Did you know that using Instagram Stories could boost your Instagram visibility by over 30%? (I explain this stat further down the page.)
That’s just one of the many benefits of using this feature …
So if you’re already using Instagram for your business, but you’re not yet convinced about trying Stories – please read on!
In a world where social media threatens to overwhelm so many small businesses, without them seeing obvious results, I know where you’re coming from if you’re thinking ‘aaaargh – not another thing to add to the list!’
But, when I also see so many businesses missing out on an amazing tool that really could make a difference, then it’s my duty to pipe up! So that’s what I’m doing now!
Instagram use in the UK
Let’s just have a quick review of where Instagram use is at the moment, to remind ourselves why we’re using it in the first place.
The same report shows that Instagram has 24 million active monthly users – almost double that of Twitter. It used to be discounted by some marketers as having a mainly female audience, but the male/ female ratio is close to 50/50 now.
Oh and if you’re wondering how relevant Instagram is to everyday life in Britain, note that it’s where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced the birth of their son!
It’s a platform where brands and people both happily share space in the newsfeed – but, unlike Facebook, a business can interact directly with a person, which makes it a very intuitive network to use! In fact, 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business there (https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/instagram-stats).
Instagram Stories – why use them?
Why use Instagram Stories? #1 People love them!
Let’s start with some compelling stats that show just how popular they are:
Read that again! That’s a big chunk of visibility you could be missing out on if you’re on Instagram but not using Stories …
Now are you feeling more inclined to try Instagram Stories?
You’re not alone! According to Social Media Examiner’s Annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2019 (compiled from data provided by 4,800 marketers) Instagram Stories is the third most popular video marketing channel (pipped to the top spot by only YouTube and Facebook.)
Image credit: Social Media Examiner
Just in case you need more persuasion, here are some more reasons why Instagram Stories are just too good to ignore ….
Why use Instagram Stories? #3 They’re great for encouraging connection
Nothing happens in relationship building, or business, without a feeling of connection.
But this can be tough to encourage on social media … or at least it was … until we had Snapchat introduce the daily-disappearing content snippet idea that Instagram rolled out its’ own version of as Stories.
Instagram Stories is the ideal tool to share content that encourages people to really feel like they’re getting a sneak peek into what goes on behind the scenes, what makes your business tick, what’s important in your world.
The format alone, with the images and videos only staying around for 24 hours, makes the sharing feel much more personal than the broadcast-type shares in the newsfeed.
The expectation is that users will get a glimpse of ‘the real you’ and so they’re ready to warm to you in a way that just isn’t matched by posting in the newsfeed of any network. (And the fact that people have to actively tap a circular icon to see Instagram Stories play means that they’ve already chosen to be in this more personal-feeling space.)
We are all increasingly wary of highly-polished marketing. Mark Schaefer has written a whole book about the revolution that this is causing in marketing (it’s called Marketing Rebellion; it’s super-easy to get hold of and I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already!) To quote the subtitle of his book – and consistent theme throughout: ‘the most human company wins’.
Using Instagram Stories makes it super-easy for any brand or business to show their human side and to build that all-important connection with their audience.
Does that sound like hard work? It’s not!
Why use Instagram Stories? #4 It’s easy to create content and to make it unique
Rule number One for Instagram Stories is that your content there doesn’t need to be perfect. If you just read the point above, you’ll know why – people are expecting to see the imperfect side – the human side, the side that it’s easy to feel a connection with.
So just take your phone, take 5-10 seconds to take an image or a quick video and you’re most of the way there!
Then you can add filters, stickers, text, gifs, polls, quizzes, pretty much anything your heart desires, to make your content unique and creative. Instagram makes it so easy to really make your Stories stand out.
Oh and you can add hashtags and location to increase visibility of your Stories beyond your followers, just as you can with standard newsfeed posts.
The feeling behind Instagram Stories is that they’re fun – so don’t feel you have to try too hard – just start to document a bit of your business life, or thoughts, or opinions, or the view, or tips and advice …
The minute you make it too ‘professional’ you’ll probably lose a lot of your potential engagement …
Talking of which …
Why use Instagram Stories? #5 They’re a great way to encourage your audience to engage and to provide an interactive experience.
