5 Tips for Using Instagram Stories

August 10th, 2016

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The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on the fighting the old, but on building the new.

A really wise man once said that. He had a big white beard and was known for his thoughts on things like ethics. You might have heard of him. His name was…

If you guessed anyone other than Socrates, first off, *sigh*. And second, you’ve got to admit; that’s a pretty solid intro for today’s topic, which is, ultimately, change.

As marketers, we know all about change. You should hear our Search Engine Optimization department when a new beast is released; with all of the talk of Pandas, Penguins, Hummingbirds, or whatever the animal is that day, it can be a real zoo in here. (Heh.)

The department around here that experiences (we would argue) the most change beyond their control would be the social media department. We show up to work, make our coffees and sit at our desks, ready to tackle the day, only to discover that life as we knew it yesterday has been completely turned upside down.

Boom! A new trend or hashtag or whatever has emerged that anybody who’s anybody is using.

Kabow! Our favorite platform has expanded their capabilities, which is awesome but means that we have to completely reevaluate our existing strategy because…so many ideas!

Slam! Facebook has changed anything from their newsfeed to their entire interface, and we now have to rediscover where everything is and how to best use it.

And, the latest,…WHAMMY! Instagram decides, If ya can’t beat ’em, join ’em (or, rather, if ya can’t buy ’em out, copy ’em), and adds stories to their platform. This is one of the many cool updates Instagram has made to their platform this year. Remember this other change everyone freaked out about but that has since been totally forgotten? 

You already know all about the recent addition to Instagram. You’ve probably posted a story or two, have fallen even more in love with some of the people you’re following, and have unfollowed others because seeing more of them has made you realize how annoying they are.

We’re about a week late blogging about this because–maybe like you–we didn’t know what to think about it at first. One day, our Snapchats were Snapchats, and our Instagrams were Instagrams, and the next,…well, you know the rest.

We went through the Cycle of Social Media Change that we all go through which is:

  1. I hate it.
  2. I’ll try it.
  3. I don’t mind it.
  4. I love it.
  5. I don’t remember a time before it.

Now that we’ve reached the I love it stage (and we really, really do love it), we have a few tips to help you use Instagram stories to your business’s full advantage:

1. You can use both, but know where your strength lies.

If you’ve been using Instagram and Snapchat as a means to promote your business, you can continue doing that. That said, know where your strength lies. For instance, if your Snapchat game is weak, but your Instagram account is constantly engaging new people, this change might just be the best thing that ever happened to you.

2. Let your users get to know you better.

The story feature allows you to give your users a more “behind-the-scenes” look into your business, which is huge because, as you know, people want to work with people. It allows your users to get to know your people and your brand in a way that filtered posts cannot.

3. Pinpoint key followers.

Just like Snapchat, Instagram allows you to see who has viewed your story. Perhaps what makes Instagram stories different from Snapchat stories is that you’re able to really compare different types of content. For instance, why are users watching your stories but not liking your posts? What value are they getting from one but not from the other? Also, if you see that the same person who is liking all of your posts is also viewing your stories, this might be an important person for your brand to engage with.

4. Use the features.

Like Snapchat, Instagram allows you to draw and add content to your stories. These features allow you to tell the part of the story that the photo or video can’t. Use these features to add more context or information, and don’t be afraid to be creative–have fun with them!

5. Save your faves.

If you share a post to your story that you think would work on other platforms on a later date, save it to your phone to share again down the road. Remember: Stories disappear within 24 hours.

Here’s one of the very first posts we added to our own Instagram story. We can’t wait to get creative with this new feature!