Even though this feature was straight-up copied from Snapchat, it has quickly become one of the easiest and quickest ways to do visual content marketing, tell a compelling story, and boost engagement with followers.
Currently, Stories are being used by 70% of US businesses; and we believe the feature definitely has a great potential of expanding worldwide more than it already has. So let's get to know not only some of the most powerful strategies that will help you build a powerful personal/business brand, but also how Instagram Stories can complement your already existing content marketing strategy.
Let’s talk about how you can generate more views and, consequently, receive more exposure for the Stories you create.
1. Create and publish different types of content
An editorial calendar is a must when doing Instagram Stories because it will help you schedule your content in advance. Better scheduling means providing an improved user experience for those who follow your account because they will know when to expect new Stories from you.
Consistency is crucial because it will help you keep your audience close by facilitating engagement. It shows that you know what you are doing, that you are doing it with a purpose, and that your Stories are truthful to who you are and what you want to achieve.
What should you publish?
Basically, anything you can put together into your stories: photos, videos, and boomerangs. You are limited to posting up to 100 Stories in 24 hours so you need to bear this in mind.
Photo, Video, and Boomerang are the three main options available for IG Stories. You can select either one of them, you can combine them if you want or, you can alternate the type of content you want to post via Stories.
The second alternative is to share your regular posts via Stories. You can select your best photos and videos, then choose the “post to stories” option. We'll get to this later in the article.
How can you determine the best content for Instagram Stories?
The answer will largely depend on your strategy and your audience, of course. However, the best way to assess the type of content you should publish is via Instagram Insights. The collection of statistical data provided by the platform will ease your work and help you make better decisions.
Instagram Insights will provide you with useful information such as:
The number of replies you received for a story, whether it’s a photo, video, or boomerang
The number of taps to the next story published by another account
The number of clicks you received for a link added in a story
The number of impressions for a story
The number of unique accounts that viewed your story, which is called “reach,” and may be one of the most important stats you get
The number of forwards, which refers to how many people tapped the screen to see the next story you posted
The number of backward taps, which shows how many people tapped the screen to see once again a photo/video/boomerang that you previously posted
The number of taps users made to exit your story
How to post your latest feed photos on stories
Remember the two options we listed at the beginning of this chapter? Well, let’s take a quick look at the second one: publishing Stories from the latest feed posts.
Why would you choose to reshare your content instead of creating new photos and videos?
Let’s say you run a promotional campaign. You announced it to your audience through a post on your feed and over the next few days, you would like to remind people about it. You can do it however many times you want via Stories by playing with the visuals and adding something new to it, like a new hashtag, a countdown timer or some fun stickers.
Alternatively, you can repost older images and videos on IG Stories and use some of the unique features that are available only here. There are countless possibilities, all you need is a little imagination.
The creative process
Stories are more focused on creativity and less on design. However, if you care about your brand, you should invest in giving your stories a professional look.
The good news is that there are plenty of tools out there that can help you expedite the designing process and still give your slides the branded professional look you crave for. Bannersnack, Canva, and Adobe Spark are three easy-to-use tools we recommend when it comes to online design.
If you are not already using one, I suggest trying all of them and see which one fits your needs, goals, skills, workflow, and style.
Furthermore, if you are a podcaster and want to rely mostly on promoting your audio content, you can create video slides in just a few seconds with a tool such as Wavve.co and introduce your next guests via Stories.
2. Use stickers to engage with your followers
Stories is an amazing feature for interacting with your audience. With IG stories, you can boost interaction via polls, questions, emoji sliders, and all kinds of stickers.
They’re incredibly easy to set up and fun to work with. Also, they may help you to get important and valuable information from your audience. Here’s an example, courtesy of Social Bakers:
How to use Polls: Tap on the sticker option and select the Polls sticker from the menu.
Why are Polls a good choice?
It’s because they open up a new two-way communication channel with your audience. Through polls, you can let people decide on certain aspects of your product or service, answer questions and, at the same time, learn more about their preferences regarding certain topics.
You can also use the polls and other similar tags and combine them using your creativity.
Create Games with Insta Stories
There are a lot of games you can play with your audience via Instagram Stories. We are not referring to traditional video games but instead, to a new type of interaction only widgets and visuals can create. They're a lot of fun and, most importantly, engaging.
For example, you can let people vote on a specific issue or question and ask them to go through a specific process like Pitchproof did in the following example.
The important thing at this point is to find the perfect tools you can use and find inspiration to come up with a good question that your audience can answer.
Another great example in this category comes from a joint venture between Bacardi and Swizz Beatz. These two companies used Instagram Stories in order to create and share a new type of musical experience that lets their audience simulate DJ mixing and play with different beats and sounds.
Other important sticker options you can choose from:
The Question Sticker
It allows you to involve the audience even more by giving them the chance to ask you questions on topics related to your business. You can use IG Stories for the questions and post your answers via this channel as well. We suggest, however, to tag the users that you interact with. This increases the chances of them reposting your content.
The Countdown Sticker
This is a very useful feature when you announce a product launch, a new service, or a major sale. It can be used during contests as well to remind your audience how much time they have left to enter.
