How businesses can take advantage of Instagram Stories
The ultimate guide to using Instagram Stories for your business
Many businesses use Instagram. It’s one of the most popular social media apps for Americans, and it continues to grow. While Instagram is primarily known as a photo-sharing platform, the company is constantly introducing new features, such as Stories and Reels.
Is your business currently using these other features to grow? If not, you could be missing out. In this article, we’ll explain how businesses can take advantage of Instagram Stories.
What are Instagram Stories?
An Instagram Story is a post that disappears after 24 hours, much like how the app Snapchat works. These stories are separate from your traditional Instagram posts and Reels, and appear in a row located at the top of the home feed.
Here, you can find stories from everyone that you follow. By selecting their profile photo, you can watch their stories.
You can also access a Story by visiting someone’s Instagram profile. If a colorful ring appears around their photo, that means they have shared a story. You can tap their profile photo to view their stories.
Instagram Stories can be nearly anything. It could be a photo, video, or text, all appearing vertically (portrait position) to fill your entire phone screen.
As we mentioned, after 24 hours the post disappears. However, users can choose to keep their stories visible by adding them to highlights, which appear on their profile below their bio. These highlights can be categorized any way you’d like to keep your page organized. This allows others to quickly find certain topics and information without having to search for it in a regular post.
Due to the huge success of Snapchat and Instagram Stories, other platforms have followed with their own version. Facebook introduced their own stories feature (Facebook owns Instagram), and Twitter released Fleets in 2020.
The spread of this feature and its widespread popularity makes stories an extremely powerful tool for businesses to reach consumers. But why use them? Let’s dive in.
Why use Instagram Stories?
Why might your business want to use Instagram Stories? Instagram Stories were used by more than 500 million accounts every day in 2019, according to Instagram. Additionally, more than 58% of those surveyed by Instagram said they “became more interested in a brand/product after seeing it in Stories.”
Stories aren’t a social media gimmick. They are a way to connect with your audience on a new level.
So, who exactly is using Instagram Stories? This is where you might find that Instagram isn’t a good fit for your business model. If your business targets an older demographic, Instagram probably isn’t the right marketing avenue for you.
That’s because adults aged 25-34 are the largest group on the app. This is followed by the second largest group, aged 18-24. According to Hootsuite, those two groups make up 62.7% of Instagram’s users. Additionally, those aged 55 and up only account for 6.1% of users.
So, if your business persona fits someone in the 18-34 range, chances are using Instagram (and Instagram Stories) is good for your business.
Men actually slightly outnumber women in the 18-34 demographic, although women outnumber men on the platform overall. That means no matter if your ideal audience is men or women, Instagram is a great platform for you to market on.
Furthermore, Pew Research Center found that 37% of adults in the United States use Instagram.
This makes Instagram a great place to target adult consumers in the U.S. and around the world. With most of these users also viewing Instagram Stories regularly, posting content to Instagram allows you to reach more potential customers.
Plus, Instagram Stories can be paired with Facebook Stories, since Facebook owns Instagram.
How to create an Instagram Story
Okay, so now that we’ve explained what Stories are and why you should use them, it’s time to get our hands dirty and start creating. Okay, maybe that was a tad dramatic. Creating a Story is fairly simple. Let’s start with the basics.
How to post an Instagram Story
To post your first Instagram Story, go to your home feed. This is the page that opens when you start the app. At the top of the page, you’ll see your profile photo with a small blue circle and a plus icon next to it. Select that to start.
On your screen, you’ll find your camera open with a few different options at the bottom and on the left side. The bottom menu represents the different types of posts on Instagram: Post, Story, Reels, and Live. You’ll want to be on Story.
On the left, you can choose what type of Story you want to create. Let’s break those down in the next few sections.
Create mode, shown as a text icon, allows you to make a story that contains only text and elements. This let’s you convey information and ideas quickly when there isn’t a photo or video associated with it. It’s also very useful for quick updates to your audience.
Within create mode, you’ll see a few circle buttons near the bottom. Each of these allows you to customize what type of text story you want. The first one defaults to just written text. Shoutouts allow you to wish someone a happy birthday, say thank you, or create your own custom message.
Gifs allows you to add a gif to the background of the story using GIPHY (if you haven’t heard of GIPHY, you might want to check it out. It’s a website full of gifs).
