By now, you’re certainly well aware of Instagram Stories, how to access them & how to post them. In this article, we’ll cover a few creative ways to use stories to boost your engagement & hopefully grow your account!
But.. but… I already have Snapchat!
I’ll admit, I was very leery of stories when they debuted last year. We’ve all heard the Snapchat comparisons and I was firmly in that camp (as someone who really never uses Snapchat, I didn’t think I could care less about them!). At some point my curiosity got the better of me & I posted my first story.
Hundreds of stories & DM’s later, I’m hooked!
Now I’m sure the Snapchat comparisons are fair, to some extent, and I’m sure that Snapchat has it’s place & purpose (beyond sexting). However, for me, the draw of Instagram Stories was that it came with a built-in audience. I didn’t need to start from scratch. Regardless of your opinion of the feature, you can’t deny the potential opportunity. There are more than 300 million people on Instagram every day, compared with roughly 150 million daily Snapchat users.
Stories Have Matured
Since launching in August 2016, the Instagram Stories feature has seen many improvements along with new features. Here are just a few of the cool things that have been added:
- Boomerang – Swipe right from your feed to open the stories camera. A new format picker under the record button lets you select “Boomerang” mode. Tap record and the camera will stitch together a burst of photos into a mini video that plays forward and backward. Then share it to your story.
- Mentions – Mentioning people in stories works the same as it does in captions and comments. When you add text to your story, type [email protected] followed by a username and select the person you’d like to mention. Their username will appear underlined in your story. And when someone taps the mention, they’ll see a pop-up that takes them to that profile.
- “See More” Links – Currently only available to verified accounts, this feature would allow you to link your story to external content. If & when this will be made available to the general population remains to be seen (but we can hope!).
Creative Story Ideas & Examples
So how exactly do you drive engagement from Instagram Stories?
Since launching, people have tried many things. Some have worked while others have failed. Miserably.
Listed here are a few of my favorite examples of how to use stories. The goal of this article isn’t to reinvent the wheel; rather – to present some simple, actionable ideas.
Leverage Your Existing Photos / Videos
One common misconception surrounding stories is that you’re only able to use photos or videos you’ve taken within the past 24 hours. That simply isn’t true. You’re only able to use media added to your camera roll within the past 24 hours. I’ll leave it to you to fill in the blanks, but there’s absolutely no reason not to use some of the great material you may already have on your phone or hard drive. Run it through Photoshop, iMovie – heck, even take a screenshot.
The sky is truly the limit here. Create photo collages or add your own text! Let your imagination run wild.
Create Story Blizzards
You’re limited to around 30 seconds of video per story, which just isn’t a lot of time to get your message across. No reason you can’t post multiple videos in quick succession – a story blizzard, as I call it – to give yourself much more time.
DM’s Are Your Friend!
That little “send message” link in the bottom corner of every story is YOUR. BEST. FRIEND.
Don’t be afraid to ask people to use it!
DM’s are a great way to “get in front” of your audience – either to build credibility or rapport, or to do hard / soft selling. Create a clear call to action & ask your visitors to either visit the link in your bio, or to contact you by sending you a message.
Ask Open Ended Questions
As in real life, most people love to talk when given the chance (or when Dirty Harry has a gun to their head!). Give your audience that chance by asking open ended questions at the end of your stories. For instance, “What do you think?”, “What would you add?”, “Do you agree with me?”.
Goal here, of course, is to drive more engagement.
Promote Your Website / Blog
While it’s currently impossible for most of us to directly link from stories, there’s no reason you can’t use them to draw attention to your latest blog post! Use screenshots of your site or creative graphics to entice followers to visit that mythical link in your bio.
So there you have it! While generally maligned & misunderstood, Instagram Stories do have a place in your marketing plan. Be creative & give them a try. There’s no better feeling than seeing your phone blow up with DM’s or those little hearts when you double your likes!
Share your ideas in the comments below. I’d love to read them.