When Instagram launched the Instagram stories feature in 2016, a steady new stream of off-the-cuff, more everyday content began surfacing on the platform. A loose version of Snapchat, Stories allowed users to showcase more of their lives without it having to be permanently on their page. Hosted right at the top of the main feed, users can scroll to find a specific story to watch, or simply start with the first user visible and watch until the decide to swipe out of stories.
This content doesn’t ‘live’ forever as a regular post, instead, as like Snapchat, the story will disappear 24 hours after it is posted. Unlike Snapchat, the story is automatically saved in a user’s archive. In 2017, Instagram announced their Story Highlights feature, where users can create highlight groups that show on their profile of content they posted to their stories. This means you can choose to save and make content from your stories available for more than just 24 hours.
So why should brands use Instagram Stories?
These features aren’t just useful for individuals, but brands can capitalize on these features as well. Instagram Stories offer a unique opportunity for brands to engage with customers. Let’s explore.
First, a benefit to Instagram Stories is that a customer is likely actively seeking out your content if they’re viewing it. Instead of just the passive constant scrolling through the regular feed, users more often scroll through the list of people with stories and choose to watch and consume specific content. This means you’re actively sought out rather than passively seen.
Did anyone even watch it?
Another key benefit to Instagram Stories is that Instagram allows you to see exactly who watched your Instagram Stories. Swiping up while viewing your own story will show you not only a full list of the users who’ve watched the stories, but insights as well.
They show you any interactions that have happened as well as the total number of accounts reached and navigation actions they’ve taken (whether they went forwards or backwards or exited out of watching stories for example). This way, you can gauge the performance of your content on Instagram Stories.
Engagements features galore
Another great benefit for brands is that Instagram offers several features in Stories that allow you to actively engage with your followers/customers. They’ve added ‘stickers’ that have different features that you can add to your stories with features such as simple ‘this or that’ type polls, emoji rating scale, or a sticker that users can respond to, to ask you questions. These three features allow you to get direct engagement on your Instagram stories that are far more personal and telling than just a like on a photo.
With these features, you can get more seamless engagements from users as they’re not driven to leave the platform like they might be with other potential engagements such as clicking a link in your bio, as they occur directly within the story and do not require a user to seek a link out. They can vote in a poll with one tap, they can rate something on a sliding scale or ask a question all without even leaving the story. Their experience isn’t interrupted, making them much more likely to engage.
The other engagement options for users is that they can direct message in response to a story a brand has posted, which allows for direct, easy access to the brand as well. TechCrunch reported that one in five stories posted by a business receives a direct message response, clearly showing engagement possibilities.
Direct them where you want them
Another great feature is the ability to add a link to your Instagram story so that users just have to swipe up to get to the webpage. It opens directly within the app so that the user is not completely redirected from what they were doing within Instagram. They simply exit out the mini-Instagram browser and return to what they were doing. Unfortunately, this feature is only available to business accounts with over 10,000 followers.
Organize that content and save it
As mentioned before, content only lives on your Instagram story for 24 hours. However, Instagram now allows you to create story highlights, groups of labeled content, that live on your profile right below your bio. This allows you to organize and save content you’ve created. For example, you could create highlights based around different products or services, an about section, a section based on weekly content you post to your stories like #motivationmonday, and so much more.
This saved content can be especially helpful for new followers who find your profile and may want to know more about the company, what they do or sell, and what types of content they can expect from the account.
But why a story and not a regular post?
There are a few reasons why brands should be posting stories along with regular feed posts. Primarily, brands use it to utilize the great engagement options listed above like the poll feature. It offers a different way for customers to engage, while posts just have the option of liking or commenting.
Besides the various engagement features, posting to Stories allows brands to showcase different types of content that might not fit in their regular Instagram post strategy. For example, many brands have done employee or client ‘takeovers’ of their Instagram stories. The employee takeover may be ‘day in the life’ content, where they post what a typical day for them looks like. Client takeovers may be content related to how they use the brands service/platform/etc. This allows followers to get more of a behind-the-scenes look at the brand and its services.
Give it a shot
As of April 2017, the number of Instagram Stories users passed 200 million, with that number likely much higher over a year later. With the number of Instagram users steadily rising, it’s not a platform brands should be ignoring at all. With a variety of ways for customers to engage with your Instagram stories using the new features such as polls, emoji rating scales, Q&As, you can gather more information and get more engagement.
So, give it a shot and don’t miss out on a fantastic way to connect to your customers. Unsure how? Check out our quick 5 minute guide to Instagram stories and be on the lookout for more Instagram related content.
Thanks for reading.
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Kylee Schmuck – Digital Marketing Specialist at Delightful