Templates include, well, a variety of templates that you can use to create. For example, there’s one for a quick draw challenge, a quote of the day, your top 5 song picks for the week, and the top 3 accounts to follow.
Talk about a blast from the past. The On This Day feature lets you see and reshare stories you created in previous years.
You can also quickly create a poll, ask for questions with a question sticker, ask for donations for a cause, create a countdown, and make a quiz right from create mode.
The next option on the left is Boomerang. This lets you create a video story that plays, rewinds, and loops again. These can be a lot of fun, especially for videos of glasses clinking together, or a celebration.
Layout lets you create a gridded Instagram Story. You can select anywhere from 2 to 6 photos in various layouts to create a collage.
PhotoBooth is a brand new Instagram Stories feature that, you guessed it, acts like those old PhotoBooths that used to dot every mall across America. Instagram snaps a photo every 3 seconds, letting you pose for each shot. Then, it compiles them into a single clip that flips through each photo in rapid succession. This is the perfect mode for fun team photos or product shoots.
Instagram Stories offers a few other modes, such as Superzoom and Multi-Capture. With Instagram’s Multi-Capture feature, you can take multiple photos and batch upload them to your stories. By selecting level on any mode, a level will appear in the middle of the screen so that you can adjust your phone’s angle accordingly.
There’s also a hands-free mode that lets you record a video without pressing or holding the record button on the app. You are free to move around, set the phone down, and just record.
If you don’t see any of the options above on your Instagram Stories page, be sure to select the arrow at the bottom left (or bottom right if you changed your settings) to view all of the mode options.
Whew! That was a lot of different features to cover, and we aren’t quite done yet. There are so many more interesting features that your business can use.
Filters and stickers
In addition to all of the above modes, you can add filters to photos and videos. You can find these filters for swiping through all of the options to the right of the camera shutter button. These are all Instagram-made filters, but you can also explore more filters made by users and save them to your Instagram. These saved filters will appear to the left of the camera shutter button.
You can also download filters that you like from someone else’s story. The name of the filter will appear at the top, and if you tap on it you’ll be able to download and use that filter, too.
You can also add stickers and overlays to any story. These can include locations and hashtags, music, polls, and fun animations.
All of these features can help make your Stories more interesting and compelling for viewers.
How to stand out with Instagram Stories
Just because you use Instagram Stories doesn’t mean you can keep your audience interested. To have a successful campaign on social media, you need to be sure that your marketing stands out. So, how do you do that?
Be sure that your Stories are quick, instantly compelling videos or messages. People scroll through Stories pretty quickly, so you want to get someone interested in the first 1-3 seconds. Otherwise, they’ll likely skip your content.
You should also ensure that your content is authentic. Listen, people are used to being bombarded by ads and marketing all day long. You can stand out by being authentic to your brand’s values and mission.
Let people see your brand as more than just a company. Show what it’s like behind the scenes. This can go a long way to building trust with potential customers.
If your customers post photos with your products, you should consider sharing it on your Stories, especially if you are tagged in the post. This helps potential customers see what a real customer experienced, while showing that you care about your customers’ feedback. This helps to build a sense of community around your brand.
Another tip for using Stories is to use them regularly. Since they appear at the top of the home feed, your followers are more likely to see a story than one of your posts. We recommend using Stories at least once per day, even if it’s just to share your latest post.
Another fun idea would be to create a “Close Friends” group of your most loyal customers or as a perk for signing up or emails or texts. Then you can share exclusive deals and offers with these customers who frequently come back as a reward for their loyalty. This will in turn inspire them to become not just customers, but brand advocates as well.
To summarize, Instagram Stories are a powerful way to reach your customers and grow your business on social media. With a percentage of users in the 18-34 age range and more than 500 million active viewers worldwide, Instagram Stories shouldn’t be ignored any longer.
With so many different features, you can easily customize the way Stories work to match your brand voice and values.
What is your experience with Instagram Stories? Have you seen any success from using the feature? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.
Do you want to learn more about using social media for your business? Check out our in-depth articles on how to start a Twitter account for your business. Or, if Facebook is more your thing, check out these tips for creating Facebook groups that drive growth for your business.
Are you in the need of expert digital marketing solutions for your business? Do you want to reach more customers and drive sales? SilverFox HQ is Utah’s cutting-edge digital marketing and creative agency.
From branding and graphic design to content writing and digital advertising, we can do it all. Give us a call, or email us, and let’s see how we can help make your big dreams come true.