Why You Should Be Using Instagram Stories for Business
Social media is rapidly growing, with users of all ages communicating every single day directly through a variety of social media platforms. The evolution of social media over the past two decades has been a fascinating one. Flashback to the early 2000s, when AOL Instant Messenger quickly was a primary communication tool for teens and young adolescents everywhere. Many parents were skeptical of this early form of social media, adamantly warning their Generation Y children about the dangers of the internet and talking to strangers.
Social media is everywhere!
Fast forward to 2016. It is virtually impossible to find a young person who doesn’t engage in any form of social media. Adults have jumped on the social media bandwagon as well, eagerly creating accounts on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To simply put it: Social media is everywhere.
Annual growth for social media use worldwide continues to climb, with a 17% increase in mobile social users last year. This means that if you aren’t currently using social media as part of your marketing strategy, you need to start right now!
Today, the most successful social media platforms are the ones that keep users endlessly engaged within their virtual world. The reason Facebook has been wildly successful is because they have given you very little reason to ever have to leave their site. They do this by providing you with everything you need, all within the concrete walls of Facebook: news stories, video, trending topics, retail stores, instant messenger, and so much more.
Many marketers believe that Facebook is the only social media platform that they need to be active on – this could not be more inaccurate. In fact, Facebook is quickly becoming an over-saturated marketing medium. This post is designed to focus on Instagram and some of its newly-added features that are projected to make it a serious threat in the social media landscape. Instagram has recently taken some notes out of the Facebook playbook, expanding its product offering with a brand new feature – Instagram stories – which is anticipated to be a social media game changer.
What Is Instagram?
In 2010, Instagram first emerged as a simple photo-sharing app that allowed users to “filter” very average photos to make them look semi-professional. These users would subsequently post these edited photos to their Instagram account to share with friends, or “followers.” The app has become so much more than a photo-sharing app in recent years, adding direct messaging capability, video sharing, hashtags, geotagging, photo-editing, and the ability to link with other social media accounts. However, the basic premise is still the same – Instagram is a place for wannabe photographers to showcase only their very best moments.
Instagram engagement is growing rapidly, recently surpassing Twitter and becoming increasingly competitive with popular social media platforms, like Facebook and WhatsApp.
The more you can offer to a social media user within the respective app, the less likely they are to go elsewhere. It has been projected that platforms that provide a singular social experience, such as YouTube, will eventually be extinct because they are simply a video-streaming application.
With this fact in mind, a few months ago Instagram added the new ‘Instagram Stories’ feature to their very popular app. Instagram Stories allows users to share a string of photos and videos with their followers by adding them to their story. These moments will remain active for 24 hours. Sound familiar? That’s because the Instagram Stories feature is very similar to the popular Snapchat Stories.
For those of you who are still trying to grasp the concept of Instagram Stories, here’s a few things you need to know about Instagram’s newest addition:
- You can either take a picture/video within the app or add a photo/video from your camera roll; your story feed will play chronologically as you add content to it
- The videos or photos in your story cannot be liked on commented on, but you can send a direct message to the poster to comment on the story by swiping up on the bottom of the screen
- You are able to see exactly who is checking out each part your story
- Images and videos can be customized with filters, colorful text, or emojis to enhance your story
- You can send a shout out to a friend or your favorite brand by tagging them in your photo or video
Despite their similarities, it is important to remember the first rule of Instagram Stories: do not treat them exactly the same as Snapchat Stories, which are often raw, unedited, and even a bit silly. This type of footage is not conductive the to sleeker Instagram platform.
So How Can Instagram Stories Help My Business?
First – if you don’t currently have an Instagram account, STOP reading and go create one right now!
If you do, kudos you to – you’re half way there! The next step is use the new Instagram Stories feature as part of your marketing strategy. Here’s a few ways that Instagram stories can help you build your brand.
Are you on set at a photoshoot? Or working with a celebrity spokesperson for the brand? Snap a couple photos and share them on your story.
Until this point, Instagram was a place to post strategically polished photos that perfectly fit within your visually thought-out Instagram feed. Now, the addition of Stories allows you to post more authentic content, allowing followers to see what goes on behind the Instagram feed. This provides an opportunity to humanize your brand to its followers, which could turn into potential sales leads.
Offer Sneak Peaks to Consumers
Consumers enjoy feeling like they know something that others don’t – it makes them feel like they are connected to the brand. Use Instagram stories to provide sneak peaks into future product or service that you may be offering to consumers. Examples of this include images part of an design plan, or video footage of the manufacturing process for a new product.
Instagram Story Takeover
Account takeovers are something that have been popularized on other social media platforms like Snapchat and YouTube and can be easily applied to Instagram Stories. The concept is simple: partner with another brand, take over their account for a period of time, and share content.
The benefit of a takeover is that it acts as a partnership between two brands, demonstrating a mutual exchange of value. If another brand takes over your Instagram Stories for a day, they can bring over their existing followers to your brand page. This will promote audience growth for your brand – and vice versa if you take over their account.
In another form of a takeover, you can have an avid community follower of the brand take over the account for the day using a “day in the life” approach. This will allow followers to connect with someone else who also shares the same passion for the brand as they do.
Invite Participation from Followers
By inviting your followers to respond to your Instagram Stories, you are ensuring that your account remains social. One of the the quickest ways to lose followers is by promoting your product or service in a way that is very obviously just a promotion.
By inviting consumers to connect with you through Instagram Stories, you are showing them that there is a real person behind the brand that values their feedback and opinions you about the content you are sharing. You can do this by running a brand Q&A session through the Instagram Stories platform. To do this, ask followers to send their questions via direct message and you can answer the questions within your Instagram Stories feed.
Live Content Sharing
Ok – it won’t be literally live. However, you can post videos and images of events as they are happening to let your followers be part of the experience. Additionally, you can let your followers know that you are also currently live streaming the entire event uninterrupted on Facebook Live. This allows you to sync different social media platforms.
Integrate a Call to Action
The ultimate goal of social media sharing is to increase your conversion rates. Therefore, you need to give your consumers an incentive to leave the app and visit your website. Y ou can do this by offering a promotional discount within your Instagram Stories feed.
For example, share a promotional code within your story and ask followers to screenshot it. Then, encourage consumers to visit your brand website to apply that promotional code. Make sure you put the link to your brand landing page in your Instagram bio so that your followers can easily redeem this promotion.
The Bottom Line Is…
If you aren’t using Instagram as part of your marketing strategy, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to connect with consumers. Using new, emerging social media platforms like Instagram Stories shows that your company is knowledgeable about up-and-coming trends and is able to apply them to your marketing strategy.
Instagram currently boasts approximately 500 million active users every single day – this is 400 million more users than Snapchat. Despite this, very few marketers are using Instagram as part of their marketing strategy. Don’t be a victim of missed opportunity; make sure you are using Instagram and the corresponding Stories feature to boost your business today.