What are Instagram stories and why should my business use them?

What are Instagram stories and why should my business use them?

What are Instagram stories? Why should my business use them? How do they work?! 

Don’t worry, all your questions will soon be answered!

 

Instagram Stories are, essentially, Instagram posts which don’t appear on your feed. They last for 24 hours, and then disappear forever. Take a look at the top of your Instagram feed; you’ll see a row of circles containing the profile pictures of the people you follow, some of which will have coloured circles around them. Tap a coloured one! This opens this person’s story. To skip forward, tap the screen. To skip to the next person, swipe across. It’s really that simple!

 

That’s all well and good I hear you say, but why should I be making these? What good will it do my business? Well, Instagram stories is currently used by 59% of 18-29 year olds, and has over 200 million daily active users – it’s bigger than Snapchat! You can post in Stories as much as you want without bombarding your customers; they choose to watch you, giving your brand constant engagement, rather than your posts getting lost in the depths of Instagram’s ever-changing algorithms. Stories also gives you a chance to be more light-hearted in your content, helping humanise your business. Trust in businesses is at an all-time low, and half of all net users post reviews every month; consumers prefer engagement and the personal touch to a stream of corporate adverts.

 

The engagement opportunities within Stories are endless; there are no likes or comments, but each post gives the viewer the opportunity to directly message your page with text, video or photos. Hashtags and geotagging still work, meaning your stories are just as discoverable as standard posts. With Stories only lasting 24 hours, the short timeframe can create a buzz around deals, or even let you give away an Instagram-only discount code! If you’re a verified account you can even add a call to action in the form of links to your website, or a specific product within your story.

 

So, how do you make a story?

It’s really very simple, but probably worth trying out a few times on your personal account before you let loose where your customers can see!

  • To start your story, tap the camera icon (Android) or plus symbol (iPhone) in the top left, or swipe left to access Instagram’s built in camera function.
  • Pick your format. You can upload a photo or video from your camera roll that’s been taken in the past 24 hours (if you want to make custom artwork, the ideal ratio is 9:16. A good canvas size is 1080x1920px), or you can use one of the many settings in the Instagram camera;
    • Type – Text only with a changeable background
    • Live – A video which goes out live as you record it, that can be commented on and reacted to. It’s worth planning these in advance and hyping them up in the lead up to the start to make sure you get a good audience. They can be saved and added to your story afterwards, but it loses that exclusivity and engagement. Great for a product launch or Q&A!
    • Boomerang – A short video which plays on a loop forward then backwards
    • SuperZoom – A video which zooms in on a selected point with some interesting effect options…!
    • Focus – Similar to Portrait Mode, this focuses a selected point and blurs around it, giving a shallow, artistic depth of field.
    • Rewind – Plays videos in reverse
    • Hands-Free – allows you to record a video without holding down the record button, leaving both your hands free for more exciting things!
    • Filters – On the bottom right, click the face icon. This will load some ‘mask’ options. Get a face in frame, select your filter, and voila!
  • Once you’ve got your media, there’s even more options for you! You can add text, freehand drawing and writing, emojis, even stickers with things such as geotagging, hashtags, temperatures, times, and interactive polls your viewers can vote on! Don’t like an extra your put on? Drag it to the bottom of the screen and a bin will appear; drop it here to delete! Pictures without explanation will hurt your engagement, so get a caption on there. 40% of stories are viewed with the sound off; will your video still make sense to the almost half of your audience viewing this way?
  • All ready? Simply click ‘Add to Story’, and you’re all set to start again! Posts will appear in the order you add them, and you can watch your own story the same way you watch anyone else’s! If you want to see how many people have viewed your story, simply open it and swipe up.
  • Finally, if you want to keep your story for more than 24 hours, you can add it to your Highlights. Highlights appear at the top of your profile page for as long as you want them there, and are as simple as opening the story post and pressing the Highlight button!

 

 

That’s it! Experiment with your options; posts you make don’t go into your story unless you decide to put them there, so you can practise as much as you’d like. Get creative; people love to feel they’ve experienced something exclusive; why not do a behind the scenes tour, or sneak peek of a new product? ‘How to’ guides and virtual focus groups, interviews and special deals; all these things create engagement with your brand via one of the biggest digital platforms in the world right now – and its fun for you, too.