Instagram Stories bring fresh content to the table. Stories appear more relatable to the viewer and less scripted. Here are a few Instagram best practices to help you create Stories that increase brand engagement.
The beauty of Instagram Stories is that even planned messages appear spontaneous and give your brand an authentic quality. It’s perfect for appealing to today’s consumers, who trust brands with real values and that aren’t afraid to stand for causes or be human.
However, the flexibility of Stories doesn’t mean you should publish whatever crosses your mind. You still need to have a social strategy in place that incorporates SMART goals so you can measure the impact Stories have on your campaigns.
To get the best ROI from Instagram Stories, follow along with Instagram best practices. These seven tips should help you make the most of the medium, align with your overall digital marketing strategy, and build a cohesive online image.
Design Your Stories around Your Brand
Image via zaozaa19.
All of your content should reflect your brand identity regardless of which channel you use to promote it. Instagram Stories are extremely flexible. But, your posts should retain the same characteristics, such as mood, colors, and voice, that make your brand recognizable online.
When people see your Instagram Stories, they should immediately recognize your brand. This way, if a viewer visits your website or clicks through to your Instagram profile – or vice versa – they’ll have a seamless, consistent experience. Consistency is a key objective of any marketing strategy, and creating consistent content for your Stories is one of the best Instagram best practices you can follow.
Generate Engagement with and without Sound
One essential thing to consider when using Instagram Stories is that they default to silent when the mobile device’s volume is off. Most users prefer to watch them that way. (It’s more discreet in a public setting!)
85% of users play Facebook videos with no sound. You can assume that the stats are realistically similar on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. To capture the most attention, your Stories should be just as engaging when muted.
Let’s take Starbucks, for example. They pin stickers to photos and videos in their Stories. This adds plenty of text to the content, making their message clear even without sound. Starbucks also uses smart and straightforward CTAs like “swipe up to read more” to get people from Instagram to their website. One step closer to a conversion!
Add a Link to Your Website
Image via Light and Dark Studio.
Unlike regular Instagram captions, Instagram Stories allow you to insert outside links onto your content. The people viewing your Story are likely to follow your brand and appreciate your content. They’re considered targeted traffic that you have a solid chance of converting into new customers. Use the swipe up feature and a strong text CTA to get viewers to interact with your brand outside of Instagram. For example, drive them to read a blog post, watch a YouTube video, or shop at your online store.
Unfortunately, swipe up is only available with a business account that has more than 10,000 followers. Until you reach this milestone, you can tag yourself and drive people to visit the link in your bio. Just be sure to consistently update the link so it reflects your current goals!
Include a Poll to Solicit Feedback
Using the Instagram Stories poll feature is one of the new but important Instagram best practices. They’re fun and easy for followers to complete. They’re great at collecting valuable feedback as well as measuring consumer attitudes towards your products. One easy test is to create a Story featuring two of your products and ask people to vote for their favorite.
Tribe Hummus was one of the first brands to use polls to identify how popular their products were among Instagrammers. Challenging their followers to choose between their favorite Tribe Hummus flavors served multiple purposes. It was a fun and lighthearted way to encourage interaction, generated valuable feedback about buyer preferences, and increased awareness of their products.
Feature Your Customers
Image via pathdoc.
On Instagram, engagement with brands is ten times higher than Facebook. The more energy you invest in building an Instagram fanbase, the better your social media marketing ROI.
Make your fanbase feel special by featuring special or VIP customers in your content. Ask your followers to use a specific, branded hashtag in their Stories for a chance to be reposted on your own.
Being featured by a brand they love allows people to feel like they’re part of a community. Engaged communities increase brand loyalty and improve customer retention. When other followers see peers being featured, it gives the impression that your brand genuinely cares about its customers.
Create Stickied Albums with Story Highlights
Using the Highlight feature to sticky your Stories on your Instagram profile allows you to save your content and make it available long after the usual 24-hour period is over. Once you’ve posted a Story, click the heart icon in the lower right corner to choose (or create) a Highlight.
Creating Highlights from Stories is another of the latest Instagram best practices. For example, you can create campaign-specific Highlights to promote a new line of products, or publish themed content (think tutorials, easy recipes, gift guides, etc.) to make your brand a useful resource. As you move on with your campaigns, remember to delete older Highlights to avoid over-cluttering your Instagram profile.
Use Episodic Stories to Create Anticipation
Instagram Stories don’t just have to be 15-second snippets. You can also tell longer stories. Episodic Stories are an excellent way to generate expectation and keep people coming back to your Instagram account week after week.
If you’re not quite ready to dive into Instagram’s new IGTV feature, try using Stories to create a weekly “show” for your followers. Pick an interesting topic that’s not specifically about your product, give the series a catchy, hashtag-able name, and remind your followers when the show will air. You can also use the new IGTV feature to produce long-form vertical video content by following the same Instagram best practices.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to make Instagram Stories a part of your overall social strategy. It gives you infinite possibilities to promote your brand in an entertaining and inexpensive way. Build a content calendar, ensure every message you post is on brand, and you’ll be well on your way to better engagement and customer loyalty.
Top image via Photon photo.
Want to learn more about social media and content marketing? Check out these articles:
- The 5 Essential Steps of Successful Social Media Marketing
- Getting Your Brand Started with Vertical Video Content on IGTV
- Aligning Your Team to Create a Consistent Visual Brand Identity
- Why Localized Visual Content Generates Value in Paid Advertising
- Your Business Guide to Making Better Instagram Stories