In August 2016 Instagram launched their new Stories feature, users were not too excited about it since it resembled Snapchat so much.
However, over time, it has become one of the most beloved Instagram features, with over 500 million daily users browsing Stories every day.
Moreover, 86.6% of Instagram users post content on Stories every day and go to check other Stories content before they browse through the Instagram feed.
Such popularity of Instagram Stories creates an excellent marketing opportunity for brands to promote their products.
The Potential of Instagram Stories for Brands
Over the years, Instagram Stories have shown a lot of marketing potential, helping brands increase engagement and improve product sales.
According to the statistics roundup by Hootsuite:
- Engagement on Instagram Stories is 23% higher than on Facebook Stories
- 62% of people say they get more interested in a product and a brand after seeing it in Stories
Customers prefer to see product content from brands on Stories, as a result, brand Stories have 85% completion rate
- Stories are so popular, brands spend over 30% of their Instagram marketing budget on content for Stories
- Stories are the most popular format for collaboration with influencers; for the Stories, content brands pay between $43 and $721
As you can see, content for Instagram Stories is worth investing in, especially considering that Stories are becoming one of the preferred content formats among Instagram users.
But in order for Stories to work out for your brand, you need to follow a smart organized approach.
To build up viewership and ensure the growing engagement of your Stories, it is important to build a comprehensive content strategy.
How can you achieve that without producing content that is too generic and avoid melting into Instagram’s crowd?
Let’s take a look.
1. Customize the Style of Your Stories
The first thing you should do is setting the tone for your future Stories content strategy, namely the style, the color palette, and the general appearance of your content.
Stories content style also includes your font choice, which should be the same for all Stories, filters, and Instagram gifs.
Your task is to align your Stories content style with the colors that your brand uses in all other marketing materials to promote your product.
A good example of this strategy is Victoria’s Secret Instagram Stories content, in which they use their signature baby-pink and white colors that they also use on their official logo, website, and even store bags:
Once you create enough Stories content, you can organize it into highlights that your followers can browse later.
Highlights will appear on the top of your Instagram page and should also be styled and have a theme that unites them all.
Take a look at how BuzzFeed’s Tasty created a theme for their highlights by organizing the recipes according to the chefs who created them:
You can also hire an independent artist to create the style for your highlights that matches your brand’s esthetic. Valeria Lipovetsky’s Instagram page is a good example of how this can be done:
Why should you do the same?
The style that you use for your Stories content will differentiate you from other brands and will become your signature feature, with which your customers will associate you.
Besides, it makes your Stories content look clean and organized, which makes it easier for Instagram users to browse through it.
2. Outline a Stories Content Plan
Now, as you’ve figured out the style of your future Instagram Stories content, you need to estimate roughly how many Stories you would like to upload monthly.
Here’s what your Stories content strategy should be based on.
1. Start with Your Goals
To create an effective Stories content plan, you need to first set your goal.
- Do you want to increase sales?
- Is your goal to increase brand awareness?
- Are you more interested in getting new followers or exploring new audiences?
For instance, if your goal is to generate sales, you need to create content that is not too straightforward and pushy, but rather engaging and inviting.
Here’s how Avery tackled this problem. To increase sales, they created a separate Stories highlight, in which they offered gift ideas for different occasions:
Having a clear idea, what the goal for your Stories content is will help you make a more clear-cut detailed content strategy, divide your content into meaningful chunks, and get an idea, in which order you will upload it.
2. Include a Precise Stories Content Schedule
Speaking about uploading your Stories, your content strategy should also include a detailed content schedule based on the activity of your followers.
This activity can be found in the Audience section in Instagram Insights:
To create a precise schedule, you need to pay attention to the top location where your followers are from as well as to their activity on different days. You can use this data to schedule your Stories content, but make sure you check in with this data once in a while because it may change over time.
3. Don’t Forget About a Hashtag Strategy
Soon after launching the Stories feature, Instagram allowed users to browse Stories content with different hashtags:
Users can now also follow different hashtags, and the content results will appear on their Discover page.
