In just over a year since its launch, Instagram Stories has done more than take over Snapchat’s 24-hour content lifecycle throne – it’s become a powerful marketing tool.
With 200 million active users everyday (compared to 160 million for Snapchat), it’s easy to see why brands have been quick to jump on the platform to push fresh content.
What are Instagram Stories?
In the unlikely case that you haven’t heard, Instagram Stories is basically Snapchat on Instagram. Instead of being just a platform for thoughtfully curated posts, Stories lets users post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours.
These posts appear as bubbles at the very top of your feed, so you’ll only need to scroll right to see all the Stories from those you follow.
And while it may seem counterintuitive to utilize vanishing posts for marketing, the principle behind it is far from complex.
Benefits of using Instagram Stories for marketing
Among the other ways brands could use Instagram for marketing, Instagram Stories could be the most innovative way yet. According to Instagram Business, 50 percent of users follow a business. And perhaps more importantly, 60 percent of those users say they learn about a product/service on the social network.
With that solid base, here are some of the benefits of using Stories for marketing:
Shiny new toy on an existing platform
Instagram has over 500 million users. And with the relatively new Stories feature, the seven-year-old social network has been injected with new life.
With the increasing eyeballs drawn to Stories, the marketing potential is rife with possibilities.
Instagram’s new algorithm has changed the game, reducing the number of times content appears in followers’ feeds. This a big part of what makes Stories ideal for marketers, as your content is ensured to be at the very top of every feed.
And while followers will need to scroll right to get to your Story, it still beats competing for a spot on the regular feed.
Instagram Stories were meant to be raw and have real-time relevance, so you don’t really have to fuss over publishing only the highest quality content.
And as such, Stories have an innate way of humanizing your brand – allowing you to connect with your audience on a much more personal, and deeper level.
Because Stories will disappear after 24 hours, marketers can now experiment with different types of content without cluttering their feeds.
With Instagram Stories’ real-time analytics, it’s easy to get an idea of what type of content resonates with your audience.
By simply enticing people to swipe up on a Story, marketers can now direct audiences to any website. The addition of CTAs to Instagram Stories have reportedly resulted in impressive swipe-through rates of 15-25 percent.
You can even add polls within your Instagram Stories where your audience can just click to vote like this set of stories from Topshop Thailand:
How to go about it
With the platform still being relatively new, marketers are still exploring the plethora of ways to utilize Stories.
Here are some ideas:
Behind the scenes look
Connect with your followers on a more personal level by giving them a behind the scenes look at what goes on behind your brand. Say, you posted an attractive photo of your latest product, you can then post on your Stories how the shoot went about.
Or if there’s a product launch event, you can post Stories showing what’s going on in the lead up to the event – creating more buzz and excitement about it in the process.
Showcase your product in action
Every product can look good in a professionally styled photo. But to give potential customers a better idea of your product, you can post a video of regular people using your product.
Maybe someone’s eyeing your latest sneaker release – why not give them an idea of what the model looks like on feet? That just might be enough to make the sale.
Stories are an excellent way to showcase products that are about to go on sale.
Build interest throughout the week by posting photos of your products, then create a CTA after a week of being on your followers’ minds.
Drive traffic to your site
Speaking of CTA, you can drive followers to your site by posting snippets of your longer content. Use the various Stories tools (stickers, polls, tags, text) to create fun, attractive content to give your audience a good reason to want to find out more.
Of course, it wouldn’t be new age social media marketing if influencers weren’t in play.
The good thing about inviting influencers to take over your Stories is that all they need to do is send you content, which you can upload yourself. This means they can be anywhere in the world and still take over your Instagram Stories.
Live videos getting three times the engagement of non-live videos is just one of the reasons to try broadcasting live. Instagram notifies your followers whenever you go live, so you don’t always have to announce a live broadcast.
Brands have used this feature to conduct a Q&A session following an unboxing of a new product. Doing so not only showcases your products features live, it also enables you to address any concerns viewers may have.
Advertising on Instagram isn’t new and, of course, Instagram also offers ads in Stories format. Instagram users will randomly see your ad they go through their Stories feed. If you believe that your target market are those that are big on IG Stories, then this is a good way to create brand awareness.
Measuring IG Stories performance
As with all content marketing on social media, the ability to measure performance is as important as the quality of the content. And while marketing through Instagram Stories is a relatively new practice, there are some simple metrics that can help you understand what kinds of Stories are most effective for your brand.
The simplest, most straightforward way is to check how many people have viewed your Story. Instagram makes this extremely easy, placing a number just beside the small eye icon.
While Stories doesn’t store comments from different users in one box, it does allow them to reply directly to your Story. To further increase engagement, make sure you reply back to your followers.
While Instagram doesn’t tell you how many people actually made it to the end of your Story, you can practice a bit of simple math to get an idea.
Take the number of viewers from your last story, and divide that by the number of viewers from your previous story. If you have multiple Stories, just adjust accordingly and you’ll get a percentage of how many people checked out your posts from start to finish.
If you want to get a wider perspective of how your followers are responding to your Stories, try measuring your completion rate within a 14-day period. Also, keep track of which types of Stories performed well. Was it a teaser? An exclusive offer?
As discussed above, Instagram Stories’ CTA feature of swiping up to get to a site has had an impressive conversion rate thus far. And while Instagram doesn’t yet provide metrics on this, you can use a separate software or analytics to track site traffic stemming from Instagram.
Instagram Stories has infused a lot of fun to social media marketing with the freedom and flexibility it affords. And with the growing number of eyeballs attracted to the feature, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try it for yourself.
About the Author: Jolina Landicho is a marketing strategist working with various brands online, and the content marketing manager of Avenew Media. She is devoted in helping businesses bridge relationship gaps by providing in-depth, actionable advice on online marketing, business development, and growth hacking.