- Much like Snapchat and Facebook stories, Instagram stories allow business and post photos and videos in a chronological succession in order to tell a "story."
- These stories can be used as a means of promoting goods, services, sales and more.
- Some of the best ways businesses use Instagram stories is to increase reach, create a mood or promote products through product stickers.
Like Snapchat Stories or Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories allows you to post photos and videos in chronological succession to tell a "story." These images do not appear in your regular collection of Instagram posts; instead, after a 24-hour period, anything you've posted to your story disappears.
"Instagram's new update is a direct duplication of Snapchat's functionality, with a few key parts missing, for now," said Jenny Marder, director of social media at Red Tettemer O'Connell + Partners. "Similarities include the ability to add captions or colored filters, but [Instagram] lack[s] 'lenses,' which add in more of a fun factor for current Snapchat users."
According to an Instagram release, with Instagram Stories, users won't have to worry about overposting. They can share as much as they want throughout the day, without clogging their followers' feeds.
Instagram Stories for business
Instagram is a useful tool for small business owners. The free app is an excellent source to showcase products and make feel customers feel included in "behind the scenes" aspects of your business. And now you can shop through the Stories, thanks to a partnership with Shopify. Merchants simply tag products in a post that allows users to click to buy without leaving the app.
"Small businesses have an advantage when it comes to new tools like Instagram Stories. My advice is to use them and tweak your strategy along the way," Marder said. "Bigger companies have far more hoops to jump through when it comes to creating [a] platform strategy and overall content, so use the size of your business as a way to experiment with new tools."
Business owners should take into consideration that does not mean the end of Instagram's staple "feed." Ultimately, this means deciding which content deserves the urgency of the Stories and permanency of the traditional feed.
"Small businesses often tend to have fewer resources and on-the-ground efforts for social, so finding the balance between [stories and more permanent] posts will be critical," said Andrew Caravella, vice president of marketing at Sprout Social. "The main focus should continue to be on cultivating community through engagement and ongoing dialogue."
The dialogue, in particular, can reach different demographics based on the app, so social media managers should take into account that though the update is a lot like Snapchat, the reach isn't the same depending on the platform.
With the development of Stories, Instagram has tapped into the viewing behaviors of the younger audience, Marder suggests the company understands the teen demographic using the app deletes posts that don't get enough likes or engagements.
"The most noteworthy aspect of this entire release is the amount of users currently on Instagram versus Snapchat as well as the demographic differences," Marder said. "Instagram and Snapchat skew younger on average than Facebook, and its advertising offerings are much more enticing for brands hoping to reach millennials and Generation Z."
As for the older audience, Marder adds, Instagram Stories allows them to stay on the platform they've started to migrate to rather than learning an entirely new platform. Snapchat's design has already proven to be a struggle for the older demographic to understand, based on its somewhat complicated user interface. On Instagram, this demographic will learn how to create the same type of fleeting content without the natural challenge that comes along with learning a new technology.
"For small businesses and new brands trying to find their voice on social, Instagram Stories will be a great way to test content, find out what works and adapt very quickly," Caravella said.
Ways businesses use Instagram stories
Although every business is different and finding creative methods of using Instagram stories is always encouraged, there are some common ways in which Instagram stories are used by businesses. According to Hootsuite, some of the most common ways are:
- Product stickers: One of the best ways to use Instagram stories is by using product stickers. For those who are yet unfamiliar, product stickers are clickable tags that allow businesses to post links to products that are presently for sale elsewhere on the web. Using product stickers can be a quick and easy way to boost sales and engagement overall.
- Create a mood: Another great use of Instagram stories is to create a certain mood for your brand. These can be based on your brand's identity or particular events, holidays, etc. Either way, with the help of things such as music, GIFs, and emojis, you can create a certain mood that can help boost the identity of your brand while also encouraging them to purchase certain goods or services that coincide with these moods.
- Boost engagement: Another way Instagram stories are used is to boost engagement. This can be done with the help of things such as asking questions, doing contests, creating polls, countdowns and more. Either way, you should use the story space to create things that will get people talking and make them want to interact with your brand more consistently.
- Increasing reach: Last but not least, Instagram stories can also be used to increase the reach of a brand or business. This can be done by using hashtags and sharing locations of your business, events, or brand representatives.
Tips on using Instagram stories for business
According to Later, some great tips for using Instagram stories for business are as follows:
- Use stickers, hashtags, ask questions and create polls as much as possible.
- "Go live" often to connect with customers and boost engagement.
- Also, according to the Social Media Examiner, encourage customers to direct message you – this makes it possible for you to sell products and services one on one.