Instagram Stories Guide To Grow Your Business in 2020

instagram stories guide to grow your business
Instagram Stories is a great way to grow your business. Check out this guide to find out how to get started!

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If your company is not on Instagram, you may be missing a sea of opportunities.

Instagram has been the game-changer for every business for the past few years that wants to connect with their audience and boost sales.

How did businesses do this?

By using Instagram Stories!

By providing the options for any Instagram business account to build stories, measure, and connect with their audience, Instagram has increased its popularity among the business community.

We will outline the key features in this guide to Instagram Stories for Companies, why you should use this format in your marketing strategy to boost sales and engagement. We will guide you through the entire process of creating branded stories and optimizing the results.

Let’s get into it!

What Is An Instagram Story?

It lasts 24 hours, and if it is not downloaded or saved in archive or highlights, it disappears.

Instagram stories show up in the top bar of the mobile app.

They are the first thing your followers will see when they open the Instagram app.

Instagram has also launched highlights that allow you to show archived stories right on your Instagram profile.

To get the point of using Instagram stories for business, think of stories as an innovation in content publishing and content consumption.

Stories were originally created by Snapchat, but its popularity multiplied exponentially when Instagram practically copied this new format into their app.

How To Create An Instagram Story

You just need to make a few taps to create an Instagram story, and your story will be live in seconds.

  1. Tap  in the top left of your screen or swipe right from anywhere in Feed.
  2. Tap  at the bottom of the screen to take a photo, or tap and hold to record a video. To choose a photo or video from your phone’s library or gallery, swipe up anywhere on the screen.
  3. Tap  or  to draw, add text or a sticker to your photo or video. To remove the text or a sticker, drag and drop it on  at the bottom of the screen.
  4. When you’re ready to share, tap Your Story in the lower-left corner.

How to Create Branded Instagram Stories

It’s important to have a clear consistent brand design when making social media posts.

And stories on Instagram are no exception.

When your followers scroll through their stories and see your stories, even before they see your username, they will automatically know that this graphic belongs to your company.

Here’s what you need to have and do to keep in sync with your posts on Instagram.

  • Apply your brand colors 
  • Use your brand fonts 
  • Choose an image filter and stick with it
  • Try using Instagram stories templates instead of creating a story from scratch
  • Use Stories to show your brand logo
  • Include your brand message
  • Use the ‘swipe up’ option to show the user where they can get more content
  • Use stickers and GIFS

If you’d like to put your brand out there and ensure your stories fit your brand voice, it’s a good idea to look beyond the Instagram app and compose your Stories using apps such as Canva, Over, Adobe Spark, Mojo, Storyluxe, and more.

How To Create Branded Instagram Highlights

Now that you’ve built your brand Story, you can try the Instagram highlights option to give them more exposure and ensure they last longer than 24 hours.

You have 2 ways to build an Instagram Story Highlight that suits your brand voice.

Option 1: Highlight from an active story

Create a Story, publish it and then manually save it in a Highlight

Option 2: Highlight from an archived story

You need to have your Archive option activated to use this option (you can find this in the triple bar menu). Your stories will be automatically saved, so later, you can pick the story you want to show as a highlight.

Why Should Businesses Use Instagram Stories?

If you’re planning to include Instagram in your 2020 marketing strategy, it’s good to know where you stand when it comes to Instagram statistics.

These figures make it very clear WHY businesses want Instagram accounts. More than 25 million companies are using Instagram to connect with their customers regularly and interact with potential ones.

How To Boost Engagement On Stories

Instagram Stories have tons of easy-to-use features that encourage audience engagement.

Decorating your stories with several of these features every week can be perfect for generating more audience interactions, which in return can work wonders with the Instagram algorithm to improve your overall ranking.

1. Poll Stickers

Poll stickers are one of the fastest and easiest stickers to engage your followers, making them a great choice for an instant engagement boost.

instagram stories

Polls are a perfect way to generate more connections with audiences and sometimes the easiest ones perform best.

