Over 1 billion people use Instagram each month. 90% of its user accounts follow their favourite brands on Instagram and with more than 500 million people using Instagram stories every day, now is the time for your business to start using this feature within social media campaigns.

What Are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories are a short snippet of a post, video or picture that appears separately from a main feed and will vanish after 24 hours. You will find the Stories located in the top row above your Instagram feed – often being the first thing consumers will see. As they do not appear in the feed, you no longer have to fear spamming your audience with the same posts. Instagram Stories only last 24 hours, which means they are seen as a more informal way to post and are often used in a creative and fun way, and they are having a dramatic impact on the way people are using Instagram. Since stories have appeared, the number of feed posts posted by influencers and brands has declined, with users preferring to interact with their more authentic and creative content posted on Stories. Instagram Stories are becoming a very prominent post type; let’s look at how they work and how you can use them.

How Do They Work?

As I mentioned before, Instagram stories are a bite-sized clips that only last 24 hours before they are deleted – unless you choose to save them. They allow you to add in interactive elements which can help increase engagement on each story.

How Can You Post an Instagram Story?

To post a story on Instagram, you simply tap the camera icon in the top left-hand corner of your screen, or you can reveal the story camera by swiping left. Once your camera is open you’re then able to take a photo or record a video. Once you’ve done this, you can use a range of filters and add text and drawings to your content.

How Can You Increase The Impact of Your Instagram Stories?

This is typically achieved in 2 steps; increase the people you reach using stories (views) and then increase the engagement on your stories. The most obvious way to get the best engagement is the more followers your account has; will automatically help you achieve more views on your Instagram stories. If your followers aren’t watching your stories, they will become even less visible, appearing further down the line of displayed stories in the feed of Instagram accounts.

Best Ways to Increase Your Reach and Engagement:

1. Create a plan with your story

Look to avoid posting random stories and tell relatable stories that fit with your target audience. This can be done using a sequence of images or by creating short clips.

2. Think about appearance

Not all stories need to have a professional design, that isn’t what Instagram stories are about. However, you should still look to keep a consistent brand appearance on your stories so that your audience will maintain brand association.

3. Learn what works

If you want to increase the impact of your stories it is crucial that you post and learn. Use Analytics to see what content your audience responds best with. If you aren’t receiving the metrics you anticipated, don’t get frustrated and focus on what works and the rest will follow.

4. Use hashtags

Hashtags are overlooked as ways to increase your reach on Instagram. And you can now implement them into your Instagram stories, the key to adding hashtags to your stories are stickers. Before you add any hashtags, do some research on trending topics that link with your business. You don’t want to get carried away and spam your stories with a ridiculous number of hashtags. Choose your hashtags with care and use them sparingly.

5. Know when to post

Understand the optimum time that you should post. There are times of the day when your audience is asleep or working; if you post at off-peak times many of your audience may miss your post and you will lose engagement. To calculate your optimum time, try different posting times and see when you achieve the most engagements and interactions.

6. Interact with others

A great way to improve awareness is to interact with other businesses and users with your stories. Many of them will return the favour and will actively look to share content you post. You should look to share accounts that are similar to yours or that your audience would find interesting.

7. Use location Stickers

Applying location stickers, allows for your story to be viewed by anyone viewing that area in search. So look to target your local area in order to attract customers and other businesses that are nearby.

8. Add Links

Instagram allows you to use a variety of creative tools to make your stories interactive and engage with your audience through your stories. If you can create the correct strategy, you can use the traffic and engagement from the stories to earn followers and reach on your Instagram feed. If you are able to gain enough followers you are then given the ‘Swipe Up’ option which allows you to add links to your stories, an option that isn’t available on your standard feed posts.