How to Use Instagram Stories for Business

Since it’s dawning in 2011, SnapChat has been steadily climbing the user charts, raking in over 100 million active users day and 400 million snaps to boot. It’s popularity stemmed from the app’s ability to capture “Stories” — chronological photos and videos accessible for a time limit of 24 hours. In 2015, it’s notoriety skyrocketed with the introduction of the feature, “Discover” — an area designated for ad-supported short-form content from major publishers such as Vice, People, CNN, among others.

Many corporations — McDonald’s, Tacobell, General Electric, and Heineken to name a few — have also taken to increasing their community engagement and brand awareness through SnapChat’s snappy infrastructure. The feature offers viewers exclusive, of-the-moment content designed to further strengthen the bond between brand and fan. Users gain real insight into what the their favorite brands are up to and in turn, brands receive unique visitor engagement.

It’s no wonder why Instagram just recently introduced their own version of “Stories” — a new feature where users can share daily moments for up to 24 hours before it disappears (sound familiar?). Akin to SnapChat, users can also personalize their photos and videos using text and drawing tools. How did they get away with it? “I think what you see is that every company looks around and adopts the best of the best formats or state-of-the-art technology. Snapchat adopted face filters that existed elsewhere first, right? And slideshows existed in other places, too. Flipagram was doing it for a while. So I think that’s the interesting part of the Valley. You can’t just recreate another product. But you can say ‘what’s really awesome about a format? And does it apply to our network?’” said Instagram’s CEO, Kevin Systrom (source).

So, to put it bluntly, Instagram copied, but they’re OK with it.

For the uninitiated, check out our guide on How to Build a Story on Instagram. If you’re ready to dive in, here are a few tips for clever business owners who want to market their brand via Instagram’s not new, but definitely improved feature:

Instagram Stories is the tool perfect tool for real-time access to live events. You can use it for product launches, trade shows, or one-of-a-kind events only visible by followers. Further humanize your brand by sharing funny moments from the office or opinions about certain current events.

Provide your users with private content that makes them feel special. Debut a new gadget, clothing collection or brand changes. Your audience will appreciate your candidness.

With Instagram Stories you can easily promote contests, perks, or discounts in new and inventive ways. Offer your audience a weeklong selfie contest that specifically includes your brand or product. Millennials like their voices to feel included, as though they are part of the brand itself, rather than just a number.

Take your audience behind the scenes with you. Show them the underpinnings of your brand. Don’t be afraid of making them a part of your brands process and progress. Capture special events, casual Fridays, or company outings. The more unique and original you can be, the stronger your engagement will become.

Collaborate with other brands and social media influencers. By partnering with other social channels, you can communicate with demographics not usually found on your radar. Start a relationship with a big Instagram star who can essentially promote you with out really promoting. If they like you, perhaps many more will, too!

All in all, Instagram’s Stories is a platform that provides brands with a voice of authenticity. Not only will it will help strengthen the bond with your audience, but will also help you make some new ones. Be creative, and even a little silly, customers these days want to know they are buying from real, live people, not machines.

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