Talk about an instant hit. Instagram Stories sailed to 100 million daily active users within just two months of launch. But how can you use Stories to promote your business?
For socially-engaged businesses, Instagram Stories provides a box-fresh vehicle for promoting your brand, your products, your services. Get it right and you can engender your followers with an extra dollop of affinity with your brand – building loyalty and, ultimately, encouraging future sales.
What is Instagram Stories?
Quick recap. Instagram Stories sees the Facebook-backed photo giant taking on Snapchat. It allows users to collate pictures and video footage into short slideshows, which can be overlaid with text, graphics and emojis.
This message will self-destruct – Instagram goes ephemeral
Once you have uploaded a ‘Story’, your content will disappear after 24 hours. So while the photos and videos you publish to your profile will forever be found by anyone willing to look for them, your Stories are ephemeral and only visible for a limited time. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. That gives you an opportunity to be more playful and informal with your marketing content – should you wish to be.
Here are eight ideas for using Instagram Stories to promote your business.
1. Take your followers behind the scenes
You might be surprised how interested people are when it comes to peeping behind the curtain. In an age where consumers are sceptical of traditional marketing, there’s an honesty about peeling your layers off and taking your audience behind the scenes. That might be a glimpse of your office gym, a look at the nuts and bolts of your production line or a time-lapse view of your stand going up at an industry event. Make your followers feel like insiders.
2. Product demonstrations and guides
A little quirkiness can go a long way when it comes to memorable marketing. The temporary nature of Instagram Stories gives you an opportunity to showcase your products in a different light.
3. Teasers of new products
Launching a new product soon? Tease it with a Story and let your biggest followers spread the word on your behalf. Build the buzz. Feed the hype machine. Give away one or two things about a killer new feature.
4. Promote your next big event
Holding a webinar? Hosting a conference? Inviting your customers for a networking event? Then people need to know about it. Instagram Stories gives you a platform for getting the message across loud and clear. No fuss, no frills. Just avoid being too salesy. After all, you want people to engage with your future Stories; and they won’t if they expect a sales pitch.
5. Live blog your event
So you’ve decided to hold a seminar on the history of the hemline (or whatever your area of expertise is). Add to the sense of occasion and engage non-attendees by taking them behind the scenes. Sure, it might be too late to add to the audience tally, but there’s nothing like giving people a little FOMO to encourage sign-ups next time you are promoting an event.
6. Flash sales and limited offers
Want to know a great way to reward your followers? Platform-specific flash sales on your products. Announcing too-good-to-miss offers via your Stories encourages your followers to pay razor-sharp attention to the content you publish. Just don’t overdo it.
7. Q&A sessions
A slick edit of a 10-minute Q&A with your CEO adds the human touch to your business. You could cut in some shots of your products or services to make sure the brand message hits home.
News spreads like wildfire across social media. Huge plumes of social commentary erupt around the latest stories in no time. Be part of the conversation. Consider one of the biggest stories of the day and find a way to relate it to your product. React to industry developments. Done properly this type of guerrilla marketing can transform your audience engagement.
Over to you!
Instagram Stories gives you a fresh way to reach out to your followers, build loyalty and raze the traditional boundaries between business and customer. The key, as ever, is to keep your content audience-focused. Stay engaging. Provide value. And try to refrain from publishing too frequently.
The best way to learn what works for you? Go experiment.