Like most brands today, you or your company probably have an Instagram account but are you truly making the most of this incredibly popular platform? Are Instagram Stories part of your social media strategy?
Successful brands don’t just upload Instagram posts – they are investing time into Instagram Stories in a big way.
Done right, Instagram Stories can help generate brand awareness, grow your audience, and even increase sales.
Do you want to learn how to create great Stories?
In this article, you’ll discover effective new tips to get better results on Instagram – starting today.
Expand Your Reach With Hashtags
You should already be using hashtags to optimise your Instagram posts but are you using them in your Instagram Stories?
There are several ways to add hashtags to your Stories. For starters, you can add the hashtag sticker as an overlay to your video or image Stories. Do this to add a hashtag to your Instagram Story:
- In the toolbar at the top right of your screen tap the smiley sticker icon
- Click the hashtag option
- Type your preferred hashtag or choose from the suggested hashtags
- You can also use the regular text tool instead of stickers to add hashtags to your story
Another way to add hashtags to your Instagram Stories is via location tags so that users in a specific geographical location can easily search and find your business.
What is really great about location tags is that they make your images and videos visible in Location Stories. This means users in the tagged country, state, city, or neighbourhood can see your content.
Of course, location tags work best for location-specific businesses. Even then, these tags can come in handy if you are promoting an offline, location-based event.
Here is how to add location stickers:
- Tap on the square smiley face at the top of the screen
- Select the location sticker
- Type the location you want to add; a list of matching locations will appear as soon as you start typing
- Select your desired location
- Choose where on your screen you want to place the location sticker
- Upload your Story
Another way to use hashtags in Instagram stories is to piggyback on trending hashtags that are relevant to your brand. In fact,
Instead of using other people’s trending hashtags, use the hashtags your audience or customers are already using when interacting with your brand.
Look at your followers’ Stories and posts to find out the hashtags they commonly use in relation to your brand. If there are any hashtags you are not yet using, you can add them to your Stories. This is a clever way to increase visibility, drive traffic, grow your audience, and even boost sales.
Increase Brand Awareness With Instagram Story Ads
While Instagram Stories are a fantastic channel for engaging with your audience and encouraging conversions, you can get more from your Instagram Stories by incorporating ads.
Instagram Stories Ads let you include a snappy advertisement into your stories. You can add image ads or video ads lasting 15 seconds.
These in-Story ads are revolutionary as they allow advertisers to make their brand visible without interrupting users’ experience. The ads are not only seamless but they are also full-screen. This ensures that users actually notice each ad.
A key feature of Instagram Story Ads is that the ads are strikingly similar to the rest of your Instagram Stories. The only difference is that the Ads are typically more polished and are marked by the tag ‘Sponsored.’
Done well, Instagram Stories Ads can help you reach key business goals. This may include boosting brand awareness, generating website traffic, increasing video views, boosting conversions such as app installs and website sales, lead generation, and growing your reach.
The only downside is that users can opt to skip these ads. Therefore, to get a good return on investment, you need to create irresistible ads that will engage your target audience.
So, in what ways can you use Instagram Stories Ads?
Here are a few ideas:
- Use Stories Ads to launch a new product targeting current or prospective customers
- Generate buzz around an upcoming event
- Ask users to ‘swipe up’ to shop at your online store
- Invite users to a live chat with you on Facebook as part of a sales drive
- Use ads to announce the behind-the-scenes impact your brand is having on the community
Because Instagram is connected to Facebook, you can maximize your ad’s reach by retargeting those who interact with your Facebook page and website.
Increase User Engagement With Interactive Elements
Whether you are creating posts or Stories, you need to approach Instagram as the interactive platform it is.
As you already know, online users want to actively engage with their favourite brands—they are no longer interested in being passive consumers and Instagram offers the perfect opportunity to bring customers closer to your brand.
Numerous features are available for you to infuse your Stories with an element of interactivity.
Are you looking for an effective yet fun way to pick your followers’ brains? Why not use polls to add instant interactivity to your Stories.
You can set up a basic A/B poll that asks users to choose one or another or you can create a Slider poll, which is even more interactive as it allows users to rate something by sliding a bar on their screens.
Each type of poll will be useful for different purposes but both present a great way to generate quick data and boost engagement with your brand.
Here is how to add polls to your Instagram Stories:
- At the top of your Story screen, tap on the smiley sticker icon
- Select the poll sticker
- Add your poll question; a YES/NO box will appear underneath your question
- Customize responses by typing the desired response in each of the boxes
- Once you’re done, click the checkmark at the top of the screen
- Drag the poll across the screen to place it where you want
- Post the poll the same way you would other Stories
Consider monitoring and analysing post results as part of your marketing research. Bear in mind that the analytics will disappear within 24 hours together with the poll.
