Should you be using Instagram stories?
If you are heading up a startup (or a graduate recruitment agency!), then social media is going to be high on your list of priorities. It’s the most efficient way of reaching a targeted audience and to get your name out into the world you will want to be covering all bases.
Choosing a few social channels to focus on is a fairly simple research-based task that requires you to work out exactly where your target market is hanging out. If it’s teenagers, then choose Facebook and Snapchat, whereas if you are chasing an older crowd, work on Twitter. Ultimately it really depends. Instagram is a universally useful tool for most startups, either to show off a product or simply for demonstrating how fun office life is compared to corporates. If you are dabbling in Instagram, then you may be wondering about the benefits of using the stories feature, particularly in comparison to Snapchat. The reality is that up until a few months ago most business advice would have favoured Snapchat and told you to increase your usage on it as one of the fastest growing social platforms. However, things have changed drastically. Instagram stories have appeared on the scene and seem to have taken the world by storm, pulling potential and veteran snapchatters away from its rival once and for all.
There is a lot to be said for concentrating on a few platforms over spreading across many, to ensure your content is the best it can be. Great content is what will ultimately drive a large portion of traffic towards your startup, so it is crucial that you understand where your efforts are going to pay off. Staying on Instagram and incorporating their stories feature into your marketing strategy rather than moving across to Snapchat will mean a more streamlined approach.
So, once you have opened your Instagram app and decided to post a story, where do you start? There is a simple beauty to Instagram stories. The first aspect is the ease of discovery. Snapchat has always struggled against the rising popularity of feeds – where users are easily found and connected with. The Instagram discovery tab features stories from users that you might be interested in at the top and you can browse at your leisure. This works well for businesses who want to be seen by virtual passers-by, so making your story instantly captivating will potentially earn you new followers.
Up ’til now it has been a faux pas to go overboard when posting on Instagram. Filling up everyone’s newsfeed by posting four photos in a row is a sure way to lose followers as quickly as possible. Now however, you can play out your posting binge on Instagram stories without any fear of offending anyone. If you are trigger happy with the camera, then snap away and save to your story – all those imperfect shots of the team having a laugh in the office, or updates from the website that don’t quite fit the rest of your profile feed theme. Overlay text or graphics and be as weird and experimental with your content as you like to test reactions for more permanent posts.
You can see who has viewed your stories by swiping up, and there are a few basic analytics that can show you what has worked well. If certain content is performing particularly strongly (for example, boomerangs or pictures of the office dog) consider working it into your regular Instagram feed, although perhaps with a few more editing steps to maintain an aesthetic visual feel.
Some fun features of Instagram stories include the ability to overlay text and stickers, tag users and receive replies that appear in your direct message inbox. There are none of the lenses or filters that Snapchat is famous for, but the majority of consumers assume it will only be a matter of time. Verified (blue tick) accounts can add links to their story that viewers can access by swiping up, which is big news for Instagram, as they famously only allow hyperlinks in bios. You might want to think about working with verified influencers and getting them to include links to your website in their story – a much more direct way of interacting with consumers.
If you are wondering what to post on your story day-to-day, be aware that it operates as a rolling slideshow, so the best stories work as a whole. Think about how each picture or clip follows on from the one before and consider documenting an entire segment of your day. If you are having an event, then this is the perfect way to showcase behind the scenes, or if you are launching a new product put out exclusive offers. Instagram stories also has a ‘live’ feature, allowing you to interact with consumers in real time, which can be a great way to instil urgency and drive sales. Some of your followers will be notified if you start a live video, so this can be a simple way to get your brand name back to the forefront of their minds.
The main takeaway is that you can try out almost anything on Instagram stories without being too worried about committing to content that doesn’t quite work – this way it’s temporary.
Final tip: You can upload content to Instagram stories from your photo reel if it was made within the last 24 hours. So, plan ahead and sort out what you want to include in advance, particularly if it coincides with an important date in your company’s calendar.