When Instagram launched its Stories format in August 2016, commentators – and Snapchat loyalists in particular – were quick to point out its similarities to Snapchat’s core service: disposable photo stories.
In the months that followed, though, Instagram cruised out into waters of its own, through the app’s combination of usability and versatility.
If Stories apparently began as an effort to lure away Snapchat users in bulk, it quickly became a key part of traditional Instagrammer’s daily lives and a powerful marketing tool to boot.
And small businesses are perfectly placed to capitalize on the combination of intimacy and ephemerality that Stories promises.
Using Instagram’s Photo Story Feature
Instagram Stories boasts 250 million daily users (to Snapchat’s paltry 166m!). And one in five small businesses can expect to receive direct messages off the back of their output, making it an excellent way to tell a whole bunch of people that your company is waiting to hear from them.
Creating those stories is famously straightforward – it’s a consumer app after all – so there’s really no excuse not to get started.
The key thing to remember is that all the media you use must have been generated over the past 24 hours.
Tap the camera icon to get started, use the record button to create photos or video, and slide up to add images from your library. Swiping left or right will alternate your filter options.
Just because your story has to be fresh, it doesn’t mean you needn’t plan ahead.
Your Instagram story should match the tone and image of your brand, even if the story has an added element of spontaneity. A story is closer to a video than a photo in the sense that it is time-based.
You need to use the first four seconds to make an impact and keep the user hooked right through to your call to action (CTA).
There are plenty more techniques you can use to ensure you get maximum response from your story. Instagram has become the home of the hashtag, and a location tag can really boost your viewership.
It’s simple to add a link allowing those viewers to swipe straight through to your website in response to your CTA. Don’t forget to add an arrow motif to remind them which way to swipe!
It’s a great idea to try a couple of simple stories out while you figure out how to do it. And indeed the occasional random story shows that you’re human and you just want to share.
Once you start to get hot at Stories, though, taking it to the next level is a no-brainer.
Maybe you’ll create a series of stories so that casual users feel compelled to follow you and check back for what comes next. Or perhaps you’ll invite a customer, supplier, or another influencer to ‘guest’ for you for a day.
As a small business, you’re perfectly positioned to keep your approach to Instagram light, playful, and imaginative.
Ready to get stuck in? Have a run through this new visual guide from Headway Capital – it’s packed with all the tips you need to maximize the Storytelling potential on your smartphone!
This article was written by G. John Cole, who writes on behalf of NeoMam Studios. He’s a digital nomad specializing in leadership, digital media, and personal growth topics.