Instamust Blog

How To Use Instagram Stories Like A Pro?

Instagram stories are a success story for themselves. In the near future, they will even replace the newsfeed. Worldwide, 300 million people use Instagram stories every day. The Snapchat-like feature lets you create photo and video sequences that disappear 24 hours after posting.

Good news for the millions of company profiles on this platform: one in five stories gets a direct message. And if a potential customer turns directly to your business on Instagram, that’s a lead.

More leads wanted? This post helps!

The article is aimed at marketers who want to develop a better understanding of the use of Instagram stories – both technically and strategically – to produce authentic and engaging content that attracts attention and engagement.

Let’s start.

How Instagram stories work

New to Instagram? Then start with this part, and learn step-by-step instructions on using Instagram Stories.

More experienced users can jump right into the ideas and explore how successful brands use Instagram stories to stand out from the competition. This is followed by a tip and tricks section that introduces best practices that every marketer should know.

Let’s start by answering beginner questions frequently.

“How do I post an Instagram story?”

After you set up a corporate account on Instagram, it’s time to create stories.

  1. Open the Instagram app
  2. Touch the camera icon in the upper left corner
  3. At the bottom of the screen, set the format for your content. You can choose from the content options TYPE, LIVE, NORMAL, BOOMER, SUPERZOOM, RETURN, FREQUENCY or STOP MOTION.
  4. Tap the white circle at the bottom of the screen to take a picture. Hold the white circle to record a video.

Note: shoot vertically so your content occupies as much space as possible on the screen.

“How do I add a HASHTAG to my Instagram story?”

Hashtags help potential customers find your content.

Step 1: Take a video or take a picture. 
Step 2: Click on the Aa icon in the upper right corner. A cursor appears in the middle of the screen. 
Step 3: Adjust the size, color, and position of the cursor. 
Step 4: First touch the # symbol, then write a word or phrase with no spaces and then press RETURN to create the hashtag.

Note: Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags by mail, but you should not use that many. According to a study by TrackMaven, the average interaction per post drops from about five hashtags.

“How do I add a SITE to my Instagram story?”

Around the world, most locations (say, cities) have their own stories curating Instagram from posts that contain location tags. Posts selected for a location story get more reach, visibility, and engagement.

Step 1: Take a video or take a picture. 
Step 2: At the top of the screen, touch the collapsed smiley icon, which will show a series of stickers. 
Step 3: Tap the LOCATION sticker and then select where the photo or video was taken exactly.

“How can I add a STICKER to my Instagram story?”

Stickers are pictures that you can add to a photo or video. You add some extra to your content that makes it more interesting.

Step 1: Take a video or take a picture. 
Step 2: Tap the folded smiley icon at the top of the screen to display the sticker menu. 
Step 3: Select a sticker, press it to zoom in or out, then position it anywhere on the screen. If everything fits, press the sticker until you see a PIN button at the bottom right corner. Tap and you’re done. 

Bonus: Learn how to create a social media strategy and optimize your social presence with Hootsuite in our step-by-step guide.

To the free guide

“How do I add a SURVEY to my Instagram story?”

Surveys are interactive stickers that allow users to answer binary questions – a great tool for marketers who want to engage audiences while collecting valuable quantitative data.

Step 1: Take a video or take a picture. 
Step 2: Tap the folded smiley icon at the top of the screen. 
Step 3: Select SURVEY (the option should appear at the top of the screen ) and then tap your question in the box asking “Ask a Question …” in gray. In the JA | NO field below you can also edit the text.

Note: Users who participate in a survey will see the results immediately after answering the question. As an administrator, you can brush up on the post to see who has chosen and what he/she has chosen.

“How do I add HIGHLIGHTS to my Instagram story?”

HIGHLIGHTS are stories that you have intended for a longer duration than the usual 24-hour margin. For example, if you’re proud of a particularly successful story, you could show it as a highlight on your profile page to give users faster access to your must-see content.

Step 1: Take a video or take a picture. 
Step 2: Add this to your story. 
Step 3: Open your story, tap HIGHLIGHT in the lower right corner, press NEW to designate the content and then add it to the showreel on your profile.

