Since Instagram’s inception, the most successful marketers on the platform have been the storytellers. They are the ones who plan out their posts in advance and knit them together in a cohesive narrative to ensure their followers are entertained and engaged. They build their audience by creating an ongoing conversation. They are constantly finding new ways to connect emotionally with their followers.
And over the last year those storytellers have embraced Instagram Stories as this Snapchat-like feature has attracted over 300 million users daily in its first 18 months.
For those of you still on the fence, Tank has pulled together our top six tips to help your brand up its Instagame and master the art of Stories in 2018.
Aren’t Organic Posts Enough?
With the continued growth of Instagram from 600 million to 800 million users over the last 12 months, Tank has seen firsthand the increasing threat of Instagram’s algorithms limiting the reach of organic posts for our clients. By their own admission, Instagram estimates that up to 70% of posts are missed in users’ content feeds as the network continues to grow and average follower count increases.
As users follow more people and brands, the volume of posts in their organic feed grows. Instagram starts to only show content and accounts the user has engaged with based on an algorithm that scores likes, comments, timeliness and relevancy.
Stories is a great way to ensure your followers and prospective customers continue to have the opportunity to see your brand’s content.
#1 The Art of Storytelling
While Storytelling has had a tremendous amount of buzz over the last several years, it has always been a key element of marketing. Features like Instagram Stories are simply tools that empower us marketers to tell richer and deeper stories about our brands.
Most of the time the hardest part of jumping into Stories is figuring out how to create compelling content. When we are helping our clients get started, we ask a few simple questions:
- Who are you trying to reach?
- Why do they care about this content?
- Why do your customers purchase your product or service?
This may sound like basic fundamentals to any social strategy, but we find a lot of marketers are so stoked about their product or service they go straight to reciting facts like they are reading a sales sheet handout at a conference. No matter how compelling those factoids are, if you haven’t pulled in the audience, it will be completely lost on them.
#2 Craft a Branded Look-and-Feel
This may be one of the most important, and often overlooked, pieces of Instagram Stories. Jumping in without alignment to the overall brand and voice can detract from the brand and create confusion about who you are.
Whatever your approach is, it should be an extension of your overall brand. We suggest pulling up the brand identity guidelines and reviewing the positioning, along with colors, fonts and imagery. Make sure the person who is deploying Stories understands the brand identity guidelines, as well as the brand voice and tone, to ensure alignment.
There are going to be gaps – – and that’s ok. There likely won’t be any guidance for filters and many other things. Continue updating the guidelines as necessary. Push the boundaries. Evolve. Have fun. But most importantly, make sure the look-and-feel you create feels like your brand.
#3 Augment Your Instagram Posts & Blog Content
Some of the best content on Stories comes from reviewing what is working on your organic social posts or blog content and augmenting it with more information.
This past year, Tank used this approach for promoting conference attendance for several clients. Initially, we deployed organic posts to provide basic event information and used Stories to showcase speakers, allowing them to provide teasers about their sessions. Those teasers then pointed directly back to the link to purchase tickets to the event.
Another approach we have employed is leveraging our clients’ customers to tell their own story about the impact our clients’ products and services have had on their businesses. Since Stories allows uploads of previously recorded video, it is now easier than ever to capture video, edit it and upload it.
And finally, let’s bring together your blog with traffic from Stories.
To better understand how to do so, let’s look at an example of how men’s fashion magazine GQ is using Stories to drive traffic to their website.
In the example above, GQ has shown several Golden Globes looks in Stories. Each look has a number associated with it. When you get to look 7 of 32, GQ adds a call to action to “swipe up for the full list,” driving the user to the specific story on their website.
#4 Go Live
Instagram Live is a feature that allows you to share live video on the platform. Live can be a great way to add followers as more viewers and engagement of the broadcast signal to Instagram that your content is worthy of a larger audience — meaning your video will show up the Explore tab.
It can be a little daunting the first time you use the Live video option in Stories. But just like anything else, you have to plan out your approach.
For your first couple of outings, we suggest starting off with content that goes two to three minutes. Don’t memorize a script, but definitely do several dry runs before broadcasting. This will ensure you hone the message, remember to hit key points and help you know the length of time for your Live video.
Tips for Live Broadcast:
- Write out your talking points beforehand so you aren’t unprepared
- Do a couple of dry runs
- Prior to the broadcast, promote it through other social networks, organic posts and Stories
- After the broadcast, edit appropriately for other social networks
#5 Invite People Behind the Scenes
Whether your company puts together luxury bicycle tours in the world’s most amazing places or you are a Fortune 500 company bringing together your customers at an annual conference, Stories can help bring along those who could not attend and augment the experience of the attendees.
Here are a few ideas:
- Interview the event leadership. This could range from the people who put on the event to those who are speaking. In the case of a bicycle tour company, it could be the trip leaders.
- Invite attendees to share their experiences at the event. What did they get out of it? What did they learn or experience?
- Create teaser videos about what is going to happen during the event and give an overview as the activities are happening.
- Provide a post-event summary. For some brands this may be video snippets or highlights from speakers, for others this could just be a summary of the three key topics discussed.
#6 Risk Mitigation
As with any marketing program, there are risks involved whether from negative replies or alienating customer segments.
If you want to focus your Stories on certain audiences, you can use the Hide Story feature that will not allow specific followers to see it. Simply go to the published Story, select Hide Story and check off the followers you don’t want to view it. We often use that feature for clients that have identified competitors following them.
Another way to mitigate risk on Stories is utilizing the Allow Replies feature. With this feature you have the option to turn replies completely off or only allow replies from followers who follow you as well. You may find this useful if your company has had a recent service issue or had to layoff employees or close a factory or retail location.
Bonus Tip: Save Shared Content
No matter what type of content Tank produces for our clients we are always thinking about how to leverage it across other channels and communications.
Instagram Stories are no different. As you plan out your Stories, think about how they can be shared on other networks or recycled and reshared via paid distribution or in an organic post later.
We find that Stories are a great way to test content and see what works with your audience. Take the best performing content and then repost with confidence.
To let us help tell your story, reach out.
Tony Roy is the head of digital marketing and eCommerce strategy at Tank. He has generated over $1B in incremental eCommerce revenue during his career. Tony created the first health social platform and developed the first mobile package-tracking app. He has been recognized by the Smithsonian Institute for innovation as the product manager for FedEx’s Internet shipping application.