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If you manage a business account on Instagram (or you have your own personal account), you’ve almost certainly seen or heard of the Instagram stories feature. Instagram stories are a lesser-known feature on Instagram, and it is one that people may not be familiar with. However, despite their unfamiliarity, stories can be a beneficial and productive aspect of Instagram to use for social media marketing for businesses of all sizes. Instagram stories are eye-catching, fun, and also provide businesses an opportunity to include live links in their stories, which users cannot do in the captions of regular Instagram posts. In this post, we will lay out the why and how of Instagram stories, so that they will be less daunting for you and your business.
If you are questioning whether or not your business should be using instagram, click here to read all about the benefits of Instagram for businesses.
Why Should My Business Use Instagram Stories?
Instagram stories are creative and fun, but you may not be convinced that they are important, especially for your business. So why should your business use Instagram stories?
- One reason stories are useful is that they keep your business’s profile in the forefront of followers’ minds by keeping your content at the top of their newsfeeds. If a business can be adding to its story throughout the day, their profile picture will continue to appear at the top of their followers’ feeds, ringed in purple to signify that they have posted something new. Being able to stay present in the minds of followers throughout the day is a great way to market.
- Instagram stories only stay for 24 hours, so they are a great way to promote or share content or fun images of what your team is doing throughout the day, without having to take extra money or resources out of your marketing budget. In this way, it is a lower-pressure type of content marketing your business can be doing. It is still important to be post quality content on your business’s Instagram story. Even though it only lasts for 24 hours, a story still represents your brand and will have an impact on your audience.
- Business can also use Instagram stories to showcase events going on, do profiles on team members, promote certain products or deals, do popular “A Day in the Life” features, and more! Stories are fun, creative, and can be very interactive, especially if you use the poll feature or invite users to interact by replying to your story to answer questions, etc. Another popular use is to do an “Instagram Story Takeover” in which businesses will have a team member, collaborator, or influencer takeover their story for the day, posting throughout the day photos and videos of what they are doing for the company, or talking about a certain event or product. This is a fun way to collaborate and potentially gain views and followers that watch your business’s Instagram story because an influencer they like is doing a takeover.
- Many businesses will also post updates on their stories when they’ve added a new Instagram post. Because of Instagram’s algorithm and the fact that posts are displayed in a single-file column through which users have to scroll, it can be easy to miss posts. Stories, as we’ve said, are displayed in a line at the top of newsfeeds, making them easier to see and access. If you’ve posted a photo on Instagram that you particularly want users to see, it’s common to post a screenshot of your business’s profile page with arrows or stickers (here’s an opportunity to be creative!) indicating a new post. This can help drive people to your business’s Instagram profile to see and interact with posts that they may have otherwise unintentionally missed.
- Another good reason to use Instagram Stories for your business is that you can include links in your story. Because it is still impossible to include clickable links within the captions of regular Instagram posts, the only way businesses can include live links on their Instagram is in the bio or their profile or on their story or through placing paid ads! Business can include links in their story to drive traffic to their website, blog, or whatever external site they are linking. Stories are a great way to include calls-to-action because they can include a live link and you don’t have to use the sometimes-clunky “click the link in bio” that you have to use in regular Instagram posts.
- Business accounts on Instagram will also have access to their Story analytics, which tell the business not only who viewed the story, but also the actions taken, the unique accounts that the story reached, the number of impressions, and also the number of shortcuts – how many users tapped through the whole story, how many users swiped away from the story, and more. These analytics can provide valuable insight on which stories perform better than others, helping your business to get an idea of what kind of content their audience wants to see and interact with.
How to Use Instagram Stories
Now that you have some great reasons as to why your business should use Instagram stories, we are going to give you an overview of how Instagram stories work. Once people sort out all the details, Instagram stories are pretty easy to use and navigate. When you are new to this game, stories can seem like some alien presence. It’s ok, we have you covered with this helpful guide that will walk you through all the details on how to use Instagram stories!
First off…What The Heck Are Instagram Stories?
Instagram stories are 24-hour only posts that appear in the avatar icon on an Instagram profile. A 24-hour post means that the post appears for 24 hours and then disappears. When looking at your Business Instagram feed, you’ve probably noticed a collection of other users’ profile pictures in circles at the top of your feed, each ringed in the familiar Instagram-purple (see screenshot above). These are Instagram stories.
How Do You View Instagram Stories?
To view an Instagram story, you simply click on one of the ringed icons. Users can upload many different slides (each slide is an update or story post) to their story, and when watching a story users can click through the sides by tapping the screen, or simply allow the slides to play one by one on their own. Once a viewer has seen all the slides in one user’s stories, the next user’s story will automatically play. Viewers can opt out of watching a story in the stream of stories by swiping to the left. You can also drag the story downwards on the screen to leave the stream of stories and return to your Instagram feed.
Your business can upload to its story by clicking the camera icon in the upper left-hand corner of its Instagram feed. Stories can be photos, videos, the popular “Boomerang”, and more. Once posted, a story will stay up for 24 hours, during which time you can see who has viewed the story. Businesses can interact with other users’ stories by replying or sharing.
