The buzz of promoting your day-to-day business activities on Snapchat may now be nothing more than a quiet hum — but Instagram stories (an Instagram feature which was brazenly stolen from Snapchat) is gaining traction by the day.
But you don’t have to take our word for it, because the numbers, along with the insights gathered from inside company’s using Instagram Stories regularly, paint a vivid picture.
What Are Instagram Stories?
Before we look at why you should be posting regular Instagram stores, let’s define what an Instagram Story is.
The Instagram Story feature lets you share photos and videos with your followers, but each post you share expires and vanishes after 24 hours — unless you add them to your profile as permanent “highlights”. Instagram users can access your Instagram Story by clicking on your profile picture, which will be outlined in bright orange to indicate that your profile has an active Story ready to be viewed.
Heather Aponte, Communications Manager at New York-based Digimind, which owns one of the 25 million business accounts on Instagram, described Instagram Stories as “an integral tool that marketers should be using to demonstrate authenticity and show company personality.” But beyond giving your audience an additional peek behind your organizational curtain, here are seven reasons to make Instagram Stories part of your content marketing plan right now.
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1. Instagram Stories Are Beating Snapchat
First things first, if you’re already using Snapchat to talk to your audience, you should consider the fact that Instagram Stories are out-performing Snapchat on almost every level. In fact, as of November 2017, Instagram Stories have amassed 300 million daily active users — which is almost double the amount of daily active Snapchat users.
Furthermore, a MediaKix study examining the Stories usage of top influencers found that major Snapchat influencers are now posting on Instagram Stories twice as much as they are on Snapchat. The study found that the influencers averaged 7.6 Instagram Stories per day compared to only 3.5 Snapchat Stories per day.
2. Instagram Stories Are Perfect for Storytelling
Instagram Stories give businesses a way to convey messages and have conversations in an even more casual manner than social media commonly affords. Richard Wong, VP Marketing and Creator Relations at New York City-based #Paid, thinks that this positions the Stories feature as an excellent storytelling platform. “Instagram story content is less curated and more 'in the now' than content that is posted to the actual feed,” he said.
Fundamentally, Wong added, social media is about storytelling. "For many of the brands — including non-visual ones — companies can post about the incredible stories on how people's lives are changed by their products or services. The human elements connect and resonate with audiences,” he explained.
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3. You Can Prepare Less and Publish More
Posting Instagram content in bulk throughout the day may get you flagged as a spammer, or, it could just annoy your audience enough to earn you an unfollow. With Stories however, you can post as often as you like without being intrusive. Stories are designed for continuous watching and consumption, so the more content you post, the better. Furthermore, because the content will only live for 24 hours, the content itself doesn’t have to be quite as polished as a normal Instagram post, as Charney Weiss, Director of Social Media at LA-based-Dailey, explained. “Instagram users are more forgiving with stories – even with brands. They don’t expect the polished, super calculated shots that show up in a beautifully composed Instagram profile. People want to see the brand’s in-the-moment humanity and authenticity,” she told CMSWire.
4. You Can Go Live
Live video marketing is a growing trend, mainly because consumers are increasingly attracted to live streams. In fact, 81 percent of Internet users viewed more live video content in 2016 than they did in 2015. One of the reasons for the success of Instagram Stories has been due to the live streaming ability that it affords to all Instagram users. This allows brands to live stream events, host Q&A sessions or just to go live spontaneously from the office for a more personal session with whoever tunes in.
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5. You Can Drive Traffic and Engagement
Instagram users with over 10,000 followers can unlock additional Stories features, including the ability to link to Instagram profiles and add external links to each Stories post. To visit the link, viewers simply swipe up on the image or video. “Stories are [a great way] to connect on a more personal level with your followers, and to drive traffic to specific web pages — like a blog post, news article, or a shopping cart — through the "swipe up" feature,” explained Wong.
Weiss also described the positive impact felt from this particular feature. “Instagram is notorious for its inability to direct link within post copy, [but] we’re now able to leverage the direct link capability to finally drive web traffic from Instagram. Instagram Stories afford the opportunity to direct traffic based on story interest, and we’ve noticed a correlation between stories featuring blog content and blog traffic derived from that story,” she said.
Additionally, brands can insert polls into their Instagram Stories, which helps drive engagement and could even be leveraged as a way to collect voice of the customer data. Chetan Mangat of New Delhi, India-based BuiltByBlank, told CMSWire that they’re, “seeing that brands [who execute] Instagram Stories well, are engaging with their audience 60% more than those that are not.”
6. It’s A New Way To Work With Instagram Influencers
The Stories feature is also another avenue for brands and influencers to stroll down, hand in hand. For example, because Stories can be more casual and off-the-cuff, a brand can easily draft in an influencer to take the digital wheel and engage its audience via an “Instagram takeover”, where the influencer takes control of the brand’s account for a few hours. “We use Instagram stories as another channel to host influencer takeovers. An influencer’s impact comes from their voice, personality and knowledge of social, so why not leverage those attributes in a more authentic way like ‘A Day in the Life’ [on our Instagram account]?,” Weiss said.
Integrating influencer appearances in stories helps, she shared, helped them increase their reach and generate trust in the message they were sharing. Wong mirrored Weiss’ enthusiasm for the role Stories play when it comes to influencers, “We're a fan of partnering with influencers to do Instagram takeovers and co-create content with brands, because then you benefit from both the brand and the influencer’s audience,” Wong told CMSWire.
7. You Can Boost Organic Reach on Instagram
While there isn’t any solid research linking regular Instagram Stories to an increase in organic reach, Instagram users will find that, when searching through Instagram, accounts with active Stories will tend to show up in higher in the search results. Plus, you can add hashtags and location tags to each story post, helping your account to show up in search results related to that hashtag or location.
Wong chimed in once again to explain how consistent Stories can help with organic reach, “Instagram Stories are meant to be shared much more frequently than an Instagram post itself so giving your audience a closer look at your brand, calling out any of the new regular posts that go live, or increasing general engagement are all great tactics to increase organic reach,” he explained.
Mangat’s take is that Stories help a brand stand out from the usual noise found in the standard Instagram feed, “The Instagram photo stream is getting over saturated and people tend to scroll past images without paying attention. Stories, on the other hand, tend to stick and have the most optimum real estate on the Instagram app, he said.