option yet you can simply save all your story files to Dropbox or google drive then download them to your camera roll prior to putting them on Instagram. If the content you want to use is already on your camera roll and you can’t get past the 24-hour rule just edit the image and it will refresh your files as new.
Meet and shoot
Meet with your client or key people ahead of time and use your phone to pre-record vertical video and take photos that you can use throughout the week. This is one of my favorite things to do with my clients. The key here is to storyboard your ideas ahead of time so you know how you will put them into Instagram stories and what you will want people to say on the videos you record.
Have a plan.
If you know that you have certain promotions or blog posts coming up a plan ahead on how you add stories to the marketing mix to help you get more interest in the other stuff you are doing. Tying together all your marketing is always a winning strategy.
There you have it! A crash course on why and how to use stories. Now don’t delay, jump on stories and give it a try. Feel free to tag my Instagram account @everydaysocial in your story so I can cheer you on!
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