Modern marketers are, by and large, in the engagement enterprise, tasked with making content that captures attention and drives action, content that works.
Unfortunately, Instagram does not give much data around the performance of Stories. When it comes to measuring performance, marketers who are used to deep insights on other platforms are relegated to tracking the unique views, completion rates, and direct messages of their Instagram Stories—and that is about it.
This data scarcity makes it more difficult to scientifically test content, that means marketers have to nail their Story strategy from the onset to stay competitive on the platform.
Not sure how to do that? These greatest practices will help:
1. Tell a story
Clear, simple stories activate the brain, making it simpler to recall info. A great narrative also causes our brains to synthesize oxytocin, the same hormone that helps people bond.
Therefore, the most effective Instagram Stories are just that—stories. Use the function’s slideshow format to piece together experience with a starting, middle, and finish. This will improve your content’s completion rate. It will also help people keep in mind your message.
2. Be authentic
Keep in mind Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial? It was a marketing and PR disaster because people saw it for what it was: a tone-deaf, thinly veiled try to capitalize on a profound and truly consequential movement.
More than that, the advert was polished and tight, fake—and the world immediately realized it.
Authentic content is honest, both in message and execution. It is imperfect, real.
People trust real.
3. Provide value
Social media audiences need the brands they follow to give the data and/or entertainment.
Value is telling your followers the way to do something that makes life simpler or better (i.e., info). Value is making your followers feel something (i.e., entertainment).
If you could do these things, consistently, your followers will come back, spread your content, and develop.
4. Get creative
Edward de Bono, the father of Lateral Thinking, once said, “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to take a look at things in a different way.”
Instagram Stories offer plenty of options that allow its users to take a look at things differently, to think differently, to be creative. Use these options fearlessly—and your followers will take notice, rewarding you with attention, engagement, and action.
5. Plan ahead
Instagram Stories permits users to publish existing images and videos from your camera roll as long as that content was created within the last 24 hours. (You could also hack this 24-hour rule by opening your content in an editing app and then re-saving it, which will make it appear new to Instagram and, therefore, uploadable).
This functionality provides you with an opportunity to plan your Stories ahead of time—instead of producing them on the fly—which makes it simpler to create content that is extra engaging, compelling, and meaningful.
6. Promote your Story
Promoting, or boosting, your Story will help it get more exposure.
This strategy is particularly viable if you have “must-see” content designed around a particular offer, event, or branding initiative. After all, when you put more time, energy, and resources into making a Story, it only makes sense to invest more in its dissemination.
7. Use CTAs
A CTA, or call-to-action, is one of the most necessary elements of your Story because it tells people what to do next.
As a brand, the last thing you need your followers to do is nothing. You want people to interact with your content, to love it, share it, and comment. Or, maybe, you want people to take a more committed action, like making a purchase.
Whatever it’s, it probably will not occur unless you ask for it, explicitly, either in the caption or the post itself.
The North Face, for instance, did a nice job telling viewers what their next step should be in this Valentine’s Day Story.
Sean Kelly, founder, and CEO of @JerseyChamps has amassed over a million followers on Instagram. I caught up with him to learn some greatest practices around Instagram Stories.
“When you go on Instagram LIVE while an existing story is up,” explains Kelly, “it’ll increase you to the first circle on the Instagram news feed. It is a quick method to get extra views out of your followers.”
Kelly also extols the value of POLLS as a means to collect quantitative data that could inform your strategy:
“Make sure you use polls in your stories to keep your followers engaged,” Kelly told me. “Use these statistics to influence your enterprise choices. Prior to releasing a jersey, as an example, I put the design on my story and take a poll, asking my followers’ opinion. If it doesn’t receive good feedback, I don’t launch it.”
Instagram Stories are here to stay. At least for the foreseeable future.
That is why every business should be leveraging the platform’s massive popularity to find more advocates and customers. And as long as you are using it, you may as well make the most it.