Instagram Stories feature
Often overlooked as a marketing tool, Instagram Stories is undervalued and under-utilised by brands looking to increase Instagram engagement and brand awareness, driving traffic and even making sales.
But with around 400 million users of Instagram Stories daily, slightly under half of its total users monthly, you’d have to be mad not to incorporate the feature into your Instagram marketing strategy!
The basic concept is (ahem) borrowed from that of Snapchat’s. You create non-permanent content (photos or videos that can incorporate graphics, text and emojis), that is displayed to your followers for a set amount of time; in this case, 24 hours.
Whilst creating content that vanishes into the ether after a full cycle of the clock may seem like a whole lot of planning and executing for nothing, there are a multitude of benefits to using Instagram Stories to sell your product and increase engagement on your Instagram account. The ephemeral nature of the feature means that you can push the boundaries of formality and be extra creative and playful.
In this post we detail some of the ways in which the use of Instagram Stories can benefit your business!
1. Break down barriers
Taking your customers behind the scenes of your company makes them feel valued, trusted and like insiders. Use Instagram Stories to show off your new office space, your product being made in real-time or even just your business partner enjoying his morning coffee whilst he works on a client account. Strip away those barriers and let your followers become friends of your brand.
2. Showcase a new product
Got something amazing coming out in a few weeks? Tantalise your audience with a post on your Instagram Stories and let your followers spread the word.
3. Instructional video
There are so many directions you can take an instructional video and so many creative things you can do to show it off. From showcasing the product by itself in action clips, to seeing it’s use by a person, to getting mini-testimonials from real customers, use the Stories function to show all the different aspects of your most recent products. All whilst giving your followers real, valuable content. It’s a win, win!
4. Sales or Promotions
The very nature of the temporary content lends itself to promotions. Whether it’s your followers’ urgency of having a deadline before the competition ends, or the easy-to-track time frame for you, you can’t go wrong with a good, old fashioned competition. There are also so many creative things you could incorporate.
The same goes for sales of your end-of-season stock.
You could even make it a weekly or monthly to ensure your followers keep a beady eye on your account, waiting for the next one. Offers and promotions not only serve as a marketing tool, but reward all of your valuable followers too.
Want more valuable engagement? Ask followers to share a relevant photo with a pre-ordained hashtag in order to win. This will help your company get seen by more than just your own following!
5. Promote your event, or stream it live
Invite your followers to your latest webinar or social networking event. Just try to keep it casual and light-hearted. Your followers are likely to mute you (basically get rid of your content from their news-feed) if you come across too sales-y.
For those who can’t attend your amazing event, blog it live to make them feel involved anyway. And you can even create a film clip of Carol from the marketing team dancing on the table at the after-party as an added insider bonus, because it disappears after 24 hours anyway (we’ll not mention the embarrassing screenshots to Carol, we promise).
6. Q & A’s
Whether it’s an interview with the brand’s CEO, or the brains behind your latest product or development, let your audience see the people behind the company. It’s another way to personalise your brand and make it more human.
Use the recently updated ‘stickers’ function to have a Q&A with your followers and get them involved on making decisions, big and small, within your brand; or simply use it to have some fun with them!
7. Keep up to date with current affairs
Taking relevant things that are already trending and relating them to your brand can help your engagement by being involved in the dialogue.
Has something big happened in your industry? Do your research and your own little report with commentary. Be subtle and make sure it links to your brand ethos or products.
It could even help you go viral and, consequently, slide on up to that Explore Page.
8. Swipe up feature
If there weren’t a million other reasons to increase your valuable following, here’s another. At 10k followers, you get to make use of an exciting feature.
The swipe up feature is a link that takes the user directly to your product catalogue or website so they can add an item to their basket and purchase it straight away. No fuss. No extra clicks or Google searches. Just a straightforward purchase of the awesome product the user has maybe just seen in action/being worn. It’s genius.
Well worth building your followers for this nifty little feature.
But how often should I post?
This is a sensitive subject that once again depends on you having an intimate knowledge of your target audience.
You don’t want to post too often, or your followers will get sick of the sight of you. But you don’t want to post too little, or you’ll be forgotten.
A good rule of thumb is not to post more than three times a week. The aim is to build trust and loyalty and close those impersonal boundaries between brand and customer. This is your time to let your creativity shine!
That being said, if you want to do some research on how your audience engage if you post more often, then go right ahead! Just remember to record your findings and adjust your posting accordingly.
The online marketing process is one whereby you should constantly be evolving your strategy to meet your customers’ developing needs in a competitive online world of ecommerce!