For example, content creators frequently share polls asking their audience whether they should buy a product, or watch a new TV show, or not. These can seem like simple conversation points, but on Instagram, this is an incredibly efficient way to build a stronger sense of community.

You can tap into this opportunity as a brand by asking your audience what colors they prefer, what items they want to use for certain situations, or by tapping into current events that resonate with the principles of your company.

2. Emoji Slider Stickers

Emoji slider stickers are yet another easy opportunity for engagement on stories, and thanks to a large amount of emojis, can be shockingly versatile.

Besides being great for getting a quick sentiment reaction, but they can also be used more creatively too.

Lush Cosmetics regularly use poll and emoji slider stickers to allow their audience to indicate what skin type they have, or what type of content they want to see next.

Lush Cosmetics emoji slide.

To make viewers feel personally connected, this innovative approach is perfect. Viewers are more likely to engage with their content and take notice of any product recommendations.

3. Question Stickers

Question stickers have become massively famous and with good reason, as they’re perfect to encourage further interactions.

They are a great way to inspire timely answers from your community, from collecting reviews on items such as @amazonthedrop to inviting questions for a Q+A.

You can easily reply to any submissions directly via DM or in a new Instagram story like @asos. This closes the loop to make for great user experience.

Asos Question Sticker.

4. Quiz Stickers

Quiz stickers are where it’s at if you’re looking for a fast and fun way to inspire more clicks from your audience.

Strong Women UK Quiz Sticker.
@strongwomenuk Instagram Story

They can also be a fun and light-hearted way of sharing your brand narrative or information about releasing a new product. You might share a quiz about your company mission or the year your company was founded.

5. Chat Stickers

Chat stickers is a great tool for setting up a quick chat forum with up to 32 participants.

Chat sticker on Instagram Stories.

You may choose who is approved to enter the chat and hold a discussion on a subject that matters to you or your business objectives.

This can be a perfect opportunity for exploring new product ideas or marketing concepts with an active focus group, due to the small number of participants.

6. Go Live

If you’re looking for an immediate increase in interaction, Instagram Stories can be a great tactic to go live.

This is not only a fantastic way to catch the attention of your fans, but it is also an excellent place to promote loads of questions and feedback.

Going live allows followers who use the app at that time to be alerted, so when the majority of your audience is already online, it’s worth going live.

Get ready for tons of comments and questions. 😄 

7. Add Hashtags

If you don’t have hashtags added to your Instagram stories yet, now is the time to start.

Using hashtags will help you boost your organic search on Instagram. When someone searches for a specific hashtag, Instagram stories get their own space.

With this in mind, you can add up to 10 hashtags, also 1 clickable hashtag sticker.

8. Add Location Tags

Like hashtags, adding a location to your Story increases its reach beyond your list of followers

It will help you boost your brand image by including a location sticker in your stories. So the next time a consumer search for places, the stories attached to that location can be seen.

Everyone wants to search the place before they go, right?

To use a location sticker on an Instagram Story:

  1. Tap the sticker icon at the top of your screen
  2. Select the location sticker
  3. Choose your preferred location from the list (could be a store, a street, a city, get as broad or as specific as you like)
  4. Adjust the sticker’s color, size, and location so it complements your Story’s aesthetic
Location tagging on Instagram Stories.

9. Reply To Instagram Mentions

When an Instagram user publicly mentions your brand, you will see how people view your brand and engage with it.

Be sure to respond and repost their media to show them your gratitude.

How to Drive Sales from Instagram Stories for Business

Instagram Stories are filled with features ideal for catching the attention of viewers, stirring up their curiosity, and, most importantly, turning them into loyal customers.

And even though you’ve yet to hit 20 K fans, there are still many ways to push traffic and sales efficiently! With your strategy on Instagram Stories.

1. Product Stickers

If you want to directly push more sales from Instagram Stories, product stickers are a good starting point.

The sticker allows you to tag specific products, just as you do with regular shopping posts. No matter how big or small your following, this creates a super-easy way for your audience to purchase products.

Fresh Beauty Instagram Story with Product sticker.

