There are more and more methods of digital marketing evolving all of the time – and social media channels are leading the charge when it comes to effective, cost-efficient marketing. 

Using Instagram for business, particularly if you have an image-based brand, is a no-brainer. And now there is an exciting new feature for Instagram users to embrace: Instagram Stories.

What is Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories is a brand new feature on the platform; similar to Snapchat; it allows users to create temporary photo sequences. Instagram users can share various moments of their day, separately from their profile, and these images expire after just one day. Multiple photos and videos appear in a slideshow format.

Clever marketers will potentially use Instagram for business because it will go a long way to resolving any issues related to over-posting. Users can share as much as they like in any given 24-hour period; bringing stories both short and long to life creatively, knowing that tomorrow you have a blank slate to begin again.

Instagram Stories from people and brands you follow appear in the new bar at the top of your feed. There are neither likes nor a facility for public commentary on Instagram Stories (however, direct messaging is possible and encouraged), and one can limit stories to their followers only, or even to select followers. 

Keeping Snapchat on its toes…

This is Instagram’s answer to Snapchat. Snapchat is perhaps the social media channel favoured by teens and younger Millennials. It allows for communication via image-based messages that are extremely temporary – after a prescribed time period, and after a single viewing by other users, they disappear forever. 

More than 20 million photos and videos are shared every day via Snapchat, and the tendency for younger internet users to post privacy-sensitive material makes this channel perfect for this demographic and the way they use the platform.

Instagram Stories is very similar to Snapchat’s My Story feature. It is also perfect for use in social media marketing.

In fact, in the very short time since Instagram Stories launched, numerous businesses have embraced the new feature for business marketing purposes. Some of those companies that have already produced regular Stories include People, Cosmopolitan, CNN, and Food Network. Notably, Time Inc. has been sharing content relating to the Rio Olympic Games on Instagram Stories via their Sports Illustrated profile.

Using Instagram Stories for business marketing

Forward-thinking and innovative brands are looking at ways they can individually use the platform to leverage their content for maximum positive brand exposure. Content can be distributed in a more comprehensive way, and it is estimated that brand exposure will be enhanced. Larger posts can be shared at much higher frequency, and the content need not be as visually perfect as that which remains on a feed indefinitely.

Thanks to the fact that Stories reside in a space separate from a regular feed, you can post as much as you like – with no concern of filling your profile grid or saturating followers’ feeds.

So how can you use Instagram Stories for effective social media marketing

1. Build brand buzz

Offer followers an inside peek into your business, what’s new, what’s coming soon, and what they should be getting excited about. This builds buzz around your campaigns and also builds a relationship between you and your consumer base.

2. Capture more Instagram followers

Anyone already following you will see your Instagram Stories. When your profile is public (as it should be when you are a business), you can use Instagram Stories to hook potential new followers – and draw them to your regular profile for more grounded content.

3. Promote campaign awareness

Are you running a campaign of some kind? For example, a webinar or online video session? Remind your targeted audience via Instagram Stories that it’s happening, and that now is their last chance to be in on the fun. When you offer value, it is a great tool to drive last minute traffic and sign-ups – even if they are for other social media platforms.

4. Offer more content

Share heaps of content with your audience without clogging up your profile or their newsfeeds. Align content in your Instagram Stories with your main Instagram feed to create better context. You can hence build trust and loyalty, cement your brand identity, enhance competitions, contests, and polls, and drive more consumer engagement your way.

5. Run short-term contests

Reward your most engaged and interactive followers with time-sensitive contests via Instagram Stories. It is a fast and easy way to keep them interested and aware of you – and it may drive them to your main feed.

6. Cover events

Share content relating to industry events your business is involved in. For example, announce your participation in an event on your main feed and then showcase moments from the event in your Stories. 

7. Tell your story

Effective marketing is storytelling. Engage your audience by sharing stories through images that are fun, amusing, inspiring and relate in some way – however small – to your brand, products, people, and niche.

Still need convincing?

Instagram Stories offers you the best of both worlds when it comes to marketing your brand. It is the perfect way to experiment with a Snapchat-style medium, without having to join Snapchat, launch a channel, and build a following there. You can add Stories to your marketing arsenal, using your regular Instagram profile for significant content, making it count, and use Stories to create more lighthearted content that will help more users discover you and your brand. Unlike Snapchat, Instagram allows you to use hashtags, geotags, and other features so that you can be found by the right people.

Instagram has traditionally been a place to share the most visually appealing and curated content relating to you, your business, and your brand. Instagram Stories offers another approach: ephemeral content that can be unpolished, whimsical, and even silly – because it is so transient. It is another way to develop your brand identity – so have fun with it but keep your branding in mind as you post.

Instagram Stories also gives business owners the added bonus of removing some of the pressure of sharing high-value content – which is crucial to effective social media marketing. It’s a win-win for business owners and users alike.

Instagram Stories will help maximise your online visibility – you will reach more followers, and right now is the time to get onboard. The feature is brand new, exciting, and by being a part of it, you will be open to interaction with consumers in a fun and immediate way.