Recently in my Facebook group (Like Minded Business Owners – definitely join if you aren’t already in the community!), I was asked about an old podcast on Instagram stories.
So I thought I would create a blog post about them!
Because, let’s face it, Instagram stories are where it’s at, at the moment on social media!
Why Instagram Stories Are a Powerful Tool for Business
With over 500 million daily users, Instagram Stories are a great way to reach potential new customers and build a stronger connection with your existing ones.
And since Instagram really took off, we are seeing a steady decline in the new feed of viewers and posters alike.
Businesses are seeing the power of Instagram stories and are preferring to put their time into stories rather than the feed itself.
If you’re not using Instagram Stories for business, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity.
Not only are Instagram Stories fun and creative, but they’re one of the best ways to grow your engagement, build brand awareness, and even drive sales!
We hear the word “authentic” thrown around a lot lately.
And I agree wholeheartedly. Those businesses who show up more often, as themselves, in a less curated, less formal, but always on brand way – they are the ones going to succeed in into 2021 and beyond.
How to Boost Engagement with Instagram Stories for Business
Instagram has really made it easy for us to get engagement with stories.
There are a ton of features that you can use to really get your audience engaging with you.
Some are simple while some perhaps need a little more work.
Here’s some of the simple ideas.
- Head to Instagram, click the button to do a story – either your profile pic with the + symbol or just above it the camera symbol
- On the sidebar – click create.
- This will then show you a menu at the bottom with options to do all sorts of marvellous things. Add a gif, next you’ll come to a page with some dices up the top middle, keep clicking those – there’s all sorts of options there!.
- Now just a little pro tip here – if you choose, say, the what you’re watching list – use it, fill it in and then post a blank one and invite your audience to tell you what they are watching too and tag you in it – you are you showing a little bit of your personality, and then asking for the engagement back. Works nearly every time – because hey, who doesn’t like to have their opinion heard!
- Heading back to the beginning, still on stories though – but this time we are on the “normal” setting, and this is where you will find some filters.
- Have a play – see what the filters are – no one else can see you do this unless you click and share. And, if you scroll at the very end of the filters here – you will see some very unknown filters in the effect gallery most don’t know there are even more! You can also search for new filters – there are some amazing ones out there.
Hot tip – if you see a story someone is sharing and you like the filter they are using, if you click on the filter name at the top of the story you can try it out and/or save it for your own use!
A tap on the camera button here will take a snapshot, holding it will take a video of you.
Also, in the very bottom menu is where you can go live on Instagram or create a Reel, and on the side menu it gives you options to do a boomerang video, a superzoom or do some hands-free recording and picture taking.
Have a Go at LIVE!
I know going live is scary as – but here’s the positives
- No one expects greatness – you are in Instagram stories and if you’re honest and open and say, “this my first one” or “I’ve been challenged to do this” or whatever, your audience will appreciate you. Plus, let’s be honest, most people will think, wow, I couldn’t do that – that’s so cool.
- There are filters, if you think you should have one – if that will make you feel more comfortable
- They disappear after 24 hours
- Everyone in your audience gets a notification that you are going live – that’s great for engagement.
And frankly, if you get 1 or 2 viewers live, that’s ok – don’t be too worried about that – people will watch when you’re not live!
But, if you consistently only get a few viewers, do think strategically about it – perhaps it’s a good time for you but not a good time for your audience.
And business is all about your audience – not you – so think about changing up the times of your lives to see if you can engage more people at a different time.
Here’s my advice on lives:
- Have some point to you going live – make it relevant or at least entertaining to your audience.
- Be a bit prepared with what you are going to say – don’t just get on there and ramble. If that means you need to have 2 points written down before you do a video – then do that.
- Have a point – it could be as simple as sharing something you found funny or sharing your day or more business like and sharing a tip or trick – but have something. Don’t hop on there and share rubbish.
And you might ask “What’s rubbish to be posting?”
Well that’s subjective. It depends on what your audience is looking for.
But if you are doing videos or live videos from your business Instagram account – rubbish is perhaps something that is off brand for you – like perhaps you have a clothing store and post all about your clothes and you and your staff all the time, then all of a sudden you are all about politics or giving medical advice – it’s not what your audience expects from you – so it’s rubbish to them.
Here’s my solid marketing advice when it comes to Instagram stories:
If you want engagement, real engagement, like you are serious about wanting to build your engagement and numbers and create more sales via Instagram and Instagram stories – YOU HAVE TO SHOW UP ON VIDEO.