Instagram Stories shoppable stickers can be put on both photos and videos. As it is available in both transparent and color variants, the product sticker can be customized to suit almost any Instagram Stories aesthetic.

Instagram Shop will allow you to purchase the product right on the app!

2. Links

If you have over 10K followers on Instagram, you’re one of the lucky accounts that can add direct links to stories.

There are many ways to make this feature even more useful for your brand, as this feature is an immediate win for promoting conversions.

To begin with, in your Instagram stories, it’s always worth promoting a link. If it is done verbally or via a text caption, it is a good start when it comes to driving clicks to have a simple reason why someone should “swipe up (like @jimmyfairly, shown below).

Jimmy Fairly Swipe Up.

You’re ahead of the game if you have a custom “swipe up” GIF. If not there’s a lot of ready-made choices to select.

3. Countdown Stickers

The Countdown sticker is a fantastic tool for creating anticipation around an upcoming product release, sale, or event on Instagram.

Sprinkles Cupcakes Instagram Stories Countdown.

Popular bakery Sprinkles Cupcakes uses the countdown sticker to build anticipation around their Instagram Live.

Make this sticker even more successful by encouraging followers to tap on the sticker and set a reminder when the countdown is over.

4. Instagram Stories Ads

There are still Instagram Stories advertising when you’ve run out of organic options for driving sales.

Ads on Instagram Stories are the ultimate way to showcase your brand, company, and products to an already engaged public.

According to Instagram, after looking at Instagram ads, 75% of Instagram users take action, such as visiting a website or making a purchase.

L'oreal Instagram Story Ad.

You can create Instagram ads that show up inside Instagram Stories using Facebook’s Ads Manager.

Make sure you pick Instagram Stories as your ad placement and follow the prompts to set up your ad once you have decided the audience you want to reach and the purpose of your campaign.

Alternatively, you can “promote” an organic Instagram story into an ad, which is a perfect way to first test the waters.

Fortunately, Instagram ads do have the same targeting choices as Facebook ads, including location-based targeting, demographics, preferences, actions, and more. For a guide on Instagram, Ad costs, check out this blog post.

If you need any help with your ads check out our Instagram Ads Agency.

Three Creative Growth Hacks for Instagram Stories for Business

Instagram is filled with tools, as we’ve already discussed, to help improve your views and increase engagement over time.

But these innovative growth hacks are a great place to start if you’re looking to kick your virality up a level.

1. Create a Branded Instagram Stories AR Filter

Spark AR Studio was opened to the public in 2019 by Instagram, meaning that everyone can create and upload an AR filter to appear on Instagram.

Spark AR is a difficult tool that requires a fairly specialized skill set, but this can be a seriously successful way to help your brand reach new audiences with the right design assistance.

For example, Em Cosmetics founder Michelle Phan shows off the brand’s ‘Which Lip Cloud’?’ Randomizer Filter.

EM Cosmetics AR filter.

This on-brand filter creates an aesthetic that is suitable for their target audience, and the more users that use it, the more brand and product awareness they get.

2. Make Highly Shareable Branded Content

Creating highly shareable, video content for your Instagram Stories will work wonders to improve your platform’s virality.

For instance, content creator Kelsey in London regularly shares templates that can be screenshot and customized on her Instagram Stories.

Kelsey in London template for Instagram Stories.

Take into account the type of content that is most likely to produce a high number of re-posts. Popular options are data visualizations, Q+A layouts, recipe cards, and how-to visuals. Always ensure your branding is visible so that every single share benefits your brand.

3. Create a Branded GIF 

Adding a branded GIF to the Giphy Library is another way to reach a new audience.

By doing so, anyone looking for GIFs in Instagram Stories will discover your advertised GIFs. Which can be big for reaching new audiences.

For example, a quick search for “soda” shows branded GIFs from both Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Burger King.

GIFs on Instagram Story.

You will have to build a Giphy brand channel to do this and apply it to get it verified.

The good news is that this procedure is pretty quick, but the bad news is that small companies might not be accepted because of the verification restriction.

