How to Integrate Stories Into Your Instagram Strategy
Storytelling…it’s the oldest form of marketing. It’s also one of the most powerful forms of marketing. And with today’s technology, your ability to tell a vivid, engaging story that draws your audience in and holds their attention has never been greater. Nowhere is this truer than on Instagram, a platform that lets the images do the talking.
Instagram launched in 2010, and its focus on photo sharing quickly won it a huge audience. The app had 10 million users after its first year, and now has a community that numbers roughly 700 million. In August 2016, the company launched Instagram Stories—collections of pictures that expire after 24 hours. It’s estimated that the feature now has over 250 million active users, surpassing even its biggest rival, Snapchat.
8 Tips for Creating Compelling Instagram Stories
As the Instagram platform, and Instagram Stories in particular, took off, businesses quickly discovered that people like to learn about products and services visually. However, what some found out the hard way is that you can’t simply throw a group of random photos together as your “story” and hope to interest or entertain your audience. Creating an impactful Instagram story requires some forethought and focus.
Whether your company is an Insta veteran or an absolute newbie, here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare to produce your next story:
1. Plan Your Content in Advance
Even though Instagram Stories is intended to be a spontaneous medium, if you don't plan ahead, your story can look messy. For best results, plan out your Instagram stories like you would any other content in your social media strategy. And work them into specific campaigns, so that you're putting out a cohesive message across all channels.
2. Create a Personal Experience
Instagram stories are great for revealing your brand’s personality in a way that might be missing in your more formal social media presence elsewhere. Give your Instagram stories a personal touch by adding location filters and showing viewers things they wouldn't see on other channels.
3. Tell a Story
Don't post a random series of unconnected photos or videos—use your story to tell a story. Cover an industry event, go behind-the-scenes, show a product launch, etc. Make sure there's flow and continuity to your story content.
“Don't post a random series of unconnected photos or videos—storytelling is at the heart of #Instagram Stories.” TWEET THIS
4. Use Authentic Images
While there are millions of stock photos available for purchase online (or even for free in many cases), it’s best to use your own images whenever possible. Users who start to detect that your content is “recycled” or generic are likely to be turned off.
5. Keep Them Polished
Even though the content published on Instagram Stories is meant to be less refined than Instagram photo posts, it should still look good. Spice up images with filters, stickers, highlighted text, emojis, you name it. But keep it classy, folks!
You can even create slick cover images or other content using design programs like Canva.
6. Post Stories Consistently
Part of the reason people love their favorite TV show is that it gives them something to look forward to each week. You want to develop that same affection in your Insta audience with frequent posting—be it weekly, daily, or even a related series over a few hours (something like, say, "Prepping for the event!" "Event's in full swing!" "Event clean up *sigh*")
We have a client who posts a "tip of the day." That's an excellent way to build up a loyal audience and keep them coming back for more.
7. Don’t Forget to Keep Up with Normal Posting
Not everyone is going to choose to click on your story and that's okay. And because of the fleeting nature of Instagram Stories, not everyone will even see your story. To fill the gaps and keep your Insta audience happy, make sure you’re not slacking off on posting photos and videos regularly in your feed.
8. Draw Attention to Your Stories
Especially when you first start using Instagram Stories, be sure to create a buzz around them from within Instagram and your other social media channels. People can’t follow you if they haven’t found you! Use ample hashtags, let people know that you've dipped your toe in the Stories water and engage with other pages to keep the conversation going.
BONUS: Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads now lets you build custom audiences on Instagram engagement as long as you have a Business profile. The more you can get people to engage, which Instagram Stories is great for, the warmer the audience you have for your ads. Here's an excellent article from AdEspresso if you want to learn more.
It’s All in How You Tell Your Tale
The fact that Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours means you have a blank slate to work with every day, and your content won’t accumulate and overwhelm your audience. The ephemeral nature of Instagram Stories is also incentive for your followers to check in regularly so they don’t miss something important. What’s more, while we do encourage you to produce “polished” stories, there’s no requirement of perfection, which means you have a little more creative freedom.
With those factors working in your favor, now you just need to start telling your tale. If you’re honest, open, and human, Instagram stories are sure to attract an audience that’s eager to learn more about your products and services, and glad to be seeing the “real you.”
Writing copy is my passion, but I’m also happy as a clam designing inbound elements and troubleshooting my clients' toughest technical questions. (Google is my BFF!) I have an eye for details, a head for strategy and I truly believe that if you can’t laugh about it, what’s the point?