There is no way around it.
You can use all the other tools in your toolbox, but honestly, if you are serious, you need to show up on video.
And I am talking to myself here as well – don’t worry, I know it and even I struggle with it. But I see it time and time and time again.
Those growing quickly, those getting loads of engagement – they are consistently showing up, every day, in a video.
Not necessarily live – but on a video.
They use video as a part of their tools, then they use stickers, polls, questions, sliders, questions and all the other things I spoke about up top, to build on their video.
They do a video about something, then ask a question on the next story, people answer and then they share the answers and talk about them – it’s marvellous marketing.
So, even if you don’t focus the tools for now or all the tips and tricks on engagement – you can simply start by showing up!
If you need to, put a filter on, if that makes you feel better, and just start recording – with an idea of what you’d like to share.
If you’re super keen, here’s some ideas for doing a video for the next 7 days – do them and start getting yourself comfortable. Make this commitment to yourself
Day 1 – Do an introduction to yourself and your business
Day 2 – Give your audience 3 facts about yourself that they don’t know. Make it something generally personal facts (but not too personal). You can even ask your audience if they have something people don’t know about them – perhaps use the question sticker and get them to tell you!
Day 3 – Tell people how your business started – ask your audience to share their story and tag you in it.
Day 4 – Introduce a team member or a product/service if you don’t have a team member.
Day 5 – Share a win for your day or your week – ask them about their wins!
Day 6 – Share Instagram accounts or pages that inspire you – make sure you tag them – invite your audience to do the same.
Day 7 – Give a tour of where you work – at home or in a workplace.
For the pros – Day 8 – Share what you’ve learnt from this tiny 7 day challenge to show up more on video. Inspire another small business owner who’s struggling!
HOW TO DRIVE SALES THROUGH INSTAGRAM STORIES
So now you have awesome engagement, how exactly do you drive sales from Instagram stories.
Well, if you’re a product based business, who sells physical goods, shoppable tags and the newish shoppable stories stickers, are the way to go.
You need to be eligible for shoppable tags and shoppable stickers and there are some eligibility requirements. If you haven’t looked into these and you have a physical product based business, then get googling!
Find this out.
www.Later.com have some great free blogs on all of this – head over there if you’re not sure where else to go and follow the instructions.
But what if you don’t have a physical product business, a bit like me!
Well, I believe our best use of Instagram stories is to get them off the platform altogether and into our email list via a fabulous offering.
Whether that offering is a free masterclass, a free downloadable guide, a free eBook or whatever, using stories to tell our followers about these great freebies and getting them off the platform, into our world, a little closer, is the best way to use stories to drive sales.
Of course, it goes without saying, the more you show up on video, the more people will get to know, like (or love) and trust you, the more people will engage with any offering you have.
If you’re their go-to person for whatever it is that you sell or talk about – they will happily come into a free event or a download a freebie, because they, you guessed it, already know, like and trust you.
And if you’re still wondering, if I’m right or if I’m right – firstly, put me to the test and secondly, watch your own habits and thirdly, remember, humans interact with humans – so that means you 100% need to show up on video!!!
Do the 7 day challenge above and come back to me and let me know what results you saw!
Let’s ramp this Instagram Stories thing up together – you in?
We can, of course, chat about it in my group Like Minded Business Owners on Facebook – if you’re not a member yet, then please come across and join in!
OH – as a reminder I have a couple of amazing (if I do say so myself!) and FREE e-book resources that can help you to really boost your social media!
The first is my 108 Social Media Content Creation ideas e-book – get it, read it, print it out and look at it all the time, it will change your life (or at least your social thinking challenges life!)
The other is my 7 Sure Fire Ways to Accelerate Your Instagram e-book – This totally free guide includes 7 sure fire ways to grow your instagram. This guide is for the complete beginner or for someone who’s just wanting to make sure they’ve doing best practice on the Gram.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenn Donovan is a marketing strategist and social media extraordinaire, coach and mentor to savvy business owners. Owner and Founder of Social Media & Marketing Australia.
With a passion for making business simple, because it’s isn’t easy but it should be simple or at least simpler, she’s built a reputation for helping other small business owners simplify their marketing and businesses so they can reach their goals, be more profitable and live the dream (finding the freedom they set out to achieve when they started … the illusive small business owner freedom dream …!)
Jenn believes in giving before asking and that’s why she’s the host of the popular Small Business Made Simple Podcast