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Instagram is on a roll, with its new Stories feature skyrocketing the platform’s popularity. Just five months after launch, this photo and video storytelling feature has introduced links, stickers, and even live video to engage and delight users. Now, businesses can track the success of their stories with ads and insights.

How successful are Stories? According to Instagram, daily story usage has reached over 150 million users, and one in five Stories receive direct messages from viewers. With 70% of users following a business and nearly one-third of the most-viewed Stories created by businesses, Instagram Stories is committed to empowering marketers with tools they can use to target their ideal audiences.

By following these essential Instagram tips and leveraging the latest Stories and Insights to further engage your users and track your progress, boosted leads and ROI await. Have questions about how to leverage Instagram for Business for your specific brand? Contact BOWEN’s passionate digital marketing experts. We’re voracious consumers of all things social media and can give you a leg up on your competition.

Daily Instagram story usage has reached over 150 million users.

An Instagram Stories Refresher Course

When Instagram was interviewed by The New York Times, they explained Stories as a way for users to showcase more moments, not just well-edited highlights. Essentially, this social media giant wants users to post more, engaging more actively and more frequently. To encourage users to do so, Stories was developed with the following parameters:

  • Oh hey, short attention spans. Stories last no longer than 10 seconds, capturing peak user attention.
  • Easy to find. Stories appear as colored rings around profile pictures at the top of user feeds. Once you tap one of those rings, the story will play on the full screen.
  • It’s playtime! Appealing to user creativity, Stories can be supplemented with text and drawings.
  • Privacy first. Users can choose to share a story publicly, privately, or to a select audience.
  • Open audience. Want to see who has viewed your story? Just swipe up when watching your own story.
  • No comments, please. Instagram does not allow users to like or comment on Stories. This way, users won’t be deterred from posting for fear that they will only get a few likes.
  • View it while you can. This ephemeral feature appears on user profiles and feeds for only 24 hours, so the experience is meant to be enjoyed in the moment.

With a very specific experience in place (similar to Snapchat), Instagram Stories is now poised to engage businesses in deeper marketing efforts than ever before by enabling them to track their progress and experiment with what most appeals to target users.

Stories Ads & Partnerships

Instagram’s new business focus involves a partnership with over 30 brands. Maybelline New York, Nike, Netflix, and Qantas have all tested the new sound-on, 15-second video ad format. Ads will be featured full screen in Stories, and businesses will be able to measure their ads’ reach in order to better target each well-curated audience.

One major brand using Instagram Stories, Airbnb, is using the platform to promote their new products. This jet-setting giant has brought together a variety of travel, location, and weather-related images to entice viewers into traveling and using their site to find lodging. Coffee shops, local temperature screenshots, and a variety of smiling travelers exploring local parks and restaurants play through 15 seconds of engaging video feed.

Get Some Insight

Insights, old hat on other popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook, will now be available to Instagram businesses. Users with business accounts will be able to view reach, replies, impressions, and exits for each story via Business Tools. Metrics like these will enable brands and businesses to create the most relevant content for users, drawing target audience members to feeds and linked websites.

Tried and True Instagram Tips for Businesses

Regardless of new tools available on this incredibly popular platform, traditional social media success strategies still apply. The following can help you keep your marketing crisp as a fresh fall apple, and just as sweet:

  • Push pretty, not products. Instagram is all about stunning visuals. Keep visual appeal always at the forefront of your mind when crafting posts, and give users solutions to their pain points that also function as eye candy. If your business focuses on service, showing processes step-by-step, particularly via Stories, is an excellent tactic.
  • Make your profile accessible. Instagram only allows clickable links in the bio section under your business name, so be sure to update it often. Linking to your latest product or service is a great way to drive trackable conversion events including registrations, app downloads, and purchases.
  • Feed user curiosity. Potential customers naturally want to understand where their products come from, and today’s consumer is increasingly aware of product ingredients and origins. Instagram can show the entire lifecycle of a product, from initial sketches to assembly to use. Companies that sell environmentally-friendly products have a particular advantage when it comes to this strategy, sharing base materials, production, and distribution images that inform and entice the user.
  • Expand reach with #hashtags. Relevant, uber-targeted hashtags that reference either a specific campaign or company can help users follow developments in your brand and inspire loyalty over time. Be sure to establish a company hashtag (#yourbrand) and use it to tag your best content. In each post, best practice includes using five to ten hashtags, although Instagram allows up to 30. Consider tagging your industry (#tech) and regular events like #tbt (Throwback Thursday).
  • Collaborate via @mentions. Instagram posts thrive on collaboration, so liberally tag your colleagues, partner businesses, charities you have worked with, brand ambassadors and star customers. You’ll build community and enrich your feed with causes and users whose work and presence build your brand. You can also leverage “shout outs” to co-promote businesses with a similar number of followers to you. When working with a bigger budget, consider paying a brand or influencer to promote your product via shout out, a fantastic way to grow new followers, especially if your use a strong call-to-action.
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