You know that old saying by Pablo Picasso that “Good artists copy and great artists steal”?
Well, any of you who are familiar with Instagram know that they have recently stolen a page out of Snapchat’s book with their recent addition Instagram Stories.
In fact, with the exception of the themed “lenses” that you find in Snapchat, Instagram Stories are almost an exact duplication of Snapchat Stories.
Instagram Stories, like Snapchat Stories, are short videos that you post in the app throughout the day to tell a chronological story to your followers.
They aren’t shown as regular Instagram posts and they disappear from the platform after 24 hours.
And while Instagram stories function exactly the same as Snapchat Stories, for business purposes, they are a completely different animal.
If you want to grow your Instagram following, and by extension, your business, through Stories, then you need to have a very specific strategy and approach.
Which, luckily for you, is exactly what we will be talking about today.
Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat Stories
For all intents and purposes, Instagram and Snapchat stories are almost exactly the same.
However, even though the features are the same, the platforms themselves, and therefore the purpose behind the “stories” feature, are completely different.
While Snapchat marketing has always relied on a silly, rambunctious, and unprofessional attitude, Instagram is renowned for its beautiful pictures and perfect presentation.
This means that if you are using Instagram stories for your business, then you need to ensure that you are using it in a way that is congruent with the rest of the platform.
So unless you are running a personal brand, keep your stories (relatively) impersonal and professional.
Focus on your company and keep the shenanigans to a minimum.
Remember that the biggest, and really the only, difference between Snapchat and Instagram Stories are the people you are marketing to.
Snapchat has a much younger demographic and is used by a different kind of person than Instagram.
If you keep that in mind while you develop your marketing strategy and you will be just fine.
So, with that out of the way, what are some examples of how you can use Instagram stories to grow your business?
Well, I am glad you asked.
4 Ways to Leverage Instagram Stories for Your Business
While there are several creative ways that you can leverage Instagram Stories for your business, I have found the following four to be the most effective.
With a little bit of time and practice, the following methods will allow you to boost engagement, increase your sales, and grow your Instagram following at a very rapid rate.
1. Deliver Special Offers
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love special offers.
And what makes special offers on Instagram Stories even more special is the scarcity that is inherent with the 24-hour time limit.
You see, people have an evolutionarily wired fear of missing out.
And Instagram Stories provides the perfect avenue to leverage your audience’s FOMO.
The simplest way to accomplish this goal is by posting “coupons” as Instagram stories.
So for example, if you run an online fitness supplement store, you could post an Instagram story with a coupon code for a product, letting your audience know that the offer will expire in 24 hours.
Then, use your story to redirect them to the link in your Instagram bio which will send them to a landing page where they can use the coupon code to redeem your special offer.
Because of the time sensitive nature of the offer, your audience will be much more likely to actually follow through and purchase your product.
And, by extension, if they notice that you are regularly posting these offers on your Instagram stories, they will be much more likely to remain engaged with your stories for fear of missing out on a special deal.
Another method you can use is to leverage Instagram’s direct messaging.
In your story, direct users to DM your company to claim the special offer.
A simple “Reply back to us before this story ends to take advantage of this special offer!” works wonders.
With this tactic, you will likely have fewer total conversions.
However, because users will be taking an extra step and messaging your company directly, it will drastically increase their engagement and relationship with your brand.
2. Display the Creative Process of Your Company
Despite the fact that Instagram is a platform notorious for very polished and filtered content, the inherently “imperfect” nature of stories allows you to deepen your trust with your audience.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is by giving your audience a peek behind the curtains at your creative processes.
This can be anything from showing off a new product sketch, the manufacturing process, or just a few clips from the office where you are working on a new video course.
These sort of behind the scenes glimpses of your company will increase the trust your audience feels for your brand and deepen their levels of engagement with your company.
This tactic is also a great way to build up some hype for new product launches or show off case studies from current/recent clients.
For example, if you are about to launch a new line of athletic wear in your online apparel company, you can use Instagram stories to show off sneak peaks and build up excitement.
The trick with this tactic is to give away just enough information to build up engagement around the product launch without giving away so much that users lose interest.
Conversely, if you have an awesome product that is already available to your audience, you can use stories to show off examples of your work with current clients.
If you run an SEO consulting company, you can showcase the results that your services have garnered with previous clients in a much more personal way by using Instagram Stories.
Obviously, make sure that you get your client’s permission before you start posting potentially sensitive information.
3. Go Behind the Scenes at Your Company
While this particular tactic may not directly result in more sales and revenue, it will massively influence the public perception of your brand.
Most brands are incredibly selective about the content they share with users regarding the behind-the-scenes at their company.
With Instagram Stories, you are able to publish a rawer and more honest side of your business that will humanize your brand while maintaining your professionalism.
Be selective about what you publish, yes.
But don’t be afraid to show the grittier side of your company to display to your audience that your company is run by real people just like them.
4. Use the Power of Instagram Takeovers
Instagram takeovers a quick, easy, and fun way to grow your Instagram following by either taking over another Instagrammer’s account or having them take over yours, typically for a 24-hour period.
This is a great way to build a mutually beneficial relationship between yourself and another influencer and it provides a great avenue for expanding your audience.
The key to succeeding with takeovers is to ensure that you are not focused on the “All About Me” model that Snapchat is so famous for.
Make sure that every single story you post during the takeover has a clear purpose with an even clearer call to action.
Instagram is one of the world’s biggest social media platforms, boasting almost 500 million monthly active users.
And as such, it is also one of the most important platforms for you and your business to master.
Since only 36% of marketers are currently using Instagram, the addition of stories gives you and your company a unique opportunity.
It will take time for most of your competition (who is part of the 36%) to master using Stories to grow their brand.
And by using the above advice, you will be able to skyrocket your business success and gain a leg up on your competition by taking advantage of a largely untapped feature.
So get to work and get your story out there.
Do you have any questions about Instagram stories that I didn’t answer? Do you have some tactics and techniques I didn’t mention that you want to share? Post in the comments below!