Instagram boasts over 500 million active monthly users performing around 300 million daily activities! If you are not using the platform to build a presence for your business, the new ‘Stories’ update gives you even another reason to do so.
What are Stories?
Instagram is typically known for their beautiful photos, short captions, and hashtags. Many companies have polished galleries of beautiful photos that show off their products and paint a picture of their brand. However, the new ‘Stories’ feature brings a new dimension to the platform, allowing users to upload photos or videos up to 10 seconds which only exist for 24 hours. These are displayed at the top of the screen in the app, above the newsfeed. Viewers will see the users’ names who have recently posted stories with a colorful circle around their profile picture. Viewers can choose the stories they want to watch and will be able to scroll through all the stories from the last 24 hours.
These introduce a new element to Instagram, creating a sense of urgency and granting more freedom because of the limited nature of the posts.
Let’s take a close look at why Instagram added this feature and how you can make it work for your business.
Why Instagram Added this Feature
Well, it did so for a number of reasons. Without a doubt, Instagram faces a challenge from another social media platform, Snapchat. In fact, a few years ago, Instagram made a bid to buy Snapchat- which failed. They then produced their own app similar to Snapchat, which also failed!
So if you can’t beat them, join them. Instagram stories are extremely similar to the popular stories feature found on Snapchat.
Instagram maintains that their stories feature is a perfect way for people to post from their account throughout their day, without the fear of over spamming their followers, especially as people will choose which stories they watch. This is unlike regular posts which will appear in a follower’s timeline.
Instagram stories have a number of benefits. They can grant businesses more visibility in the wake of Instagram implementing an algorithm like Facebook’s EdgeRank to filter which posts users see in their newsfeed. It can also give businesses the opportunity to show a more authentic and fun side. Instagram was always seen as the more prim and proper of the social media networks. Photos needed to be perfect and the right filters needed to be selected before a business dared share a picture. Stories move away from this in the fact that they are geared towards spontaneity. Content only lasts for 24 hours and cannot be ‘liked’ by followers.
How to use it
Let’s take a look at how to use Instagram’s stories feature.
- Start by opening the app.
- Now begin by accessing the plus sign in the top left-hand corner with a simple tap.
- Then you are ready to either take a photo or make a video. A photo requires a simple tap of the button at the bottom of the screen while a video will require a press of up to 10 seconds. You can switch between the rear and front-facing camera by touching the two arrows on the screen, while if you need a flash because of poor light, hit the lightning bolt.
- Have a video that you have shot before that you want to upload? Simply swipe in a downwards motion to bring up your camera roll and select it.
- Should you wish to add to your photo, select either of the pen types to draw on it. Emoji’s can be added via your smartphone keyboard while simply swiping to the right will allow you to select a color filter. More colors can be found by tapping and holding one of the colors already presented.
- Once you are done making changes to your photo or video, share it by tapping the checkmark icon.
Each Instagram story you share will start to appear in your follower’s feeds. It remains visible on your profile page as well. Should you wish to save a story, tap on the three dots and select save. Remember, if you do not save it, it will disappear in 24 hours.
You can follow who accesses your story by simply swiping upward when viewing it.
The new stories feature built into Instagram can be used in a number of ways in a business environment, particularly for small business owners. Perhaps most importantly, it can show your followers how your business runs behind the scenes, aspects which they would never be privy to. It can also be used to present products in a fun manner – perhaps a new product launch for example.
Use Stories But Don’t Forget the Instagram Feed
Having said that, never forget your regular Instagram feed, people will expect you to carry on posting those stylized photos from your business. The trick here is trying to decide what needs to go to the regular feed and what should become a story. Keep in mind, the main aim should be about creating a sense of community and encouraging feedback.
Note target audiences as well. Instagram users are typically younger. Finding content that appeals to them can be different but the platform, as well as its stories feature, offers a great way to test content, changing it quickly if you are not receiving the reaction you want.
So explore Instagram stories, get more authentic with your followers, post content daily, find out what works and doesn’t work, and most importantly, give your follower’s even more insight into your business.