Instagram is one of the most popular micro-blogging sites that has been continuously evolving, adding more and more features. Just recently, they rolled out Instagram Stories, a Snapchat-like feature that lets you post photo sequences that expire in 24 hours. And, like any good entrepreneur, it’s important to keep up and utilize these new trends. I’m going to show you the ins and outs of Stories, plus give a few tips for how you can get more Instagram Stories viewers (that’s a weird thing to say, right?) to help grow your business account.
Exploring Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are another clever way to promote your business/services. Because of the number of active users on Instagram, it’s just natural to harness the opportunity of expanding your reach through its services. Unlike, Snapchat, Instagram Stories are public and anyone can turn into Instagram Stories addicts unless your profile is private which is unlikely if you have a business profile.
How to Use Instagram Stories For Your Business
If you’re still not using Stories for your business or you’re looking for Instagram content ideas for posts, I’ve got you covered. Here are a few ideas for how you can use Stories in a strategic way to increase your brand awareness:
Show Some “Behind The Scenes”
Instagram Stories watchers love getting a little peek into how successful businesses are run. Post some pictures or videos of your day. Your photos or videos don’t have to be spectacular. The idea behind posting a picture/video of your day is that your audience has a one-of-a-kind glimpse of what’s going on in your business. For example, if your business/service is in line with art then you can post some clips of the process. You can also throw in some captions for info.
Create Mini Articles
If you’re looking for another way to showcase your content, then try putting them on Instagram Stories. Use it to create short how-to articles, tips, or some interesting trivia, and at the end of the story, include a link to your website for the full tutorial/article. A lot of people now turn to Instagram for these kinds of content since it’s easily digestible and it’s very eye-catching.
Promote Your “Live” Broadcast
If you’re going to hop on a “live broadcast” whether it’s Facebook Live, Youtube, or Instagram, let people from Instagram know it. Make a simple graphic about your broadcast. Don’t forget to put the time, date, and website if you’re broadcasting on a different platform. Also, make sure the URL is short so that your audience can quickly type it out.
Product In Action
Promoting your product has gotten easier now that you can utilize the power of Instagram Stories viewers. Simply film or post a photo of your product/services on your stories and voila! Show people what your product can do or how your service works.
Use It To Drive Awareness
Let your viewers know about your new post through Stories. I’ve seen a lot of influencers do this, they take a screenshot of their profile and write a caption about their new post. And it’s actually pretty effective; not only does it let your audience know, but it also increases your “discoverability.” Another way to use it is if you have promos going on, put them on your story.
A Few Tips for Increasing Your Instagram Stories Viewers
So now that you’ve got some ideas for what to post, let’s talk strategy. Just posting occasionally won’t make you successful, you’ve got to think about how to leverage a feature like Stories to your advantage. Here are a few tips for how you can make both the algorithm and Instagram Stories watchers happy.
This is the easiest, yet most difficult, thing you can do to get your content out to more people. It’s easy because it’s fairly simple, but difficult because sticking to a regular schedule is hard for a lot of us to do. Algorithms favor accounts that post content on a regular basis as it makes things easier for it to source content. Consequently, it’ll reward you by sending more Instagram Stories viewers your way.
Don’t feel like you have to post multiple times a day, though. Start with once a week, the same time, and the same day, until you get into the habit and increase from there. Ideal targets for Stories are usually around once a day, and more if you’re launching something.
Use Stickers Often
By “Stickers” I mean creating posts that utilize built-in engagement tactics like polls, quizzes, AMAs (Ask Me Anythings), chats, and more. The more you can show Instagram that you have a highly engaged audience, the more they’ll promote your stuff out to the masses.
Use Call to Actions even if you don’t have the swipe up feature
If you don’t yet have access to the Swipe Up feature which lets you post links that direct traffic off the platform, that doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t have a directive for each Story. Keep a strategy for each post, whether that’s to follow you, share the post, comment, ask a question, tag a friend, or whatever. Remember that the ultimate goal is to generate leads and convert them into customers. Every post you put, whether it’s a live stream, static post in the feed, carousel, or Story needs to have a linked action to it. The more you do this, the higher your engagement will be and the higher chance you’ll have to convert viewers into customers.
What to Do if Your Instagram Stories Aren’t Gaining Traction
If your Stories aren’t getting the reach you’re hoping for here are a few things you can troubleshoot:
- Give it three months – I always recommend giving things a quarter of the year to settle in. One month isn’t enough (holidays, etc. can throw you off) and half a year I think is too long. Three months should give you enough of an idea of where you are with things and whether it’s worth continuing on or not. (PS – I’ve got a free quarterly marketing planner in the Member’s Library!)
- Get out and engage more – Instagram and all social media is a selfish venture where people want to feel seen and heard. If you’re not getting a lot of engagement that means you’ve got to get out there and start engaging yourself. Comment on your followers’ pics and Reels, share other people’s stuff, etc. Stroke their ego to get the traction you need.
- Try different types of Stories – polls, videos, whatever! Switch up your content to see if there’s a better option.
- Consider using other types of posts – Instagram has a whole ecosystem of content options, so if Stories isn’t working then try something else. IGTV, Reels, the feed, carousels, etc. Don’t feel like you need to master all of them; pick one or two options instead of Stories and see if you get better traction.
- Rethink the way you’re getting data – Just one thing to consider: make sure you’re measuring your data (you’d be surprised how often I run into this with clients!) and that you’re measuring the right things. What does “traction” mean for your goals and business? Is it engagement, swipe-ups, shares, or something else? Make sure you’ve got 1 variable you’re tracking so that you’re judging whether or not things are taking off the way you want them to. Often entrepreneurs will get bogged down thinking they need to have everything on an upward trajectory when really, the only thing that matters to the growth of their business is one key factor. The rest are just vanity numbers that don’t matter.
One Final Thought: Are You Sure Instagram is Right For Your Business?
I want to hammer home one more point here that is critical to your social media strategy:
Are you sure your target market is on Instagram? If so, are you sure they’re using it the way you need them to in order to grow your business?
Some food for thought. When I was a Director of Marketing I used to get into fights, like “go in your office and take a timeout” fights with the Sales department heads that wanted to be on Instagram. Here’s the thing: The companies where I was head of Marketing were either
A. Job recruiters
B. Professional education providers (like, for tech certifications)
How many times have you gone on Instagram looking for a job or for Python certification classes? I’m not psychic but I’m going to guess…zero. Is it possible those people who we want to work with are on Instagram? Sure. But what is the likelihood they’ll convert to customers because of what they saw on Instagram? Nil. (Also, we didn’t have enough content to be consistent enough to improve our reach)
Having an effective social media strategy means knowing where your ideal customers hang out looking for products or services like yours. You cannot be everywhere, you’ll drive yourself (or your social media manager) crazy. To be effective you need to be at the right place, at the right time. If Instagram or Instagram Stories aren’t converting for you after trying these tips for around three months, it could be that you’re just on the wrong platform. Instead of banging your head against the wall, consider switching strategies and going on another platform.