By Neil Patel
Your company needs to be active on Instagram.
Establishing a social media presence is essential for businesses to thrive in today’s day and age.
But posting pictures isn’t enough.
You need to take your Instagram strategy one step further and take advantage of posting stories to your profile.
What’s an Instagram story?
If you are unfamiliar, they aren’t complicated to figure out.
Users have the opportunity to upload videos and photos that expire after 24 hours.
Some people think Instagram copied Snapchat with this concept, which to an extent is true.
But regardlesss, I think it’s an efficient and professional way to market your business.
Here are some statistics on what can help you increase engagement:
What can you take away from this?
Use these tips when you’re adding something to your Instagram story.
- Use images with faces
- Include multiple hashtags
- Tag your location
- Use images with people’s faces (yours or someone else’s)
- Be mindful of the time of day you’re posting
Keep this information in mind as we continue to go through different ways to promote your business with Instagram stories.
How to post a story on Instagram
For those of you who haven’t done this before, I’ll give you a step-by-step guide to adding stories to your profile.
Step #1: Click on the photo icon in the top left corner:
From your homepage, you’ll see this small camera.
Tap it to proceed.
Step #2: Take a picture, or select one from your camera roll:
From this screen, you’ll have some options.
After you tap on the icon from the previous step, Instagram will access your phone’s camera.
To take a picture, tap on the circle located on the bottom of the screen.
If you want to take a video, hold the button down to record.
You can add a video up to 15 seconds in length.
Furthermore, you can upload previously recorded videos or pictures from your phone’s camera roll by tapping on the small square in the bottom left corner of this screen.
Step #3: Select a format:
You’ve got some options here as well.
Normal is self-explanatory.
Boomerang creates an image similar to a GIF. Hold down the button for a few seconds, and the clip will play forward and backward continuously.
Rewind plays your video in reverse.
The hands-free option gives you a chance to put your phone down to record a video.
That’s a great option if you’re doing a demonstration requiring both hands.
Step #4: Add a location:
Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access these features.
You can tag a location or add other cool effects like the time, temperature, or other stickers.
Step #5: Include some text:
If you want to write on your picture or video, simply tap anywhere on the screen to access the keyboard.
From here, you can change the color of your text as well as the size, angle, and location of it on the screen.
Step #6: Choose a filter, and add it to your story
The filter is optional.
If you want to add certain effects to your photo, swipe left or right on the screen.
Once you’re happy with the way everything looks, simply tap the “Your Story” button at the bottom left corner.
You can continue adding multiple pictures and videos to your story by repeating the process.
Each part of the story will play in the order it’s uploaded.
See how easy that was?
Now, I’ll give you some tips for what to include in your story.
Offer discounts and other promotions
Consumers love to get something at a good price.
Give the people what they want.
It may be the reason why they are following your profile in the first place.
Since stories are posted only for 24 hours, it’s a great opportunity for you to run a flash sale for your followers.
Here’s a great example from Paleo Passion Foods:
This sale can be exclusive to your Instagram followers. Or you can use Instagram as just another channel to advertise an existing promotion.
Try both methods to see what kind of response you’ll get.
You can try using different promo codes to see where your customers are coming from.
Looking at the above example, this company could use a code “LD20” for their email subscribers.
Then, they can compare the metrics from this promotion with those of their Instagram story to see which campaign was more successful.
Take over another account
Reach out to other Instagram accounts related to your brand.
See if they will let you take over their profile for a few hours.
It will give you a chance to reach a wider audience than just your existing followers.
But why would someone let you do this?
You might have to give them an incentive.
If they usually let companies take over their account to promote their personal profile, you can explain why your business is the perfect candidate for their next one.
However, if that’s not something they normally do, you may need to return the favor.
Let them take over your account as well so they can get the same benefit.
Just make sure everything is screened and appropriate before you post it.
You can use other platforms to promote an Instagram takeover as well.
Buffer Social promoted this Instagram takeover on their Twitter page.
It’s a great opportunity for you to get followers from other channels to start interacting with you on Instagram.
Celebrity social proof
Let’s take the profile takeover strategy one step further.
Instead of just posting on another brand’s account or letting them advertise on your profile, you can get a celebrity to take over your account.
If they promote the takeover on their personal account, you can get their followers to check out your profile as well when they view the story.
Plus, this strategy generates social proof.
Here’s an example of how Shopify did this on their story:
Amber Mac is a Canadian television personality.
She has nearly 25,000 followers on Instagram.
By getting her to take over their story, Shopify potentially increased brand awareness with 25,000 new prospective customers.
It’s a great idea.
People will take advice from people they know.
Even though they may not know Amber Mac personally, if she stands behind something, it must be good, right?
That’s the power of celebrity social proof.
Create mini versions of your website content
You can use an Instagram story to promote other pieces of content on your website.
Let’s say you have a blog and you’re trying to get more readers.
