Snapchat, a social media platform with over 170 million users, is a phone app that allows people to post content that can last anywhere from a few seconds to 24 hours before disappearing forever. Its most loved feature is their face filters that can turn you into anything from a dog to a drag queen. Yes, this app is for adults. So as Instagram does, they took something wildly popular and made it (mostly) better. Their face filters still need some work – I look much prettier with the Snapchat ones. With over 700 million users, Instagram Stories is quickly edging out Snapchat and becoming a monster on its own. For this reason, businesses and influencers are finding ways to capitalize on this to grow their brands. With digital advertising being the main form of marketing these days, it’s a no brainer that helps you increase brand visibility at little to no cost.

Unlike Snapchat, Instagram has built-in advertising features and analytics tools. This allows brands to measure the results of their stories by seeing click-rates, views, and impressions. Brands across all industries are starting to use Instagram Stories to market their products or services. Similarly, influencers are growing their personal brand and their following by adding Stories as yet another layer of online sharing.

There are a ton of fun ways brands and influencers can engage their followers using Instagram Stories. Here are our favourites.

  1. Show your product/service in action

A still photo is great but showing off your product/service in action through video is ten times better. Though people typically engage more with photos than they do with videos on the regular Instagram feed, InstaStories are made for short clips. Using this feature to either reveal or show off a product/service is an easy way to generate excitement around the item.

Influencers can also benefit greatly from InstaStories as it gives them another venue to promote a brand that they’re collaborating with. Many influencers will charge extra for an InstaStory mention. Seeing as how it requires little to no extra work to snap a quick story, it’s easy money. Since it disappears from their feed in 24 hours, it also doesn’t clog up or overpopulate their feed.

  1. Redirect followers to your website

Anything that drives traffic to your website is a good thing. Using Instagram Stories to create a call to action is an easy way to get website visits. Simply tell your followers to “Swipe Up” or “Click the link in [your] bio” to be redirected to your website, blog, YouTube video, etc… This is one of the many features that places InstaStories above Snapchat for brands and influencers.

  1. Give your followers a behind-the-scenes experience

People are on social media because they want to creep and they want to be creeped. So, let’s feed that hunger. Giving your followers a first-hand look at what goes on behind closed doors is a great way to make them feel involved and valued. Posting perfectly staged shots is great but going further and giving them an insider’s look at how content is created or who is creating is will make them feel more connected to the brand. This type of content can be as – or more – valuable than the staged posts on your feed.

  1. Do an influencer takeover

It’s no secret that working with influencers on social media to strengthen and grow your brand is marketing gold. This is especially true if your target market is part of a young, tech-savvy generation. A popular way to collaborate with influencers is to invite them to do an Instagram takeover where they take control of your brand’s account for anywhere from a few hours to a whole day. This not only creates a buzz but contributes to a mutually beneficial cross-promotion between the influencer and the brand. Both parties will gain new visibility and reach new audiences.

  1. Announce a Live Stream

Going live is great for brands to do but especially awesome for influencers. Followers want to see what someone is like unfiltered (both figuratively and literally) and live streams are a great way to get that rawness. Using InstaStories to promote or announce an upcoming Live Stream is effective in building up anticipation and thus viewership.

  1. Share snippets of longer form content

For brands or influencers whose content comes in longer form (i.e. blogs, YouTube videos, etc.…), using InstaStories can be a great tool to give followers a glimpse of this content. These video snippets or writing screenshots can act as a teaser to entice people to check out the full content.

To best maximize this, give your audience a good reason to find out more. Try to convey the value they’ll get by accessing the full content in the few seconds you have.

  1. Use it as a countdown

Call me crazy, but I hate Instagram feed fluff. I don’t want to see pictures of your food, the sky, or a number counting something down. So, if you’re a brand or an influencer anticipating a product launch or big event, use your Instagram story (instead of your feed) as a space to count down to it. It’ll build up the hype without being overbearing.

 

Using Stories as an add-on to your regular Instagram feed will help you to increase your overall reach and engage existing audiences. Though influencers have certainly jumped on the InstaStory train, brands have yet to fully take advantage of it. This means that it’s not yet being overcrowded by brands making it easier for yours to get noticed.