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Mastering Instagram Stories: The Key to Brand Engagement

Published June 16, 2024
/ Updated July 9, 2024

In 2016, Instagram launched a new feature called “stories”. This feature allows users to post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours. These stories are separate from the traditional feed and won’t show up in profiles after those 24 hours unless you add it to story highlights. It’s a place for spontaneity, for sharing your day-to-day, or for showcasing those ‘you had to be there’ moments without crowding your profile

The rise of short term content has become a major player in social media marketing. Social media companies have seemed to crack the code of maximizing ephemeral content. Whether it’s TikTok, Snapchat, Youtube Shorts, Instagram Reels, or Instagram Stories, these companies have seen users flooding to their apps. This opens a door of opportunity for businesses looking to expand their brand through social media marketing. If you’re looking to give your brand a boost, then you’re in the right place.

Benefits of Using Instagram Stories for Marketing

Follower Engagement

Instagram stories invite your followers into a more personal conversation with your brand, whether through quick reactions, replies, or participation in interactive elements like polls and quizzes.

Instant Feedback

Stories allow brands to share timely information and offers while also gathering instant insights into audience preferences. Features such as ‘accounts reached’ and ‘engagement’ provide valuable metrics and direct feedback that can inform how a company’s marketing strategies and content creation is doing. It’s like having a direct line to what your audience is thinking and feeling.

Format And Background Features

Instagram provides lots of different layouts and templates such as collages to make your story more compelling and eye catching. They have also recently added a backdrop feature where AI generates backgrounds to make your story pop.

Crafting Engaging Instagram Stories

Understand Your Audience

Who’s tuning in to your stories? Before creating a story, you need to understand who your audience is. Instagram is where the young people hang out. According to Statista, 62.3% of Instagram users are between the ages 18-34. If your target audience is young then Instagram is where you should be marketing your brand. Younger people enjoy short-form content meaning you should be posting on both stories and reels.

Gender is another big factor in understanding your audience. According to Statista, United States, 55.7% of Instagram’s users are female, and 44.3% are male. With that being said, if your target audience is mostly female then Instagram should be your go-to for reaching this audience.

Interactive Features

Instagram is always cooking up fun features for stories. Over the years they have added a lot of different helpful features to stories to make your stories stand out.

  • Utilize interactive features such as polls and stickers to ask questions, get reviews, and feedback from your audience.
  • Take advantage of geotags and hashtags which are tools that can be used to organize and promote ideas, trends, and locations.
  • Want to join up with other brands or influencers with a similar target audience? The ‘repost’ feature allows creators to repost other creators’ posts on their story.
  • Use the music feature to add popular music to let your followers vibe with your tunes.

Creative Content Ideas For Stories

Instagram story ideas from CoSchedule

Now that you understand what features Instagram stories offer, let’s dive into some creative examples to keep your audience captivated.

Utilize question stickers to maintain audience engagement. National Geographic Travel employs this feature to captivate their viewers and encourage them to continue watching the video. They ask a simple yes or no question using a question sticker. While this doesn’t seem like much, it strikes just enough excitement from the viewers to keep them engaged in the story. It is important to note that the more times a user clicks on your story, the more often it will show up first in their feed. Therefore, engagement is very important!

Share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your brand’s daily operations or special events, offering your audience an exclusive look into the inner workings of your company. In this example, Asics Running showcases five highlight stories from one of their race day events, providing a sneak peek into the preparation and dedication behind the scenes. You can use model your stories after this idea to showcase your product while also promoting an event.

Collaborate with influencers to reach a new target demographic. Reebok Canada has used this strategy multiple times. They collaborated with an Instagram influencer with thousands of followers that gave high praise for Reebok shoes and reposted their story. This is an easy to use strategy that you can implement into your business today. You can direct message users with large followings, or use influencer finding tools such as Aspire. It doesn’t necessarily always have to be influencers. Anytime someone gives your product high praise, you can repost their story or post on your Instagram story.

Share current deals or promotions to excite your followers. For example, Burger King uses this marketing tactic to advertise discounts. In this post, it was a discount for their birthday. This is a very easy-to-use strategy that you can incorporate into your business. Anytime you have a discount or deal, you can post it on your story and reach your followers at the simple click of a button.

Post your products on your story and add a product tag that forwards your viewers directly to your website. In this example, Tilly’s reposted their own reel showing off their newest t-shirts. In the reel, they showed all different types of clothing and discounts in the store and online currently. For your business, you don’t have to post a reel or even take a video; just take a couple of photos of your products and add a product tag sticker.

Time Your Posts

It is important to maximize the reach of your stories through consistency and timing. According to Hopper HQ, the best time to post an Instagram story is from 11am to 2pm. A lot of people are on lunch break and will usually scroll through Instagram and check stories.

Use apps and tools to help you schedule your posts to keep your audience engaged. Use the CoSchedule Calendar to pick the date and time you want to publish stories and let it post for you.

Integrating Instagram Stories into Your Overall Social Media Strategy

Align Stories With Your Brand Voice And Aesthetic

Ensure every story you post resonates with your brand’s voice and aesthetic. Use filters, fonts, and colors that match your brand’s theme to create a cohesive look.

Collaborate With Influencers

Invite and tag collaborators on your Instagram stories to reach a wider audience. Consider running joint promotions by teaming up with influencers to add variety and credibility to your content.

You can run advertisements with creators, businesses, and brands through the Partnership ads feature. This allows for a relationship where both parties can benefit from the increased exposure.

Cross-Promote

Use Instagram stories to direct followers to your other social media platforms. Share snippets or previews of content available on other platforms with a call to action to follow you there for more in-depth engagement.

Measuring the Success of Your Instagram Stories

Story Insights

Instagram stories has metric features such as analytics and insights that allow you to track data so that you can adapt and improve your social media game. Once you post a story you can click on a button called “activity” and this allows you to see different statistics.

  • In the section called ‘Overview’ you can see how many accounts your story reached and who visited your profile after engaging with your story.

Overview section from Instagram insights

  • The ‘Reach’ section provides a detailed breakdown of the percentage of accounts reached, distinguishing between followers and non-followers.

Reach section from Instagram insights

  • The ‘Engagement’ section is where you can see how many users interacted, liked, shared, and replied to your story. You can also see how many people tapped on your sticker as well as how users navigate through the story.

Engagement section from Instagram insights

Learn From The Data

By analyzing story insights, you can make data-driven decisions to refine your Instagram strategy. For instance, if the ‘Engagement’ section shows high interaction with certain types of stickers or polls, then find a way to weave them in more frequently. Similarly, if the ‘Reach’ section indicates a time of day that seems to be a peak viewing time, then adjust your posting schedule accordingly.

Conclusion

Instagram Stories offers a dynamic space for brands to share, connect, and leave a lasting impression. It’s a powerful tool in the marketer’s kit, with plenty of potential to captivate and converse with your audience. Although, stories aren’t one size fits all, so be sure to experiment and find out what features and tools work best for your brand.