Instagram Stories have quickly grown into one of the biggest short-term marketing tools on social media today. Since their inception in 2016, Stories has reported 500 million users each day. And who wouldn’t want to take advantage? They’re quick and simple to put together, can be customized with stickers to encourage engagement, and disappear after 24 hours (unless you choose to highlight them). In essence, they changed the game for short-term content marketing.

That’s why it is essential for brands to take advantage of them. Today’s post will outline a few key aspects of Instagram Stories, as well as some ideas for how your own business can use them.

Stories: Laying the Groundwork

Instagram Stories differ from a feed post in that they only appear to users for a few seconds, do not have a caption, and usually disappear from a person’s profile after 24 hours. They are especially useful for quick updates, asking followers’ opinions on simple questions, getting quick, short-lived interactions, and sharing other individuals’ content.

Put simply, they are an easy way to interact with the community without needing the same amount of planning and effort as a feed post. Instagram Stories are happening in the moment and help users feel like they are a part of your brand’s conversation.

Strategizing Stories

Even though Stories usually do require less prep-work, it’s important to be strategic about how you use them. This starts with deciding what the function of the Story will be. Here are a few common ideas:

Interact with Your Target Audience

The option to add elements like polls, @ mentions, location tagging, emoji sliders, and more allow viewers to quickly and easily connect with your content. They can give their real-time reactions to whatever it is you’re doing on your Story.

This is especially useful if you want a quick opinion on a new product you’re launching or are giving a sneak preview of an upcoming event.

Give a Behind-The-Scenes Look

What does an average day at your office look like? Is there a secret ingredient that helps make your business so unique? Share it on your Story! It will make viewers feel closer to your brand because they are learning something new about it, something not previously shared publicly.

This is especially useful through Instagram takeovers. Give employees (mostly) free rein over your Story to show what a typical day looks like for them. Customers will get to know you better, and you’ll get more interactions.

Promote Yourself

In 2019, a study by Facebook, Inc. showed that 62% of Instagram users are more likely to buy a product after seeing it promoted on that company’s Story. Don’t be afraid to showcase specific services on your Story. If you’ve built a solid reputation, customers are likely to react positively to clear sales opportunities.

Even sharing a snippet of a blog post with the promise of the rest with a link is a great way to promote your business and share the specifics of what your company does. Just make sure you have a balance. Customers may get frustrated if all you post are ads. As long as you mix in some fun, quality content, you should be set for success.

Stories: Case in Point

Much like most skills, confidently using Instagram Stories comes from practicing and learning from others. Here are a few companies that have nailed the art of Instagram Story marketing and are worth keeping an eye on for ideas for your own content.

Buzzfeed

Whether you like them or not, Buzzfeed has gotten Instagram Stories down to a science. Between text, pictures, interactive content, and swipe up capabilities, they are a great example for companies who are content-driven.

LEGO

Although they do a great job of embracing their child-focused branding, LEGO has implemented a more adult-friendly strategy on their Stories. Interactive polls, clever imagery, and user-generated content are what make this brand worth talking about.

Benefit Cosmetics

This company falls under the “gold standard” of behind-the-scenes, real-world content. Along with promoting products, they feature influencers and real people showing how to use their make-up. They get audience interaction through templates and polls, and do it all with bright colors and an engaging tone. Benefit is a great one to check out if you need a little Instagram inspiration.

Overall, Stories are a great way to see eye-to-eye with your audience. They’re supposed to be fun! So, spend less time stressing and more time thinking about what you want to see when opening the Instagram app. Your customers will love it, your brand loyalty will soar, and social media marketing will become your favorite part of the day.