To access the poll analytics, simply swipe the poll Story up. You will see two icons—the eye and the graph icon. Click on the eye icon to see details of who voted and how they voted.
Use polls to:
- Ask users about their preferred gift for a contest
- Select features to add or remove in a new product
- Brainstorm blog topics
- Request feedback on just about anything
Sometimes, the simplest things go a long way. Just by playing with text, you can easily add zing and visual appeal to your Stories. Intermix large and small fonts, change the font style, or play around with different fonts to customize your Stories at zero cost.
In addition to text, add visual variety to your Stories by using emojis and common upbeat sayings that are Instagram staples. GIFs are also a clever way to add an element of interactivity and fun to your Stories. Just be sure to add a GIF that is relevant to the content of your Stories and relatable to your target audience.
Adding links to your Stories is the classic way to get users to interact directly with your brand. You can add a link to direct users to a promotional offer, landing page to generate email addresses, e-commerce store to encourage sales, blog post to increase readership, or to the website to improve brand awareness.
Links are only available for brands with at least 10,000 followers. To add a link to your Story:
- Click on the link icon at the top of your Story screen
- Enter the appropriate link
- Click the checkmark at the top of the screen
Share Other People’s Instagram Stories
In addition to posting your own Stories, you can also post other people’s Stories when they @mention you in their Stories.
Every time you are tagged in a Story, you will receive a notification and an option to share the story. This is a great way to build community and strengthen your network on the platform.
Something else you can do is repurposing your posts or other users’ posts and sharing them on your own Stories feed. The repurposed Story has a link back to the original post. This is particularly helpful for increasing engagement and visibility for your Instagram posts.
Do you have a favourite song, artist, or simply want to share your playlist with your followers? Instagram, in partnership with Spotify, make it possible to share tunes in your Stories.
When users click on the post, they are directed to the Spotify app from where they can listen to the tune—talk about encouraging engagement!
You can take this to the next level by adding a poll sticker asking your followers to rate your playlist or choice of songs.
Build A Community With Live Q&A Sessions
The question sticker is a new feature that allows you to call upon your audience to ask you questions through direct messaging or live. Once you add the sticker to your Story, users can type in their questions right inside the sticker.
This is great for holding live and public Q&A sessions. Question stickers make it easier to manage and respond to comments and the best part is that you can display the questions and your responses for everyone to see.
Online audiences value one-on-one interactions with brands and live Q&A sessions are an authentic and intimate way to meet this need. On your end, live interactions offer you a platform to nurture your audience in a way that can lead to a sale or even a mutually beneficial partnership.
Promote Events and Special Promos With Countdown Stickers
Do you want to create buzz around an upcoming event or a promotion? There is no better way to increase anticipation and capture your audiences’ attention than with a countdown timer that shows the number of days, hours and minutes to D-day!
With this new feature, Instagram lets you add a countdown clock to your Story as a way to promote an event, generate interest around a product launch, or market an upcoming promotion.
The countdown sticker clock is customisable, allowing you to use colour pallets, fonts, and emojis that resonate with your brand.
Curate and Showcase Your Best Content With Instagram Stories Highlights
Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours but what if you want your videos, images, and other Stories to last a little longer? Enter Instagram Stories Highlights.
Highlights are images and videos you can curate from your Stories and archive on your profile permanently.
These archived stories live right above your feed and just below your bio. Users only need to tap on the Stories Highlights to play the curated content.
This feature is especially useful because you can reuse your Stories and continue to showcase them, and generated awareness and engagement long after the original story has vanished. Due to their permanent nature, (you can delete the clips any time) Instagram Stories Highlights have the potential to deliver greater ROI.
Here is how to create Instagram Stories Highlights:
- Head over to your Story settings and turn on automatic archiving
- Next, go to your profile and just below your bio click on the downward arrow next to the ‘Story Highlights’
- Tap on the ‘New’ button to upload your Stories
- Select a cover photo and a title for each of your curated highlights
You can use Instagram Stories Highlights to:
- Showcase products and promotions
- Share timeless tutorials and product demos
- Feature other people’s Stories and create user-generated content
- Show off positive customer reviews
- Create a home for your events
Stories is arguably the biggest social media trend today and chances are that brands will continue exploring Stories in unique and diverse ways going forward.
Instagram is constantly rolling out new features to update its offering. Now is a good time to jump in with both feet and start discovering all the many exciting ways you can use Instagram Stories to build your brand.