Instagram Stories were rolled out to all users a couple of weeks ago, and many people, from fitness experts to merchants, have embraced them. I’ve spent many, many hours watching Story after Story, and have started to thread together what makes the terrific stand apart from the terrible. My own are far from perfectly executed, but Instagram Stories have a lot of potential and I am certainly using them to add a powerful layer to my Instagram strategy.Instagram Stories give you a behind-the-scenes space to connect with your audience. Click To Tweet
Work Together… But Stand Alone
When you use your regular Instagram post and Story together, they pack a one-two punch… but they also need to each be able to stand on their own. Now with two types of content (regular image/caption posts, and stories), we have to plan for all kinds of viewers:
- People that only see your image post.
- People that will see your image post and go check out your story.
- People that will go straight to your story and never see your image post.
I’ve noticed that many people will post something to their Instagram feed, and direct people to their Story for further explanation or more behind-the-scenes looks, which is great! However, they forget to account for the people that go directly to their Story, and never see their regular post. They might not add enough context to their Story, and people don’t exactly know what they are watching. Be sure to mention the content of the regular Instagram post to keep everyone in the loop.
Adding unique value to both types of content will help them stand on their own, regardless of who has seen what, or how they go to your Story.
It’s All About Value
I just mentioned “adding unique value” up above. As with ALL content marketing and social media, best practices still apply. This means adding value to your audience in whatever you produce. What is in it for them? Why should they spend the next 2 minutes flipping through your Story? Why should they look for your Story each day when they log on to Instagram?
Adding value through your Story is a delicate balance. I love the even more personal side that can be shown through Instagram Stories. Stories lend themselves well to the day-to-day, behind-the-scenes stuff, which is one of the things I believe has been such a huge driver of Snapchat’s growth. At the end of the day, we are all dying to connect with other humans. Stories give us that.
On the flip side, though, you can only spend so much time each day looking at everyone’s morning cup of coffee. We don’t need to document our three meals per day (unless you are a food-grammer… then hey, that probably really works for you!)
Staying Top of Mind
As mentioned above, Stories lend themselves well to more personal content and behind-the-scenes looks, which is a great way to connect with your audience and strengthen those relationships. People look to do business with people they, “know, like, and trust.” What better way to do that than to put yourself out there allow people to get to know you?
Continually adding to your Story will consistently put you at the front of the Stories feed. Stories that have been most recently updated appear at the front. If you are adding to your Story several times a day, you can get your face (or logo) in front of your audience’s eyeballs throughout the day. This is a great strategy for trying to get around any impact the Instagram algorithm has had on your regular posts.
So if I’m not supposed to add pictures of my coffee, which is the love of my life, what do I post? Great question.
Personal nuggets are great, especially when you can tie them back into your business in some way. Behind-the-scenes, how you structure your work day, how you come up with ideas, the people you work with or around, and your work space all give people a unique look into your business.
You can rant, you can rave, share company news, tease new flavors or colors, give a tip, share a coupon code that expires in 24 hours, demonstrate something, or give a little tutorial. The possibilities are endless! My favorite idea is to tease other content, like a Facebook Live broadcast, blog post, upcoming video, or product release.
Remember that people may come back to your Story several times throughout the day, as you add new pieces, but others might binge on the whole thing in the evening. Be mindful of how your Story is viewed in it’s entirety. For instance, starting each segment with “Hey, Instagram!” is going to get repetitive and silly if you see it eight times in a row!
The biggest hurdle for most people when it comes to Instagram Stories is that they don’t know what to share. However, since we’ve discussed that, let’s not drop the ball and just stop at content that engages your audience. You’ve hooked them! They are spending time on you, in your Story. What should we do now?
Include a call-to-action (CTA)! Your Instagram Story should be viewed as another piece in your marketing funnel. It’s great to connect with ideal customers on social media, but they aren’t doing much for you there. They serve you better (and hey, you serve them better too), on your email list or customer list.
Someone that comes from your Instagram post, over to your Instagram Story, is a warmer lead. So where can you send them next? Leave them with a landing page, a webinar registration, email sign-up, e-book download, or a live stream that they won’t want to miss. Just get them to keep saying “yes” to you.
One last little nugget of wisdom: consider downloading the pieces of your Story to re-purpose elsewhere. As a social media manager, I always want a piece of content to work for me more than once.
What have been your takeaways so far regarding Instagram Stories? Share with us!
Molly Marshall teaches small business owners and online entrepreneurs how to systematically and simply grow a profitable online presence through social media. Get your FREE Instagram Strategy Guide now!