6 Instagram Story Examples

These creative Instagram Story examples will help get your creative juices flowing.

1. Chipotle

Chipotle genuinely uses their Instagram stories to provide their customers with useful knowledge.

The restaurant chain has highlights committed to several alternative diets. Including Keto, Paleo, and Whole30. Viewers are walked through different diet-specific options. 

Chipotle instagram highlight.

It’s an effective way to engage and educate their users, while also elevating their brand.

2. Airbnb

With so much content at their fingertips, Airbnb has the potential to carry its followers around the world. Fortunately for us, in their Instagram stories, it’s something they take full advantage of.

They use their Stories to exhibit all kinds of unique experiences. From making homemade pasta in Sabina, Italy. To kayaking on Sweden’s archipelagos.

Airbnb instagram story.

Airbnb uses their Instagram stories creatively to make their followers feel like they’re traveling the globe, without needing to leave their sofa.

3. Glossier

It’s not a secret that Glossier, the beauty brand, has nailed their Instagram account. Engagement is a major piece of the puzzle. They’re actively interacting with their customers and followers.

The brand frequently posts content created by users. And, impressively, their Instagram Stories follow suit.

Here’s how they creatively use Instagram Stories.

  • The account reposts content from their customers in a “Top 5” highlight. This showcases the brand’s favorite tagged content.
  • Glossier asks followers for skincare resolutions. And then put those into their Instagram Stories.
  • Their followers ask burning beauty questions answered by an expert.
Glossier Instagram Story.

Take note of Glossier. Go and inquire specifically for the engagement on Instagram you want. Have calls to action in your captions. Along with asking followers to tag or answer a question with a friend. Use polls or question boxes to fit in opportunities for participation.

4. Masterclass

According to Facebook, users move 41% faster through mobile feeds than desktop. When it comes to Stories, the most effective brands express their message in the first 3 seconds. Ideally, they do so with a message that is intriguing and straightforward.

Masterclass does a very good job of spurring both curiosity and aspirations for self-improvement. Their Story ads feature celebrity mentors, and visuals are consistent.

Masterclass Instagram Story with Anna Wintour.

5. Starbucks

Through their imaginative Instagram posts, Starbucks does a lot of different stuff. From offering menu tips to demonstrating the basics of espresso.

But the most important thing Starbucks does, arguably, is to highlight the sacrifices they create for the common good.  

They have used their stories for a number of causes, such as:

  • Teaching people how to ask for their favorite menu item using American Sign Language
  • Recognizing military members
  • Addressing large issues like their environmental and social impact

6. National Geographic

Posting excellent Instagram content for National Geographic isn’t difficult. They have plenty of beautiful wildlife and photography of nature at their fingertips.

From intriguing facts about honeybees. To discussing the ins and outs of free climbing solo rock. Their creative Instagram stories are filled with engaging content.

They remain faithful to their educational mission. They inspire their followers to get into the learning process as well. The brand uses the poll feature of Instagram to quiz their audience on relevant information. Trivia like ‘What year did Yellowstone become the first National Park?’

Instagram Stories Analytics

Instagram Stories Analytics is less than just seeing the best performing picture or video story, but more about knowing what your audience is looking for and using it to create a plan that works for your company.

Please ensure that you have an Instagram business account before you start looking through your Insights section.

Similar to your Instagram posts and account analytics, you can find your Instagram Stories analytics by clicking on the “Insights” button in the top right corner of your Instagram business profile.

Switch to the “Content” tab at the top of the screen once you’ve opened your Instagram Insights. You will see your Instagram posts and your Instagram Stories data here.

Open your story and swipe up for a full list of insights to get a deeper look at your analytics. This will draw up several key metrics that will help you evaluate the performance of your Instagram stories.

Keep in mind, your story analytics will only be saved on the app for two weeks.

One of the best channels to drive engagement, create brand awareness, drive traffic, and even generate e-commerce sales is Instagram Stories.

Reach out to our team at SH1FT today to help grow your business!

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