Instagram Stories – The Beginners Guide

Instagram stories are a fantastic way to get around the pesky algorithm problems. Over 400 million people use Instagram stories daily.  If you’re a small business who has been ignoring the Instagram stories feature – stop now!

What are Instagram stories?

Stories allow users to create a feed of sequential content that disappears within 24 hours of being posted.  There are lots of creative options such as GIFs and polls that make Instagram stories a totally different experience from normal posts.

The fact that stories are only up for a short period of time makes them feel more exclusive and makes people think they could miss out if they don’t view them.

Follow these four steps to create an Instagram story:

  • Go to your Instagram home page, and tap the camera icon in the top left-hand corner
  • You can then swipe up on your screen to open your gallery and share a photo or video you’ve already got
  • Or choose from a variety of camera lens options (with filters) to take a photo or video in Instagram
  • Once you have your media, you can edit! You can add captions, GIFs, polls, and overlays – just to mention a few. Once you’re done, tap “your story” to share it to your story.

Why are Instagram stories good for business?

Instagram stories have a lot of big benefits for brands.  The main benefit of stories now is the ability to bypass the new algorithm changes.  You may have noticed your organic engagement dropping over the last year, as many businesses and individuals have.  Instagram appears to be prioritising paid content over organic now, with a lot of users complaining that they hardly see friends & family on their feed – never mind business accounts.

The content you share via story has a bigger chance of being seen by your audience than something you share on their feed. And, if someone regularly interacts with your brand via Instagram, then your story update will go to the top of their watch list. Other big benefits include:

It allows you to show off your more human side

The curated Instagram feed takes a lot of effort to get right.  Stories on the other hand, are a great opportunity to show off your human side and be more personal. It can be as simple as sharing a funny quote, meme or a picture of a cute puppy to brighten up everyone’s Monday morning.  Show people what is going on behind the scenes and let them get to know you.

You’re not bombarding your customers

If you have a lot going on you may well end up having a lot of posts to share.  Posting lots at once and clogging up your follower’s feeds is a sure way to get unfollowed. Stories are a great way to share lots of interesting content at once without taking over the main feed.

Up your customer interaction

There are lots of interactive features available to play with on stories.  You can create polls, ask for feedback and ask your followers questions.  It can be a fun way to get to know your followers and for them to get to know you! The short time frame also allows for great time sensitive interactions.  You can

Grow brand awareness

Because your content has a higher chance of being seen, you can get lots of information out there in a subtle way!  For example, posting a quick photo of the office planning for a new product is a fun way to tell your audience that you have something new coming for them.

Share user generated content

If you have a specific theme on your feed, it can put you off sharing user generated content that doesn’t match it.  Stories allow you to share this user generated content on a more personal level with a written thanks along with the repost.

How to get started

Instagram stories are a fantastic tool that can be utilised for your business goals.  Here are some ideas to get you started with stories:

  • Host a Q&A session with your followers
  • Run a quiz with a prize via the questions feature
  • Post footage of a recent office event
  • Do an informal product or service demonstration – have fun with it!
  • Promote a discount or sale
  • Post exciting news about the company
  • Sneak preview of your latest blog post or content
  • Give other companies you work with/appreciate a shout-out
  • Share user generated content

There are lots of exciting and creative ways you can use Instagram stories for your business. Experiment with content and you’ll quickly see what works with your audience.  Go forth and get posting!

If you want any further advice, check out our beginners guide to social media here. 

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