5 Ways Instagram Stories Boost Engagement

Any brand manager worth his/her salt knows that Instagram is the place to be by now, but questions abound around the best ways to use it – and there are many. One top tactic employed by the savviest of brands revolves around using Instagram’s Stories. And we’re sharing five ways you can use Stories to extract amazing audience insight and convert customers.

A Bit About Stories

If you aren’t familiar with Instagram’s Stories, they’re those awesome snippets you see when clicking on an Instagrammer’s profile icon (those that have a little red circle around them, that is!), or they can also be seen showcased on the top of followers’ Instagram home screens:

They’re enticingly positioned for maximum attention, so using them makes sense – particularly as they’re free! In fact, according to TechCrunch “one in five Instagram Stories posted by a business receives a Direct Message reply.” That’s a pretty fantastic lead, don’t you think? Yet many brands are letting this amazing bit of awareness-building slip by.

Each story stays live for 24 hours and is then archived, so you can have a new story attached to your profile, and appearing at the top of every follower’s stream, every 24 hours. And there’s so much you can do with these posts!

But before you can take advantage of everything that follows, you’ll need to record and share some stories. Sorting out what stories to create takes some thought though – as you want followers to look forward to your stories and click to watch them. If you spam them with less than extraordinary imagery or post a sales pitch each and every time, expect followers to ignore your brand.

That’s why it’s important to use social listening to take the temperature of your online room and see what content is resonating with followers, what isn’t, and identify competitive gaps. Understanding your target audiences’ interests is the first, best step to take.

Snapshot of overarching sentiment around music category.

Searching for the passion specific to your brand will provide the intel you need to creating meaningful posts that will resonate with your audience. Once you’ve sorted out what to create, keep the following tips in mind to get the most out of each of your stories.

Timing is Everything

As we mentioned, each story stays live for 24 hours – after that it’s stored in your Story Archive for later reference. There are lots of neat stats you see about a story, and will want to monitor throughout the day, including how many people have clicked to view it and who they are.

This stat becomes a static number after the story is archived though, so be sure to check it out before the 24 hours is out, if you’d like to capture that data and send direct messages to those viewers with additional offers – or maybe with stories created just for them.

It’s important to be present and active on Instagram. You can’t just post and leave, or you’re missing top engagement opportunities. Respond to comments and help followers feel heard and important to your brand, or don’t both with this platform until you’re ready to commit the time to do so!

Now for some fantastic ways to boost engagement as you go:

1.  Tagging Locations and Events

Most locations and events have their own Stories curated by Instagram from those nifty location tags on posts, so you want to get in on that action. These posts are seen by a much wider audience beyond your own – a highly relevant audience too. Tagging locations/events on every post is just smart to have in mind, and searching ahead of time for location/event specific stories to tag your story with is time well spent.

These hashtags will bubble up as you explore the landscape and then you can track a maximum of 30 #hashtags for each authorized Instagram Business Profile using NetBase. Our Instagram #Hashtag Manager gives you complete control over the #hashtag-matched data that is flowing into your account and helps you maximize your company account’s #hashtag coverage.

Adding these hashtags/locations to your story is pretty easy – after creating your photo or video, you click the smiley face on the top to be presented with a bunch of options beyond just hashtags and locations – from polls and a countdown clock to all varieties of stickers, gifs and other fun enhancements:

Taco Bell takes knows how to work the event option, even keeping it front and center as a highlight on its page (we’ll get to highlights next).

When you click on it, you’ll see a series of images from their on-the-spot stories at baseball and college football events, where they hosted their own #tacobellshow and #tacobelltailgate. Talk about getting followers hyped – and capturing one of the most interactive online segments – sports fans!

Now what about those highlights? Let’s explore those next.

2. Story Highlights

You’ll see them at the top of an Instagram profile, and when done well, they’re hard to ignore. Brands just click on a story they’ve previously published (or stories, to create a bundle with many events, as Taco Bell did, and select the “highlight” option – and there you go!

You’ll want to think through branding for the highlights that appear on your profile, along with cover images, of course – just like you would with any campaign.

Highlights are permanent fixtures on your page and you can refresh them whenever you want, or leave them if they’re performing well. You can also promote stories to help give them a boost. And you can sort out how they’re doing by clicking on the story and monitoring your engagement numbers.

And probably one of the more viral options you have for stories is capturing and sharing user generated content.

3. User Generated Content (UCG)

Converse does an amazing job of captured UCG, with many of the brand’s highlights focused on just that.

Their “Your Story, After High School – What’s Next?” highlight is inspiring, offering stories from every day kids and their plans for the future, with links to learn more on individual YouTube videos. It’s a great way to capture – and encourage participation from – this segment.

What’s better than that? Nothing really – but tutorials come close.

4. Create Tutorials

Many of your brand followers love what you’re doing and want to do it themselves – from how to make the perfect taco to mastering Instagram (very meta of them). And they also love learning new things when they’re online, as it makes the whole experience feel like less of a time suck than it is!

HappyGreyLucky is an influencer, mom and travel blogger who creates stunning visuals with her family.

And she offers tutorials in her Story Highlights around how to be amazing like her, from blogging to photoshop. You can bet her engagement is amazing:

Travel is a big draw on Instagram, of course – and no one nails it like National Geographic.

5. Mini-documentaries

Even more interesting to some users than tutorials are mini-documentaries, and National Geographic has created a stunning showcase its highlight real for followers to feast their eyes on:

They’re currently sharing stories about solo rock climbing, a woman who donated her body to science, melting icebergs in Antarctica, the remarkable life of a jellyfish and so much more.

Each story is connected to a longer piece at the end, when the viewer is invited to swipe up to learn more – which brings us to another important point: Don’t forget to add a call-to-action at the end! It’s a wasted opportunity, if not.

Story Archive Treasure Trove

With the ability to add up to 100 photos or videos to a Story Highlight, and no limit to how many Highlights you can create, you’ll want to use this space wisely. Your Story Archive is a treasure trove of content for these highlights.

Keep this in mind as you plan out content for each day, as you can’t switch out your highlight mid-day – once it’s live, the Story is there for 24 hours or you have to delete it to add a new one. Awful.

If you’ve sourced your ideas with an accurate sentiment analysis tool, you’ll be in good shape! Be sure to reach out and we’ll show you how it done!

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