If Instagram Stories are not yet at the heart of your social strategy, I've got 15 reasons why you should consider it!
In this post I break down 15 reasons why I am loving Instagram Stories and why Stories need to be a huge part of marketing for your business.
Let's jump to straight into the 15 reasons why.. because really they need no introduction. From #1 where I mention that we have reached 1 Billion Instagram users (and 400 million daily users on Stories) to #15 where we talk about how dang fun and easy to use it is… these are 15 solid reasons for adding Instagram Stories to your marketing mix.
Or just use them to “up” your Instagram Story game! I'm definitely doing that and I hope you will consider it too!
Let's jump in:
15 Reasons to Make Instagram Stories the Heart of Your Social Strategy
1. 400 Million Daily Users (Your Potential Customers) that Actually Care about Businesses
Our first reason is about your customers. With 1 Billion users on Instagram and 400 million daily users (your people!) on Instagram Stories alone, chances are those people are your potential customers on Instagram.
And with more and more users choosing to hang out on Instagram more than Facebook, it's time we listened up, don't you think?
That's millions of eyeballs on your content. Oh and did you know that 71% of followers on Instagram follow businesses and 1/3 of the most viewed stories are stories created by businesses? That's eyeballs on content made by businesses!
While that sinks in for a moment, take a look at this. Instagram recently celebrated their 2nd birthday of Instagram Stories and the growth speaks for itself:
Happy birthday, Instagram Stories! This week, Instagram Stories turned two and we can't believe how incredible the journey has been thus far. We're so proud of our community and how stories has helped it to completely redefine how people create and share their moments on Instagram. Thank you to the 400 million Instagrammers who use stories every day! Your creativity and passion never ceases to amaze us.
2 It's Authentic
As I was writing this post I happened to stop and chat to a good friend of mine Liss Amyah. Liss is the person behind the popular letting Instagram account, LissAmyah (formerly “Liss Letters”) and was recently featured by Instagram themselves as a top creator, especially on Instagram Stories.
I asked Liss what her No 1 reason would be for Instagram Stories needing to be at the heart of your business. She replied with this:
Stories allow a greater level of authenticity – and therefore opportunity for connection – and people buy because of who we are, not what we sell! – Liss Amyah
It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve done a “who am I” post here on Instagram…. and with so many new people lately, thought I should do one!! I’m Australian, a single mum to six amazing, creative, passionate, slightly wild, small people aged 4-14. . I have been obsessed with letters, and making them beautiful, for a very long time, collecting fonts instead of shoes, and making typographic posters for fun in my spare time. In 2007 I started doing graphic design work from home (baby number 3 had just been born), teaching myself Corel Draw (yes, I just admitted to using that, don’t hate me), and then the Adobe Creative Suite. I built websites, did event branding and collateral, and anything else creative that I could get my hands on. . In 2014, after baby number six was born, I started hand-lettering, first with a brush and ink, then investing in an extensive collection of brush pens. Over time I found my groove, which inks I loved, and which I would only use under duress, which pens travelled everywhere with me, and which only got pulled out occasionally. . I bought an iPad Pro + Apple Pencil in early 2016 and downloaded Procreate straight away. I loved it, then hated it, and struggled to really get into it for a long time. But I persisted, and now, I LOVE IT. Not to the exclusion of my trusty brushes and pens, but as an amazing addition to my lettery toolkit. . Most days now you can find me lettering, usually with at least one small-ish person hanging off me(my kids are 4-14, at least one of them is already taller than me!) – except when my kids are with their dad, then the odds are high that I’m napping or drinking coffee. . Tell me about you? Where are you from?
It's pretty simple – Instagram is a creative, fun way to show the people behind the business and the person behind your brand. This helps you to create real, authentic connections. As Liss says, people buy because of who we are, not what we sell.
3 Location Location Location – You're more Discoverable on Instagram Stories!
The discovery feature on Instagram stories is awesome. If you have a location-based business, you are involved with (or near!) an event or perhaps you want to be associated with a local area, suburb or festival… use Location Stickers!
You can also post location stickers to local landmarks, events or locations around which you want to be discovered.
For example you can add location stickers when you are at events out of the office, working from a cafe or shared office, taking time out or sharing some time-out on your story… all of these location stickers will help you to be found!
