With brand new features set to be rolled out to Instagram Stories over the next few months, it’s time to take a look at how you can utilize this overlooked feature. When the feature first appeared on Instagram, users questioned the need for Instagram Stories and businesses were clueless as to how to use them. However, they slowly gained traction thanks to Instagram influencers experimenting with more creative ways to tell stories to their followers.
Since Stories took off on the platform, a number of cool features have been added, from filters, to geo-tagging, and if you’re really lucky, you’ll even get the swipe up feature that allows viewers to click through to an external website!
How to Use Instagram Stories to Connect with Your Audience
With an ever-expanding library of features, the potential for Instagram Stories is growing exponentially. Not only are there apps being developed that allow you to add animated text, borders, frames, and even more filter options, but Instagram is constantly looking into how it can increase engagement between users and their followers. An example is the brand new emoji slider that is being introduced to Instagram Stories over the next few weeks. This will allow users a similar experience to that of Facebook, giving them the option of choosing an emoji reaction to a story they’re watching.
One thing that Instagram Stories is lacking, however, is different features that allow followers to interact directly with creators. Other than a poll or a direct message, there is very little interaction between followers and content creators.
How to Increase Engagement as New Features Are Introduced
1. Highlight a New Post in Your Story
Something that many Instagram users have started to do is to post a screenshot of their feed with a ‘sneak peek’ of their new post. Many users started doing this when Instagram changed their algorithm to be sorted by popularity first.
Instagram stories will appear at the top of your followers feeds, so they don’t lost in a feed. This way, you can inform your followers of a new post that they may have missed and get them to head to your account page to see and engage with your new post.
2. Get Followers Involved in Making Decisions
The poll feature has proven very popular across many social platforms, with Facebook and Twitter also offering the option to run polls for followers. The same applies to your Instagram stories and has helped to create more of a connection between users and followers.
Use polls to make your followers feel included in business decisions. For example, you may be choosing between two different website designs for your business, or between two different products to launch during your next campaign. Use a poll and ask your followers. Even if it’s just as simple as asking what they’re doing this weekend (e.g. sleeping or partying), ask them. This direct interaction helps followers feel like they actually have some direct engagement with the person behind the account.
3. Offer to Feature Accounts that Mention Your Brand
This works very well for product-based businesses like fashion brands, food retailers, beauty brands, or even authors. If you just launched a new product or you created a campaign around a particular service or product, ask Instagram users to tag you in their posts for a chance to be featured on your Instagram Stories.
This not only puts you in direct contact with your customer base, but it will also form a more personal connection with those customers. Instagram is one of the hardest platforms for businesses to have real-time interaction with their users, so asking your customers to bring awareness to themselves helps you keep in touch with your audience and customer base.
4. Partner with Instagram Influencers on Sponsored Stories
If you don’t have quite enough pull yet when it comes to audience, then finding Instagram influencers with engaged followers could help you get your foot in the door. It will not only help you to build your own following, but it will also help to massively increase your brand exposure.
Drop your favorite influencers direct messages and start conversations with them about ways you could work together. Make sure you have a few campaign ideas ready to go before typing up your message, as pitching a finished idea can often prove more successful than just throwing a few initial ideas their way.
The Key to Success with Instagram Stories
When it comes to using Instagram Stories for your business, the key to success is creativity and thinking outside the box. Think about the features that are at your disposal, and then list all the different ways you could potentially use them to your advantage (e.g., how can you create unique videos and boomerangs or how you can use text, emojis, or gifs).
Pay attention to what other people are doing on their Instagram Stories, no matter how big or small they are, no matter if they are from a business or a personal account. You can get so much inspiration from simply paying attention to how others are being innovative, so do the research and you’ll increase your reach significantly.
About the Author
Cat Crawford currently blogs and vlogs over at Cat Crawford Marketing, helping solopreneurs and bloggers to build their own online creative business.