Snapchat had its glory days with the under-25 crowd and is definitely not extinct, but Instagram is the undisputed king of visual social media, with over one billion registered accounts. When Instagram introduced Stories, lots of people thought it was a big Snapchat rip-off, but that didn’t matter much to the millions of users who hopped on board and started storying.
Instagram Stories are pretty straightforward, but there’s an art to using the tool as a brand. Many brands fall into the trap of trying too hard to sound like the kids these days, but with a little brain power and finesse, you can make an impact, grow your presence, and even get some sales out of the deal.
Instagram Stories for brands—a sales dream
Because of the transitory nature of Stories, a compelling case can be made for using it as a sales platform. Though there are other options for selling products on Instagram, Stories allow you to run a flash sale every day, hypertargeted to Instagram users. And because you can include links, running regular product sales is a great way to reward the raving fans who are always paying close attention to what your brand is doing on social media.
Remember, one of the best ways to get products off the shelves and into hands is through discounts and sales. Never doubt the power of the discount—enough sales over time more than makes up for the cut you take in profit, especially if your brand grows and your name gets out there in the process.
Find out how your best customers really feel
Those same fans who follow your brand on Instagram are also the people who will most willingly share how they feel about you. Because Instagram Stories allows you to include polls, you can discover how any follower feels about a particular product or service, whether they be superfans or not.
You may want to repeat your polls multiple times in a row (or run the same one week after week until you get some usable results), which is why simpler polls are generally going to fare best in Stories.
Use Stories to generate traffic and increase product/service awareness
Maybe your biggest fans are aware of your entire product line, but for a new product or service, one great way to spread awareness within the base of people even remotely interested in your company is through Stories.
Oftentimes brands sort of just expect their existing customers to be spending time on their website, but that’s not always the case (and might even be rare for most of your customers). They may have no idea that you added a small section to your services page with an offering they’d really love. Instagram Stories can help you introduce that new product or service to this audience. You might also pair the announcement with a coupon or discount for even more impact.
What if you don’t have a new product or service you’re trying to push? You can still use Stories to drive traffic to your website. You might have a new blog post that you just published, a new downloadable PDF that you want people to check out, or you may just want to encourage people to sign up to your email list. Stories with links to all of the above can help you generate traffic and boost the performance of those pages, which in turn can help with your SEO.
Some services allow you to create stories with “swipe-up” links OUTSIDE of Instagram, and embed them on websites, landing pages, or even use them to buy media. Check out solutions such as Apester, to test out the powerful performance of the Story format on other platforms.
Don’t forget video
My final recommendation is to go live in your Stories or use pre-recorded video. Instagram is primarily a visual platform—people don’t really want to spend time reading there. Instead, they want to look at pictures, read tiny snippets, and watch videos. Video has a much higher rate of interaction than images (which are both far higher than text). If you have a product or service that you really want to get out there (or a blog post, a downloadable, a cool story about something your brand has done recently—or all of the above), consider going live or dropping video in your Stories to tell those fans exactly what you’re up to.
The key to it all is consistency. Instagram users have razor thin attention spans and are always ready to move on to the next big thing. They aren’t going to pay much attention to a brand that maybe posts a story once a month. You’ve gotta be on there at least a few times a week if you want to gain traction. Find the right spokesperson to be your Instagram star and let them knock it out of the park.