On August 2nd Instagram added a feature called Stories. If you haven’t tried it yet, the idea is that instead of posting carefully chosen photos, Stories lets you post a bunch of photos throughout the day. And at the end of that day, those photos disappear. Stories are temporary videos or photos that are strung together to form a gallery that, well, tells a story.
Yes, I know, sounds very familiar to SnapChat. But being baked into the Instagram platform has a huge advantage for those who’ve already built up a significant follower base.
Instagram by the Numbers
- Instagram has more than 500 million active users.
- More than 300 million Instagram users use it on a daily basis.
- More than 80% of Instagram users live outside the United States.
- Selena Gomez is the most followed person on Instagram with 91.7 million followers.
Create your first Instagram Story.
Creating your first story is super simple.
- Tap on the plus button found on the top left-hand side of your home screen or swipe left in your Feed. You can also quickly launch Stories by swiping right from the main screen.
- Tap the circle button at the bottom of the screen to take photos or tap and hold to record a video.
- Edit the photos or videos with text or add a drawing as you normally would. If you hit the pen icon, there are three types of pens. The third one makes your sketch look like a neon sign.
- Tap Done to save your Story.
- Tap the check mark button to share to your Story.
Who’s Using Instagram Stories
As I mentioned earlier, since Stories is baked into Instagram, celebreties are obviously the first to start pushing more content out there. Some of my personal favorites are: Serena Williams – @serenawilliams, Reese Witherspoon – @reesewitherspoon, and John Legend – @johnlegend just to name a few.
There are also more ‘serious’ publishers already publishing fresh content using Instagram Stories, such as The New York Times, National Geographic and Sports Illustrated.
Patrick Witty, National Geographic deputy director of photography shared with niemanlab.org how Stories helps National Geographic (The most followed brand on Instagram) expand their reach.
‘One of the interesting things about Stories as well is that photographers are able to tell stories beyond just one picture. It gets deeper and behind the scenes of what it’s like to be a National Geographic photographer. With David, we post one or two pictures on the Nat Geo feed that are still photographs, but he was able to expand his storytelling into videos and interviews and portraiture. More than he could do with a single picture on the feed.”
Beyond the Story
Instagram Stories have a few hidden gems that offer a slight twist on SnapChat
- Your story is featured on the home feed tab on the Instagram app, and on the profile page of a user when you tap their profile photo.
- New stories in the home feed are organized by who you interact with most, and not by the time the story’s been updated (like Snapchat), which means your stories are prioritized by who you would like to see first. Theoretically, at least.
- Unlike Snapchat, you don’t have to be following someone in order to see their Instagram story, unless they are a private account. This means you can browse stories before you commit to following someone.
- You can hide your story from certain users, like your boss if you’re getting rowdy on a Tuesday night before work.
- You can seamlessly integrate more behind-the-scenes content and video into your Instagram content strategy and focus on building one audience, rather than splitting your reach between Instagram and Snapchat.
Instagram Stories for Your Business
Think about it this way. Instagram posts allow you to share one perfectly captured frame to tell a story, while Instagram Stories allow you to show a beginning, middle and end for each new story you create.
Still not sure how to maximize Instagram stories for your business? Here are few ideas to get your sparks flying.
Challenges and contests
If you would like to reward your most active and engaged Instagram users, you can have a quick game or contest for them through your Instagram Story. Who doesn’t love social media games and giveaways? They are a perfect way to keep your followers interested and make them want to come back for more.
Another great way to make your most active Instagram followers feel special is by offering them a discount code or coupon that they can only see if they opened your Snapchat Story. The urge of knowing that the promotion ends in only 24 hours might be the thing that will encourage them to buy. This is a brilliant way to build brand loyalty and increase sales.
Tease the release of a new product or service by sharing a couple of photos and videos that will do their job to create some buzz around it.
Distinguish engaging content
Instagram lets you see which portions of your Stories generate the most views. If you notice that a specific content from your story is engaging more than the others, you can post it in your Instagram feed for all your followers to see.
Drive more engagement
If you would like to increase your audience’s interaction with your brand on Instagram, now you can encourage them to send you a message directly under your Stories.
If your business attends many industry events and you have noticed that the engagement on your Instagram content during events is lower than usual, Instagram stories are the perfect place to share that content in. You can now announce your attendance at an event with a single post on your regular Instagram feed, and encourage your audience to open your Instagram Stories for more live updates.
It is all about storytelling. What could be more engaging than sharing an interesting story about your brand, product or staff through fun photos and videos?
Instagram has always been a place for people to share their passions and connect. And now with Instagram Stores you can do so in even more creative ways—sharing highlights and everything in between, too.
Head over to the BIGINTRO Instagram feed and follow us up, we’ll be sharing fun ideas through our stories you won’t want to miss!