If you boil a great marketer down to their essence, you’ll find a storyteller. They share ideas, entertain and inform, as a way to guide them down a specific path towards a satisfactory conclusion.
There are many ways a marketer can tell a story. Some create exquisitely crafted and highly complex content-led marketing workflows that would put Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace to shame. Others produce content that has more in common with Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip.
As a marketing format, Instagram Stories might have more in common with Schulz than Tolstoy, but that doesn’t mean the medium is any less valuable. I mean, who doesn’t love Charlie Brown and Snoopy?
What is Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories are “bite-sized” pieces of content displayed at the top of an individual’s or brand’s Instagram feed. Each story frame can include images, video, audio, and text. They can even feature interactive “stickers,” including polls, quizzes, and text forms. Also, verified brand accounts and influencers with more than 10,000 followers can include “link stickers” (replacing the old “swipe up” functionality) to direct followers to a website.
Note: You don’t need 10,000 followers or brand verification to engage your followers with Instagram Stories profitably.
Story frames are displayed for 15 seconds and can be presented in a series to build a more extended narrative and tell a complete story. Unlike traditional Instagram posts, Instagram Stories are deleted after 24 hours, making them perfect for sharing time-limited offers, generating quick feedback, and generally having a little fun. They are a great way to enhance your marketing strategy that isn’t weighed down by the burden of permanency.
Why should I care?
OK, let’s talk numbers. Instagram has approximately one billion active users every month. Some 170 million of those users are in the United States. Of course, this doesn’t mean anything if you haven’t got a following on Instagram. The good news is, growing a sizable audience on Instagram is very achievable without spending a single cent.
- By planning your posts
- Using appealing images
- Careful use of hashtags and @ mentions
If you are willing to spend some money, sponsored posts will increase exposure and undoubtedly accelerate your growth.
While Instagram Stories are a fun place, that doesn’t mean that more serious brands can’t get involved. If you think your audience isn’t hanging out and checking their “socials” during their downtime, you may want to run some tests to find out. The moral of the story is never to assume what your audience enjoys and to test everything.
Keep in mind, marketing isn’t only about influencing decision makers who will buy your products or services. Marketing is also about influencing the people who will take your ideas to the decision makers.
Instagram Stories presents the perfect environment to showcase your organization’s culture and people. By highlighting your family values, community and charity work you humanize your brand and make it more likable. People like doing business with people they like, so there is a real benefit to getting social.
Instagram Stories can also help make your organization look like an attractive place to work, which can help to draw the best talent. With more than 70% of Instagram users under 35, this channel is a perfect way to introduce a young professional audience to your brand.
A Creative Space
Marketers who actively document everything will find Instagram Stories particularly rewarding.
Anything that is visually stimulating has the potential to be turned into a story. This could include a product launch, a work in progress, an event, a sponsorship opportunity, and more. Businesses that work in visual industries (fashion, food, travel, sport, design, manufacturing, etc.) should have no problem finding content to share.
You already carry the mechanism to capture and share images and video with you everywhere on your smartphone. Yet, if you struggle to document content to share via Instagram Stories, here are some things that can help:
- Channel your inner-influencer
- Take a page from colleagues and family members who are very active on Instagram Stories
- Encourage colleagues with a small incentive to capture events for you
Your social strategy will benefit if you learn to feel less self-conscious about using the technology. While you won’t use every image or video your team generates, it will help create more valuable stories when you have a larger pool of content to access.
Telling a great Instagram Story
Creating an immersive experience that encourages further engagement is as easy as creating a series of story frames. Engagement is essential because story-telling in marketing needs to be a two-way conversation. When your audience engages with you, you get to know their likes and dislikes. Making it clear what messages are resonating so you can communicate the pain points your company solves.
For maximum engagement, it is always best to think of a story as something with a beginning, a middle, and an end — preferably with a good call to action.
The best call-to-action may not always be a link back to your website. But, sometimes asking a simple question or prompting your followers to ask you a question is a great starting point.
Answers to followers’ questions create further opportunities to create more content. Remember, if you can solve a problem for one person, you may be solving a problem for many other people who have the same pain points.
A question can also provide a red hot business lead. People who reach out with questions about your product or service are clearly interested in learning more about your business and deserve to be contacted directly.
What are your social plans?
While Instagram Stories are a great way of showcasing an immediate snapshot of what is happening in your organization at any specific time, this doesn’t mean that Instagram Stories can’t be planned in advance.
Never leave the documentation of important events or processes to chance. Set objectives to ensure that “in the moment” content is never missed and your stories keep working for you.
Instagram Stories might offer a time-limited campaign strategy, but they are far from being disposable. On the contrary, carefully planned and strategically executed Instagram Stories are a powerful way to showcase your brand without being intrusive. Thinking of them as a conversation starter, brand builder, reputation management tool, and conversion enhancer increases their value.
Need help crafting your story on Instagram? Contact us at email@example.com!