When Instagram Stories first launched in 2016, it was a huge step for brands and influencers alike who wanted to share more visually compelling content with their audiences.
In the years since, the feature has become a staple of social media marketing—and it’s easy to see why. With just 24 hours of content, you can tell an entire story about your brand or product.
Here’s how you can use the latest features from Instagram Stories to engage your audience and why you should be doing so.
Increase Engagement by Creating Interactive Stories.
It’s no secret that people are spending more time on Instagram Stories than ever before. The platform reaches 2 billion active monthly users, and data shows an incredible 500 million people tune into Instagram Stories every single day. One study found that 1 in 5 Stories typically triggers at least one message from a follower. That’s a powerful way to start a conversation!
Story ads can also drive more cost-effective results (including clicks) than traditional feed ads—which means you can reach your audience without breaking the bank. Studies have shown that about 40% of users became more interested in a brand or product after learning about it in a Story.
Related: Instagram Platform Changes 2022
How IG Stories Work.
Instagram stories are a great way to connect with your followers. They allow you to share multiple photos and videos with all of your fans that disappear after 24 hours. You can include anywhere from one to 100 clips in your Instagram Story.
With stories, you can share snaps and videos to your story that won’t pop up on your profile page. Your followers will see the story at the top of their feed, and they can tap on it to watch. They can also add it to their own story for 24 hours.
Why Stories Matter.
Stories are a great way to connect with your followers and drive traffic, improve visibility, and boost sales. They’re also a great tool for sharing behind-the-scenes content, exclusive content, live events — you name it.
Your Instagram story is like an extension of your feed; it’s a place where you can share more personal content with people who follow you. You can give them a peek into what’s happening in your life, and let them know what it’s like to be part of your brand community.
For example, if you want people in your audience to know what’s happening on the set of your next music video shoot, then Instagram Stories is a great place for you to post quick behind-the-scenes updates throughout the day. Or maybe you want them following along as you travel around Europe and show them some highlights from each city.
But what makes a good story? How do you make your stories more engaging? How can you use them as an opportunity to drive sales? We’ve got the answers for you below.
Stickers are clickable, which means that people can interact with them. The more stickers you use, the more users are encouraged to engage with your content.
Here are a few fun ways to use stickers in your Instagram stories:
Hashtag sticker. Hashtags can be used to improve discovery and increase the reach of your content. Use them in your Stories to show people what you’re all about, or to highlight an event or promotion.
Location sticker. Did you film something at a particular location? Add a geotag so that users can check out more photos from that area.
Mention sticker. Want to boost engagement by tagging other accounts in your story? Mention them! This will bring attention back to them (and hopefully some new viewers), while also boosting the visibility of your account.
Link sticker. Do you have a link attached or embedded somewhere on your page? Add it as an interactive link with this tool.
Share a Hashtag.
If you want to get your Instagram stories noticed by the right audience, then tagging your content with a relevant hashtag is a good way to do it. Tagging your stories can help increase their discoverability and make them more engaging for users who follow that hashtag or search for it.
You can tag anything from a location (e.g., #NYC) to an event (e.g., #SuperBowl2023), a person (e.g., #LadyGaga), a product or brand that’s mentioned in your story (e.g., #Nike), and even yourself (e.g., #capeandbay).
Host a Q&A.
If you want to engage with your followers, why not let them ask you questions?
Instagram Stories are a great way to host an “ask me anything” session or Q&A. You can answer questions in real-time and create a more personal connection with your audience.
This is a great way to engage with your community in a really authentic way—the kind of interaction that feels like you’re having a real conversation, not just broadcasting content at them. Not only does it make customers feel heard and appreciated, but it also provides a chance to discover new insights about what they want as well as how they think about our products.
Spark a Discussion with Polls.
If you’re looking for a way to get your audience involved, and maybe even generate some discussion around your content, then polls are just what you need. You can put them in the middle of a story or at the end.
