As TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts seemingly dominate the social media marketing headlines at the moment, it can be easy to forget about Instagram Stories. Far older than any of the new short-form video trendsetters, Stories may seem like old news. Yet with its steadily evolving suite of tools and features, it remains one of the major avenues to not only connect with your audience on social media but also to drive traffic, increase engagement and spread awareness about products and services. In fact, stories published by brands account for a third of the most viewed stories. If you are not currently using Stories in your strategy for Instagram, then you might be missing out.
According to Instagram’s own statistics, as of January 2019, more than 500 million Instagram accounts were using Stories every day, and it is more than likely that that number has risen since then. But while its impressive daily usage can be a major draw, it’s not the main reason why you should be using Stories in your strategy. Here are my top three reasons for using it.
First, Stories helps you do something that is becoming more and more appealing to consumers: Show the human side of your brand. In a world of automated responses and, all too often, insensitive reactions from companies, relatable and genuine content has become popular on social media. With short-form media, impromptu, unique and informal content works best to help you show your authenticity. While sophisticated, stylish and polished posts may work well on your feed, people look to the genuine and relatable when going to Stories.
This is one of the main reasons why Stories is so successful and how it can help you establish a connection between you and your audience. Videos and images that show the real day-to-day activities of your company give your audience a glimpse behind the curtain, not only indulging their curiosity but also showing that the people behind the content are human too. Being able to relate to content has become a major draw for many social media users. Be it through nostalgic throwbacks, keeping up with the latest trends or simple awareness of your audience’s likes and dislikes, you show your brand to be one that understands your audience and one they are more likely to engage with. This conveniently brings me to the second reason to get moving with Instagram Stories.
With its time-sensitive format and suite of interactive features for your audience, Stories offers a perfect way to get your audience to engage. Encouraging users to take that first step is important, and the Stories format makes it very easy. Polls, quizzes, questions and custom stickers — each one gives your audience the chance to get involved with just a few taps. They see a brand that wants to engage them and get their opinions and input. As you get users to interact with your stories, you are establishing trust between them and your brand.
Stories, much like TikTok, emphasizes the creative, and it’s important to focus on this with the content you put out. Those under 25 (members of Generation Z) now make up the largest group of Instagram users at over 37%. As those in this age group tend to see themselves as a more creative and unique generation, content that appeals to this, such as with new ways of presenting information, interactive formats or eye-catching visuals, is a great way to get their attention.
Engagement on Instagram Stories can also lead to more traffic and conversions. It can be a fantastic place to build anticipation for a new product, provide company updates or educate your audience about a service you offer. Data shows that 57% of consumers follow brands to learn about new products. Stories can help you develop a sense of importance. And through calls to action and the new link sticker, you can guide consumers right to your site. (Note that the link sticker seems to only be available to accounts that are either verified or have over 10,000 followers. If you currently can’t see it on your account next to the poll sticker, remember to check for updates.)
Combine this with the exclusivity aspect that Stories provides, and you can have a winning formula. Time-sensitive deals or offers provide your followers with something unique to them. By engaging and keeping up with your stories, they can take advantage of deals. Not only can this increase sales, but it also creates brand loyalty and returning users, who will know that your stories are worth keeping an eye out for.
The final reason to be thinking about Stories is that regardless of where you are in social media marketing, you want your content to take the front and center slot. You want it to be seen and you want it to be noticed, and with Instagram Stories, it is quite literally at the top of the page — it’s the first thing you see when you load up the mobile app. With 59% of U.S. adults who use Instagram doing so at least once per day, Stories presents a great opportunity for your brand to be seen.
Anything on your feed could easily be missed, or simply scrolled by. Instagram’s algorithm is no easy conundrum to solve, and it can leave much of your content, no matter how great, missed by users. With Stories, you can skip the queue and place yourself right in front of your audience’s attention. In the world of social media, attention spans are less than short. While you can go in-depth on a topic in a post on your Instagram feed, with Stories, you can share more appealing and entertaining content in short, “snackable” bites.
One final thing to remember is that you should never be afraid to experiment. Stories, like other short-form content, thrives on the unique. Consider these ways that Stories can boost your strategy, think about what your audience wants to see, and let your creativity take you from there.