GUEST BLOG POST BY NATASHA OF SOL STUDIO MARKETING
With over 250 million daily users, Instagram Stories becoming the top choice for brands looking to grow their community and reach on Instagram. Similarly to how video is king of Facebook, stories is the queen of Instagram.
As a social media marketer and manager for small businesses and brands, stories are an important component in how I foster engagement and connection on the ‘Gram. And for my own business account, Instagram stories is the top way I sell to and engage with my audience. Most of my stories result in some sort of action like a direct message from my ideal clients, a question from a course student, or a new follower expressing how my value-packed content has helped serve them. My highlights store my most loved stories have been the top way potential clients learn more about my and my expertise in Instagram strategy. The best thing about stories is you can get away with posting 3-4 quality posts per week and still increase your following by using an effective Instagram Stories strategy.
These are just a few ways Instagram has helped my brand grow using these five strategies.
Creating Micro-Content for Authenticity.
Stories is the home of micro-content, content that is available for only 24 hours and created with minimal production. Fortunately for content creators, the simplicity of the content creation process resonates even more with your audience. It all comes down to authenticity. Showing up on stories fresh-faced, in your PJs and without a production light in sight is the real and raw content your audience wants to see. The more you focus on showing viewers the real person behind the brand, the more your audience will resonate with the content you’re producing. So keep it real and raw - show up with your unique personality and as unpolished as possible.
When creating a stories strategy, tailor your content to your followers' needs and focus on providing value. Be consistent with your stories - I typically suggest posting daily and numerous times throughout the day if possible. The more consistent you are, the more your story will pop up for your followers to view first. Fortunately, stories can be off-the-cusp and less polished than a post, so there’s no excuse to not show up daily.
The more often you’re posting valuable content on Instagram Stories, the more likely your followers are going to use that channel as a way to connect with you. When used consistently, this allows you to create a relationship with those viewers and eventually sell your product or service. While consistency is key for your feed posts, daily posting is vital for maintaining a presence on Instagram Stories. Since that bubble appears at the front of the app for users based on timeliness, the more often you’re posting throughout the day the more likely you are to be seen.
Tip: The more you post on stories, the more likely the algorithm will favor your content and push it out to your followers. Posting stories around the time you post a new feed post will help increase engagement overall.
If you struggle with showing up on stories through video, my best advice is to practice, practice, practice. The more you practice speaking on camera, the more “normal” it will feel to you. If you happen to stumble or trip over your words, avoid bringing attention to it and keep it moving. Mistakes and quirks are what make you appear real to your audience instead of overly professional and polished.
Using Hashtags and the Location Sticker to get Discovered.
The best way to get discovered on Instagram Stories is by utilizing the tools available in the app. Hashtags and locations stickers are the best way to double your views and reach your dream followers. The location sticker can help you be discovered when posting about a specific location that may be applicable to your business. By tagging the city your business is serving or the location of your establishment, you can drive traffic to your feed and hopefully encourage them to hit that follow button. By hiding all 10 hashtags, your stories will show up on the page of each hashtag and be accessible to its viewers.
While you want to be using all 10 of your allotted hashtags on each story, you don’t want to distract your followers with a bulky list of hashtags. Fortunately, there are three ways you can easily hide hashtags on your stories. I cover each method in this IGTV Tutorial all about hiding hashtags in Instagram Stories. Since you’re only allotted 10 hashtags, be selective. It’s best to choose a hashtag that’s not over one million but somewhere in between to ensure people will actually see your story. Research the hashtags you’re already using and other keywords that are applicable to your story to see how active people are on each. Once you find a hashtag that works for you, save it in a note on your phone and post away.
Interactive Stories with Polls and Question Stickers.
Polls and questions stickers are the best way to gauge how to best serve your audience. Not only does it give your followers a place to be heard, but it also makes Instagram a space for 1-on-1 communication. Polls are a fantastic way to see what type of content your followers prefer to see or gather more information about a certain topic. Whenever I start planning a new course or blog topic, I poll my Instagram stories to ensure it’s something they want to see. When you are focusing on content that your followers want to see instead of what you think they want to see, you are guaranteed to have higher engagement rates on your post. Try to stray away from “yes / no” questions. Instead, give your followers two options or perspectives on a topic to gather more valuable information.
