Once upon a time, there was Snapchat with it disappearing content and witty filters for selfies, but then Summer of 2016 came along and Instagram introduced Stories as its answer to Snapchat. The rest is history – Instagram Stories are now more popular than Snapchat. I mean, sure – when Instagram first introduced Stories, all anyone talked about was how they just copied Snapchat. Also, there was a lot of complaining how this will ruin Instagram experience for people. Neither of these this turned out to be true.

First of all, Instagram didn’t copy Snapchat – they improved their idea and made it their own. Basically, they created a better version that is easier to use for both regular folks and businesses. You didn’t need to tackle down two different apps; instead, you could plan your content in the same app. So, both for regular Instagram feed and for Stories.

Obviously, a lot of marketers were confused at first how to use Instagram to their advantage for their business. Here’s the thing: Instagram was never meant for you. Sorry, not sorry. Before Stories, before advertising on Instagram, before all of that – there was just an idea of Instagram existing as a simple and fun app for sharing people’s favorite moments with their friends in a form of a polaroid-shaped picture. Its popularity grew and businesses have taken notice. Suddenly, they appeared there as well. And people didn’t mind since they were already used to communicate with them on Facebook. Also, Instagram allowed business to communicate with their target audience differently than Facebook.

Years have passed and a lot has changed. If you don’t pay attention, you won’t be able to stay on track with Instagram’s ever-changing game rules. There’s the ongoing conversation on shadowban (for those who don’t know, shadowban hides your Instagram posts from users who don’t follow you, which means, if you get shadowbanned on Instagram and use hashtags in your posts, only you and your current followers will see them when they search for the hashtags you used. It kills your engagement and prevents you from getting new followers!), Instagram algorithm, and importance of Instagram Stories or Insta Stories for short.

Why Should Business Use Insta Stories

Not enough of business use Insta Stories.The first reason is that they don’t understand them. A lot of business have a couple of board members who understand any normal and modern company in the 21st century needs to have a social media strategy, but all they want to see are the numbers, KPIs, purchases that their social media posts brought them etc. So, how to explain to them that a chunk of their social media budget needs to be invested in Insta Stories – disappearing content which is hard to measure in anything other than a number of people who saw that content?

Instagram Upload Live Video

Another thing is that a lot of business still don’t have in-house digital departments or marketing experts who also understand social media and they usually outsource that part to some agency. But if you’re working in a digital agency, you know you can’t really post anything on your own and you need to check everything with your client to make sure they are okay with content, a message you’re trying to communicate etc. Insta Stories should be – instant. Something you shot right now, at the moment, this very second. Obviously, you can’t just post it before sending it to a client and then they need to approve it which can take time if they haven’t seen e-mail or if they want to make some changes. You get what I’m trying to say.

The point is – this doesn’t work. You need to explain to them that they will just have to believe you that you’ll do everything in your power to create the best content for them and in their best interest. Changes and trends in Instagram change daily. That’s why you won’t be able to stick to your monthly plan all the time.

Insta Stories are just as important as is your content published on regular feed. In fact, my gut tells me, Insta Stories will be the biggest trend of this year with more and more people (and business!) using them. They give authentic and direct connection with your followers and help them get to know you and your business a lot better. While your artsy photos, that you carefully edited and formulated for your feed, will bring you new followers and showcase your products, services or whatever you’re posting, Stories will give your already existing followers more accurate view of what’s going on behind the scenes. Even more so because regular Instagram posts are a subject to the sometimes fickle Instagram algorithm, but Instagram won’t penalize you for posting too many Instagram Stories.

Need ideas what to post on Stories? How about tips and tricks on how to use your product? Or inspiring ideas how your product helped others? Or sneak peak of a new product you’re launching to hype them for it? Show them how to use your product or how practical it is, what benefits they’ll have if they use it… Possibilities are endless. Long story short, Instagram Stories are a great way to build your brand, build a stronger relationship with your audience, give them valuable content, engage with them and grow wider awareness.

Taking a picture for Instagram Story

Stories are featured at the top of Instagram and are one of the best ways to increase engagement and visibility among your followers. Most importantly, Instagram Stories are pretty relaxed place compared to regular photos and videos posted on feed, and the quality standards are much lower than they are for regular posts. It means you don’t have to be afraid of posting something goofy: a fun Boomerang of your team out for post-work drinks, for example!