How can you make sure that your content appears in this selection of Instagram stories?
To build an effective hashtag strategy, you need to choose hashtags that have good performance. Hashtags collect social data from users and their performance represents how often users apply them to their content.
You can check the performance of different hashtags with platforms like Hashtagify.me. For instance, let’s compare the hashtags sales and discount to see, which one would work best in terms of engagement:
As you can see, both hashtags are quite popular, but they are both losing weekly engagement. If you have to choose between these two, you should go with the first one, as it hasn’t lost its normal monthly engagement compared to the second one.
So, before uploading Stories content with hashtags, do a quick analysis of their performance to make sure that more users can discover your Stories.
3. Diversify Your Stories Content Strategy
Now, let’s talk about what your Instagram Stories content can look like.
When this feature launched, users could only upload photos or videos to their Stories and attach a few stickers to them.
But now you can get as creative as you want, as there are so many options available to Instagram users in terms of Stories content.
Here are a few ideas for inspiration:
1. How-To Tutorials
This content type works especially well for product promotion. It has educational value and helps new and potential customers get to know your product before buying it.
You can find many brands as well as individual entrepreneurs, who use how-to tutorials both to educate their followers and attract more attention to their services.
For instance, Guy Tang, an American YouTuber, hairstylist, and entrepreneur, has created a series of Instagram posts, in which he teaches different hair coloring techniques:
The sequential nature of Instagram creates a great opportunity for posting how-to tutorials, which you can later turn into highlights, allowing your followers to revisit your Stories content later.
But what it does for your brand is that it helps you establish authority in your niche and showcase your product or service to help customers make their final purchase decision.
2. Promotions and Special Announcements
Stories are also perfect for promotions limited in time, such as contests, deals, and special announcements.
Because Stories are only up for 24 hours, it creates a great opportunity for such type of content, urging your customers to take advantage of it as soon as possible.
When it comes to special discount announcements, you can upload information about an upcoming seasonal sale or dedicate this special announcement to a certain occasion, like Memorial Day or Father’s Day.
For instance, 4Ocean, a global volunteering organization that cleans beaches around the globe and sells bracelets from recycled trash to get funding, has dedicated their recent sale to their completed cleaning project in Bali:
This not only helps them boost sales to increase their funding but also encourages their followers to take part in their noble mission.
To attract more attention to your brand, you can also launch contests, not only for people to win your products, but to increase awareness of your brand as well.
For instance, Blue Apron invited its Instagram followers to pick the ultimate dish among many options that they offer in their delivery menu:
Such contests are great if you want to increase engagement on your Instagram page and draw more attention to your product or service.
3. Quizzes and Q&A
One of the most popular features on Instagram Stories is poll, quiz, and Q&A stickers, which you can use to your advantage.
Such interactive elements allow you to collect feedback about your product without pushing it too much.
However, these features can also serve only to engage your followers in a playful way. For instance, Hello Fresh has created a game, in which the brand encourages its followers to check their knowledge of the well-known food-related facts:
To complete this quiz, Hello Fresh’s followers need to go to their website. This way, the brand not only increases engagement on their Instagram page but also attracts more traffic to their website.
Q&A stickers are also popular on Instagram Stories and allow you to interact with your followers and encourage them to ask product-related questions.
You can also add educational value to your Q&A sessions and share some practical knowledge while also demonstrating your product. Blue Apron does it quite well on the Q&A sessions, giving their followers useful tips while cooking meals from their menu:
There are many ways you can create polls and surveys with a quiz maker for your Instagram Stories, but make sure that this content is informative and helps your followers to learn about your product or service as much as possible.
4. User-Generated Content
Your followers appreciate it when you acknowledge their impact on the growth of your brand. One of the ways you can do it is by reposting user-generated content in your Instagram Stories.
Reposting user-generated content is an effective engagement booster and does wonders, helping you increase your online presence.
Reportedly, reposted and shared content gets 28% more engagement than standard company content.