This is yet another great option that you can use to maximize audience interaction. You can ask any question and then use the slider to receive a quick, visual response from your followers.
3. Reveal new content
Stories is the best place to publish teasers. You can surprise your audience with a new piece of content by giving them a quick sneak peek to it by posting a series of images that are partially unveiled. This is a common, simple task for an experienced designer, but what about everyone else?
Well, IG Stories allows you to do this with minimal effort and in just a few seconds. How?
First, upload your photo. Then, choose a color with the color picker and tap on the drawing pencil. Hold it on the screen and color a significant portion of your photo (ideally, more than 50%). Then, save the photo and publish it as the first slide of a Story. Lastly, use the eraser tool to erase some of the colors for the next slide and repeat the process until you publish the final image without the drawings.
4. Create a limited offer
People love discounts and know how to differentiate the good ones from the not-so-great ones. Whether it’s a sale, a huge discount, or a giveaway, you can promote it via Instagram Stories.
What can you promote via IG Stories? Here are some of the best examples to get inspiration from:
A. Discounts and promotions
Do you want to offer an amazing prize to your audience? Do you plan on running a giveaway as part of your marketing strategy? If the answer is yes, then you can do it easily via Instagram Stories.
Here’s an example from Kapten & Son:
The easiest way to integrate a shoppable catalogue on IG is via BigCommerce’s platform. The platform recently announced that shopping in Instagram Stories is now available for all of their customers.
This feature may help you to promote your best products, while at the same time increasing IG referrals to your website.
Spearmint Love, a brand that sells clothes for babies, noticed that their referral traffic from Instagram increased almost 13% since the company decided to experiment with this new feature, according to John Lott, the company’s CFO. “The integration has been seamless,” he notes. “It is easy to tag products and drive customers directly to the product page right from Instagram.”
5. Use location tags
With location tags, you get to address a specific demographic group and that group only. Thus, you can better strategize your marketing campaign and make sure you are targeting the right people for your business. That is, of course, if you have a local business and not a global one.
Second, you allow people from that targeted group to find you more easily. Sometimes, people from a specific location will search that specific location by tag to see what other people or businesses post.
Here’s a simple example of an effective IG Story that features a location tag:
6. Use hashtags
Hashtags are very important on Instagram Stories, as they can increase your brand’s exposure and help you reach more people. Hashtags are only available as stickers or as texts placed over the image itself. To maintain the readability of the IG story, you should aim at using a couple of hashtags so you can still keep the focus on the visual.
At the same time, it is important to choose wisely which hashtags to use with your posts. You can opt for a branded hashtag that your audience can use as well when they engage with you, or you can use hashtags that are already popular in your industry.
Here’s a great example from Nike:
7. Create Stories Ads
There are over 15 million business accounts on Instagram, and over two million advertisers. If you have a budget for these kinds of expenditures, you should also become an advertiser on Instagram.
Why? Ads can help you reach new audiences and collect fans and followers faster and more efficiently than if you were to do it via regular posts. All you need is a budget and, of course, a clear vision for the designs, a clear message, and attractive CTAs.
IG Stories ads appear in full screen to the viewer, just like a regular story. This way, if you create these ads with the user in mind, you can make them seem like part of their Stories feed, rather than an intrusive advertisement. If you want your ads to generate leads (and we’re positive you want this), not being intrusive is very important.
Therefore, if you can combine the ad with something similar to what we’ve discussed earlier in the “limited offer” chapter, the results will be even better. Because video ads only last for ten seconds, it's important to make them worth it. This means you need readability, a clear CTA, and a powerful visual impact on the viewer right from the first second.
The following example comes from Spotify and encompasses everything you need to learn about properly addressing an audience via Instagram Stories ads. As you can see, the message is clear, the visual style is fun, adapted to the company’s audience, and the color pallette makes it almost impossible to miss.
8. Highlight your best stories
One of the most useful additions launched to complement the Instagram Stories feature is the “Highlights” section. Here, you can save any story that you want to keep permanently so your audience can go watch it any time they want. As you may already know, Stories disappear 24 hours after they’ve been posted. With Highlights, you can save them for as long as you want, thus transforming them from volatile into permanent content.
The following screenshot serve as two great examples of companies using Highlights to save their best Stories. These examples come from Glossier and Airbnb:
9. Use the superzoom feature
This is yet another feature available on Instagram Stories, one that we’ve not yet had the chance to mention in this article. It’s called “superzoom” and it makes a great addition to your creative process by allowing you to easily create a story around a single idea or a single image.
How to use the superzoom feature?
Open your Instagram account and create a new IG Story. Swipe left for more options and cycle through them until you get to the superzoom feature. Press the camera button and start shooting.
This feature it allows you to save a lot of time with your creative process and expedite it especially when you feel like you don’t have enough content for a story. It will help you get more views because you will be able to create stories from single photos and thus, come up with content even when you don’t have something to combine into multiple slides.
