What originally started as a direct competitor to Snapchat, Instagram Stories allows you to share multiple photos and videos which appear together in a reel outside of your regular Instagram profile page. Like Snapchat, stories disappear after 24 hours. Recently though, Instagram has added the ability for users to save stories to their highlights, so that the story can be accessed by followers even after the 24-hour expiration.
With up to 400 million daily active users, Instagram Stories is a huge opportunity to drive engagement for your business or brand. In fact, when considering a new product to purchase, 25% of Gen Z and Millennials actively seek Instagram Stories to educate themselves before buying. As engagement and ROI for Instagram Stories continue to rise, the platform is constantly rolling out new story features for brands to better engage with their audience. The new year provides a great opportunity to utilize these new features and improve your Instagram Story strategy in 2019.
New Ways to Collect Feedback
Launched just this year, Instagram now provides the ability for your followers to engage with and provide feedback directly in your stories.
Instagram continues to launch new feedback loops for Instagram Stories like; polls, the swipe meter and most recently, questions. With polls, you can easily survey and get to know your audience better by asking them to provide feedback. With Instagram Story Polls, you only get two available options to formulate your answers. Using polls is a very straightforward way to quickly gather insights from your followers that can help your team make major business decisions. For example, if your brand is thinking about new product lines to explore, you can use Instagram Story Polls to gauge the general interest of the product or preferences among your customer base.
Stepping away from the standard ‘yes/no’ format of polling, the swipe meter and questions allow users to provide even more detailed responses. The swipe meter, which is an emoji-sliding scale, enables you to get a better sense of just how much your users like, need, or want something. As a marketer you get to choose the specific emoji that responders will use to input their response, which means you can really tailor the overall look and feel of the poll, putting it in context to the content. For example, you may use a swipe meter to gauge how your audience feels about a new product or to join people in a relevant and timely conversation.
Question stickers allow the most flexibility in terms of how users can give feedback, giving them a free text box to provide a response to your question. Instagram question stickers will help you get to know your followers by starting a conversation, a very important 1:1 conversation, that carries over into your direct messages. If you have an upcoming product or service release, you might want to gather feedback from your followers. Question stickers allow you to get this very detailed, free-form feedback. However, the question sticker doesn’t have to be used as a conversation, only. Instead, question stickers can be used in other creative ways, like a running contest, to drive excitement and engagement.
Additional Features to Improve Instagram Marketing Strategy
In addition to collecting feedback in Stories from your followers, there are many other ways to drive engagement and increase ROI for your brand. And with Instagram being the engagement kind of the social space, not investing in your Instagram strategy in 2019 leaves plenty of opportunity on the table.
The Instagram “Swipe up” feature, is just one of the many ways Instagram rewards marketers for growing an audience on their platform. For brands with more than 10,000 followers, links can be included in your stories, which users can then “swipe up” to access. You can direct users to your website, a specific product page or maximize the potential of your link with special offers and promotions to encourage followers to click through. You should also combine strong calls to action with your URL in a text overlay on any images or videos so that users know exactly what they’ll get from swiping up!
Hashtags can be placed in stories by way of stickers or directly in the text. In addition, you can tag locations via geotags in stickers as well. There’s no guarantee that your content will be highlighted in the hashtag aggregation – it’s dependent upon the quality and engagement of your underlying content. If included by the aggregation engines, though, hashtags could help you expand your reach and attract views beyond your followers. Finding the right hashtag strategy for your story content may take some testing out. Whether it’s utilizing hashtags for a specific campaign, taking ownership of an existing hashtag and using it consistently, or hashtagging everything in your story content to create a unique brand voice, hashtags are one of the most straightforward ways to potentially grow your audience.
In Spring 2018, Instagram rolled out a new functionality that allows you to share any public post to your story. Now, brands can use Instagram Stories to help drive traffic to their feed. In addition, the ability to highlight a post via story offers a powerful viral discover mechanism for creators who can now ask fans to quickly reshare their posts rather than having to awkwardly screenshot and upload them. Having your followers share content on your behalf can help increase your reach organically. You can also highlight your own followers using your product or service.
Mentions may seem fairly straightforward, but it is still a very powerful way to help increase your engagement and expand your reach! When followers mention your brand in their stories, their followers will be exposed to your brand and, from the story, may discover your feed. In addition, you’ll be able to share their story content on your own story, which is a great way to share testimonials and create social proof.
If you have an e-commerce store, you’re going to want to set up Instagram Shopping for your feed and stories. With so many potential buyers turning to social media for pre-purchasing research, shoppable stories are an excellent way to insert yourself into the buyer’s journey. Consumers can discover, learn about, and purchase your product – all without leaving Instagram. In addition, if you’re a smaller brand who is unable to take advantage of the Story swipe ups, you can still use shoppable stickers in your stories and drive traffic to your products, even with less than 10,000 followers.