Strategies for Creative, Engaging Instagram Stories
More than 500 million people use Instagram every day. That’s a lot of potential clients. Engaging with people on Instagram is a great way to gain new followers and make deeper connections with customers you already have. Instagram is somewhere people go to have fun online, so you want to harness that atmosphere of recreation and create a profile that is casual, fun, and showcases your brand personality. A great tool for this is the Instagram Story. People are more likely to direct message an account if they watch a story, since the option to send a message pops right up when you watch, so stories boost engagement and drive interest in your company.
Here are some winning strategies for creating Instagram Stories that catch peoples’ attention. The ephemeral nature of the Story means that it is a great way to test new ideas, let out your fun side, and post content that is spontaneous and not as polished as the stuff you would post to your profile. Go ahead, have fun with it!
Do a Takeover
Have an influencer, employee, or colleague take over your Instagram for a day, or you can take over another Instagrammer’s account for a day so you can engage with their followers. Getting a fresh voice can be engaging, and you’re likely to entice some of your guest’s followers to check out your profile. Lots of companies will do regular takeovers with the same person, so perhaps if your Instagram focuses on natural beauty, you could have an influencer take over once a month and share a natural beauty DIY. Takeovers can be regular or one-off events, either way they are a great way to reach a different audience.
Test Content You’re Unsure About
Since Instagram Stories are ephemeral, lasting only 24 hours, they are a great way to gage your audience’s reaction to something you’re not sure about. Content that receives poor response will simply disappear after 24 hours, while Stories that provoke a positive reaction can be used to influence content going forward or even be posted to your profile. Stories are a great place for experimentation!
Use a Narrative Arc
Your Instagram Story is exactly that—a story. This means the usual rules of narration apply. Make sure your Story has a beginning, middle, and end. Use elements of suspense and conflict to make viewers want to watch all the way to the end and create a satisfying resolution—this can mean showing a finished product, answering a question, or announcing an event.
Make Your Story Searchable
Use hashtags and location stickers so new users can find you when they search. This makes your profile a lot more accessible because people who do not follow you can search a hashtag or location that is in one of your Stories and find your profile. If they like what they see, they’re likely to stick around and follow you.
Make Your Story Shareable
Being sharable is as important as being searchable. Make sure that you go into your settings and make your Stories shareable. This enables your followers to share your Story to their Story and tag you in it, which can get you a wider reach and new followers.
Keep it Fun and Light
Instagram Stories are a great way to show how your brand is relatable. Tap into your casual, fun side. People aren’t on Instagram to see stuffy, boring content. They want something relatable, witty, and fresh. Use your Stories to really showcase your brand’s personality and get people engaged—you want to encourage messaging and sharing, so go ahead and be a little daring with what you post and let your personality shine.
Share Live Videos
Instagram Live videos are a great way to answer user questions in real time about a new product, upcoming event, or anything else you want to promote. You can share a replay of your live video after the fact so viewers who didn’t tune in live can still see it, but keep in mind that it will disappear after 24 hours just like other Instagram Stories.
Use Polls and Emoji Sliders
People find polls fun and engaging, plus it is a great way to learn more about your target audience (even if it is just what flavour of ice cream they prefer—it’s all useful!). Emoji sliders are also a fun, easy way to get peoples’ opinions. Emoji sliders don’t provide the same specificity that polls do, but if all you need to know is whether something provokes a sadface or a heart-eyes face, it’s your go-to tool!
The “highlights” function allows you to save your best Instagram stories in an archive that shows up on your profile. Use this to save the Stories that you think reflect your brand best and that you want new users to see when they first check out your account. You can also use this function to create Stories that give a little preview of what your company has to offer, answer FAQs, or anything else that will be useful to people who are new to your brand.
Go Behind the Scenes
The informal tone of Instagram Stories makes them perfect for sharing behind-the-scenes content. Think of your regular Instagram posts as a place to show your polished, professional images and your Stories as a way to document the journey of how you got there.
For example, say you have a clothing company and you do a photoshoot for your new fall fashion line. You should post your finished, professionally-shot photographs as regular posts, but add informal behind-the-scenes photos and videos (include your models relaxing between shoots, images of the fashion designer whose clothes are being featured, anything fun related to the shoot) to your Stories. This way your followers will get a well-rounded understanding of the entire process of your photoshoot and see the fun, personality, and work that went into it as well as simply the final product.
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