10. Create a group Instagram and send targeted stories
Another easy and effective way to reach a specific audience on Instagram is via DM groups. Yes, you can create groups based on several factors you deem to be important for your overall marketing strategy and deliver content to such audiences via the “direct message” option. And, yes, IG Stories can also be delivered like this.
How to create your own group? Here’s a screenshot with virtually every step you need to take.
11. Share Spotify music and podcasts on your stories
Music has the ability to unite people in ways nothing else can. We recommend using this idea only if you know your audience very well and know that you share similar interests with them. If this is the case, you can use this emotional strategy to get to them easier and faster.
Yes, you can share musical interests and playlists from Spotify via your Instagram Stories.
How do you share your music?
Well, things are quite simple. All you need to do is to open the Spotify app, tap the “Share” menu, and click on “Instagram Stories”. This action will open a new page where you can add captions, stickers and many other features specific to Instagram. Once you are done, click on “Post to Story” and be done with it.
After you post your content, your fans and followers will be able to click on the “Play on Spotify” option available on the upper left corner of the screen and listen to the playlist you shared.
12. Do a weekly live session
Live sessions have become a big hit in the last couple of years. They are available on YouTube, Facebook, and they're on their way to replacing traditional TV shows. When you host a live video, you will be able to receive requests from friends who would like to join your stream.
Moreover, each time you host a live video session, you will be able to see if there are other people who want to join. You will receive a notification for each of these users in the comments section. In order to allow them to join, just tap the “View” button.
13. Give your audience branded content
Branded content will always be a good choice for a marketing campaign if you are doing it the right way. Anything that is branded is a good choice here, hashtags included. You can use photos, videos, behind the scenes, and even screenshots as long as you believe they are fitted for your audience and the message you want to send.
The important thing is to tell people to tag your account so that you will be able to repost their shares.
Here are two examples on how companies can use Stories and introduce branded content. They come from Sephora and McDonalds and they are both based on video content that contains - and is based upon - branded elements:
14. Use the type mode feature for a balanced IG story
Good typography can be quite visually appealing when it comes to readability and delivering a simple and effective message.
Instagram stories and posts can be used to disseminate information. Despite the fact that the platform is usually used for visuals, it can help your marketing strategy if you post only text content from time to time.
Create Cultivate is a great example in this case, and so are their text-based Stories.
In order to make your Stories slides look better when you post text-based messages, it is important to add to their readability. And, the easiest way to do so is by using the text alignment feature available on Instagram.
Here’s what you need to do, according to the official help file:
15. Unlock the power of re-share
Chances are you have a lot of content that you already shared in other ways or on other platforms. Also, there might be a lot of content other people have shared and tagged you in. You can use all these sources and repost some of the best pieces on Instagram Stories.
Let me explain the above statements in just a couple of phrases.
Let’s say that you tag another user on your Story. He or she can follow up on the mention and reshare your content on their Stories. Moreover, you can even ask your audience to do so and thus, increase your reach every time you post new content. There are a lot of companies and professionals that do so. Podcasters, in particular, are well known for their strategy of asking their fans to tag their content on Stories so that they can reshare it and provide social proof to their followers.
Keep in mind, however, that you can tag a maximum of 10 people on each slide of your Story. Use this number in an efficient and aesthetically appealing manner.
Finally, if you want to take a look at how a tag-reshare relationship works, here’s an example:
16. Test, analyze, compare, repeat
Finally, once you shared a good amount of content on Instagram Stories, you can start looking at your analytics. Analyze each of your stories in particular and all your activity in general. Evaluate interactions, impressions, reach, etc. Compare each of your Stories with other stories you published and, if possible, with your competition’s content distribution.
The first thing you need to know at this point is that you need an Instagram Business account in order to access the “Insights” feature where you can measure your success. Once you get there, here are some of the best metrics that may be helpful:
Reach and Impressions
These metrics are important because they give you great hints about the size of your audience. I am referring to the Instagram Stories audience, of course. While the term “impressions” refers to the actual number views of your Stories, reach refers to the number who have seen them. There can be a difference in these two metrics, being that some of your fans will see your stories twice or more if they like them or deem them as relevant enough.
While this metric is a little bit ambiguous, it can help you a lot if you are looking at the exit rate. Taps back is the metric that show you how many people returned to a previous slide on your story, people who return to a certain image or video because they want to see it again. A high number of taps back is therefore ideal compared to a high number of taps forward.
This latter metric shows you how many people tapped to see the next photo or video. A tap forward, as a consequence, shows that the user was impatient to wait for the slides to succeed naturally and therefore, they did not like them enough.
Instagram is a powerful platform when it comes to marketing. Even more, Stories provide you with a simple and effective framework to deliver valuable and truthful information to your audience, information that was not tampered with, and is authentic in every way.
With this article, we have tried to pinpoint some of the best strategies you can use in order to increase your Instagram audience with Stories, to find new and improved ways to use this feature and boost your views. Successful marketing and successful branding start with making the right decisions regarding the choice of content you want to create and how you want to deliver it.
Are there any other tips and strategies of content delivery via Instagram Stories that you know of or tested? Let us know down in the comments.