Choosing a Location sticker is easy, just select it from the sticker selection in Instagram Stories:
Search for the location you want to add and then add the sticker to your story! That's it!
Now when someone clicks on the location sticker, they can click through to see all the stories posted from that location.
Instagram will also collate a number of story posts into one mega location post. If your story is featured in the location story, it will attract a big boost of viewers to your story. Worth doing, right?
Personally, I think that location stories is one of the most powerful features of Instagram Stories, especially if you are a location based business!
4 Link Quality over Quantity
Many people might find this a negative but I think it's a big positive: Instagram is not “link heavy”.
By this, I mean that you can't just post links willy nilly on Instagram. You are not able to add clickable links to your image captions on the newsfeed and the ability to add links to your Instagram Stories is still restricted to accounts with 10,000 followers or more (or those that are verified).
So for many of my readers, that's not possible.
However, you can add a single link to your profile, so it means that you need to be selective about where you send people. Make it count – your website, a new blog post, some valuable content. Ensure that you are super clear about where you want people to go and mix up that link.
Also – and this is just my opinion – I think that people on Instagram are loyal and will follow your call to action to visit a link, If You provide value first.
So you might not get as many visits to links as you would on other platforms, but when people do listen and click through they tend to be quality clicks and they will follow through and take action. You just have to build up trust first with quality content.
This leads me into 5….
5 The Power of Direct Messages
Direct Messages are more powerful than on any other platform. And when you consider that links are not as “clickable” as they are on other platforms, it's a perfect way to connect with your audience.
You can reserve special content and resources for just those that connect with you on the DMs. For example, recently I had an awesome 20% off code for a tool that I love and I asked my audience to DM me for the code.
Even though I have the “Swipe up” feature on Instagram Stories, I have started to use direct messages to share information rather than just asking people to hit swipe up and link out to an external link.
One way that I have found this useful is to ask questions of my audience or ask them to share feedback. People love to share their opinion! So ask them to connect in the DMs. You can also offer exclusive content here.
And in the example of the code above, I not only got to share the code with a LOT of people personally but I was able to chat with them and get to know them better. That was the biggest win for me!
6 Exclusive Content
Instagram Stories historically only lasted 24 hours then they disappeared. Now we can set our Instagram Settings to archive them so that Instagram saves them and we can always access them later. Or you can choose to save them to your camera roll.
I feel like there remains an element of exclusivity however, even from the perspective of having the opportunity to go behind the scenes with the person you are watching on Instagram Stories. It's more “in the moment” than the newsfeed. And it feels like you have exclusive access to the people and brands that you love.
7 Strong Community Vibe
When you take #1, #2, #5 and #6 and put them together, you start to see a community vibe. People tend to be loyal followers on Instagram Stories and when you do more Instagram Stories + Newsfeed Posts + DMs, your engagement rises.
One way to grow community on Instagram Stories is to link to other users and give genuine shout outs. Like this:
It could be a shout-out about your favourite online Chocolatier (his peanut brittle is to die for), or maybe letting your audience know about a tool, product or place. In this case, I think my audience should know about Chocolate Johnny's livestreams. They're delicious and super relaxing to watch… and his content is a great example of storytelling in action, so be sure to follow him on Instagram.
Tagging other users in Instagram Stories introduces them to your audience and also makes them feel appreciated and valued! It is the key to beginning (and building) relationships on Instagram.
Hot Tip: If you are tagged in an Instagram Story you can share that story – you are given the option to share the story in your Direct Messages. Like in this example where I was mentioned in J29 Creative's Instagram Story. Instagram gave me the option (via Notification in my Direct Messages) to share it in my own story!
All I had to do was click the prompt and my Instagram Story opened up with a version of their story post, ready to re-share. I just add text (and a fun GIF) and re-share it to my Instagram Story viewers.
8 It's a Great Boost for Brand Awareness
If you are one of the many people concerned about the changing Instagram Algorithm then Instagram Stories can help to boost your engagement rates. If you are continually engaging with your followers on Instagram Stories, it gives more people the opportunity to see you.
