With over 400 million daily viewers, Instagram Stories is showing no sign of slowing down in 2019, with the stories format now on the cusp of becoming the primary way social platform users share overall.
But if you are looking to make use of Stories within your social media marketing strategy this year, you need to start strategizing, planning, and scheduling your content. In this post, I'll outline four strategies and tools you can use to start focusing and improving on your Instagram Stories content.
Hopefully these tips will help you make the most of the rising option.
1. Create a Strong and Consistent Aesthetic with Instagram Stories Templates
In 2018, we saw more brands and businesses spending more time and effort curating their Instagram feed.
With a consistent look and feel across their feed, brands are able to create an easily-recognizable style that helps them stand out from the crowd. Plus, the uniform editing helps to showcase their unique personality, and create a ‘lifestyle’ which their ideal customers will want to aspire to. It's a great way to gain followers on the visual-focused platform.
But this year, brands need to take it a step further and extend their aesthetic to Instagram Stories. And the easiest way to do that is with Instagram Stories templates.
Instagram Stories templates are pre-made layouts with graphics, text, or animations which you can edit to fit each new story.
By using the same (or similar) templates for your Instagram Stories, you can create cohesive, on-brand stories that align with your business’ style and tone.
Check out memobottle for example - their Instagram feed and stories are perfectly aligned, which makes identifying and relating to the brand so much easier for a new follower.
If you’re managing social media for your brand or business, developing your design skills is becoming critical. The great news is there are lots of apps - like Unfold and Over - which can help you easily create and edit Instagram Stories templates to match your brand’s visual style, without needing to learn the ins and out of software like Photoshop or After Effects.
2. Optimize Your Instagram Stories with Persuasive Calls-to-Action
Your Instagram Stories should complement your overall Instagram strategy and business goals - those could be driving more traffic to your site, making more sales online or growing your community.
Whatever your aims may be, you should try to achieve them with your feed images, captions, and your Instagram Stories content. The trick is to strike a balance between guiding your viewers to take an action, while avoiding content that’s overly pushy or sales-y.
It’s a fine line that you don’t want to cross, especially because the tone of Instagram Stories is fun, lighthearted, and informal.
If you’re struggling to strike a balance between pitching and storytelling, try some of these techniques to draw attention to your call to action:
Lighten the Tone with GIFs - Thanks to Instagram’s collaboration with GIPHY, you can now access a library of high-quality, fun, and expressive GIFs for your Instagram Stories. Search for terms like “swipe up,” “new,” and “link in bio” to find GIFs that fit in with your brand’s aesthetic and draw attention to your story’s message. Check out how luggage brand Away subtly use GIF arrows, stars, and “swipe up” stickers to draw attention to their call-to-action.
Try Selfie-Style Videos - This year, the buzzword on Instagram is “authentic” and users will want to learn more about people behind the brands and businesses they follow. Given this, spending more time in front of the camera and talking to your followers could help you get your message across. For example, WeWork regularly introduces its global team members on Instagram Stories, especially at a new location launch or conference. It’s a great way to let your followers get to know you and your brand.
3. Schedule Your Instagram Stories Posts to Better Target Your Audience
You might already be scheduling your Instagram posts, but now’s the time to step up your game and start scheduling your Instagram Stories too.
Instagram is becoming more and more competitive, and we’re seeing more strategic thinking when it comes to branded storytelling. There are tons of creative brands and businesses competing for viewers’ attention, and while having awesome content will help you cut through the noise, you also want to make sure you’re reaching your audience at a time that best suits them to watch and engage.
Using your Instagram analytics, you can discover when your audience is most active on the platform, and once you’ve done this, you can use a tool to plan and schedule your Instagram Stories to help you reach your audience at those times.
Plus, with planning and scheduling, you can even post to Instagram Stories when your social team is having downtime, so there’s never a missed opportunity to connect with your audience.
4. Track Your Instagram Stories Completion Rates to Better Understand Your Audiences’ Preferences
The key to successful Instagram Stories marketing is creating content that resonates with your audience, and holds their attention from the first post to the last.
But our audiences’ attention spans are getting shorter, and with just one swipe, a user can choose to skip your stories posts entirely, therby missing out on your carefully crafted message.
One way to investigate if your content is really grabbing your audience is to monitor your completion rate - if you’re posting an Instagram story that’s made up of multiple posts, or ‘slides,’ you’ll want to know how many of your viewers stayed through to the last slide of your story.
To calculate this, take the reach metric of your last slide (which you can find using your Instagram Insights by tapping the bar chart icon on your profile page) and divide it by the reach metric of your first slide.
This can be a really great indicator of how engaging your content is, whether you’re posting too much or just the right amount, or whether it was the right type of content to captivate your audience. Do this kind of analysis for every Instagram story you post and you’ll soon start to see patterns around your audience’s likes and dislikes.
As noted, the popularity of Instagram Stories is showing no signs of slowing down in 2019, so now’s the time to start thinking strategically to reach your goals.
With a few tweaks to your marketing and strategy, you’ll soon start to see growth in your Instagram Stories engagement and follower count.