In August of 2016, Instagram changed its feed from linear to algorithmic. With the original version of Instagram, your feed displayed all of the posts of those you follow, in chronological order. With the new version, it only displays some of those posts, which are chosen through an algorithm based on factors like engagement.
This change created a challenge for small businesses that use Instagram for marketing. Due to the algorithm, small business accounts would likely lose visibility because the algorithm gives preference to larger accounts with higher engagement rates. This is the same issue that many small businesses have using Facebook. In order to combat the algorithm, there is something you can do! Instagram Stories provides a separate channel of engagement that’s independent of the algorithm. This allows small businesses to stay connected and top of mind with their audience.
Tips For Using Instagram Stories for Marketing
Instagram Stories allows small businesses to use Instagram more effectively. However, it is important that your small business uses Instagram Stories the right way. Below are some tips for properly incorporating Instagram Stories into your marketing strategy.
Include Your Location
When it comes to local marketing, customers need to know where your business is located. One tip for making the most of Instagram Stories is to tag your location. This is a great way to use social media for local internet marketing. Adding your location in your Stories tells followers and potential customers that you are nearby, and even get people to stop in to your store or event.
To add a location to your Instagram Story, swipe right from your home screen to start your Story. Once you have a picture or video, you’ll see a square smiley face on the top right of the screen. Tap on it, then tap “Location” and select your business location. Now your Story is a piece of location-based marketing content!
Experiment with Content and Hashtags
We’ve all done it—agonized for several minutes over coming up with good hashtags for your posts, or for the perfect caption or filter. When it comes to Instagram Stories, you don’t need to be perfect! The photos and videos in your Story disappear within 24 hours, which takes away the need to be perfect online. Post freely and frequently, and see what users engage with most. Use Instagram Stories to experiment with different types of content, and to test content out before posting to your permanent feed.
Don’t Perfect, but Do Polish
While the nature of Stories frees you from perfecting your posts, you don’t want to bombard your followers with low quality content. This will give them a quick reason to unfollow you or tune you out. Don’t pain yourself over your posts, but do polish them to maintain their appeal and effect.
Research Your Competitors
Look at how your competitors are using Instagram Stories. Don’t copy what they’re doing, but do gather information on what their current strategies are, and on what works. There is nothing wrong with adopting certain aspects of their methods into your strategy, or innovating on them with your own style.
Research Your Followers
Take a look at the Stories of your followers to see what kinds of Stories they are likely to be drawn to, and what type of content they like. This tip will help you to stay up to date on your followers’ Stories can help you to speak their language and appeal to their preferences. Always be learning about your target audience so that you can most effectively communicate with them.
Offer Something Valuable
High quality content isn’t just content that is nice to look at or visually appealing. High quality also means that it is of value to your target audience. Be sure to use your Stories to inform, educate, or help your target audience such as quick tutorials or time-limited coupons and offers . Make sure your offers have value, because too many low-quality offers are likely to cause followers to tune you out or unfollow you.
Offer a Way to Learn More
One reason small businesses use Instagram Stories is that it offers a great platform to provide a quick glimpse at products and services. If you are using Stories to showcase your products and services, always offer a way to learn more. To implement this tip, provide a URL at the end of the story that users can go to for more information. Just make sure that it is short and memorable, since users can’t click on that link and will have to manually type it into their browser.
You may have noticed that some Instagram accounts that you follow do have clickable links in their Stories. This is a feature that Instagram is testing, and is only available for verified accounts. Verified accounts have been confirmed by instagram to be the authentic account of public figures, celebrities, and global brands. There is not a way to request verification at this time.
Keep Time in Mind
Your Instagram Story may be up for 24 hours, but people aren’t on Instagram—let alone awake!—for 24 hours. Think of the peak times your target audience will be on Instagram and post your Stories then. Follow this tip to ensure you appear at the top of your followers’ feeds at optimal times.
Make it a Story
It’s not called Stories for nothing! Make sure you’re not just posting a disparate collection of random pictures and videos. A cohesive story that conveys a message or has a common theme is more appealing and engaging to people, and will keep them watching all the way through.
With Instagram Stories, you can combine real time marketing and storytelling to get the word out about your business. Use these tips to get your Stories strategy up and running!