The feature of Instagram stories has just turned two – or 730, measured in the 24-hour lifespan that Instagram Stories are limited to. By now, the tap on the colorful circles to unveil the latest Instagram Stories is undoubtedly a ubiquitous reflex for the majority of the platform’s 1 billion users. And according to recent statistics, over 50% of Instagram’s registered profile businesses have created a story themselves.
What makes them special from a business point of view? “Stories are a great way to connect not only with your followers, but importantly also with a much larger audience that is not yet following you”, says Joe Carrozza, co-founder of bidpin, a startup specializing in Instagram growth hacking.
However, despite this great potential, businesses are still often struggling with how to turn stories from a fun feature into a strategic asset.
For this quick guide, we sat down with Carrozza who explains three simple methods to boost your Stories by creating double value – value for your followers, but also for your business.
1. Gifs Just Wanna Have Fun
Instagram is so much more than just beautiful pictures – it is about the story you tell, through images as well as wording. Businesses need to strike a balance between the tone that they have set for their brand communication or business – and creating a user experience that fits the platform: People flock to Instagram for a playful, informal tone of voice, peppered with puns and emotions.
Stop showing your product over and over again. Instead, use publicly available Gifs to tell followers about the true character of your brand. For example, the magazine Cosmopolitan demonstrates how you can make a dull party look cool – just by browsing through the Giphy collection and add some fun elements (dancing Llama, anyone?).
In the same way, you can take a twist on your own brand: Instead of showing an actual image of clients interacting with your product or service, use Gifs to express the emotions you’d like to see – and let them react!
2. Learn and interact through polls and sliders
Instagram has introduced two wonder weapons in the armory of the social media strategist: The classic poll and the emoji slider. Why do they matter? First of all, they are a tool to activate and engage your audience beyond just passively looking at image content. And second, because they are fun – in a way that can make your account stand out from the rest of the pack.
As in the example of Hellofresh’s story, use them to ask your followers about their preference. Black or white? Chocolate or Vanilla? David Bowie or David Hasselhoff?
Many brands use poll feature as a way to explore the preferences of their customer base – without boring them through traditional market surveys.
And with the recently introduced emoji slider feature, you can step into much more than the yes-no answer type. Ask your audience how much coffee they need to get through the day, or what their favorite Halloween outfit is worth – and get some important market information for your business.
Another great way to use poll answers and sliders is to gamify the content. This is particularly interesting to engage a younger audience – for example, by creating quizzes. As in the example of the environmental foundation Oceana, letting users guess how much Manatees can eat is creating interaction with users by targeting their curiosity.
3. Where next? Redirect through Links
Is your story fun and engaging? If not – go back to No 1 and 2 above. If yes, and your content has created sufficient user engagement, use one last key feature that has immense brand value: Ask them to ‘Swipe Up’ to link to where you want your followers to go. Links are a great way to drive traffic to your website, your online shop or any other channel.
Smart social media brands are giving their audience creative incentives to follow a link. For example, if you have used a ‘gamified’ story by incorporating a quizz with the poll feature, you can let your audience swipe up to discover the answers.
Carefully designed stories are thus a great way to capitalize on the curiosity and interaction that you created with your followers, and channel them into the desired action – such as the click on your shop’s site.
The popularity of Instagram Stories have long overtaken Snapchat, the godfather of putting and expiry date on content. With the story features evolving, more bells and whistles are added to entertain the billion Instagram users – and to create new, creative ways for businesses to connect to its clients.
Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company