Questions stickers were one of the biggest releases of 2018 because of their ability to gather information from your audience and hold Q&A sessions. You can use this feature by asking a question or providing your followers with a prompt. Think out of the box with this tool as opposed to just say “Ask me something”. Provide your followers with a topic to get them thinking or inquire about any struggles they may have with a specific topic. Instead of asking a general question, I like to ask my followers for any dilemmas they’re having around a certain social media topic like IGTV or creating video content instead of just saying “ask me any social media question”. This question sticker can also be used by sharing linked blog posts, web pages, or IGTV videos with the swipe up feature on stories. This is the best way you can serve your audience with content they can access on the spot while providing you with an opportunity to get your followers off Instagram. I recommend storing your Q&A sessions in a highlight similar to a FAQ page to give anyone landing on your page to access them.
Tip: If you plan on holding an Instagram Live Stream, you can access questions from question stickers you’ve posted on your stories to hold a live Q&A session with your follower.
Utilize Your Highlights for Showcasing Your Micro-Content.
Traditionally, story posts only last 24 hrs, but the highlights feature allows you to showcase the type of content your followers should expect to see from you and recap what current followers may have missed. Your highlights are the first thing a prospective follower might see when landing on your page so it’s important that you choose your Highlights wisely.
Highlights are quite literally the highlight reel of all your Instagram Stories where you can showcase your most valuable content and give potential followers an inside look behind the brand. On my Instagram Highlights, I showcase my best social media tips while also offering an ‘About Me’ highlight talking a bit more about what I do in my business. You don’t need to showcase every story you post on your story in your highlight - just the best of the best. Five highlights are the sweet spot since that’s how many icons are shown in below your Instagram bio at a time. Simply choose your own branded colors and fonts, search icons that represent the highlight content, and voila - your Instagram Highlights are branded.
Testimonials is one of my favorite types of content to share in your highlights. Just like you would on your website to show off your portfolio, your Instagram stories and highlights can do the same. Be creative with video, text, and screenshots for your testimonials.
Tip: If you’re planning a launch campaign, stories is the best way to show the behind the scenes process and create excitement around a launch. Plan to utilize stories months before the launch date to create hype, and save the stories about the campaign in a highlight to keep your followers up to date.
Re-sharing UGC, IGTV Videos, and Feed Posts on Stories.
Sharing User Generated Content (UGC) on your Instagram stories allows you to show your followers some love with a simple shoutout. Encourage your followers to tag your account and share on their stories when they are interacting with your brand, product, or location so you can repost their story to your feed. Also, share any Instagram posts, screenshots, or videos on stories to grow credibility for your brand. When other viewers see other partaking in your community, they will be encouraged and welcomed to do the same. Consumers trust people or items that other people use and love, so this makes UGC valuable for building your brand on stories
With the ability to share IGTV videos to stories by using the share to stories feature or by linking the video in stories (even with under 10K followers), you can drive traffic to your channel and better serve your followers with video. IGTV is a powerful tool for your business because it allows you to use the power of video while providing clickable links in the description of each video. Since this is one of the only places you can links on Instagram, this a welcome opportunity to share links and get your followers on Instagram and on to your website.
Bonus: I have a bonus IGTV module in my Instagram course if you’re considering this platform in your Instagram strategy. Here’s the exclusive LifeLapse discount code.
Showing Up with Branded Content.
If you’re looking to amp up your Instagram stories content, I recommend the app Unfold for templates. You’re able to add videos, photos, and stop motions to templates that you can customize for a branded look and feel. LifeLapse’s one-second video option is one of my favorite ways to show behind the scenes of my day through short clips and video. When it comes to using the pen tool or text, I strive to stay within the same color palette (yellow of course) with the addition of black and white as needed. This ensures my stories are seamless with the same colors, filters, and overall look. While being polished isn't necessary, consistently branded stories content can help you retain your viewers.
These are just a few of the reasons why Stories is my favorite place to be on Instagram and the most valuable tool in your strategy. If you’d like to learn more about Instagram, IGTV, and Instagram Stories, be sure to access this exclusive LifeLapse discount code for my course, Mastering Instagram.
If you’re looking for a 1:1 Strategy Session to help you bring your social media strategy to the next level with a complete audit, steps for implementation, and strategies personalized to your business needs, I want to provide you with $25 off my coaching call. Follow this link to book!