How to Use Instagram Stories to Grow Your Brand & Business?
If you’ve been a follower of mine for a while, you know that Instagram is one of the main platforms I use to grow and promote my business online. I’ve written before about how I made $1,000 in one day from a single picture, and I’ve explained my best tips for growing your following, but today I want to tackle a new topic, the Instagram Story! For those of you who aren’t familiar, your Instagram Story is a live “in the moment” timeline separate from your standard Instagram feed. In your standard feed, you post pictures and videos with tags and descriptions that remain as a permanent part of your account unless deleted, but the Instagram Story feature is a short-term snapchat like feed where pictures and videos disappear after 24 hours and the maximum video length is 15 seconds. You access your Instagram Story through the camera icon on the top left side of your home feed and can view the Stories of those you follow at the top of your home feed or by tapping on their profile picture if its highlighted with an orange circle. Now, Instagram is always changing and updating and their Stories feature has probably received some of the most interesting updates of all in recent months. So I’d like to share some practical strategies related to these updates!
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What to Share on Instagram Stories vs the Standard Feed?
One major question that online marketers and business owners ask often is what you share on your Story vs your feed. Since the two have different parameters, it’s important to optimize the content you are putting on each. As you know from my previous posts on IG, the standard feed requires high quality images, styled photos and carefully edited promotional videos that fall in line with your branding and business products, services and goals. The Story, however, is a place where you can have a bit more fun, show the behind the scenes of your brand and business and worry less about quality and more about sharing your brand story. On the IG Story feature, I’d recommend sharing content from other platforms like blog posts and youtube videos- just a quick shot of the content with a call to action for your audience to check it out. Video footage of your workspace, projects or processes that gives your audience a peek behind the scenes is also a productive use of the feed. Since your posts to the IG Story only last 24 hours, it’s also a great place to make quick announcements, run sales, poll your audience with a quick question or share a bit more of your personality through images and videos that show your audience sides of you, your brand and your biz that they might not see interacting with your more formal content. Selfies utilizing the Stories’ SnapChat like filters, videos of your daily routines, or even quick product shots throughout the day can help boost your business without seeming like spam in the more temporary format of the feed.
How to Grow your following via Instagram Stories?
The great thing about Instagram Stories that other short term photo and video sharing platforms like SnapChat lack is the integration of discovery through your Story. Unless you specifically change your IG Story settings, your story is visible to the public, not just those that follow you. You do have the ability to block specific individuals from viewing your story, but overall, when you keep your story public, it helps increase discoverability if you optimize the content on your Story. You can do this by using text hashtags and geotags in your IG Story posts as often as possible. When you do so, these tags integrate your story into feeds that other users are searching through for Stories in their area or via hashtags which are the default search feature of content on Instagram. You should only use one or two of these features at a time, and of course, always use relevant hashtags and geotags in your Story posts, but when you do, you increase the likelihood of your Story being discovered by other users searching for topics similar to the content you are sharing.
How to Monetize your Instagram Story?
For a few years now, Instagram has unfortunately built up a reputation as being unfriendly to online business and marketers. Yes, it’s a fast growing platform that has helped many build their brands however, it always lacked a direct linking feature that would help convert your Instagram followers into customers. In terms of the standard IG Feed, their is just one single place you can put an active clickable link, and that is in your profile. I’ve talked about getting around this with short links in post descriptions, but since no links within the description are clickable, it makes conversions more difficult as followers need to physically type in the link address instead of clicking to move to a webpage. However, Instagram Stories has recently updated to give you the ability to add a link to your Story posts! When you take a picture or video in the IG Story feature, you will see an icon of a chain link on the upper tool bar that allows you to any webpage. Users then need to swipe up on your IG Story post and the link is opened within a browser inside the app. This seriously changes the game for business on Instagram because you can now link directly to your product and service pages, opt-ins, or content on other platforms, giving you a much stronger conversion than ever before.
I hope these strategies have given you some additional insight in how to use Instagram and specifically it’s Story feature to grow your brand and business online. If you enjoyed these strategies and would like to learn more about growing a successful brand online, I welcome you to sign up for my FREE On-Demand Training called Entrepreneurship is the New Black! This training is jam packed with information and strategy for you to make the most of your online platforms, including Instagram to support the development of your brand or business online!