We can thank Snapchat for introducing the stories feature to mobile social media, but it’s Instagram that seems to have perfected the format (after shamelessly ripping it off). With more than 400M Instagram users watching stories every day, it has become an area of focus for brands to market their products.
While Story Ads are a great way to get your products in front of users, we’re going to focus on how to use organic story posts to connect with users and promote your products.
What Are Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories allow users to publish videos and photos in a sequence. Each post lasts 24 hours before disappearing. Unlike in-feed posts, the temporary nature of stories gives them a more impromptu feel, with brands taking advantage of the interactive features such as filters, polls, stickers and questions that are typically absent in standard posts.
Instagram Stories Dimensions
Remember that Instagram stories only supports vertical photo or video. Use content that is 1080px by 1920px (or aspect ratio 9:16).
How to Use Instagram Stories
Instagram stories should – you guessed it – tell a story. The best Instagram stories engage users by following a narrative, giving the underlying brand some personality.
Here are the best ways to make your stories fun and relatable:
1 – Behind-the-Scenes Footage
One way to take some of the commercialism out of your posts is by showing a fun side of your brand. Behind-the-scenes (or BTS) footage of your team, production process or even the photoshoot that resulted in your high-quality product photos shows your audience you have nothing to hide. It also makes your audience feel a part of the magic!
2 – Put a Face on the Brand
Along the same lines as BTS footage, associating real people with brands and products helps users develop trust. Find one or two people in your company that feel comfortable in front of the camera and have them do a story takeover once a week, or do a Q&A with your CEO. These are just a couple examples of how you can use the people associated with the brand to give it a personality.
3 – Use Interactive Features
Instagram will actually show your stories to a wider audience if you use their interactive features! Make your stories even more engaging with stickers, hashtags and location tags. Use polls to test what your audience likes and questions to get answers in real time. Not only will these features boost your story’s reach, but it will also make your stories more fun for your followers.
4 – Use Highlights
The highlights feature allows you to add your best Instagram stories to collections featured on your profile page. Highlights are the first thing new followers see when they come to your profile, and can be categorized however you like.
For brands with a wide variety of products, grouping highlights by product type or by collection allows users to familiarize themselves more deeply with the products they find more interesting.
5 – Link out to Shoppable Pages or Content
Stories allow accounts with more than 10k followers to add a “Swipe-Up” feature that links out to an external site (the page will open within the Instagram app, which creates less friction than if the page opened in a separate app or browser). If you’re featuring products in your stories, link out to the shoppable pages where users can buy those products. If your stories are focused on content, link out to pages that expand on that content (for instance, your behind-the-scenes posts of a video shoot can link to the full video).
6 – Post Frequently
We can’t stress this enough – in order to make a splash with Instagram stories, you need to post at least once a day, making sure the themes and content of your posts are consistent and on-brand. You may want to schedule your post types by the day of the week – for instance, every Monday you could do behind the scenes footage, focus on specific products on Tuesdays, and so on. The point is to give your followers something they can look forward to each day.