The fast-paced nature of social media can sometimes be overwhelming for businesses to keep up with when new technologies, tools and features continue to pop up across platforms. The fight for apps to stay relevant has caused a need to repeatedly innovate and engage users in new ways which explains the many updates which have come and gone over the years.
A feature that took the world of social media by storm and has remained a fan favourite ever since, is Instagram Stories, where users can post content that automatically disappears after 24 hours. Rather than being displayed on your feed, stories appear at the top of the homepage, but can also be viewed by visiting your profile and clicking on the profile photo.
Instagram Stories were introduced back in 2017 and remain an integral part of the app today – here’s what we had to say in the early days. A lot has changed since that blog post, including the rise in popularity of Facebook Stories, but our seal of approval still stands.
By using the tools available in Instagram Stories, we are able to increase engagement and interact with users in a more informal, friendly and fun format. Stories are a great tool to share live content that’s happening in the moment and as they are only temporary, can be used to experiment and try new things to see how it performs. They show that your business is active and open without having to worry about bombarding your followers with too much content as they don’t affect your main news feed.
If you’re unsure about what you should be posting on your Instagram Stories compared to your feed, a question that we often ask ourselves when planning where our content should go is… ‘Is it important and relevant enough to be a permanent fixture?’. If the answer is yes, make sure you’re posting it on your Instagram feed. For more casual content, try out Instagram Stories and explore the many features on offer.
If you’re posting something that is definitely grid-worthy, you can also use stories to drive more traffic and attention to these posts. Once you’ve posted your content on your Instagram Feed, share it to your story so people can click through to see it from there.
Once you’ve got a good idea of what to post, you may be looking for more ways to jazz up your stories and grab the attention of your followers. Check out our Instagram Sticker recommendations to up your story game!
What Instagram Story ‘Stickers’ should I use?
We’ve put together our top five favourite ‘Stickers’ that we’d recommend you try out. To explore these features, start by creating a new story by swiping right on Instagram’s home screen, take/upload your image or video and click the smiley face button in the top right of the screen.
Instagram Polls allow you to ask your followers a question, whether it be a light-hearted quiz just for fun or an informal research exercise to gauge interest.
You can create your own question and up to four responses for your followers to choose between, or opt for a simple yes or no.
Share the poll to your story and see how your followers respond by swiping up on the story slide any time within the 24 hours that it is live. You’ll even find details of the voters who interacted and a breakdown of what percentage of people voted for each option.
Kickstart a quiz that’s tied to a trend/relevant awareness day, see what people think about a new idea or let your followers vote on their favourite product. Polls not only create interest and make your business stand out, but they also allow you to gain real-time feedback from your potential customers!
Want to signpost people to a website for more information?
Instagram Stories allow you to create a button that takes you directly to a website of your choice when clicked. This is a really useful tool to use to share resources and new updates with followers and signpost people back to your website.
Adding a call to action gives your story a more impactful purpose as it encourages your audience to take a desired action for example, visiting a page on your website.
Simply copy and paste the website URL into the link field and position your button anywhere you want on the screen.
When first introduced, story links were limited to verified accounts or those with a certain number of followers. After listening to user feedback, Instagram have rolled this feature out to all accounts, so anyone can now add a link to their story, regardless of account size or status. Music to our ears – well done Instagram!
Similar to the Polls feature, the Questions sticker allows you to start a conversation with your followers, however, rather than choosing from a list of options, they are able to respond freely.
Ask your following a question and see what they have to say!
Connect with your audience by encouraging them to ask you anything about your business, a particular product/service or even about you and your team. Prepare to open up and let your following get to know you better to form more trusted and authentic relationships.
You’ll be able to check who’s viewed the story as normal, as well as the individual responses to your question by clicking the ‘Seen By’ button in the bottom left-hand corner of the slide. You can pick an answer to respond to by selecting the response and hitting the ‘Share Response’ button.
This really is the perfect feature for a good ol’ Q&A.
‘Mentioning’ an account in your story is a really simple way of shouting out other businesses/people – whether you want to recommend your favourite accounts to follow, announce a business you’re working with or thank your team members for their hard work.
The core benefit of using the mentions feature is that it gives you the opportunity to reach a wider audience. When you mention someone in your story, a button is created that users can tap to go directly to their profile. Those you mention will be notified and receive a direct message with a preview of your story. They then have the option to share this onto their own story, meaning that their followers will be able to view what you’ve posted and be signposted to your profile.
Be aware that only public accounts can have their stories shared, so if you’re unable to mention a certain account, it’s likely that their privacy settings are preventing this.
Encouraging your audience to mention your business in their stories is an effective way to generate user-generated content and increase your brand awareness. It goes without saying that stories you’re mentioned in will expire after 24 hours, so be sure to keep on top of your notifications and direct messages as you only have a limited amount of time to repost.
Instagram has made creating a story and flicking through the stories tab a really quick and easy task, so making your content stand out is key to get users to stop and view what you are posting.
Adding music to your story is a great way to capture your followers’ attention, especially when using trending songs that we all know and love right now. Have a listen to the music that Instagram recommends, search for a specific song/artist or browse by genre/mood. Get saving any songs that take your fancy when flicking through Reels so that you can use them on your Stories at a later date.
Once you’ve picked your perfect song, you can select your favourite snippet by fast-forwarding and rewinding through the track. If you’re filming a video, you can choose a song before hitting record so that the song plays in the background whilst you film, making it easier for you to create a video that’s in-sync with the overlayed audio.
Instagram gives you a few ways of customising how the soundtrack is presented on screen. See what option best fits your aesthetic – opt for the album cover to be displayed on screen or choose for the song lyrics to pop up as the song plays.
What should I add to my Instagram Highlights?
Highlighted Stories are displayed just below your bio and are a fantastic opportunity to show off your business’s personality and any ‘best bits’. Have a think about what your customers will want to see or know when visiting your profile – things like your background story, team members, achievements, suppliers, services/products and reviews are all elements that you want users to be able to find out straight away.
If you’ve created a story that you want to stick around for longer than 24 hours, add it to your Highlights so that users can view it at any point when they visit your profile!
To create a highlight, simply hit the “New” button and you can select any stories that you’ve previously posted from your archive. Give your highlight a relevant name and choose a cover photo that best represents the stories you’ve selected. You can add as many highlights to your profile as your heart desires and they will remain on your profile until you’d like to remove them.
For more handy tips and tricks, have a read of our 22 social media tips for 2022.
If your business could do with a helping hand to optimise its social media presence, please do get in touch to find out more about our account management packages and training opportunities.