5 Ways Your Business Can Win with Instagram Stories

Are you getting the most out of Instagram Stories? Have you experienced the boost in numbers and engagement after posting your countdown offers, behind-the-scenes photos, and 10-second clips?

Instagram screenshot of coffee mug in front of laptopThis all sounds terrific, but if this isn’t you yet, fear not—here are some tips and encouragement that will either get you started or amp up what you've got going on. And the best part is, smaller businesses can take advantage of Instagram Stories in ways that larger businesses can’t.

1. It’s easier for you.

The beauty of Stories is that you can create quick-and-dirty photos and videos that don’t have to rival the quality of those in your permanent feed. You can let your customer base see what’s behind the magic curtain, without having to answer to the stuffy suit in the corner office.

  • Show a candid of your data analyst engrossed in numbers, working away next to a ridiculously gigantic cup of coffee.
  • Snap a video that gives a virtual tour of your new office—including the Star Wars bobble heads on your desk.
  • Shoot a few seconds that show your quirkiest employees celebrating a product launch.
  • Post a photo of your team participating in a local charity initiative.
  • Post live coverage of a noteworthy event.

Without the lengthy approval process most content has to travel through in larger businesses, you can enjoy the freedom of posting light-hearted yet meaningful content as often (and red tape free) as you want.

Quite simply, Stories is the way to get the most mileage out of your existing Instagram community. Without having to learn an entirely new platform, just try some new tactics with this new feature.

And with the casual nature of Stories, your followers won’t expect each of your posts to be a black tie affair. You can save your best, artsiest, perfection-iest photos and videos for your main feed. Your Stories can then allow you to continually share content about your business’s fun side—your human side—and that makes you all the more loveable to your customers and prospects.

2. You can use it to test new content.

Bigger businesses have to test everything. Got an idea for a new product? Great. They test it in theory. They test it in house. They beta test it with a chosen few. They A/B test it in the market. Then they wait to see if it brings in enough profit.

But you don’t have to settle for that rigmarole. Got a new idea? Maybe you want to see what your customer base might think of a new type of content. Or of a new function, theme, color, feature, service, approach, etc.

Stick it in your Stories. See which ones get more views or shares. If it’s a flop, it’s gone by the next day, anyway. And if a certain type of content performs well in Stories, you can roll it out in your main feed or adapt it for other channels.

This easy opportunity for testing means you don’t have to stop talking to your audience while you regroup or hone your strategies. Keep on posting, and adapt your approaches in real time as necessary.

3. Your offers and contests will be more enticing.

An expiration date communicates urgency and exclusivity. Communicate to your audience that you reward the most attentive, dedicated followers by allowing them to get the leg up on your next offer, game, contest, etc., because they were paying attention to the day’s Story.

And as a reprise of point #2, you can test the efficacy of your offers and contest with Stories as well. Which type of offer did your followers respond most favorably? Discounts? Contests? Pre-orders? Sneak peaks? You’ll soon find out.

As time goes on, the more of these time-sensitive offers you create, the more your followers make it a habit to keep constantly checking your profile.

4. Your audience will grow in loyalty.

People like to feel privied to exclusive information. People also like to make real connections. As they get to know your business’s Stories, enjoying behind-the-scenes peeks of your team, your process, your priorities, they’ll keep coming back for more.

With each Story, you’re giving your followers several chances to resonate with you, to learn that the same reasons they do business or support your cause is because you’re just like them. That’s the kind of loyalty money can’t buy, but Stories can.

5. Your audience will grow in number.

There’s no question—as your current audience becomes more engaged, the number of your followers will increase as well.

Especially if you are already using Instagram, you’re likely already doing tactics to increase followers, such as optimizing your hashtags, liking and commenting on posts of your target audience, holding contests, etc. And as your existing followers keep viewing and sharing your Stories, others will notice as well.

Additionally, by utilizing Stories alongside your existing Instagram activity, these two feeds can reach different demographics at the same time on the same social media platform. Stories, like Snapchat, will typically cater to the viewing habits of a younger audience, who are constantly on their smartphones and watching their notifications. Meanwhile, more “seasoned” users will still be hopping aboard the Your Business train because they can view more of their favorite content from you without having to learn a new platform.

All in all, if you’ve got more of your message you’d like to share with your audience, Instagram Stories is an ideal method for businesses that don’t have layers of red tape or corporate hoops to jump through. You can afford to be direct, personal, and even a tad risky.

And, if nothing else, it’s the perfect place to try and then see how things go. A low-stakes avenue to test, connect, and engage is indeed at your fingertips.

Want to solidify your Instagram strategy with a professional perspective? i7 Marketing’s social media experts are happy to help. Contact us today: info@i7Marketing.com.

Follow @i7marketing on Twitter to stay current with online marketing news, tips, and insights -- and follow the author, @BrandMHughes, too!

BrandyMarie Hughes

Every day Brandy works to ensure every campaign is on track and exceeds expectations. She is relentless about quality and operates as an adept and innovative problem solver. She is also a lifelong learner who finds it downright invigorating to keep up with the ever-changing worlds of marketing and management. Brandy is a native Oregonian who craves spontaneous adventures, travel, philosophy, art, and music. She is also a sleep-deprived mom of 3 (ages 13, 7, and 1) and in her spare time loves listening to podcasts and studying on TEDx or Periscope. She’s a humanitarian at heart, a die-hard Apple fan, Tetris master, and even enjoys a little Pokémon GO. Brandy has also been dubbed the office food taste-tester.

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