Ask questions like: What do you think about this? What would you like to see more of? Or maybe even just a simple Yes/No question with an image that’s relevant to their interests.
Polls are a great way to engage your audience, get feedback on your content, and create a sense of urgency.
Use polls to gain insights into your audience. If you want to learn more about what drives your readers and their interests, use a poll. Polls can help you determine the types of posts that people respond well to so you can create even more content like it.
Use polls to get feedback on your content. Letting people vote on what they think about an article or video is a great way for them to share their thoughts with you. It’s also a fun way for them to feel like they’re part of the process. A poll might also inspire some new ideas for future posts that they’ll be excited about.
Use polls as a form of engagement. Polls are one of the easiest ways to interact with your followers and get them involved in the conversation. If someone likes something you post, they’ll likely want to give their opinion on it—and what better way than with a poll?
Run a Contest or Giveaway.
A giveaway is one of the best ways to engage your audience, and it can be used in many different ways. Whether you’re giving away products or offering discounts on services, promotions allow customers to feel like they’re part of something special. Promotions are also a great way to increase engagement with followers (and potential customers) who might not otherwise have been interested in what you have to offer.
Create a Series.
Instead of uploading one or two stories at a time, try creating a series of three to seven stories that are themed and connected together. This can help you create more engagement with your audience by allowing them to interact with the content on each individual piece while also giving them an opportunity to see what else you have to offer in terms of content. According to polls by Hubspot and Lucid Software, some 35% of consumers prefer snackable narratives made up of photos, text and videos. A study by Buffer found that the sweet spot for story length is seven or fewer pages.
When making a series, be sure to make it interactive. If you want people to engage with your story content, then don’t just give them something static and expect them not to lose interest after five seconds. Instead, make sure that pieces within the series offer some kind of interactive element (such as polls or quizzes) that will encourage users not only to stick around but come back for more later on down the road too.
Showcase User-generated Content.
Showcasing user-generated content (UGC) and employee-generated content (EGC) can help you build relationships with your audience.
UGC means any photo or video that is not taken by a brand or company, but rather by the user. This could be anything from photos of your customer’s pets to selfies from last weekend’s party.
EGC refers to images or videos made by employees of your company—think photos of products in process, behind-the-scenes footage of employees at work, and more.
UGC and EGC can help you create a more authentic brand image, foster better relationships with your audience, and even boost your search engine rankings.
Add a Countdown to Generate Anticipation and Urgency.
You can use a countdown as a great way to build anticipation. For example, if you have an event coming up, like a new product launch or birthday party, create a countdown that will generate excitement and interest from your followers.
You can also use the countdown feature to generate urgency. If you’re trying to sell something online, why not create an urgency-based offer using the countdown feature? You could also use it as a lead generation tool by offering discounts or gifts for those who sign up during specific periods of time (for example: “Sign up now and get x% off”).
Use Your Stories Highlights as Evergreen Content.
The best way to make your story content evergreen is to use a highlight that’s not time sensitive. It’s important to know the lifespan of each content piece you create.
If you’re planning on sharing it in the near future, a live video might be more appropriate. For example, if your business just launched a new product and wants everyone who missed out on getting one at launch time to get notified when they’re back in stock, go ahead and post a live video when they arrive so they’ll know they can order online.
A good example of an evergreen highlight is a tutorial video—it doesn’t matter if it’s from last year or two years ago, people will still want to see how something works. Another great example would be an update about what’s going on at your company or team (behind-the-scenes).
Optimize Your Instagram Stories.
We hope that these tips help you get the most out of your Instagram Stories and make them a powerful part of your marketing strategy. Keep in mind that there’s no one way to use stories—you can experiment with the different types of content we’ve mentioned in this post, and see what works best for you.
Now that you’ve learned how to make your Instagram stories more engaging, we want to hear from you!
If you have any questions about what we discussed today, or if you’d like to chat with us about how to apply these tips in your strategy posts, give us a call.