Instagram Stories are top of the feed and therefore top of mind for users on Instagram so they are more likely to see your content if you use Stories as well. When I open up my feed, I see all the stories in circles, highlighted at the top. It's difficult not to click and watch:
Stay top of mind with users on Instagram by posting consistently to Instagram Stories!
9 Powerful hashtags for search and discovery
Often users don't realise it but Stories are a great place to use Hashtags too. Don't overdo it, but add one important hashtag to posts you want to be found for. This is especially important for events so that you can be found in hashtag collection for that event.
For example, when speaking at the Change the World Event in Sydney, I added the event hashtag using the Instagram Stories Hashtag Sticker:
This means that my image can now be found alongside other posts around that event. It's another way that Instagram Stories helps you to be found on Instagram.
10 Real-time content
Instagram Stories happens (mostly) in real-time. You can add content as it happens and that is very appealing to our FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
Posting at least some of your content as it happens throughout the day can be a great way to keep engaged with your audience.
11 It's “Netflixed”
In this post, I wrote about the fact that Instagram Stories has encouraged us to Netflix Your Content. Netflix has us addicted to the idea of “what’s next” and just like we can't resist watching the next episode of a Netflix series, so to we can't resist clicking, swiping, advancing to the next screen, episode or story on Instagram Stories.
This idea of watching episode after episode of serialised content has been cemented in our cultural viewing habits by Netflix where we are encouraged to watch episode after episode in one session:
Instagram Stories also encourage us to “Netflix” our content by making Instagram Stories play one after the other. It's very easy to hook into watching more than one because once you finish watching your favourite person on Instagram Stories, the next story opens up!
12 You can Create Playlists
In the spirit of Neftlixing your content, Instagram Stories lets you combine multiple Instagram Stories into “Playlists” or “Highlights” of content. This is great for keeping a set of stories that your followers can watch at any time.
As long as you have your playlists set to archive in your settings, you can add any past Story to a Highlist Playlist at any time. Instagram saves them all!
Hot Tip: Make sure your Instagram Highlight Covers are bright and eye-catching so we're drawn to play them:
Now you can “Netflix” your content for viewers with playlists – not just in the Instagram Stories themselves but while they are watching one of your playlists.
Each playlist links through to the next, so if you have a few of them set up, your viewers can get hooked into watching one after the other!
13 It's Fun.. and Funny
One thing I love about Instagram Stories is that you can get super creative and have fun with Animated GIF Stickers. There are hundreds of thousands of GIFs in the Giphy library integration, so you can find just about anything you want, depending on the hashtags you search on.
To search, open up the Sticker icon and then choose the GIF Sticker icon. Then search on the hashtag you want to find GIF Stickers for:
Did You Know? … that I have a Branded Giphy Channel? You can check it out here. Also, it means that I'll be adding stickers to the library over time that you can actually search for on Instagram. Just enter the hashtag #SociallySorted and they will pop up. I'm experimenting at the moment, but there's more to come! Pssst you can also search for them on Facebook and Twitter.
Here's just a few of them:
14 It's Packed with Free Tools
Instagram is the mother of all Swiss Army Knives for creating visual content! Here's just a few of the tools you can find IN Instagram without going outside of the platform for creative tools:
- GIF Stickers
- Drawing Tools
- Pen/Text Tools
- Emoji Polls
- Graphics and Icons
- Upload images from your newsfeed into Stories
- Upload stories you are tagged into into your own stories
- Focus Camera (to take photos and video with classy, blurry backgrounds).
- Boomerang (fun, repeating/looping videos)
- Superzoom effects
- Rewind video
And that's not even an exhaustive list! You can find out about a few of the tools in this post.
It's one of the things I LOVE about Instagram Stories. You don't have to bring in many outside tools – they are all IN the tool ready for you to use!
15 It's Easy to Learn to Use
All of those tools in Instagram Stories that I mentioned above? They're easy to learn to use – so is Instagram Stories itself. It's one of those platforms where you can just jump in and start using it without a lot of training or time and money.
It's easy for any business owner to access and use. As I said in #1, users on Instagram follow businesses and view their Instagram Stories, so it's worthwhile your consideration to have a presence on this platform.
Want a Recap?
Check out this presentation!
Over to You
Are you using Instagram Stories? Let me know what you think of them in the comments below!
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