How Brands can use Instagram Stories

4 min read
Laura Cooper
A person taking photos on a phone of graffiti on a wall

Instagram unashamedly copied Snapchat when it launched Instagram Stories. We were all thinking it; they didn’t even try and hide it with the name. They actually pretty much admitted it. And it’s a shrewd move for Instagram, which has been going from strength to strength with its big bro, Facebook nudging it along the way. Instagram Stories is the latest feature that allows brands to make their mark on the popular social media platform. It may have copied Snapchat, but Instagram is making itself a much more brand-friendly marketing tool with 300 million active daily users to play with. So, how can your brand use Instagram Stories?

Instagram Explore

Reactive

Sometimes marketing campaigns can take centuries to sign off and before you know it, your campaign isn’t relevant or on-trend anymore. Instagram reaches out to the all-important Generation Y and Z or an equally worse term ‘Millennials’, so having a platform that allows you to be flexible and fast-paced is great and appeals to the rapid pace social media users are used to. A quick Instagram story that’s reactive to current trends or news makes your brand look dynamic. Brands should be kept on their toes and Instagram certainly helps you do that.

Interaction

Give your customers and followers something to talk about. Instagram allows you to reach out to potential and existing customers and find out what they like and don’t like and what they’re sharing at the moment. You’ll be able to quickly tell whether your Instagram Stories have gone down well and crucially, they can help you to start a conversation with your followers.

Personality

No-one likes a boring brand, well maybe some people, but there are loads of people who like it when brands cast aside stuffy, corporate language and let their hair down. Instagram Stories lets your brand show its personality and in the long-run, it’ll look more authentic and like it doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is especially important when you’re trying to appeal to younger demographics who have been brought up in an entirely new marketing climate, where they eat hashtags for breakfast and Instagram a photo. Q&As, behind-the-scenes clips and product reviews are all ways to show your brand has a personality.

Authentic

Everyone is used to seeing prim and polished photos in catalogues of products that don’t look like they’ve ever been used or seen the light of day. Using Instagram Stories to show products being used, enjoyed and loved can bring a new authenticity to your brand. Customers want some realism.

Cost-effective

Creating Instagram Stories is a relatively cost-effective way to get creative with your marketing strategy and reach lots of users. It can supplement your overall marketing strategy really well and give another, fun, engaging dimension to your content generation.

Influencers

A recent addition to the digital marketing arsenal is getting social media influencers involved in creating content for your brand. Influencers come with their own ready-made army of followers who are already loyal and buy into an influencer’s authenticity. By working with influencers, you can appeal to their followers, access new markets and help to add an authentic face to your brand and show some personality.  For example, you could hand over your Instagram account to an influencer for the day and let them create their own stories and content.

User-generated

Similarly to influencers, you can reach out to people that have bought and enjoyed your products and let them create their own stories with user-generated content. They can get really creative with their stories and show them in action, so people can see real people who’ve gone out and bought something actually putting your products to use, instead of detached models who don’t look like they’d buy your product.

Instagram Stories lets you create fun, personality-driven content that can help you to appeal to new demographics, improve loyalty with existing customers and show off your brand’s character.

For a more in-depth guide on Social, check out our Social Media Tips for Business.

Instagram allows you to reach out to potential and existing customers and find out what they like/don’t like and what they’re sharing at the moment. You’ll be able to tell if your Instagram Stories have gone down well and, can help you to start a conversation with your followers.

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.

Remember

Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

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