21 Dec The Power of Instagram Stories And How Your Brand Can Utilise Them
Is your business a true brand? If it has no story, then perhaps not. Storytelling is now an essential part of business, and it isn’t something you can afford to overlook. Why is this? Well, it comes down to two factors: competition and visibility.
Firstly, there are countless rivals out there with similar products and services, and the internet allows consumers to compare and contrast in seconds. This drives you to look for every possible edge, with storytelling being one of them.
Secondly, social media channels have grown to dominate daily discourse and public perception. Consequently, consumers keenly observe the businesses they may want to work with or buy from — if they don’t like how they come across, they’ll opt to avoid them.
But how do you tell effective brand stories online? Try Instagram Stories. Launched in 2016 as a response to the success of Snapchat, this Instagram feature has since become markedly more popular than its fading competitor. Used well, it can help you connect with your audience and build interest in whatever you’re offering (and if you’re not already on Instagram, you should be).
Let’s take a closer look at what makes Instagram Stories so powerful, and how you can use this feature to make your brand more successful.
What are Instagram Stories?
An Instagram story is a collated series of selected Instagram updates from the prior 24 hours. Checking its Instagram story (or stories) is a fast way to catch up with the recent activity of a brand — where it’s been, what it’s done, what it’s planning, etc. Story updates can be photos or videos initially, but can be added to through text overlays and other features.
Fast creative options
Part of the appeal of an Instagram story is that it allows you to rapidly add creative content. Since all the content is ephemeral (only sticking around for 24 hours), there’s no incentive to commit huge amounts of time to fine-tuning the presentation.
Instead, you can just throw something in on a whim — if it doesn’t quite land, it won’t matter so much because it will disappear soon enough anyway. This is very freeing. People who check Instagram stories will readily forgive typos or questionable graphics. What matters is the flow.
Steadily building brand investment
If any given part of an Instagram story isn’t particularly important, then why bother using the feature at all? The answer is that all the relatively-insignificant pieces add up to form a compelling narrative that can be extended indefinitely.
Imagine a classic billboard ad taking the hard sell route of making a powerful case for the advertised product. If it doesn’t quite work, it will be counterproductive (making people less likely to buy). Storytelling supports the soft sell route of steadily expanding upon your case. Bit by bit, you can use an Instagram story to win people over without them even realizing it.
Think about all of the things that go into establishing your brand: your logo, your website, your domain name, your color scheme, etc. Will any one of them make or break your business? Probably not — but everything has value.
Use tags and polls
When you add an image or video to your Instagram story, be sure to tag it appropriately. Mark it with the appropriate location (vital for context) and — if there is one — a suitable hashtag. Keep an eye on popular hashtags to identify trends you could use for traffic. Predictable trends such as #tbt (throwback Thursday) are always useful when planning ahead.
Polls are also very useful because they drive user engagement. You can add a sticker to a story update and define it as a poll — you can then use the poll results to determine what happens next in the story. The more involved people feel in your story, the more eager they’ll be to keep following it (and your brand).
Nail the media elements
Since Instagram relies upon images and videos, you need your basic resources to be high-quality and compelling: starting your story project with an image that clearly has the wrong aspect ratio for the platform will make you look indifferent at best (and incompetent at worst).
Before you start posting updates, check the latest dimensions and use the best source images you can find. When shooting updates on the go, use the best phone camera you have available, and think about composition. You don’t need to be an expert photographer to make a good Instagram story, but it will certainly help.
Show unfiltered personality
The core appeal of an Instagram story is that — for lack of a better term — it feels raw and (ironically enough on a platform rife with photo filtering) unfiltered. As such, the worst thing you can do for an Instagram story is come across as bland, generic, and resolutely professional. This is your chance to cut loose a little and show some personality.
Does this mean you should get childish and start expressing controversial opinions for the sake of it? No, of course not — but you need to come across as personable and human (as opposed to stoic and corporate). If you can make yourself and your colleagues seem fun, warm, and passionate about your business, you can earn a lot of goodwill.
A great way to loosen up for this is to get your team together to run a Q&A. How did you start the business? What are some of the most entertaining mistakes you’ve made?
If your brand is already on Instagram, then creating some stories should just be a matter of loosening the creative reins a little and engaging more with your followers to discover what they’d like to see from you. And if you’re not yet on Instagram, what are you waiting for? You may not feel that your brand has anything interesting to say, but everyone has a story — and you may be surprised by how many people will be interested in yours.