How To Use Insta Stories

Let’s be honest here, the world is your oyster since Instagram created so many cool tools for Stories which you can use: live videos, Rewind, Boomerang, 15-second videos, Zoom option, Polls, filters, hashtags, stickers, location, tagging… But if all of that isn’t enough for you, there are other apps you can use to make your Insta Stories really stick out. For example, download Canva to upload your photos into their amazing eye-catching designs and templates!

Want to add animated text to your content? Don’t worry, Legend app has got you covered. For iOS, I suggest Hype Type. If you want to make music, text and more to your Insta Stories, then play around in InShot app (available for both Android and iOS!). If you want your Instagram Stories to contain more than just a single vertical image or video, use PicPlayPost (again, available for both iOS and Android). It’s a perfect app for creating photo and video collages that are ready to share. Want to add some sparkle to your Insta Stories? Consider downloading kirakira+ (only on iOS). Want to plan your Insta Stories ahead? Preview app makes it easier for you!

See how many options?! All you need to do is be creative and stay on track with all Instagram trends (because there are so many). Easy peasy, right? Don’t get scared, once you get into it, you’ll see how incredible it can be.

Best Practices

I’m not going to mention Instagram Ads (which are available in Stories, as well as in normal feed). Even though they allow you to link them directly to your website, blog or web shop, I want you to completely focus on creating best possible Insta Stories completely organically.

So my first tip for you is to tell a story. It might seem obvious (since we are talking about Instagram STORIES), but you’d be surprised how many brands don’t follow this advice or worse – don’t know how to use Insta Stories to tell their story. Stories are great for storytelling (see what I did there?!). Your Instagram strategy shouldn’t be just a bunch of randomly picked visuals. All these elements need to play well together to tell a complete story of your business. All these individual pieces of content need to be pieces of a larger puzzle. Even though Insta Stories are pieces of puzzle that will disappear, they can still make an impact.

Instagram Flatlay

That’s why it’s so important to be authentic. Be fun, informative and engaging. Keep your perfectly polished content for your feed posts. In Stories, be as creative and whimsical as you can, but don’t forget to provide value. Your content, on feed or Stories, will be worthless if you don’t make sure that your content will keep viewers coming back for more.

Instagram Stories are designed for content that looks as though it was just captured (even if it wasn’t). You can and you should plan ahead, but don’t expect you’ll be able to stick to it every single time. Some new trend may occur in the meantime and you’ll have to adapt. And ability to adapt is crucial for creating amazing content for Insta Stories.

Big Players Do It Right

Still reading? Good for you! So, remember earlier in the post when I suggested you some ideas for content you can share on Insta Stories? Well, here are some examples along with accounts who do it right.

 

How-To tutorial

Great idea for a series of Insta Stories. Show people how to use your product and what they can do with it. Esty does that marvelously: for their craft-loving follower base, they create engaging Insta Stories with step-by-step instructions on creative projects.

Etsy Insta Story

Behind The Scenes

You have a webshop and are preparing to launch a new collection of products? Great! While there are months till official launch, show your followers behind the scenes by posting a couple of videos from photoshoot to give them a glimpse of what they can expect to see in this upcoming collection. That way you’ll hype them and make them want to pre-order it. Oui Fresh does amazing behind the scene Insta Stories!

Everyone love lists

Top 10 best selling products on your website? Top 10 most-read posts on your blog? List of most booked apartments in your hotel? List of best books you’ve read this month? All great ideas to share in a couple of Insta Stories to your followers! It’s informative and fun, but also, can be inspiring and engaging. Just what you want and need. Check out how Bookworm Boutique does it.

Q&A or polls

Time to start the conversation! Insta Stories allow you to get feedback from your followers so why not ask them anything and everything that interests you. For example, Taco Bell regulary asks their audience what sort of content they’d like to see in the brands Instagram. You can do a poll and make the choose between two options or you can, for example, ask your followers what is their favorite product by your business and to post in on their Insta Stories while tagging you. That way, you’ll get feedback, but also, visibly since they’ll share with their followers your products, tag you and possibly bring you new followers.

 

Instagram changes move fast and keeping up with their rate of change—new rules, trends, options, shifting best practices—can be hard. Learn the fundamental Instagram skills you need to stay ahead of the pack by reading our previous Instagram posts or contact us for advice.



Author

Paula Bračko

Account Manager at Kontra. Dog lover, foodie and Harry Potter fan for life.