“How do I find the VIEWS that made my Instagram story?

You created your story. Now you want to know how she performs.

Step 1: At the top of the home screen, tap DU. Then your story will appear.
Step 2: Swipe Up: You’ll see a list of users who have seen each individual post in your story.

Note: If someone is on the list who does not want to see your stories anymore, tap the X to the right of the username. This will hide future photos, videos and live videos from this person.

“What is the Instagram EXPLORE page?”

In the beginning, Instagram had a “Popular” page that featured the most valued content on the platform. It’s been replaced by the Explore page, a powerful feature that enables businesses to push reach and push brand awareness, engagement, and conversions to unprecedented heights.

Unlike the Popular page, each user’s Explore page is populated with individually different content that is curated based on their comments and likes, such as activities on profiles he/she is following.

For example, if your company posts a photo that I like or comment on from the Hootsuite Instagram account (which has more than 79,000 followers), your photo will appear on the Explore page of people who like or comment on Hootsuite photos,

Instagram Stories: Ideas from brands that master the profession perfectly

“Nothing is easier than grandness,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Being simple really means to be great.”

Of course, Instagram is easy. So easy that half a billion people use the platform month after month to create, express, and connect with others. And all these people are generating outrageous amounts of content – 95 million posts per day – making it especially difficult for companies to stand out here.

Here are eight ideas that you can look up from other brands that have managed to grab the Instagram scrum.

Create instructions – like Etsy

Man is designed to provide quick gratification. Patience is definitely not one of his virtues. Securing the closest reward is one of the evolutionary traits that has shaped human behavior for thousands of years.

Brands like Etsy create tutorials as Instagram stories, capitalizing on their audience’s innate desire to get things they want as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Take a look behind the scenes – like the New York Times

A deeper, more intimate and authentic insight into something we love and cherish can be a fascinating experience. That’s why “behind the scenes” content is so irresistible to fans. He goes under the surface, serves an “I know more” need and ultimately gives the audience the feeling of being special and excellent.

The New York Times, for example, took its followers behind the scenes of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show to give them the much richer, more satisfying experience they could have hoped for.

Publish news – like Ben & Jerry’s

Companies that use Instagram stories for announcements keep their followers informed and up to date as fans and brand ambassadors appreciate it.

Whenever your company makes an acquisition, hires an influencer, or presents a new product, communicating the news as an Instagram story reinforces the impression that the people watching your content are well-informed consumers.

Each time Ben & Jerry’s introduces a new flavor, the company creates a story – and people lick the new ice cream out of their hands.

Work with Listicles – like National Geographic

Listicles, bulleted articles that are published in the form of a list, deserve their justification because they are easy to scan and digest.

“Lists subconsciously serve our preferred way of receiving and organizing information,” writes Maria Konnikova, a New Yorker columnist. “From the point of view of information processing, they often meet the optimal point of our attention.

Accordingly, Instagram stories are an ideal medium for Listicles, especially for very visual brands like National Geographic.

Hold a takeover – like Maybelline New York

In 2012, brands like GE and Burberry started inviting influencers to “takeover” their feeds – a way to cross-promote their content and engage new audiences. The strategy has worked and has since become established – because it benefits everyone if it is implemented properly.

“Takeovers are not only fun,” explains Gary Vaynerchuk. “They are also an excellent example of a 50/50 equivalent – a partnership that equally benefits both sides.

When Maybelline New York took teenager Jordyn Jones as an influencer for a takeover of her insider story for York Fashion Week, both brands benefited from relevant attention and engagement from their mutual audiences.

Share a Q & A – like the New York Times

Instagram stories with questions and answers are well suited to highlighting many perspectives on a single topic, giving the audience a deeper and more insightful experience. The format also allows brands to interact directly with their followers who can participate in the Q & A by sending their questions via direct message.

The New York Times used this tactic, for example, during the Standing Rock protests to publish various views on the subject.

