What do you know, another post about Instagram! It's no secret that this is my favourite social media app to use, and I spend far too much time getting nerdy with it. I love nothing more than playing around on Instagram, trying out new ideas, and experimenting.
My love for Instagram grew tenfold when they added Instagram Stories to the app. Some people may have been very annoying (*cough*Snapchat copycats*cough*), I think it has truly revolutionised how everyone is using the app now.
And because of the huge change Stories has made to Instagram, I thought it was about time I wrote a post on how to use Instagram Stories to grow your business... cause guess what... I know for a fact that it has hugely grown mine!
What Is Instagram Stories?
In case you're a total newbie, I'll do a quick run down for you. Instagram Stories are essentially a little "story" totally seperate to your Instagram Grid, and the stories each only last 24 hours. You can share images or videos, add text over them, stickers, filters.... the list goes on. If you have over 10K followers, you now also have the added benefit of the "swipe up" feature, allowing you to link people to your website. #jealous
Here's the thing... people LOVE stories. In November 2017, Instagram stories was being used and watched by 60% of Instagram users. (Source: mediakix.com) Although that isn't everyone, its a huge percentage, and one that shouldn't be ignored.
Stories Has Changed The Way We Use Instagram
I have noticed that whenever I go to open Instagram I no longer immediately swipe down to see my feed like I once did. Now, I see the first image, and if I see that someone I like has shared a new Instagram Story, the first thing I'll do is watch that. Instagram automatically plays the next story along, so it makes it very easy for people's stories to get seen. Much easier than on an image feed!
Before you know it, you've spend 10 minutes on Stories, and you're not even scrolling the actual app anymore.
Why Should You Be Using Instagram Stories for Business?
The basis of marketing is that you want to get people to "know, like and trust you/your business. And guess what, Instagram Stories may well be one of the single best ways to create that relationship between you and your ideal customers!
How Should You Use Stories Within Your Business?
1. Share The Behind The Scenes: This is probably the biggest way you'll use Instagram Stories (it's how I use it personally!). It's well known that people love to see the behind the scenes of businesses and the lives of others. it's human nature; we're all curious! So look at Instagram stories as just that: a window into the behind the scenes of what you do. It can be a place where you relax more, share a bit more, and are less curated.
2. Be Less Curated: Your grid is where everything should be beautiful, really though out, and flow perfectly together. Stories is where you can feel free to share images that don't fit in with your feed, or videos you'd never normally post. It disappears within 24hours, so there's no need to worry about it!
3. Use the "Poll" option: I LOVE this feature, and use it regularly. If you go into stories and click the smiley face icon on the top right, all the emoji's will pop up. In that, there is also a little option called "Poll." With this feature you can type in a question, and your viewers will have the option to answer A or B (you can change the text in the selection boxes). This is so good for asking your audience questions, figuring out what they like and don't like. Thinking about launching a new product, but not sure how your audience will respond? Ask them with a poll!
*Important to note*: This option is not anonymous, so some people won't reply because they know that. Encourage people to also write a direct message to you!
*Another important note*: This is quite silly of Instagram, but once your 24h are up, and the poll is over, you will no longer be able to see your results, so make sure you check back within 24h to see what your audience has said... otherwise all that valuable information will be gone!
4. Speak Directly To Your Audience: Some people write to me and ask how I plucked up the courage to speak directly to my phone on Instagram Stories. The truth is, it took some time, and a bit of practice! Now speaking to my followers on Stories doesn't phase me. In fact, I know that people really like it when I speak to them directly, or ask them questions. Know that the nerves you're feeling, or the awkwardness won't be picked up by them. They'll simply see you speaking and listen. Don't worry about what people are thinking, because I guarantee that they're more worried about themselves than they are about you!
Speaking directly to your audience with your face is the best way for them to connect with you as a person, and the quickest way to that "know, like and trust" that we're all so desperate to achieve. I guarantee that if you speak to your followers personally, you'll see nothing but a positive response :)
5. Share Old Images: I don't do this quite as frequently, but recently Instagram allowed their users to share images from anytime in their camera roll (it used to be only images taken within 24h). So if you've got old images you'd like to share that don't fit your grid, do it here!
6. Share recommendations: Read a good book? Talk about it! Saw a good movie? Share it. Got a new cute dress? Show it off! I get so many amazing recommendations on all sorts of things thanks to people sharing them on Instagram Stories.
7. Make announcements: Wrote a new blog post? Tell your followers about it. Have a new product on sale. Share it in your stories!
8. Highlight Stories You Want to Keep: This is quite a new feature, but one I really like! You now have the ability to add "Highlighted Stories" to your Instagram profile. This means that if you have a particularly good 24 (or even just part of it) you can save it, and it will be featured on your profile! Any new people who come to your profile and want to get to know you can watch these back. I'd recommend creating stories on: What You Do, How You Do It, or saving any particularly helpful tips so that people can return to them time and time again. I did this just a few days ago and created a whole Highlighted Story about exactly what my job is!
9. Get Creative: Now I know I've just said how Stories are for the less curated side of Instagram, however if you WANT to get super creative with it, there's nothing stopping you. Carrie, who runs the blog WishWishWish does an incredible job of making her Instagram Stories really beautiful, and it's clear she spends a lot of time doing that. If you're inspired by that and feel like thats a better way for you to go with your Instagram Stories, by all means, get super creative!
10. Experiment: Instagram Stories is the perfect place to test out new ideas... because if you don't like it, it's gone in 24 hours! I've done this plenty of times, where I've tried out a new idea and ended up not really enjoying it. But had it not been for Stories, I would have not felt quite so happy to test it out. If you do something which you love on Stories, great! Keep doing it. If you end up doing something that didn't quite work, no worries. It's gone tomorrow!