How much time do you spend watching all of your friends’ Instagram Stories? Well, if you’re like me, and the rest of the planet that is obsessed with Instagram, then the answer is pretty evident. We browse through all of them so much to the point where we view most of them before we move on to our actual Instagram feed. Your answer, however, speaks volumes about Instagram Story’s popularity. With over 800 million daily active users participating, it has morphed into a powerful social media tool. Shame on the social media marketer who refuses to acknowledge this fact. People like it for a reason! It’s captivating, engaging, interactive, and above all, it’s loads of fun! Strap yourselves in. Together, we’ll take a look at the numerous features Instagram Story has, and how you can use them to effectively market your brand. Your Instagram Story is a Scheduled TV Program Instagram Story has opened the door for people to act as quirky as possible. The ephemeral quality of this Instagram feature drives us to act so uninhibitedly sometimes. It’s no surprise to see the craziest antics happening in Instagram stories. But all manner of insane late-night trips aside, you need to stop thinking of your Instagram Story as just a platform for random promotional content. Instagram Stories require thought and planning. You should think about your Instagram Story as you would any other content channel: ahead of time. Treat your Instagram Story like it’s your own TV network. Program a set of shows for the entire week, or perhaps even recurring shows that happen on specific days. Planning how your Instagram Stories will unfold over the week will help you craft a consistent viewing experience for your audience. If you’re lucky, it can even end up being incredibly addictive. Creating the Instagram Story Instagram Story made its mark for having various video styles to choose from. Get creative and use all of them. Doing it right will help you create fresh content for your audience to watch every day. The video styles you can choose from are: Normal: This is the style that everybody is most familiar with. It lets you take standard images and normal videos. Boomerang: This one takes bursts of photos, and arranges them into one loop to create fluidly moving images. Rewind: Like the name of the style suggests, this plays your video in reverse. Superzoom: This style lets you choose a focus point and zoom in on it with accompanying music to create funny and dramatic moments. Talk about an incredibly useful meme creator. Hands-free: This one has a slight similarity to Snapchat. It lets you record a video without having to keep your finger on the record button. This video style is perfect for doing product demonstrations and tutorials. Stop-motion: This video style is for the artsy creative content creators. It takes you back to the old days. It quickly plays a sequence of images to create an animated video. Customizing Your Story Creating Instagram Stories using various video styles are cool, but they’re raw content. That’s good, but there are times when your stories might call for some editing. And that is the perfect time to start customizing your stories with stickers, geotags, hashtags, and face filters. Say it With Stickers One great thing about Instagram Stories is adding stickers to encourage various types of engagement from your audience: Selfie sticker: Your face can be your own stickers. Or in this case, the face of your brand can be your selfie sticker. Music sticker: This sticker lets you share parts of a song in your story. Question sticker: Encourage your audiences to participate with these stickers. Put forward an interesting question and drum up some engagement with your audiences. Hashtag stickers: Spread a trend with hashtag stickers on Instagram Stories. When followers click the sticker, they’ll be taken to the corresponding page with the relevant hashtag. Poll stickers: Maximize engagement with all of your followers by putting up polls. Give your audiences a say in your company’s decision-making. It draws them in and involves them wholly. Product stickers: After having an account approved for shopping by Instagram, you can add shopping stickers to any photo uploaded as a story. Shopping stickers allow your buyers to have easy access to the tagged products. Tapping on it again will let them purchase it. Location stickers: Use these stickers to add locations to your story. It lets your audience know where you are, and it gives you the opportunity to be seen by a wide range of users. GIFs: The introduction of GIFs to Instagram encouraged users to participate some more with the Instagram Stories. These GIFs allow you to add vibrancy, personality, and fun into a story. via Instagram Press Geotags Geotags help you get discovered in location-level stories. Tagging your location in your Story posts when it’s relevant will put help people find you — especially those who are checking in on a specific spot. Hashtags Hashtags are typically used for discoverability on social media, but there’s a downside. They take viewers away from your stores and to others’ posts. So your safest bet is to use hashtags in stories only if you own them. One good way of incorporating the use of hashtags is through contests. Get your followers to submit photos of themselves with your products under the banner of a branded hashtag. That way, anyone who finds your hashtag will be taken to a collection of posts that are associated with your brand. Add Some Artistry to Your Stories In addition to stickers and video styles, Instagram also has drawing tools. Texts of different fonts and solid multi-colored backgrounds are widely available too. Markers available for use in Instagram Stories let you do so much. It’s really up to you to employ as much creativity as possible. Do Some Drawing Instagram Stories have a wide range of marker choices. There’s the fine point, angled, neon, chalk, or the eraser. You can also adjust the marker’s thickness and change the colors. The eyedropper is also a handy feature that lets you copy a color from the image or video you took. via alextooby Tag the Important Ones Regardless of who your target audience is, they’ll appreciate being acknowledged. Recognizing their existence — especially when it’s relevant, will not only raise brand awareness, it cultivates camaraderie with the people on the other side of your screen. This is a good reason to make use of tagging. @mention Instagram accounts, and turn those mentions into live, clickable links. This is a good way to thank your dedicated followers, and especially mention those who’ve been a big help somehow. via Instacentric Up the Interaction Factor, and Point the Way to Your Official Site The icing on top of the Instagram Story cake is the option to add links. When your follower base has reached at least 10,000 you unlock the privilege of adding links to your Instagram Stories so you followers can swipe up for more content. And speaking of swiping up, it’s time to drive all the traffic to your website or your blog. Besides adding links to your Instagram bio, take it even further and point the way to your official site by adding links to your Instagram Stories. Always remember that your audience’s attention isn’t yours to hold forever. They leave when they aren’t engaged or they’re bored. If you want them to take a specific action, don’t beat around the bush. Spoon-feed them and be direct. via APPSeConnect Amass Your Stories Into Instagram Story Highlights Instagram Stories are known for having short shelf-lives. They don’t last for more than 24 hours, but you can curate them into story highlights and pin them to your profile. You can place them under specific themes and title them in so many creative ways. You can use Highlights to: Showcase product features. Create teasers about products and upcoming company events. Advertise sales and limited offers. Compile a list of special followers you want to acknowledge. Directly address new followers by pitching your content and Instagram account. Monitor Your Progress With Instagram Analytics Business accounts have access to a wide range of signals for more meaningful tracking processes. You can view metrics like impressions and reach, but also actions taken on your stories. Instagram analytics is available for business profiles. Other ones you can try are: Instagram Insights Simply Measured Iconosquare Union Metrics Squarelovin Socialbakers InstaFollow Pixlee Crowdfire Websta Making use of the following analytics will help you figure out where engagement is strongest and where it’s lacking. There are no limits to what you can do to make your content better over time. via Shopify The Takeaway Instagram Story is a game changer. Since its release, it has changed the way we use Instagram for the better. Now the platform has morphed into a social media site where everybody is free to be creative and be themselves. And with this generation’s affinity for equality, what could be better, honestly? Your business is more than capable of using Instagram Stories as a way to keep your target audience involved — and happily so. But above all, you also leave your content open for new audiences to flock in and discover. Tell us your Instagram Story. 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