If you want to level up your social media presence, it’s time to be more present on stories. With 400 million people using stories every single day, their popularity shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. From content strategy to design, we’re sharing how to make the most out of your stories.
Why You Should Actively Use Instagram Stories to Grow Your Brand
When Instagram introduced stories to their platform in 2016, the feature quickly exploded with users sharing snippets of their daily musings and life updates. Facebook followed suit less than a year later, and it’s now easier than ever to create great content for both.
Imitating SnapChat’s approach to personal, temporary content that’s only live for 24 hours, Instagram and Facebook created stories to provide an opportunity for users to share more of their message. As brands and influencers continue to dominate the social scene with perfectly curated (and all too often, unrealistic lifestyle images), people crave the relatability that exists beyond the highlight reel.
Since their introduction, stories have steadily progressed with new creative and interactive features, and a growing number of users taking advantage of them as a result.
Today, more than 70% of brands and businesses use stories to share their message and connect with their audience, and more than 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business on social media.
Why are users drawn to this content, and what makes it so successful? Effective marketing is relatable, and most importantly, it’s human
The less that people feel as though they’re being targeted as just another potential customer and the more they find personal value in the content you share, the more likely they are to become loyal followers. Just as relationships of substance aren’t built overnight, neither are trustworthy brands.
Grow Your Brand Using Engaging Instagram Stories
The marketing rule of seven says it takes the average person a minimum of seven times after initially hearing your message to connect with it and consider taking action.
With that in mind, it’s crucial to develop a well-thought-out strategy behind the content you share. Your audience likely isn’t going to connect with your brand (and ultimately take action) if they see seven consecutive posts trying to sell them a product. Instead, the majority of what you share should revolve around bringing value with content that is either informative, educational, entertaining, or inspirational.
Promotional posts should comprise no more than 20% of your overall content strategy.
Think about it: other than Super Bowl Sunday, when was the last time you were excited to see a commercial? Social media users are bombarded with targeted ads and promotional content regularly. Not only are they more likely to quickly skim over these for more interesting posts, but they will begin to associate your brand with spammy content. To establish trust and a genuine connection with your audience, your content needs to inform, educate, and evoke positive emotions as much as possible.
This is where social media stories can have a massive influence on your viewers.
How to Create Engaging Stories and Generate Maximum Views on Instagram
1. Share 10-20 stories each day
The algorithm favors accounts that post regularly, so consistency is crucial. While you can share as many as 100 stories per day, the sweet spot is between 10-20. If you share too many, you risk losing viewers halfway through. If you don’t share enough, you miss out on potential growth. The bottom line: aim for at least 10 posts per day, but share as many as twenty as long as it’s valuable content.
2. Plan ahead: Include Stories In Your Editorial Calendar
While the spontaneity of stories can certainly be part of their appeal, not every day has share-worthy content on your feed or film-worthy behind-the-scenes moments. To keep consistent branding, plan ahead with content you want to share each day just as you would with posts for your feed. Then, you can add new content as it comes. Flexibility is key! Planoly and Later are just two great resources that allow you to create a cohesive scheme for both your grid and stories in advance.
3. Set the Scene
Show your viewers what insights you’ll be sharing and how they’ll find value from your content with the very first story of each day. If they don’t immediately see how each of the following stories on your page will benefit them, they’ll likely swipe past them altogether.
4. Use Interactive Stickers
The more that other accounts interact with your stories, the more the algorithm will push your content to the front of their story feed each day. The easiest way to get your viewers to actively engage with your content is through regularly using stickers like polls, quizzes and questions.
Share Polls & Quizzes
Polls and quizzes can dramatically increase your story engagement. People love to share their opinion, and these allow them to interact with your brand with minimal effort. For example, if you’re launching a new food product, you can create a poll asking “which flavor will you try first?” with the options you’ll be releasing. This not only builds awareness of what you have to offer but encourages engagement which will, in turn, boost the algorithm in your favor.
