How to use Instagram Stories to promote your business
You may already have the hang of your business Instagram feed, but if you’re not utilising Instagram’s Stories feature, then you could be missing out! Here’s why we think you should be using Instagram Stories as part of your marketing strategy, and how to start…
What is Instagram Stories?
First things first – unlike Instagram’s standard format, which keeps images and video on the feed permanently, Stories are temporary updates that last for 24 hours. You can see Stories from other accounts on the top of your home page, in circles. Simply tap and you can see the latest updates.
This makes it much easier for businesses to share quick updates, particularly when it comes to time-sensitive sales and offers, or behind the scenes sneak peeks, without cluttering their feed.
Who is using Instagram Stories?
In short, everyone! Originally launched as a competitor to Snapchat, Instagram Stories is now used by over 300 million people on a daily basis. What’s more, one in five Stories on average receives a direct message – which could easily be leads for your business.
With this is mind, it’s a great time to learn how to use Instagram Stories to more effectively market your business.
How do you post an Instagram Story?
Step 1: You can access Instagram Stories by swiping right from the home screen, or by tapping on the camera icon in the top left corner of the screen.
Step 2. Take a photo by tapping the big white record button at the bottom.
Like the standard camera, the arrow switches to front-facing or rear-facing camera, and the lightning bolt activates flash. The smiley face activates Instagram’s face filters feature (which we don’t generally recommend for a business account).
You can also record video by holding down the record button for up to ten seconds. If your video is longer than this, Instagram will upload multiple Stories.
You also have the following options:
Left-hand menu (expandable):
- Create: Creates a text-only screen with no photo
- Boomerang: Holding this down creates a repeating gif-style video that reverses and replays
- Superzoom: This applies a zoom and stylised filters to your image or video, such as a dramatic zoom in or love hearts
- Hands-free: Holding this button gives you a three-second countdown before starting to record, which is perfect for getting the camera in place
Bottom 3 options:
- Stories: Static image or video that lasts for 24 hours (unless placed in a Highlights)
- Live: Broadcasts an Instagram Live, an extended video that allows viewers to comment in real-time. These can be saved to your Instagram TV after the filming
- Reels: The competitor to TikTok. Record a video that sits within Instagram Reels and reach a wider audience.
Funny effects and classy filters
Next to the white capture button, you will see there are some optional filters. Some, like the face you can see, are designed to be funny and for entertainment purposes. Others are designed to improve lighting and create a specific ambiance or tone. If you swipe left, you’ll come to a search tab – try exploring the options available and see if you find anything you particularly like.
3. Tapping the small photo in the bottom corner will take you to your camera roll, which allows you to upload photos or videos taken previously.
Top tip – if your photo or video is from over 24 hours ago, Instagram will automatically add a date sticker to indicate when it was taken. To delete this, simply drag it into the bin icon that will appear at the bottom of the screen.
4. Tap anywhere on the screen, or on the ‘Aa’ icon on the top right corner, to bring up the text tool.
Here you can change your font style (by tapping on the styles on the top of the screen) and colour. You can change the size and angle of your text by reverse pinching and tilting until you get the look you want.
Just as in the standard feed, you can use the @ symbol to tag another account, or # to share a hashtag, which allows other users to see your Story even if they’re not following you. Unlike the standard feed, we recommend sticking to just one hashtag on Stories.
5. Tapping the pen icon allows you to choose from different pen styles to draw on your photo.
You can change the size of the brush by dragging the slider on the left up and down, or use the eraser tool to delete parts of your drawing.
6. Tapping on the smiley sticker face next to the pen allows you to add stickers, which can be important tools to interact with your viewers. Stickers can indicate your location, create a hashtag or a mention, or include polls, questions or emoji sliders.
You can also add gifs or emoji by typing in the search bar and selecting the sticker you want to add.
Top tips for using Instagram Stories
Keep an eye on the numbers
You can see how many people have viewed your Instagram Story by swiping up while viewing it (tapping on your profile picture on the home screen allows you to view your Story). You can also view in-depth analytics on your Stories, but only if you have a business profile on Instagram.
Post special offers
Instagram Stories are perfect for posting special offers, sales or discount codes. It can create a sense of urgency by using a 24-hour platform, and your viewers will also feel like they’re part of a special club. This is especially true if you ask followers to Direct Message you to get access to the link, code or details.
If you have 10,000 followers or more or have the blue tick next to your name, you have the capability to add outbound links to your Story when viewers swipe up. However, if you’re not yet at the point, you can temporarily change the link in your bio to reflect your offer or sale, and then direct followers there.
Behind the scenes
Using Instagram isn’t just great for sharing your portfolio or offers – it also gives your followers a glimpse into the process behind your business, which in turn increases their trust in you. Use Stories to give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at upcoming events or products, or to introduce members of the team to your audience.
Time your posts
In theory, you can post whenever you like on Instagram Stories, as the 24 hour format means that your followers will be able to see Stories at any time of day. However, if you’re looking for immediate engagement, such as feedback on a new product or to run a competition, then timing them for when your followers will be most active is key.
Don’t forget to follow @guidesforbrides on Instagram to see our Stories in action, and tag us in your own Stories so that we can share any exciting news or offers.