Have you noticed the little profile picture circles hovering
at the top of your Instagram feed lately? Maybe you’ve
screwed around with a Boomerang of your dog running
or slapped a face filter on your selfie and called it #nomakeup. Regardless of your experience level with Instagram Stories thus far, it’s time to get down business and talk about why they’re important and why you should be using to get optimal perform out of your Instagram account (especially for business).
Where did it all begin?
I remember it fondly… mostly because I hated it at first 😂. Being a Snapchat early adopter AND avid social media nerd linger, I was weirded out and slightly put of when Instagram first rolled out their stories feature in August 2016.
At first, we all wondered why they were stealing Snapchat’s game and were mildly hesitant to hop on board.
I’ve done a huge 180 on this stance. Lately, Instagram stories are proving to be the #1 way to communicate effectively with your audience via Instagram.
And since, they’re surpassed Snapchat in the amount of active users, etc.
Why should I start now?
In case you haven’t noticed, Instagram’s most recent algorithm updates have shifted it to be more like Facebook – meaning that your feed is a much less true depiction of the chronological posting of content.
Basically when someone posts, Instagram is taking the temperature of how much you will like that content (based on interaction history, whether you’ve liked or commented on that type of content before, if it’s promoted or not, etc.). If they think you will like or interact with this content, they will show it to you in your feed. If they don’t, au revior poor content.
Engagement on Instagram for business accounts has greatly decreased in the past couple months (and I’d argue even mores in the past couple weeks).
… but don’t panic. IG stories are here to save the day.
Here’s what I love about them.
1. They expire.
After 24 hours, whooooooosh. Gone. Because of this time sensitivity, there is less vulnerability and lower stakes when it comes to posting. This allows users to be more authentic and imperfect; if you mess up while live broadcasting, who cares – it’s going to be gone soon. It takes the self doubt and stress out of posting because it’s less intimidating.
2. Direct connections via Live.
You can go live and interact directly with your followers. Much like on FB (but for some reason IG live is much less nerve-wracking to me). If you’re doubting something in your business, you can directly ask your audience for feedback and get it on-the-spot. Moreover, during a live broadcast, you can check in with prompts like “Give me a thumbs up if you want to hear more about this” to see if your audience is engaged or not.
3. Tagging options.
In Instagram stories, you have way more creative options to play with features than in regular posts. They’ve got fun stickers, geotags, hashtag stamps, etc. to liven up even the most boring post. My favorite of these features is the ability to geotag your location with a sticker. I highly recommend this to local businesses – you can get a ton more viewers because anyone looking at that geotagged location’s story will see your story, ask well.
4. Greater opportunity for connection.
We’re much more apt to be our unglossy selves if we know it will disappear. This allows a certain behind-the-scenes sort of feel and strengthens the relationship between user and audience.
3 Easy Content Ideas to Get Started
1. Go live.
You’ll have INSTANT engagement with your consumers, fostering a deeper connection. For example: if you’re trying to name a course and can’t settle on a title, you could hop on IG live and ask your audience. Not only will you receive instant feedback, but your audience will feel more invested and personally involved with your brand.
2. Use text.
There are a few ways to go about this. The first and most basic is to simply type within the app over your story. It will be formatted in Arial (the most basic + universal digital font). The second and craftier way is to use a design app like Photoshop to typeset a message in your brand font and get a little crazy with your visuals.
3. Set up a great story.
Just like any other format of storytelling, it needs a basic arc. I love to set up my frames as a question > answer > call-to-action. Here’s an example:
QUESTION / SET UP: “HAPPY MONDAY! I’m so excited this morning. Wanna know why?”
ANSWER / RESPONSE: “Because I’m about to launch a free 5-day challenge this week” Note: This a great spot to add an emoji or other personal touch here to avoid being too robotic.
CALL-TO-ACTION: “Be sure to sign up for my challenge by visiting the link in my bio”
So, there you have it. I truly believe IG stories are quickly becoming the best way to effectively communicate with your audience via Instagram.
Keep in mind – the algorithm will keep changing. This isn't a bad thing. We all know creativity flourishes under constraints. By constantly updating and adapting, we’re forced to stay nimble and changing our strategy.
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How do you feel about Instagram stories feature and algorithm updates? Let me know in the comments below!