By now you've probably noticed the not-so-new feature at the top of your Instagram feed with the latest app update that's generating quite a buzz. That new option is called Instagram Stories.
Undeniably similar to Snapchat Stories, this bold move calls on users to share even more visual content to Instagram's already 95 million daily image uploads. And with this added feature comes incredible opportunities for marketers to leverage Instagram in new ways to promote their content, boost follower engagement, and create transparent experiences that further humanizes their brand.
But before sharing some ways you can use Instagram Stories in your social media marketing, we'll explore exactly what Instagram Stories are and the function's intended purpose.
What Are Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories allows users to post multiple streams of photos and videos in a slideshow format to create their unique "story" for that day. Like Snapchat, the content is ephemeral so content posted in Stories will disappear after 24 hours. Content posted via Stories does not appear on your regular Instagram profile grid or feed. The advantage here is that you can post visual continuously without overwhelming your followers.
Instagram users are able to see various stories from accounts they follow located in a bar at the top of their home page feed. When there's something new to see, the account profile photo will display a colorful ring around it. One of the slight differences between Stories and Snapchat is that new stories in the home feed are sorted by who you interact with most, not according to the time stories have been updated.
The beauty of Instagram Stories is you're be able to see exactly who has watched each part of your story, enabling you to gauge who's engaging most with your content. Also, Stories brings increased authenticity to your content because it's in the moment, right-now content with no edits - which is somewhat contrary to your usucal high-quality, polished Instagram posts.
Finally, you can add flavor to your Stories content using text and drawing tools to show more of your brands personality.
4 Ways You Can Leverage Instagram Stories In Your Social Media Marketing
Instagram Stories provides new opportunities for businesses to bolster relationships with their followers, humanize their brand and get fans involved. People crave transparency on social media, and Instagram Stories is the perfect outlet to showcase more of your brand personality, helping to build that "know, like and trust" factor.
Here are a few suggestions to help you leverage Instagram Stories in your social media strategy:
1. Hold Contests
One of the best ways to get fans involved in your brand is through Instagram contests. Get them active in your stories by encouraging them to send messages as a contest where their answers could win them a prize. Make it a regular event so they return to your Stories on a consistent basis.
2. Take Your Followers Backstage
Use Stories to expand on a recent post shared on your feed by giving followers behind-the-scenes access to your event. Sharing a continuous stream of visual content that provides more depth can add another layer to your content and help bring it to life, giving your followers more ways to connect with your brand.
3. Instagram Stories takeovers
Takeovers are a huge practice on Snapchat, and this same concept of giving influencers in your niche access to your account can be applied to Instagram Stories.
4. Create Awareness About Upcoming Events
Instagram Stories can also be used as an additional outlet to creating campaigns that build awareness about upcoming events or new product launches. Each day provides a new opportunity to create promotional content for your next big thing with Stories, and you'll never overwhelm your followers feed with your messaging.
Instagram Stories offers an amazing opportunity to further engage with your followers, increase your content visibility, and promote your brand. Implement one or a couple of these tips into your social media marketing strategy, see what works best, and then focus on the tactic that generates the most responsiveness from your audience.
This post originally appeared on The Fried Side blog