Remember way back in 2016 when Instagram Stories were thought to be a Snapchat rip-off and no one thought they’d last? Well, with more than 500 million people now viewing Instagram Stories every day, it could be argued that Stories are becoming the most important part of Instagram. While many brands have adopted Stories into their social media content calendar, few are truly using them to their full potential. If you’ve been struggling to garner solid engagement on your Instagram Stories, this post will provide four ideas to help.
1. Design Specifically for Stories
Are you trying to put the same content on Instagram Stories that you’re putting on all other social channels? How boring! The Instagram audience expects your brand’s Instagram Stories to deliver something special, and to see a lift you must start ensuring your content is tailored to that channel.
This includes everything from ensuring your video has captions (because the many Instagram users browse Stories with the sound off), to adhering to the 9:16 aspect ratio, to designing multiple screens to encourage taps rather than trying to fit too much on one image that may appear for only a few seconds (and on a small mobile screen!). Design your Stories in a storyboard-like format and aim to post photos and graphics that match your brand aesthetic.
2. Keep Things Interesting
It’s time to get creative. Brainstorm different types of content that your audience can only see on Instagram Stories. Try showcasing what’s happening behind-the-scenes, revealing a big company announcement, or hosting a live Q&A session. All of these are ways to humanize your brand and allow users to feel like they are engaging with you one-on-one.
Many brands are much less formal in their Instagram Stories than on other parts of the channel, or on their other social channels. This is a place for you to experiment and test new types of content to see how your audience reacts. And the good news? Unless saved to your highlights, your story will disappear in 24 hours so don’t worry if something flops.
3. Stickers, Polls and Tags
Not only are Instagram Stories stickers fun, they also boost engagement. Do a search for just about any type of sticker you can think of, and I bet you’ll be surprised to find something that fits. From emojis, to gifs, to moving text — there is so much to choose from to help liven up your Stories.
There are also various interactive ways to use Instagram Story features. I’ve found that most audiences LOVE sharing their opinion to try the poll feature to ask questions. Use the Stories poll sticker to get in on your audience’s preferences, and let them help you make choices in your business (like the next product in your line), or provide general feedback. Additionally, poll stickers provide easy access to a list of people who’ve answered your poll. You can then send them a direct message after the poll has concluded and take the conversation further.
You can also prompt your audience to ask you a question in your Stories using the question sticker. When you repost the question submitted, the person who asked gets a notification that their question has been answered (giving you an automatic view on your story).
It’s also important to not forget about tags. From adding your location, to mentioning other users, to adding hashtags or tagging items from your product feed, the more relevant tags you add to your story, the greater chance of getting more eyeballs on it.
4. Use Instagram Story Highlights
The 24-hour expiration of an Instagram Story is long gone. Now, Stories can be saved to your profile indefinitely and categorized into various highlights with custom names. Some common Instagram Highlights categories that brands use include blog, company news, behind-the-scenes, new products, and upcoming events.
It’s best to design custom thumbnails for your Instagram Highlights to help your profile look consistent and aesthetically appealing. Then, when posting your story, simply select which highlight it should appear under. Now, when people come to your Instagram profile, they can easily see your past Stories and continue to engage with them for as long as you have them highlighted. And don’t forget to cross-promote your Instagram Highlights in your posts as well!
And of course, don’t forget to regularly check your Instagram Story analytics to see how your audience is engaging with your content. Is there one type of content they seem to prefer most? Take that information and run with it! Coupled with these Instagram Stories tactics, your engagement will soar.