We all love getting lost in the black hole of Instagram stories, catching up with friends and family, having a giggle and finding out news from our favourite brands. But how do you use Instagram stories for business?
Today, we are going to talk to you about ways in which you can utilise Instagram stories for your business. Instagram stories are great, they are fun and about half of Instagram’s users are regularly creating their own stories. To put that into perspective, about 1,000,000,000 stories are posted every day (yes, ONE BILLION!). As of January 2020, at least four million brands were known to be advertising their products and services every day via Instagram stories. This figure is likely to be even higher now. Stories are a great place to give your audience information that they didn’t even know they need. For example, perhaps it’s St Patrick’s day in a week and you own a restaurant, you can use your story to advertise your business, ‘Next week on St Patrick’s Day, we will be serving a tremendous Irish stew and Guinness!’. Yum. Or, if you are a florist, you could remind people that it’s Mother’s Day in a few days on your daily stories. Cater your stories to your specific business and remind people of what you can offer them!
Instagram stories consist of either a photograph, graphic or a short video. When you create a story, it will appear on Instagram’s home page to all of those who follow you. Stories expire after 24 hours - unless they are made into highlights on your profile which we will explain further in the post. Instagram stories are meant to be fun, so do not worry about having little or no photography/recording experience. They do not have to be perfect!
To create a new story, click on the camera icon at the top-left-hand-corner of your Instagram screen and your camera will then pop up. After you have taken your photo or recording, Instagram will then give you the option to make a story! It is very straight forward and you can edit your stories with ease.
Stickers are a fun addition to Instagram stories, and you may find stickers that you enjoy and regularly use. The stickers may then become part of your business’ aesthetic and people may then relate those stickers to your business. Stickers commonly used include hashtags, locations, gifs (which you can commission a professional to design for you on-brand!), emojis and music. However, now you can also engage through stories, by adding polls, countdowns or questions! To add a sticker, you need to take your photo or video and then click on the sticker icon at the top of your screen (a smiling square with a folded corner). Have a play around before you submit your story, you can add, delete and edit your stickers until you are happy!
When creating an Instagram story for business purposes, we suggest adding hashtag and location stickers. Adding a hashtag to your story will make it discoverable for an audience much larger than just your followers. People interested in a certain brand, item, topic or service can search specific hashtags and will find your story – more potential new customers! To add a hashtag, you can either use the hashtag sticker or simply place a ‘#’ in front of regular text. You can add up to ten hashtags in one story, however, do not completely cover your photo or video in hashtags! Like hashtags, location stickers expand your reach. People can search for locations, like hashtags and find your stories. Potential customers who are searching for a certain something will search their local area on Instagram and may come across your story! Adding a location sticker is just as simple as any other sticker and will appear when clicking on the sticker icon at the top of your screen.
If you have made a super-duper Instagram story that you are proud of, can you can save it. Your favourite/best stories do not have to disappear after 24 hours. If you highlight them, they will appear at the top of your profile until you decide otherwise. To highlight your stories, open a specific story and in the bottom-right-corner click on the highlight icon. It’s as simple as that!
Earlier, we mentioned Instagram story polls. Polls are a great way to gain feedback without stepping out of your front door. They allow your audience to participate and can actually be quite fun! Ask questions about your new products and what your customers would like. For example; you have just summoned up a brand-new recipe for your restaurant, but it’s a little spicy and you don’t know whether to add it to your menu or not. You set up a poll! Customers will give honest opinions! To create a poll, tap on the sticker icon, choose the poll sticker, enter your question and then enter your potential responses. After 24 hours remember to share the results of the poll in your next day’s story, people will want to know the results!
Finally, we want to remind you to find your brand’s visual identity. Once you have found your favourite stickers, fonts, colours etc., try to stick to them. People will associate your stories’ style with your brand. People may skip through your video on a busier day, but it will still click in their head that they have just briefly seen one of your videos. They might even click back when they realise that it was you for a re-run! Instagram stories are fun and not to be taken too seriously, they are great tools for business promotion, but you have elbow room for mistakes and trial and error. Try and keep your stories light-hearted and fun and our team think they can be a great, free tool to grow your business!