Put snippets of the content in your story.
Here’s an example of how Real Simple approached this strategy:
This story shows a sample of what their followers will see if they read the blog.
It teases the viewers and piques their interest.
But they don’t give it all away in the story.
It’s a great technique for increasing click rates and conversions.
Instagram lets you stream a live video story as well.
Consumers respond well to live content.
It gives you a chance to have a more authentic interaction with your followers.
When you’re live, the viewers have a chance to comment in real time.
Respond directly to those comments, and call out users by name.
It’s a great way for you to increase user engagement.
Do a Q&A segment to encourage lots of comments on your live video.
Once you finish, Instagram gives you the option to keep your video posted as a story for the next 24 hours.
Take them behind the scenes
Show your followers what your business is up to on a daily basis.
Taking people behind the scenes will make them feel as if they have access to exclusive content.
Look at how Happy Socks incorporated this method into their Instagram story:
Viewers got a chance to meet some of the employees.
It shows you’re human.
Nobody wants to support some nameless and faceless brand.
Adding a human element to your marketing campaigns can help customers feel more connected to your brand.
Earlier, I talked about how faces can impact how people feel about an image.
Happy Socks definitely achieves this by showcasing real people in the office.
Encourage user-generated content
UGC can grow your business without you having to put in too much work.
It’s one of my favorite forms of social media marketing.
The key is to get your customers to promote your business for you.
But how do you accomplish that?
Use your story to run a contest.
Create a hashtag, and encourage users to post photos to win a prize.
Look at how Starbucks does this in their Instagram story:
This post will get users to share a photo that has the Starbucks logo on it.
When these posts pop up on the newsfeeds of their followers, they could give someone the urge to buy a coffee from one of Starbucks’ locations.
Overall, it’s a great way to promote brand awareness.
It gets your name and image out there without costing you any money.
Use your story to promote UGC.
Launch a new product
Use Instagram story to reveal a new product to your customers.
You should obviously promote the release on other channels as well, but don’t forget about Instagram.
It will encourage your followers to stay connected and engaged with your brand.
They’ll know that if they continue to follow your profile, they will get instant access to new products.
Look at how Instagram has surpassed Twitter for marketing:
Marketing experts have recognized how powerful Instagram’s platform is.
They are using it to generate profits.
Make sure you’re using all the features to your advantage, and don’t forget to mention new products in your story.
Run a sponsored story
If you’re willing to spend some money on social media advertising, you can create a sponsored story.
The story will appear in your target audience’s feeds.
In 2012, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion dollars.
If you want to advertise on Instagram, you go through Facebook’s platform.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to running a sponsored story.
Step #1: Select a primary marketing objective:
What’s the goal of your marketing campaign?
I think some of the best options are:
- lead generation
Consider those choices if you’re having trouble coming up with an objective.
Step #2: Create an advertising account:
Before you can proceed, you’ll need to provide some more information.
Your personal profile may not be the same as your advertising account, so you’ll set it all up here.
Step #3: Focus efforts on your target market:
From here, you can start to narrow down some general information about the consumers you plan to target:
Narrow your focus based on your brand’s audience.
If your company sells dresses and skirts customized for college sorority girls, you shouldn’t be including men over the age of 65 in this advertisement.
Facebook allows you to include more filters such as:
It gives you a chance to narrow down your audience so that it’s directly related to your brand.
Step #4: Come up with a budget and schedule:
Your budget will determine how often your story gets run as an advertisement.
You can let it run continuously or select certain days to start and stop.
Make sure you compare these figures to your company’s marketing budget before you lock in a rate.
You get charged per impression or by post engagement, depending on what you select.
Step #5: Create your ad:
Select “Ad” from the bottom left corner of your navigation menu to access this screen.
From here, you can choose the format of your story.
For this example, I’ve selected a single video.
Single videos account for 25% of Instagram ads.
Those of you who have some money to spare in your marketing budget can take advantage of sponsored stories on Instagram.
While it’s not completely necessary for all businesses, it’s an option.
If you’re not using Instagram to promote your business, that needs to change right away.
But make sure you’re taking advantage of everything this platform has to offer.
Instagram stories are a great way to promote your brand and generate leads.
There are over 700 million people active on this platform each month.
This number continues to rise each year.
Use your Instagram story to offer exclusive discounts or promotions to your followers.
To increase brand awareness, see if another company will let you take over their account and post.
You can generate celebrity social proof by letting someone with a large following to take over your account as well.
It’s one of the best ways to increase user engagement through Instagram story.
Give your followers a behind the scenes look at your organization. This will generate a more personal connection with your brand.
If you want to promote a feature on your website, e.g., a blog, give a preview of that content in your story.
You can also use Instagram story to promote user-generated content or launch a new product.
If you’re willing to spend some money, try running a sponsored story as well.
Do you think you’ll use more photos or videos to promote your brand through Instagram Story?