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Unlocking the Power of Instagram Stories: The Three Essential Elements for Effective Marketing

Unlocking the Power of Instagram Stories: The Three Essential Elements for Effective Marketing

13 Feb 2024

Getting the most out of Instagram Stories for your marketing takes more than compelling content - you also need these three magic elements...

500 million. 

That’s how many users are actively checking out Instagram Stories daily. 

If you don’t already use Instagram Stories in your marketing strategy, you’re missing out.

In fact, 200 million+ Instagrammers visit at least one business account daily. Plus, 58% of Instagram users claim to have become more interested in a brand/product after seeing it in Stories. A further 50% of them say they have visited a website to buy a product/service as a result of seeing it in Stories.  

Those are some pretty epic numbers! Stories clearly have sticking power, so if your brand hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon, now’s the time.

 

Instagram Stories: A Quick Refresher

You probably don’t need us to tell you what Instagram Stories are. After all, these vertical, disappearing-after-24-hours, photos and videos have become a ubiquitous part of the Instagram landscape since 2016.

While this format was initially made popular by Snapchat, this “new feature” quickly took on a life of its own, and Stories have gone on to become one of the most beloved features on the social media platform.

In Instagram’s own words, “with Stories, you can share photos and videos that disappear from your profile, Feed, and messages after 24 hours, unless you add them to your profile as story highlights.”

To make your Stories more fun and interactive, you can use fun features like stickers, hashtags, polls, gifs, link swipe ups, music, and more. You can also put filters to work to make your visuals pop in true Instagram fashion. 

The Must-Know Details

While many of us are familiar with Instagram Stories, we may not always know everything there is to know about how to use Stories for social media marketing. So here’s a quick rundown of the basics of creating stories for Instagram.

How to create Stories

  1. Click the + icon within the Instagram app (next to the heart icon) to get started.
  2. Choose Story from the menu.
  3. Click on Camera if you want to take a photo or a video. Hold the white circle down for a video or click once for a photo. To take a selfie, flip the camera.
  4. Alternatively, select the photo or video from your camera roll that you want to use in your Story.
  5. You can add stickers, hashtags, and other interactive features to your Stories as well—more on this below.

The dimensions

Instagram story dimensions are 1080px by 1920px i.e. your image or video should be 1080 pixels wide and 1920 pixels in height. The aspect ratio for Stories is 9:16.

Keep these dimensions in mind when creating your content. If you upload an image or video that doesn't fit within these dimensions, your content will be cropped or lose quality due to being too zoomed in. 

Length

As of 2024, videos on Stories can be up to 60 seconds long. If you record or upload a video longer than 60 seconds, it will automatically be split into multiple different Stories.

Stickers

Stickers are Instagram Stories features that allow users to create more engaging content within their Stories. After uploading your photo or video to Stories, tap the square smiley icon at the top to begin adding stickers to your Stories. FYI, stickers can also be added to Instagram Reels.

Sticker options include:

  • Location
  • Mention
  • Add Yours
  • Hashtags
  • Captions
  • Question stickers
  • GIFs
  • Music
  • Links
  • Selfies
  • Polls or Emoji slider
  • Quizzes
  • Donations
  • Countdowns
  • Time and weather

Hashtags

As you probably already know, hashtags are a key tactic for successful Instagram marketing. They can be useful for Stories as well. After you tag your Stories with a hashtag sticker, you'll be able to tap the tag to see a page that shows all photos and videos people have uploaded with that hashtag.

Analytics

When you use Stories for marketing on your Instagram account, you will also have access to Instagram analytics that will allow you to analyze how your content marketing efforts are performing. 

Instagram Insights allows you to dive into the data and understand the performance of your Stories better (within 14 days of posting). 

Instagram Stories highlights

Highlights are a popular way to save Stories on a profile so that they can still be viewed after the initial 24-hour period has passed. Stories highlights appear underneath the bio on your Instagram profile. 

To create an Instagram Stories highlight, tap the “New” circle at the far left. From there, you can choose any stories from your archive, select a cover for your highlight and give it a name. Once you’re done, your highlight will appear as a circle on your profile that plays as a stand-alone story when someone taps it. Highlights stay on your profile until you remove them, and you can have as many highlights as you’d like. Just tap and hold that highlight on your profile to edit or remove a highlight.

Why Use Instagram Stories for Marketing?

Like any new feature, Instagram Stories have continued to evolve since their launch. While the basic premise (disappearing after 24 hours) remains the same, several new capabilities have been added along the way. 

The one thing that remains constant is Stories are the most popular content format for authenticity. They’ve always been a way for Instagram users to peel back the layers, go beyond the perfectly curated image and showcase something a bit more real. 

This is true of individuals as well as Instagram business profiles. 47% of users said Instagram Stories help them be more authentic in their communication with friends and family.

For businesses wondering why your Stories even matter in the grand scheme of social media marketing, authenticity is why! Stories help your brand show a real side to you and connect with your audience in an authentic, vulnerable manner that they love.

In addition to building authentic connections with your target audience, making Stories a critical part of your social media marketing strategy can also be helpful to:  

Reach more people

Every time you post a new Story, your Instagram account appears above your followers’ Instagram feed with a brightly colored ring around it. Sometimes your followers may also get a notification when you publish a new Story. This makes your Stories much harder to miss than your Instagram posts.

As a result you’re likely to reach more people with your Stories content vs your posts. Plus, you can post several Stories in succession or at various times during the day, and further improve your reach on Instagram. In fact, posting up to five stories per day ensures a retention rate of over 70%, according to a SocialInsiders study.

Finally don’t forget that your Stories may only last 24 hours, but they have the potential to reach your target demographics even outside your current follower base. So keep posting!

Interact with your audience

Instagram Stories are designed to be interactive and a great way to truly engage with your target audience in a more human way. Some quick ideas:

  • Conduct polls using the Poll stickers.
  • Invite followers to send you direct messages in response to questions.
  • Ask for feedback on a new product.
  • Host team member Q&As by using the Questions sticker or via DMs.

The more your audience interacts with you on Instagram, the more it boosts your overall engagement rates on Instagram as well. It sends the Insta algorithm all the right, warm fuzzy signals that your followers like you and your content and want to continue to see more of it.

Drive traffic to your site

You already know that you can’t share clickable links on your Instagram posts. But, you can definitely share links on your Stories so make the most of it. Use links whenever relevant and possible to drive traffic back to your site.

For example, if you’re an ecommerce brand and you’re sharing images of your products in use, be sure to add a product sticker to your Stories so your followers can click through and check out the exact product being featured. 

Or, if you’re running an influencer marketing campaign and asking influencers to mention your brand in their Stories, you could ask them to link directly to your products for direct traffic.

Even if you’re not selling products, you can also drive traffic back to blog posts, competitions, lead magnets or anything else you would like your followers to see on your website.

Run Instagram Stories ads

The estimated advertising reach for Instagram users is 1.22 billion. Instagram Stories are also obviously useful if you want to run advertising campaigns. Instagram Stories ads are integrated in between regular Stories which makes them look like normal Stories and can be very powerful for generating leads and/or driving sales and traffic. 

Increase your engagement

Last but definitely not the least, Instagram Stories matter because ultimately they affect one of the most important metrics on Instagram—your engagement. Stories are fun, interactive and a great way for brands to build brand awareness and create engaged online communities. 

If you’re not sharing on Stories yet, your Insta engagement could be taking a huge hit.

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