How to use Instagram Stories effectively

April 23, 2018

Instagram stories came out in August last year and were widely seen as a direct copy of Snapchat. While this might have been a less than subtle way to steal Snapchat’s market share, Instagram managed to turn this feature into an effective business tool without ruining it for consumers.

Whether you’re looking to promote a campaign, drive sales or share entertaining content, Instagram Stories can help. Currently, there are 250 million daily active users viewing stories – approximately 50% of Instagram’s total active users.


Instagram Hashtags and Geo-Locations

Originally, stories could only be seen by your followers but Instagram has also enabled the ability to search by location and hashtag, opening up another way to reach people who aren’t following you. Because of this, you should always use at least one hashtag or location.

When people search for a hashtag or location, stories show up at the top of the page along with the follow button. You can add up to 10 hashtags to a story by using stickers or the text tool. However, 10 hashtags on one story can be chaotic and distracting so if you really need to add that many, you could shrink some down and cover them with a sticker or emoji.

Stories may also be featured across the top bar of the “Explore” page which can mean a number of new followers and increased engagement. What’s even better is that it’s possible to alter your stories to maximise your chances of appearing there!


What should you post as a story?

Instagram Stories tend to have lower production standards than permanent posts so don’t be afraid to post a mix of fun and promotional content. Fortunately, there are many tools, stickers, and filters you can use to make creative stories for Instagram.

As well as the photo or video that forms the basis of your story, there are two exciting features which increase the versatility of your posts – adding links and using polls.

Links are pretty important. This is the only place you can add a link outside of your bio and the ability to send people to specific pages is particularly beneficial to businesses. Whether it’s to a promotion or a new product, this will help drive traffic to relevant landing pages.

Interactive poll stickers are a great feature for businesses. Whether you are looking to gauge interest in a product, gain insight into new ideas or just get help to name the new office dog, polls are a great way to engage your Instagram followers.


How often to post Instagram Stories

An Instagram Story only lasts for 24 hours. In addition, Instagram does not deprioritise you for posting too many stories. This may change in the future but for now, there are no penalties from Instagram.

However, because of the way Instagram Stories are watched (i.e. queued up one after another for the same account), posting too many stories in one 24-hour period can be annoying. As such, Instagram implemented the option to mute stories from certain accounts.

Posting multiple times a day may work well if you are a blogger or have a particularly engaged legion of followers but it may not work for you if all you need stories for is to promote new products.

At the end of the day, there is no agreed number to post each day but it is a good idea to keep the amount you post consistent to meet your follower’s expectations.


Get the most out of your Instagram Stories with Insights

As with your normal Instagram posts, the effectiveness in engaging your followers can be analysed with Instagram Insights.

When you open your business profile you can view metrics such as impressions, reach, exits, and taps forward and back. This is a great tool for assessing how useful your stories are in engaging your followers.


Tag other accounts in your Instagram Stories for business

As well as hashtags and geo-locations, you also have the option to tag other users or business accounts in your stories. This is particularly useful when using influencers or running a takeover campaign and posts that include another user net 56% more engagement.

Instagram has also introduced a new paid partnership feature which makes it much easier to tag businesses and users in your sponsored Instagram stories.


Share Instagram Live Videos in your stories

The last feature to be mentioned is the option to add your live videos after the broadcast as a story. Previously, live videos couldn’t be replayed or shared after they ended but this feature allows them to remain up for a further 24 hours.

Whilst live created a sense of urgency to tune in or miss out, there is a lot of value in being able to share your videos post broadcast to those who were unable to join in at the time.

Hopefully, these tips have given you some insight into effectively using Instagram Stories to your advantage.

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