Pictures via  PR Newswire’s Journalist and Blogger Community Blog

Give your followers a stage – like Starbucks

Unlike more formal channels, Instagram Stories is a casual medium, which makes it ideal for direct followers. For fans, there is little more recognition than the one they love.

As part of its #RedCupContest, Starbucks invited users to share content revolving around the iconic red mug of the brand. The best posts were then curated for an Instagram story in which their makers were put in the limelight.

7 indispensable Instagram Stories Tips and Tricks

In a generalized sense, modern marketers in the engagement business are concerned with producing content, creating awareness and acting – content that works.

Unfortunately, Instagram provides little data on the performance of stories. Marketers who want to measure performance (and are accustomed to the deeper insights that other platforms deliver) need to be content with their Instagram stories with unique views, completion rates and direct messages to their stories.

The sparing data makes scientific content testing difficult. Marketers must, therefore, ensure that their story approach is right from the start in order to remain competitive on this platform.

How do you do that? These best practices help!

1. Tell a story

Clear and simple stories activate the brain and make it easier to remember. A good story also releases oxytocin in the brain – the same hormone that creates social bonds.

That’s why the best Instagram stories are nothing more than stories. Use the slideshow format to compose a story with beginning, middle and end. This increases the completion rate of your content. And it helps people to remember your message.

2. Be authentic

Remember Kendall Jenner’s advertising clip for Pepsi? A real marketing and public relations stunt because people recognized the clip for what it was: a barely concealed attempt to engage in a profound and consistent movement.

Even worse: the ad was polished and unnatural, a fake – which the whole world immediately recognized.

Authentic content is honest – both in the message and in the execution. He is not perfect, but real.

People trust in the real.

3. Provide added value

Added value means: Tell your followers how they can do something that makes their lives easier or better (information). Added value means that your followers feel something (entertainment).

If you do it consistently, your audience will keep coming back, spreading your content and growing.

4. Get creative

Edward de Bono, the founder of Lateral Thinking, put it this way: “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns to see things differently.”

Instagram Stories has a number of features that allow users to look at things differently, think differently, and get creative. If you use these features with courage, your audience will notice and reward you with attention, commitment and action.

5. Plan in advance

Instagram Stories allows you to post photos and videos on your camera as long as the content is not older than 24 hours. (You can outsmart this 24-hour rule by opening your content in an editing app and then saving it again, and Instagram will make the content look new and uploadable).

This feature makes it possible to anticipate stories instead of spontaneously producing them. Facilitating the creation of content that is more compelling, compelling, and meaningful.

6. Apply for your story

If you promote or boost your story, it will be seen by more people.

This strategy is particularly worthwhile if you have developed highlight content for a special offer, event or brand initiative. The extra work of time, energy and resources for this story should also pay off – so it makes sense to invest in the distribution.

7. Use CTAs

A CTA, or call-to-action, is one of the most important elements of your story because it tells people what to do next.

As a brand, it is not in your interest for your viewers to do nothing. They want people to interact, like, share and comment on your content. Or maybe a more decided action like making a purchase.

Whatever it is, it will not happen unless you specifically ask for it, either in the caption or in the post itself.

The North Face did a good job here by telling their viewers what to do next in their Valentine’s Day story.

Bonus Tips

Sean Kelly, founder, and CEO of @JerseyChamps has collected over a million followers on Instagram. I spoke to him to learn more about the best practices for Instagram stories.

“If you go live on an Instagram LIVE story, you’ll catapult that into the front row in Instagram Newsfeed,” explains Kelly. “How to quickly get additional views from your followers.”

Kelly also praises Surveys as a method to collect quantitative data that feeds into your strategy.

“Use surveys in your stories to keep your followers on the hook,” Kelly advised me. “Use these statistics for your business decisions. For example, before I put a jersey on the market, I show the design in my story and start a survey asking for the opinion of my audience. If it does not go well, it will not be produced.”

Instagram stories stay with us. At least in the foreseeable future.

Therefore, every company should take advantage of the platform’s great popularity to find more proponents and customers. And if you already use Instagram Stories, you can make the best of it right away.

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