If you’re conducting any digital marketing for your business, we’re sure you’ve heard of Instagram advertising, but have you heard of using Instagram Stories for business?
After Facebook bought Instagram just 18 months after its launch in 2010, the platform has continued to grow ever since. Updates after updates have rolled out, and with them came Instagram Stories in August of 2016.
If you haven’t heard of Instagram Stories, it’s a feature that allows you to post a photo or video on Instagram that only lasts for 24 hours. The concept is extremely similar to the Snapchat app which originated in 2012.
The content you share on Instagram Stories does not appear in the grid system on your profile, nor does it show up in your followers’ Instagram newsfeed.
So you may be wondering what good is it then! But don’t worry; Instagram Stories appear in their own section at the very top of a user’s feed.
Now, Instagram Stories are not the only thing that Instagram has updated recently. If you’re doing any advertising or posting on Instagram, you may have heard the word “algorithm” thrown around a good bit.
When talking about Instagram’s algorithm, we’re speaking of the automated manner and method that Instagram shows posts in a user’s feed.
Depending on how many Instagram accounts a user follows, Instagram has to sift through all of the posts they could potentially see in their feed and decide which posts or ads to present.
So how do you make sure your posts are using the 2018 Instagram algorithm to their advantage? How do Instagram Stories fit in to all of this, and how can you use Instagram Stories for business?
These are a lot of the questions floating around Instagram Stories since they are still relatively new (and rolling out with their own set of updates frequently!).
In today’s blog, we’re answering these questions and more so that you know everything you need to know on how to use Instagram Stories for business.
How Instagram Stories Work
Before diving into the benefits of Instagram Stories for business, let’s first learn more about what they are and how they work.
When you click to watch someone’s Story, it will show either a photo or a video that they’ve posted. If it’s a photo, it will generally show for about 5 seconds; if it’s a video, it will show for a maximum of 15 seconds. All content remains on stories for 24 hours unless deleted earlier by the user that posted it.
For the most part, these photos and videos are taken with the Instagram camera, but you can also upload content from your camera roll so long as the content has only been on your camera roll for 24 hours or less.
Check out some of the other technical requirements you’ll need to know to utilize Instagram Stories for business in the photo below!
Those are some of the technical requirements, but now let’s get into the fun stuff!
Instagram Stories does not follow the same format or capabilities of a traditional Instagram post. Instagram Stories allows you to apply filters, text, stickers, GIFs, polls, freehand drawing and so much more!
Adding these items allow you to really personalize a photo and make it represent your business!
The other piece of content you can publish on Instagram Stories, outside of traditional photos and videos, is a Boomerang.
A Boomerang is a short, soundless video that plays forwards and backwards on repeat. Cool snippets of content can be made with this feature such as pouring a drink into a cup (and then seeing the drink fly back into the cup in reverse).
The process of uploading a Boomerang looks a little like this.
And the result looks like the finished Boomerang below. So you can see how fun these are to spice things up when using Instagram Stories for business.
The Boomerang feature is best used on a moving subject, and it’s a cool way to mix up content while keeping viewers engaged.
Advertising with Instagram Stories
Now that you know how Instagram Stories work, let’s talk about how to use them to your advantage!
Instagram Stories is now a new placement on which you can advertise.
Advertisers can upload photos, videos and Boomerangs, and they can apply any of the fun custom tools mentioned above!
These are the available objectives you can optimize for when using Instagram Stories for business advertising : Reach, Video Views, Brand Awareness, Traffic, Conversions, Lead Generation, App Installs
And these are the different calls to action you can utilize with Instagram Story ads: Apply Now, Book Now, Buy Tickets, Contact Us, Download, Learn More, Shop Now, Sign Up, Watch More
It’s important to choose your Instagram Story ad objective carefully; you want to choose the objective that best describes the action you’re looking for. The reason for this is that Facebook and Instagram will show the ad to people within the target audience you’ve selected who are likely to perform that action.
This means that if you select Traffic, the ad will be shown to people within your target audience who are just likely to click. Whereas an ad under the Conversion objective will be shown to people within your target audience who are likely to click and convert.
When we analyze our new clients’ accounts to see the work they or other marketing companies have done in the past, this is often a common mistake that we find.
Choosing the right objective can make all of the difference in your ad campaign.
Because of this, advertisers were so pleased to see all of the different objective and call to action options when Instagram Stories ads rolled out. It gives businesses a chance to pursue the exact results they are looking for.
Just like organic Instagram Stories, these ads disappear after 24 hours. When we talk about organic content, we mean posts or Stories that are not sponsored with advertising dollars.
Instagram Story ads appear in between organic Stories, and Instagrammers will not see the ad preview before clicking to watch an organic Story.
This means they will not see your ad is coming when they click to watch the next Story, so your ad is nicely wedged in between two pieces of content they were already planning on watching.
Instagram Stories Insights
Just like all other Facebook and Instagram advertisements, you can see insights for your Instagram Stories ads on Facebook Ads Manager.
