How Instagram Stories Can Boost Your Marketing Efforts

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Instagram Stories burst onto the social media scene over a year ago - but didn’t immediately take off. At the beginning of November, however, Instagram’s answer to Snapchat’s disappearing images and videos, hit 300 million users - nearly twice that of Snapchat.

Brands have been slower to adapt, but are certainly starting to catch on. According to Instagram, a third of the most-viewed Stories come from businesses. Businesses are realising that Stories can be a valuable part of their campaign. Soon it’ll be the case that if your business isn’t using Instagram Stories, you’ll be left by the wayside.

But don’t worry if you’re lagging behind when it comes to your Stories strategy. Here are my top tips for using Instagram Stories effectively and measuring your success.

 

Don’t be afraid to experiment

The major difference between Stories and plain old Instagram posts is that Stories are can only be viewed for up to 24 hours before they disappear. Because you don’t have to worry about them staying up forever, you can be a bit bolder in what you post and take some risks with different types of content. You can use Stories as almost a testing ground for what your audience enjoys.

This lack of permanence almost demands you to be a bit more spontaneous - and gives you a great opportunity to humanise your business by showing your audience a different perspective. Try handing over control of your Stories to a team member for a day for an insight of what it’s like to work at your company. Maybe even snap some behind-the-scenes Stories at a special event. Giving your followers an insider look at the workings of your business creates a personal bond and builds up customer loyalty and engagement.

Stories also provide a unique opportunity to engage with your audience by asking and answering their questions. Take advantage of the recent addition of ‘polling stickers’ that allow viewers to vote on two options by asking your audience fun questions. And, most importantly, always include a call to action in your Stories. Be clear about this - give your customers something specific to do, such as click the link to your website landing page.

 

 

Success can be measured

Improving marketing strategies often depends on being able to tangibly measure results. If companies are going to put money behind a new platform, they need to be able to know that what they’re paying for will be worth it. And the problem so far with Stories is that it’s been notoriously hard to measure their performance and return on investment.

This has all changed, however. In July 2017, however, Instagram updated its API to allow third parties to access data to analyse the Stories’ performance, as well as a number of other insights. This development means that brands can analyse their user growth and engagement when it comes to Stories more easily than ever.

If you don’t have access to one of these third party apps, however - you can use your school maths skills to work out valuable insights. Calculate your view rate, for example, by dividing your number of individual Story views by your Instagram follower count and multiplying by 100. So, if you have 30,000 Instagram followers and 5,600 people viewed your story, then 5,600/30,000 x 100, or 18.7% , is the percentage of your followers that view your story - aka your reach.

You can also work out your drop off rate between Stories by putting your Stories in order - Story 1, Story 2, Story 3 - and dividing the difference in views between pairs of consecutive Stories (say Story 2 and Story 3) by the total of views of the Story you put up first.

 

 

Power up your stories

Once you’ve calculated your drop-off rates - whether it’s through mental maths or an Excel Sheet - it’s time to analyse the results. If your drop-off rates are going down - great! If not, and you’re losing viewers at an unsustainable rate, it’s probably time to reevaluate what you’re posting. I’m sorry to say that it’s likely that your Stories just aren’t offering your audiences enough engaging content. They’re called Stories for a reason - make sure your content has an interesting-enough narrative thread for your audience to want to click through.

Drop-off rates are also impacted by when you post. Instagram Insights can tell you exactly when your followers are online and engaging - use this information wisely and post at the most sensible times.

Above all, remember this mantra: test, measure, repeat. Try out something new, measure the impact has on your followers and engagement, and then repeat the process as many times as you want to with a different kind of post every time. When you’ve done this enough times and recorded your results, you’ll have a fairly clear idea of the most engaging content for your particular audience.

The best thing about Instagram Stories is that they can be used in so many different ways - the key is to experiment with different kinds of content and be creative! Be bold with your Stories, make them exciting - but try and tailor them to your audience. Then you’ll be able to reap the benefits of increased engagement - and who knows, it might even be fun!