Highlights Feature: A way to save stories and view
The new “Highlights” feature allows businesses to save your stories permanent stories, after the 24 hours are up, which appear on the user’s profile beneath the bio but above the feed of photos, not at the top of followers’ feeds like regular stories do.
Instagram stories are another aspect of Instagram that businesses can and should be using for brand personality and added relevance on the app!
How to Create Instagram Stories: The Basics
Creating Instagram stories is quite simple. By clicking the camera icon in the upper right-hand corner of your feed, you can take a photo or film a video, or upload photos and videos from your camera roll.
Photo or Video for Instagram Stories
Once you’ve clicked the camera icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, you can take a photo by tapping the circle at the bottom, or take a video by holding down the circle. These videos can last up to 15 seconds.
You can also use videos and photos you already have in your camera roll. To access these, you
simply swipe the screen up from the bottom instead of clicking the circle icon. Your own camera roll will then be displayed, and you can select photos or videos up to 15 seconds to upload to your Instagram story.
Fun Additional Features for Instagram Stories
In addition to standard videos and photos, Instagram offers many fun and different features to make your stories more interesting and creative.
Live Videos for Instagram Stories
Live videos are a popular use of Instagram stories. In order to go live on Instagram, select “live” at the bottom of the screen, just to the left of “Normal.” You will see the option to “Start Live Video” and, once selected, you will be live! This means you will be posting a real-time video, with which your followers can interact by commenting. This is a fun way to connect with your followers in the moment, answer questions, give shout outs, and more! Your live video will show up at the top of your followers’ Instagram feeds before the regular stories do, so live videos are a great way to stay present on your followers’ screens.
Boomerang For Instagram Stories
The “Boomerang” feature, found just to the right of the “Normal” option at the bottom of the story camera screen, is a very popular and fun option for your Instagram story. A Boomerang is a short video that plays forward and then backwards, with no sound. Many users use this feature to create silly or clever eye-catching stories! To create a Boomerang, you simply select “Boomerang” at the bottom, and click the circle, which will now have an infinity symbol inside it.
Click on the image below to see how a boomerang post will appear on your Instagram feed – fun!
Focus For Instagram Stories
Another fun feature of Instagram stories is the “Focus” feature. Usually used for photos of people, the focus feature will focus on the face being photographed and blur the background, creating a portrait-style effect. Select the “Focus” feature, and take a photo by clicking the circle with the little person icon.
Superzoom For Instagram Stories
The “Superzoom” feature, found to the right of the “Focus” feature, has a few options for short videos which zoom in automatically onto the subject. There are different options for sounds and color to accompany the video. You can select different options by clicking the encircled music-note icon.
Rewind For Instagram Stories
Rewind videos are self-explanatory – they are simply videos that play in reverse. Just as with the rest of the Instagram story features, the “Rewind” feature is fun and can be used creatively to entertain and spark interaction from your followers. You can record a video like normal, but it will play back in reverse.
Hands-Free For Instagram Stories
To the right of the “Rewind” option, there is an option for “Hands-Free” videos. This features makes taking videos a bit simpler – rather than holding down the circle icon for the duration of the video, you can simply tap the circle to begin and then tap it again to finish the video.
Music For Instagram Stories
Users can share the music they are listening to on Spotify by selecting the “Music” option to the left of the “Live” option.
You can search and select on a song from Spotify, and then select a section of the song to be played in the background of your photo or video. The story will then credit the song by displaying the artist and
Type For Instagram Stories
Right by the “Music” option, you’ll find the “Type” option. This is the option to type a message against a solid background. Within the “Type” option, you can select different backgrounds and fonts.
Links For Instagram Stories
Businesses can also include links in their Instagram stories, to their website, blog, or another external link. This is a great way to drive traffic from Instagram to your business’s site. This is an important part of using Instagram Stories for business and aids in promotions, especially given the fact that user’s cannot include live links in the caption of their regular Instagram posts. When a business has included a link in their Instagram story, users viewing the story go directly to the site linked by swiping upwards on their screen. The story will have an arrow pointing upwards at the bottom, accompanied by the words “Learn More.”
Additional Features For Instagram Stories
Once a photo or video is chosen, businesses can draw, write, tag, hashtag, use stickers and GIFs, display the temperature or time of day, and create a poll. These options can be found by swiping up from the bottom of the screen on the photo or video.
Once the display screen comes up, you can select an option such as the temperature or hashtag to add them to your story.
You can also scroll through stickers to add them to your story for added color and creativity.
Once you’ve created the story to your liking, you simply select the plus sign icon at the bottom of the screen to add to your story.
Stories can seem daunting and complicated, but the best way for your business to figure out how to get the most out of Instagram stories is to dive in! As we’ve said, it’s a fairly low-pressure aspect of social media, which makes it less intimidating. So, take a stab at it! Try posting a photo or video, asking a question or taking a poll, and see how your followers respond! Remember, Instagram is growing in popularity and it will be beneficial for your business to start utilizing it to its full potential – which includes using Instagram stories! Instagram stories are fun and creative, and can be a great way to show brand personality and collaborate with others. Stories will help to keep your business in people’s minds and on their screens.
Don’t be intimidated! Start posting on your business’s Instagram story today! If you need extra Instagram help, sign up for our free updates and feel free to contact us with questions so we can help you maximize your business presence on Instagram.