A VERY BRIEF HISTORY LESSON ABOUT INSTAGRAM STORIES
Snapchat may have made the Stories feature popular, but Instagram has been dominating the space since launching almost a year ago.
On August 2nd, 2016, Instagram launched Instagram Stories. While many people thought this was a move to takeover Snapchat, Instagram was actually focused on a bigger issues: making sure the Instagram user had more reasons to return to the app.
There are certain protocols that arisen since Instagram joined the scene, one of them being not to post too often throughout the day. At RedFork, we recommend that our Partners (our clients) post no more than 3 times a day. The reason for this is to help ensure that you are not becoming a nuisance to your followers.
Another common practice that arose on Instagram was only sharing high-quality images on the platform. Typically these images are of the most exciting or interesting moments in your life, meaning that the user may only share a few images a week, even though they will actively like and comment on other accounts on a regular basis.
So in comes Instagram Stories, the solution to the problem of providing users with a way to share more frequently - specifically daily. This is literally the first statement in the blog post announcement from Instagram...
So regardless of Snapchat and all the competitive reasons why Instagram released a Stories feature, in the end, it was just a good business decision! Since it's launch, Instagram Stories has become a very important feature for consumers and brands alike looking to grow their awareness. As CNBC reported on June 20th, 2017, Instagram Stories now has over 250 million daily active users compared to Snapchat's 166 million.
So now that we have a brief understanding of why Instagram Stories came into existence, let's take a look at how this feature can really benefit your small business.
3 REASONS WHY USING INSTAGRAM STORIES IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR SMALL BUSINESS
I've covered the importance of every small business being present on social media platforms in previous blog posts - check out this one - so if you haven't created an Instagram account, get on it!
After your Instagram account is up and running, with high-quality images or graphics being published on a regular basis, it's time to dive into the Stories feature.
Instagram Stories is a fun and engaging way to share pictures and video with your followers. There is a wide variety of customization features that you can use to enhance your content, such as drawing, text, stickers, image and face filters.
For a detailed review of how to use Instagram Stories along with all these awesome features, I recommend reading this great article by Zainab at The Verge. Her overview is awesome, complete with pictures and videos of how to navigate and create Stories your fans will love!
But for those of you looking for reasons why your business even needs to worry about creating daily stories on Instagram, I've got 3 really good ones for you.
Instagram Stories provides...
1. A SNEAK PEEK INTO YOUR COMPANY
While publishing pictures or videos to your profile may have limits (remember, no more than 3 posts a day), it's more acceptable to share content consistently with Instagram Stories. This provides a unique opportunity for brands and companies to showcase a behind-the-scenes look into what it's really like being a part of your business. Some of the ways you give your followers a sneak peek into the daily operations of your brand includes:
- Introducing a team member
- Providing a walkthrough of your office, store, department or factory
- Featuring the construction or manufacturing process of your product
- A look into company events and meetings (just be careful not to share confidential info)
The possibilities of how you can showcase the "human" side of your business are endless, but just remember, people will find the daily activities of your business interesting, so give them what they want!
2. A QUICK, EASY, AND FUN EXPERIENCE
One of the great things about Instagram Stories is that the content doesn't need to be polished.
This feature was designed to be fun, fast, and provide a completely different experience for users looking to stay engaged with the people and businesses they find interesting.
So a big tip to follow with your Instagram Stories - have fun with it! While you can certainly share useful or educational information with your followers, also remember that people want to see REAL PEOPLE working with your company. And guess what?
People like to have fun! So taking videos with fun music, or face filters, or adding stickers to pictures really makes your brand become more accessible to fans and followers. This human element will not only increase engagement with your followers, it will also increase your awareness with new people who find your brand interesting - and that means more potential customers for your small business!
3. ACCESS TO A GREATER AUDIENCE
A lot of new elements have been released over the past year with Instagram Stories, and some of the biggest updates include features that get your Story viewed by a greater audience. Here are a few ways you can increase the views of your Instagram Stories
Location Tags (AKA Geotags)
Using the Location sticker will all you to tag where you are recording your story. This is important because Instagram rolled out location-based Stories not too long ago, and with certain locations, Instagram pulls stories from multiple users to create a location-based story that is viewable by any Instagram user - not just your specific followers.
So for instance, if I record a 15-second video at Orlando City Stadium (Go Lions!), I can add a Location tag to my story before publishing. After publishing, I will most likely receive a notification that my Story has now been added to the Orlando City Stadium Story, meaning all of the City fans viewing the stadium story will now see what I published!
For small businesses looking to grow their following, utilizing Location-based Stories is a great strategy for greater awareness and exposure to a larger audience.
Nothing new here, hashtags are basically a universal practice across all social media platforms.
Similar to the Location-based, Instagram Stories also collaborates Stories published by multiple users who include popular hashtags to their content to create one Story to rule them all!
So say you own a restaurant and you're looking to get more hungry foodies into your place. By producing a quick Instagram Story featuring a favorite item on your menu, and including the Foodie hashtag (#Foodie) within the post, your Story could be added to the featured #Foodie Instagram Story!
Again, this is all about gaining more exposure and getting more people aware of your business and brand.
This last element is more of a feature of the entire Instagram platform, but it's located in the same location as the Stories feature... Going Live!
Live Video has become so important to social media platforms, with Facebook and YouTube pumping tons of money into marketing these services for people and businesses to start utilizing.
Going Live on any social media platform is a very fun and interactive way for small businesses to connect and interact with fans of their brand. Live Video sessions can be used for interviews, large events, a group discussion, or even a product announcement!
With Instagram, as soon as you go Live, your followers will receive a notification to tune in. If they choose to check out your Live Video session, they can interact by commenting and sending hearts (similar to likes on published content) throughout the entire video.
The RedFork Team actually hosted a weekly Facebook Live event for the early part of 2017 called #ThisOrThat, where we pitted two things against each other (think Coke vs. Pepsi) and decided which one was the best. You can see these videos on our Facebook Page!
So there you have it - 3 really good reasons why your small business should not only have an Instagram account, but should be sharing Stories every day!
For a bit more information and statistics about Millennials, why they love small businesses, and the importance of brands to be social, check out this interactive infographic from Goldman Sachs.
Does your small business you use Instagram Stories? What are some of your favorite features? Do you think Snapchat is better for this type of content?
- 4 Reasons Why I'm Doubling Down on Instagram Stories and You Should Too, by Andrew Medal of Entrepreneur
- 10 Reasons to Use Instagram Stories for Business, by Kristen McCormick of ThriveHive
- How to Use Instagram Stories Like a Pro, by Zainab Hasnain of The Verge
- 10 Reasons Why Millennials Love Small Business and How You Can Win Their Business, by Chelsea Segal, CEO of Targetwise