Many brands dedicate their Instagram Stories primarily to reposting content from their followers. This is what Zhilyova Lingerie does, sharing posts from the followers who purchased the brand’s products:
This is a great format if you don’t want to overcrowd your feed with user-generated content but still want to show appreciation for the support from your customers.
How can you get even more brand awareness with user-generated content?
Lately, Instagram has introduced a new feature of creating custom filters for Instagram Stories, which you can use to your advantage.
You can dedicate a filter to a product launch or to simply entertain your followers, like Instagram’s biggest meme community does in its Stories.
Such filters encourage your followers to create more user-generated content, which you can later repost in your Stories.
But apart from that, this is a great way to boost brand awareness, as you offer your followers original and out-of-the-box content, which they can only associate with your brand and your product.
Another way to bring your brand closer to your customers is to post behind-the-scenes content in your Stories from time to time.
You can take a look at how Hello Fresh leverages behind-the-scenes content, from taking their followers to a farm where they get products for their meals to showing office events:
This content gets especially relevant when your brand is about to launch a new marketing campaign or is preparing for a big event, so make sure you include it in your Instagram Stories marketing strategy beforehand.
4. Include Live Sessions
Going live is another big trend on Instagram right now. You can go live using your Instagram Stories and save your live session for the followers to check later.
Thus, including live sessions in your Instagram Stories content strategy can help your brand remain relevant and trending. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
1. Schedule Your Live Sessions
Just as with your Stories content plan in general, live sessions also need to be properly scheduled.
To ensure full engagement of your followers, you need to check their activity and schedule your live sessions on the day and time when they are the most active.
Also, to make sure that more people participate in your live sessions, you can do announcements in your Stories, like Valeria Lipovetsky does for all her live sessions with other beauty and wellness influencers:
You can also attach a reminder to your Instagram Stories, which your followers can turn on and get a notification when your session goes live:
When your live session ends, you can add it to your IGTV for those who couldn’t join you to watch later.
2. Write a Script
To make sure that the content strategy for your live sessions is complete, you need to write a detailed script.
This script will help you structure your live session and make sure that every part of your discussion is fully covered.
A script can also come in handy if you’re doing a live session with another influencer, as it will help you stay within the topic and not get carried away during the conversation.
Yes, writing a script can be a quite tiring task, especially if you plan a longer live session.
However, you can outsource this task to a scriptwriter from a writing agency that has experience with social media. But before you do that, make sure that you check agency reviews, similar to this review of GrabMyEssay, to make sure that you get qualified help.
Keep in mind that your script should have a clear outline with time codes for every section of the discussion, as well as a general theme to follow.
3. Involve Your Followers
A live session is a great opportunity to do Q&A with your followers. You can dedicate the entire session to it or only a part of it.
You can ask your followers to share their questions with you beforehand, or encourage them to ask questions or simply participate and leave their comments when the session goes live:
Going live on Instagram can become a regular part of your Stories content strategy. In these sessions, you can answer questions about your products, discuss the upcoming launches, product updates, as well as other issues that your brand is related to.
Live sessions are a great way to build brand awareness, as you become closer to your followers and make them an active part of the discussion.
How Will You Tell Your Stories?
Instagram offers you a variety of options to promote your brand, and Instagram Stories is one of the best ways to do it.
Users love Instagram Stories and think that they are more engaging than other content on this platform. Besides, this feature gives you so many opportunities, from going live to creating polls, setting reminders, and much more.
However, to make sure that your efforts are successful, you need to build a detailed Instagram Stories Content Strategy with a clear goal in mind.
Hopefully, our guide will inspire you to create an Instagram Stories content strategy that benefits your brand’s online presence and helps you stand out.
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About the Author
Daniela McVicker is a blogger with rich experience in writing about UX design, content planning, and digital marketing. Currently, she contributes to many authoritative sources, where she helps individuals and organizations improve their web content writing, design, and planning skills. Her posts are always packed with examples and actionable content that readers can put straight into the action.