Instagram stories - what’s the point?
They’re only available for 24 hours, they don’t show up on the main feed, and it’s harder to track engagement.
Understandably, most brands don’t see much point in them. They’re a space to repost feed posts and occasionally upload some behind the scenes content.
However, Instagram stories are used by 500 million users every single day. That’s 5555.55x as many people can fit in Wembley. Imagine that. The whole of Wembley 5555 times over flicking through Instagram for something to grab their attention.
Plus, with 80% of Instagram users following at least one business (and most people following many more), stories are a slot of free real estate you can’t afford to miss out on.
In the business, that’s what we like to call a ‘ruddy good opportunity’.
What do the stats say?
1 in 4 Millennials and Gen Z-ers use Stories to look for the products or services they want to buy
51% of brands are using videos in their Instagram Stories (which holds better retention compared to images)
70% percent of Instagram users watch Instagram Stories on a daily basis
One-third of the platform's most-viewed Stories are from businesses
But social media is more than just stats, it’s personality and human interaction - and that’s what stories can provide: a humanistic element to your brand that can otherwise be hard to fit into your normal content.
The main feed tends to be polished, sleek, and encapsulating, but most importantly, it’s there to stay. Stories are here today and gone tomorrow - providing opportunities that the main feed doesn’t offer.
If the main feed is a thoroughly planned holiday to a dream destination; your stories are a spontaneous adventure to the most exciting place you can get to in the moment.
Alternatively, if the main feed is you at a party with your family, the stories are you at a party with your friends. Both are you, both are fun, but the latter’s a bit looser, a bit more boundary-pushing, and a bit more eccentric (and probably a lot drunker).
This doesn’t mean anything goes on stories, but it does mean it’s more of an open playing field.
What can stories be used for?
Stories shouldn’t be an option or an afterthought, they need to be a standard part of your practice in order to reap maximum rewards.
Saying that, simply having stories is a positive, boosting your overall impressions and keeping your brand top of mind. Simply reposting content you’ve been tagged in builds a collective mindset, providing you with social proofing that improves the look of your brand to cold or warm audiences.
Here’s a list of things you can use stories for alongside general brand awareness:
Pushing key sales dates
Engaging with your audience
Telling a story
Highlight key content from the feed
Showcase products/services without it affecting feed dynamic
To be saved as highlights as an extension of your profile
Testing new content
Highlighting your brand’s personality
How do I create a good story?
Every good piece of content starts with a ‘why’ before the ‘how’.
Here are a few examples:
Why? To engage with your audience.
How? Polls, quizzes, questions, sliders.
People love to give an opinion - but it needs to be an opinion about something they care about and/or is personal to them. Polls, quizzes, questions, and sliders allow your audience to engage with your brand on a more personal level, giving you both a better understanding of one another and improving your relationship.
Why? To showcase products/key sales dates.
How? Videos, gifs, and anything that’s exciting.
When people are flicking through stories, they need something that’s going to grab their attention. Most personal profiles will put images up on their stories, so to create a separation, utilising anything that moves (such as a video or gif) can snap people out of their tapping hypnosis to pay attention.
Make the promotion the main focus, but make it more exciting than just “look what we did”. It needs to also say “here’s how it can help you”,” here’s why you need to pay attention,” and possibly most importantly, “here’s how it connects to who you are”.
Why? There’s a piece of news/a trend you’d like to do some reactive content on.
How? Make sure it’s on-brand and encourages shareability.
Reactive content can pay back exponentially in brand awareness and engagement compared to the time you put in - but only if it’s done right.
Understandably, some brands don’t like to utilise reactive content as they’re worried about their brand reputation. Others have tried, failed, and given up simply because they didn’t know how to do it correctly.
Instagram stories is the perfect place to test reactive content due to its ephemeral nature, and can be easily shared through screenshots/DMs if done right. As people know that the story will only be up for a limited amount of time, it lends itself to a high level of virality as people try to share the post before it disappears.
The key to creating good reactive content lies in the sweet spot between what’s on-brand and what’s funny. If it’s on brand and unfunny, you just end up with a bit of egg on your face. If it’s off-brand, but funny, then people can get the wrong idea about who you are.
If you want to know more about how to execute reactive content correctly, we have a specific blog post that covers everything you need to know.
Make them as thumb-stopping as people - people scroll through stories faster than their feed, so you need to make content that makes them pay attention
Utilise swipe-ups where possible (though this can only be achieved once you’ve hit 10k followers)
Use stories to tell a story - by posting multiple stories at once, you can hold people’s attention for longer. Though this time, you can expand on the subject you’re looking to draw awareness to.
Give your brand a personality - due to their disappearing nature, stories can be a casual way to build the personality of your brand, connecting to users on a more humanistic and personal level. That doesn’t mean they don’t need as much thought, but they don’t need to be as polished.
Test new content - similar to the above, stories are the perfect place to be more experimental. If you want to move your brand into new areas and conversations, test it out on stories first. If you get a negative/lackluster response, then you know not to use it on your main feed.
Images that followers can use as their phone wallpaper (plus, by adding a bit of branding you can gain additional exposure)
Quizzes about your brand and/or industry
Screenshot for [anything relevant to your brand] - a recurring, fast-paced gif where the audience have to screenshot in order to get their result
Top tips that can improve the wellbeing of your followers in a fun, engaging way
The Bottom Line
This should go without saying, but it’s important to state that everything you do on social media needs to be interesting - and that includes stories.
It’s easy to think of the story space as throwaway content, but it’s an extension of your brand, and thorough, well-thought-out, and exciting stories can provide your brand with additional exposure.
On your personal profile, the brands you engage with most on stories will appear first, so by creating interesting stories, your brand will always be at the top of people’s screens when they log in.
We haven’t listed all of the ingredients to our secret story sauce here, so make sure to get in touch if you’re looking to revamp your social to new heights.