These insights include overall performance, reach, impressions, and video metrics.
Having access to these insights allows you to optimize your ads and see which ad is outperforming which. Being able to view and measure data like this is priceless in striving to run a successful ad campaign.
Because your Instagram profile has to be a Business profile in order to run ads, you also get the bonus of seeing insights directly on your Instagram profile as well!
You can see these Instagram insights on your Story for organic Stories too, not just ads. This helps you to view and measure what kind of Stories your audience likes to see!
Instagram Story Highlights
Now, I know we’ve said over and over that Instagram Stories only last 24 hours, but there is a way to make them last a little longer.
Instagram Story Highlights is a feature that has a section all on its own on your profile: below your bio and above your newsfeed.
Instagram Story Highlights are individual, stand alone Stories comprised by you, and they remain in the Highlights section permanently until you delete them.
To post on Highlights, you first have to start using Instagram Stories because you can only upload past Stories from December 2017 onward to your Highlights section (this is because December 2017 was when the Highlights feature rolled out).
To make sure you don’t lose any valuable Stories that you’ve posted in the past, you can always turn on your “Auto-Archive” feature in Settings to make sure you’re automatically saving every Instagram Story you post.
When someone clicks to your Instagram profile, Highlights are often what they click through first, so make sure they represent what your business is all about!
One way to do this is to unify all of your Highlight thumbnail images with branded photos like the image shown previously and down below!
This instantly gives your Instagram business profile a cohesive and professional look, making it attractive to viewers and potential customers.
Instagram Live Stream Video
Another cool feature that businesses can utilize with Instagram Stories is an Instagram Live video!
A Live Video is exactly what it sounds like: a live, real-time video of whatever your camera is recording during the live stream.
Like all other Instagram Stories excluding Highlights, Live Streams last for 24 hours in your Stories.
In a Live stream, your viewers can see exactly what you’re videoing, and they can also send messages that appear on the screen to you and all of the other viewers watching the Live feed.
This allows you to verbally respond to those messages as they pop up on your Live Stream! This kind of intimate and transparent interaction with viewers is invaluable for businesses trying to build brand awareness and connections with their followers.
Instagram Stories & The Instagram Algorithm
Earlier in this blog, you heard us speak about the Instagram algorithm. Instagram Stories has been a key player in helping businesses use the algorithm to their advantage.
The 2018 Instagram algorithm changed from showing posts chronologically to presenting posts based on the likelihood of each individual user being interested in the post. This likelihood is majorly based upon engagement.
A post with higher engagement gives Instagram the signal that it is relevant, so Instagram will give that post more reach.
Due to the algorithm update, gaining reach and engagement is the name of the game when it comes to gaining brand awareness on Instagram.
You may be wondering, “How do I get more engagement if Instagram won’t show my post…due to low engagement?!” This is where Instagram Stories come into play.
The more that a user interacts with your Instagram Stories, the more likely your posts will show up in their feed.
Some Instagram Stories engagement opportunities include the poll feature or the “Swipe Up” option (if you have over 10k followers).
The poll feature allows you to ask a question on Stories and write two answers that your audience can click on and choose between. Polls are widely popular among Instagrammers and are a quick and easy method to draw interaction from your viewers!
The Swipe Up feature allows you to add a link to your Instagram Story, and the user will be redirected to that link if they swipe up on that photo or video in your Story.
This is a great way to promote your website, specific products or any URL that you want to draw attention towards!
Whichever way you receive engagement on your Instagram Stories, you can also always retarget this engagement with any of your Facebook or Instagram ads! This helps fuel the overall sales funnel to initiate new prospects and close them.
Give Viewers A Deeper Peek Into Your World
Perhaps one of the greatest hurdles that we see small to mid-sized businesses face is relationship building. It’s easier for a potential customer to purchase from a well-known competitor over a company they’ve never heard of before.
This is why brand awareness is so important and is not to be taken lightly when looking at overall results- both organic and in advertising.
Using Instagram Stories for business does not always have to mean using ads on Instagram Stories. The nature of Instagram Stories implies the content is a sneak peek; it’s temporary and not everyone will get to see it.
When you use Instagram Stories for business, it allows viewers to connect more with your business, which overtime leads to trust in your business.
When someone watches your Instagram Story, they also have the option to swipe up on any of them and “reply” to the Story. When someone replies to your Story, it means you will receive a private, direct message between your business Instagram and that viewer with their message.
In fact, of the 300 million accounts using Instagram Stories (which is almost double the amount of people using snapchat), one-third of the most viewed stories come from businesses, and one in five stories gets a direct message from its viewers!
What a great way to open up the lines of communication between your business and your audience!
At the end of the day, if your business is on Instagram, you need to be using Instagram Stories for business! We hope this all inclusive guide helps you to better understand Instagram and to use Stories to your advantage. Want access to all of these amazing features without the hassle of worrying about it? You can always contact us to learn more about our social media marketing services!