How To Use Instagram’s Story Highlights for Your Business

Back in December of 2017, Instagram released a new feature that has the power to change the way people interact with your business on the platform. They named it “Story Highlights” and, in short, it allows you to have a select group of stories indefinitely highlighted below the bio section of your profile.

Instagram describes the feature as: “Stories Highlights appear in a new section on your profile below your bio. To create a highlight, tap the “New” circle at the far left. From there, you can choose any stories from your archive, select a cover for your highlight and give it a name. Once you’re done, your highlight will appear as a circle on your profile that plays as a stand-alone story when someone taps it. Highlights stay on your profile until you remove them, and you can have as many highlights as you’d like.

This is a big departure from the traditional 24 hour lifetime format we’ve seen from stories in the past and it’s an especially powerful one because it allows you to move past two restrictions many of us considered the most limiting for our business accounts.

First, it gives the ability to have unlimited links in your bio 👍🏽

The swipe up feature in stories, which allows viewers to access any URL by swiping up, in combination with this new story highlights functionality basically gives you the ability to have unlimited links in your bio.

This is the most valuable perk of story highlights because unlike the past in which you were only allowed one link in your bio, you can now direct your followers to any number of external pages like your website, an event, your Youtube channel, etc, through one quick and simple tap (or swipe up). Oh, the possibilities!

Second, it allows you to go beyond 150 characters to show people what your account is all about 🤘🏽

The placement of story highlights (right above your photo grid) now allows you to go beyond the 150 of character limit of your bio to show people what your account is all about and why it’s worth a “Follow”.

In a time when the Instagram landscape feels so saturated, having the option to tell an awesome story that shows people what you’re all about through your story highlights can be a big differentiator for anyone who knows how to communicate effectively through this new format. And don’t forget, the more clearly you can differentiate your account when people first discover you, the faster you’ll grow and the higher your engagement will be.

So, how do you make the most out of Story Highlights?

I believe that the best way to think about how you create and select your story highlight content is to see it as a way to show others why your account is unique compared to other similar ones and how it brings people who follow it joy and value, every day. If following your account to see your day to day content is like buying your book, the story highlights (your bio and your grid visuals) are your cover.

The right story highlight content game plan will be different for everyone (since each account’s audience has their own unique interests) but here are some general strategies and examples from some of the Instagram accounts out there who are killing it when it comes to story highlights.

Announce new products!

In the past, with the one link in bio limit, many accounts were forced to decide between sending people to their main website, a new product page or any other url that their audience might find relevant. With story highlights, we can kiss that problem goodbye! Now, you can have your main site or any other url you consider your most important “hub” as the main link in your bio, and then use the story highlights to send people to any other sites you wish. One of the best (and potentially lucrative) ways to make the most of highlights is to announce your latest product, service, or feature and link it through the swipe up option so people can access it easily and quickly.

For example, the social media savvy fashion brand @valfre uses their story highlights to always have a direct shopping link to their latest product release. Whenever a new product comes out, it replaces the last one in their highlights.

Before story highlights, such quick and easy access to external product pages was not possible.

Complement or replace your blog!

If you run a blog and have seen your traffic dwindle or if you’ve never had one but always wanted to tell more stories, highlights is the perfect medium to either send more people to your new blog posts and boost your traffic or even use it as a blog replacement to tell the stories you’d like your audience to see.

For example, @urbanjungle, an Instagram-first business focused on highlighting the best plant interior decoration uses their story highlights to send people to new blog posts, boosting their traffic and potentially increasing the monetization value of their content.

Story highlights can even serve as a newsletter replacements when it comes to announcements, content and updates. They’ll likely be seen by many more people too…

Communicate giveaways, contests or campaigns that give your followers value for engaging with you more!

Posting giveaways, contests or campaigns that give your followers value for engaging with you always comes with a drawback. You have to constantly post about them, since the percentage of your audience who sees each of your posts on their home feed is becoming smaller and smaller, given Instagram’s new algorithm changes. Story highlights solves that problem! Now, you can use this feature to ensure that everyone who sees your profile can view your latest giveaway, contest or campaign.

Make the most of it by leveraging this new exposure to increase your engagement, which will rank you higher on people’s home feeds and surface you more on hashtag and explorer pages.

For example, @adajk (who’s an awesome writer and artist you should check out) uses his story highlights to let people know that he’ll repost them whenever they tag him in a post showing their favorite pages from his most recent book. The results: He gets a TON of tags on Instagram because people a) love him and his book and b) want to be tagged by an account with a large following to grow their own account. Everyone wins…

Being tagged by people is one of the most effective ways to grow your following and engagement.

I’ve also used this strategy on my @pinlord account. Instead of posting about my contest 3 or more times on my account (which I consider annoying and low quality content), I used the story highlights to let my followers know I was giving away more than 20 pins from my favorite pin makers for free. The result: myself and all of the makers who donated pins for the giveaway were reposted and tagged over 100 times, and one lucky winner got a super rad collection of pins for free.

Posting the same photo and same content several times usually leads to people being annoyed and you getting really low engagement on those posts, since Instagram penalizes using the same post over and over. Use story highlights instead ;)

Showcase and build your other social media channels!

If you run a business that has the largest audience on Instagram but you want to start migrating them to build a following other social media channels, story highlights is the best medium to do that.

For example, @luanna, a super-popular personality (people are small businesses too) that has been giving people fashion inspiration way before Instagram existed, uses her story highlights to drive her larger Instagram following to her YouTube channel, which she has a more monetization potential and control over.

I always recommend trying to grow other social media channels you enjoy, just in case Instagram implements a similar pay to play strategy like their parent company, Facebook, and you lose a lot of the value you’ve created.

Create informative, shoppable content that has never been possible before!

I only realized this while writing this article, but the story highlights feature will now allow us to create shoppable content that has never been possible before.

For example, the always-excellent-on-Instagram beauty giant, @glossier , uses their story highlights to partner with personalities to a) show people how to use their products and b) cross promote with other social media accounts and grow each other’s audience. The results: They grow their following, the personality who they partner with grows their following, they highlight their products in a fun and informative way, and they sell more of them. They know what they’re doing…

This is an example of the type of shoppable storytelling that has never been possible, until story highlights came along…

Those are only five examples of the type of strategies you can implement through your story highlights but I encourage you test them (and whatever else you consider might be good for your account), then measure the engagement response to find the ideal highlights for you and your audience. Everyone’s account is different and the more you try unique strategies, the more likely you are to find something valuable.

Hope this helps! And please, if you have any interesting highlight strategies that have worked for you or someone you know, email me! I’d love to hear about what you’re up to and possibly have you speak at an upcoming Instagram Growth Hackers Meetup in NYC!

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