Yes we all know that, on social media, engagement isn’t everything, but once someone starts to respond to you, it’s going to amplify that feeling of connection and maybe of having found a place where they belong.
And Instagram keeps adding new tools into the Stories app that make it so easy to encourage a response … polls, questions, quizzes, the slider …
Instagram Stories are an easy way to find out what your audience thinks about an issue, or to get feedback, or just to start a conversation about something totally unrelated to business, that just builds a human bond.
Here’s a great example of using the poll function to learn more about the content the audience wants:
Note how they feedback and let the audience know what the results were and what they’re going to do as a result. The people who responded to the poll will now feel listened to and that their opinion counts – a massive step towards building that all-important know-like-and trust. Even those who are just observers will see that the audience’s opinions have been taken on board, which will contribute to building trust.
Instagram Stories also allow you to take this one step further and to actually give your audience an experience they actively participate in.
In this example, Canva uses the quiz function as a way for users to test their own knowledge (and to showcase Canva’s knowledge) in an easy and fun way.
You’re not just seeing a blog where they tell you about the roles and meaning of different colours, you’re experiencing the learning, which makes the whole interaction much more memorable than reading a blog.
Once someone’s got into the swing of responding via the Instagram tools, it paves the way to them responding directly to a segment of your Story. And, the way that’s set up is that a response is sent as a direct message, opening up a personal 1:1 conversation.
And that’s marketing gold dust, right there! Isn’t a 1:1 conversation with someone who could be a potential customer, who’s been drawn to you by your content, just what every business would dream of?
(Note that this works both ways and you can also use Instagram Stories as a way to start a private conversation with someone, or a brand, by responding to their content.)
Why use Instagram Stories? #6 It’s so easy to track results
There are two ways to see how successful your Instagram Stories are – you can see stats within the app itself, or you can get more detailed data from the overarching Instagram Insights (provided you have a business account.)
Even within the app you can see not only how many people have watched your Story, but also who they are – which other social media network gives you that level of data?
In the Instagram Insights, you can see all sorts of data – reach, impressions, engagement and what people do as a response, including follows and when they click off your Story!
So it’s very easy to tell really quickly how well each segment of your Story is attracting engagement and keeping attention. It’s a fantastic insight into your audience and what they respond to.
Why use Instagram Stories? #7 It’s a great way of creating stand-out content to share on other networks
We’ve talked about all the filters, text, stickers and gifs you can use to really make your Instagram Stories segments pop … so just think about how that content will stand out on other networks!
All you have to do is create an image or video – and save it to your camera roll, then you can reuse it wherever you like. Alternatively, you can download the entire day’s Instagram Story as a video of all the images and videos combined, and share that to another network.
Here’s an example of an Instagram Story segment saved and shared as a tweet:
Instagram also makes it really easy to share any Stories segment as a standalone Instagram post in the newsfeed, and you can share your Stories directly to Facebook Stories too.
Why use Instagram Stories? #8 You can pin selected segments to your Instagram profile to add much more information and depth
Have you ever noticed a row of circles sitting under someone’s Instagram profile, with titles attached to them, and wondered what they are?
They’re actually Instagram Story segments that the user has chosen to highlight and ‘pin’ to their Instagram profile.
This is a fabulous way to provide much more information than the limited characters allow for in the main profile description. It’s also a way to showcase your work and/ or the way you work, your clients, case studies, results, testimonials, brand values, products, special offers …. whatever you choose!
The only way to access this feature is to create the Instagram Stories segments and share them. Then you can choose to add them as highlights to your profile (and of course you can change them whenever you want to.)
So, there you have it – Instagram Stories are definitely not a fad, or a feature that’s going away anytime soon. Quite the opposite – they are an amazing opportunity for you to raise your business’s visibility, attract attention and to build relationships, in a way that no other social media feature allows.
So – when will you try them out?
If you want any help at all – with strategy, content, training or just hand-holding – then please just drop me a quick email at Julia @ Bramblebuzz.co.uk.
I’m always happy to jump on a quick call and share some tips and advice specific to your business.