It’s no longer a Snapchat copycat. Instagram Stories is now the place to go to see what mates, influencers and Christina Aguilera are doing at this very moment, in real time.
Since it burst onto the app in August 2016, Stories has been growing exponentially in popularity - drawing more users to the feature than the original feed itself.
At first it was a simple snap-text-share template. But developers have been ploughing serious smarts into the tool to make it an indispensable platform for influencer marketing. Boomerangs, Superzooms, GIF stickers, live videos (even double live chats!), geotagging, drawing tools… it’s like a Wonka Factory for social media.
It’s paid off: Instagram reports that users younger than 25 now spend 32 minutes every day on the app, with 25-and-olders spending 24 minutes a day.
There are countless ways brands and influencers can creatively use Instagram Stories - and the cherry-on-top is that it can all be done on a next-to-nothing budget. Ready to try a few tricks? Good on ya. Here’s how Instagram megastars are currently using it to power-up their marketing.
Elaborate on the stories behind your posts
There are so many ways you can do this. And it’s a perfect way to show the authentic personality behind your brand - supplementing your main Instagram feed with “bonus” snaps and videos through Stories. There’s literally no other social network that allows you to do this kind of thing and it’s dead simple to do. Here are a few ideas:
- While you’re taking shots to go on your feed, snap some extras that show behind the scenes. If you’re sharing a food pic, it could be as simple as running through the menu on your Stories, or flipping your camera into selfie mode to show you sitting in the restaurant.
- Share some #fail pics of photos you’ve taken. Your followers will love the ‘real’ imperfection of it all - and a sense of humour goes a long way.
- Zoom out of a photograph set-up. For example, if you’re shooting an outfit for a fashion brand, show the team, lighting set-up or anything else that’s gone into obtaining that winning shot. From Big Brother to Gogglebox, we are a nation of ‘reality’ lovers - use it to your advantage.
Make your own Instagram Stories templates
Stories are an ideal way to interact with your followers (and gain more) by sharing a little bit more about yourself. Interactive templates are a fun way to do this: there are loads popping up, like this ready-to-use set of eight from The Everygirl.
This one is perfect for beauty influencers, with bucket-lists, ‘Instagram crushes’ (where you can tag users who make you laugh, give you wanderlust, have ‘crazy good makeup’ etc), or a very popular ‘this or that’ template to circle your preferences (kinda like a ‘would you rather’ game).
These aren’t just brilliant for beauty and lifestyle influencers. You could create your own personalised templates for your brand or blog. If you’re a gamer, for example, create a custom template that allows users to list their top 10 games of all time. Be sure to put your Instagram handle on the template for users to tag you and watch your followers shoot up organically.
It’s a real shame that more brands and bloggers aren’t using Instagram Live. It’s a phenomenal tool for growing your follower count and driving up engagement.
But it’s not a surprise - going live on the internet can be completely and utterly terrifying, to be honest. It’s worth it though: streaming in real-time can boost your discoverability on the ‘Explore’ feed of Instagram and that is something every influencer strives for.
Users can interact with your live video so you can answer any questions in real-time. You can even double-up with another Instagram user and do a live chat - there’s no limit to the possibilities.
Whether you’re recording a gig as and when it happens, filming an interactive Q&A or even doing a live workout class (very brave), there’s a raw magic to Instagram Live that can’t be replicated in a self-styled photo. Your followers will even get a notification that you’re doing it - marketing GOLD.