Use the “ask a question” sticker to get feedback from your audience on topics relevant to the content you’ve shared. This can be great for your brand for four reasons:
- It shows your audience you care about what they have to say
- It allows you to demonstrate excellent customer service and build personal relationships with your audience
- It shows the humanity behind the brand
- It can be an opportunity to generate more content by sharing these responses and responding publicly in a way that other viewers might find beneficial (or entertaining!)
Share a variety of content. Some ideas might include:
- Adding new posts and reels to your story as you upload them to your feed for maximum exposure.
- Some users follow thousands of accounts and can easily miss new posts as they appear on your feed. Other users simply prefer to scroll through stories instead of their feed, and may not otherwise know you have a new post to share.
- Sharing user-generated content.
- When followers tag your brand with quality content, thank them and share it! Tagged UGC is the most authentic way to share positive customer reviews and build trust with your audience. User-generated content isn’t limited to posts by followers, however. Sharing relevant posts from accounts that create great content not only provides variety but can lead to them sharing your content with their audience in return. This not only increases the number of views your content receives but has the potential to result in long-term partnerships
- Sharing behind-the-scenes content.
- Whether you want to share your company culture so that your followers can get to know the team, you’re working on an exciting brand photoshoot, or you’re participating in a charity event, people love to feel like they’re getting exclusive insight. This can be an excellent way to showcase the faces behind the account or share your expertise.
- Any branded content
- Use content like inspirational quotes or holiday greetings that you want to share without having it live on your feed permanently.
- Giveaways and countdowns
- Any giveaway that’s added to your feed should also have multiple stories of its own. Instead of just sharing the post, however, build excitement with countdowns and other creative stories each day until the giveaway has ended.
Hashtags are just as important to your marketing strategy in stories as they are in your feed. When used correctly, hashtags can expand your audience greatly. If they’re misused, the algorithm may penalize you by showing your content to fewer users. To get the most from your hashtag strategy, avoid using the same hashtags on repeat and do this instead:
- Use the hashtag sticker. Research trending hashtags relevant to each specific story and make this your primary hashtag with the hashtag sticker.
- Use the location hashtag. This will increase your reach by showing your content to users who search by location, or on the explore page to users within the area.
- Add updated, niche hashtags to the text. These can be part of the conversation you’re sharing or completely separate. You can easily make these less intrusive by pinching the text to make it smaller, moving it to the side of the page, or adding a sticker over them.
Make Them Stand Out With Aesthetics
Because of their short-term and competitive nature, it’s essential to grab your viewer’s attention fast to ensure they won’t lose interest and swipe to the next story. There are many creative ways to do this:
- Customize the background color for your photo. Instagram automatically pulls color from the image you share to create a background. Depending on the photo, there’s likely to be a more complementary option. To get the perfect background color, follow these simple steps.
- Add a background image or video from your camera roll to the posts you share from your feed. The predetermined background color can be great if you need the blank space to add extra text or gifs to your story, but adding a background image or video instead can bring it to the next level. To do this:
- Share a post from your feed to your story, but don’t publish it (yet!)
- Open your camera roll and select a photo or video
- Copy the photo or video
- Once copied, open your story again
- The image you copied will automatically pop up as a sticker that you can then use
- Create branded story templates. Create collages, add filters and find creative concepts for your stories with tools like Canva or Unfold. There are a ton of options available when it comes to finding unique templates for each individual story, while also allowing you to create a cohesive brand with your own fonts and color palette
- Add animation. In addition to creating branded templates, Canva and Unfold also allow you to easily animate your stories. While you don’t want to use animated features for all of them, it can be a great way to break up the monotony of still photographs.
If you’re simply sharing a photo, use the sticker library to search for relevant gifs to add a touch of personality to your posts.
Although it can seem daunting to connect with your viewers in real-time, the results are worth it. Going live not only builds more trust with your audience but tells the algorithm that you’re active and further promotes your account. Viewers are able to ask questions directly via live chat, which you can then use as points of discussion. What better way is there to grow relationships with your followers and potential customers?
Instagram has come a long way from the days of being just an aesthetically pleasing grid of photos, but there’s more opportunity than ever to showcase your brand and connect with your audience. Include these Instagram stories ideas and best practices into your social media marketing strategy, and watch your results skyrocket. ∎