Instagram Stories – what, how, why and when to use them

If you haven’t heard, the one of the latest tools on social is Instagram stories. Originally criticised for being a copy of Snapchat, the reality of this new tool is that they are all of this and so much more. It’s a tool not just for regular people, Instagram Stories are brilliant for businesses too.

So if you’ve been sitting on the fence wondering if you should jump on board, the answer is yes and with video content being the new way to attract followers and engagement, now is the time. It’s true that the content is only available for 24 hours once posted and there is always the argument of why commit time to such a flash in the pan that can be easily missed, but it seems users love this addictive way to see and share information so it does provide good ROI.

Instagram Stories, like Instagram, are fun and creative, and they’re great for growing your engagement, building brand awareness, increasing traffic to your website, and provide a smoother pathway on this particular social platform to drive ecommerce sales.

In this blog we tell you why you should use them, how and when to use them and some other bits and pieces of information about this new tool to consider.

Why use Instagram stories for your business

In a similar way to sharing still images and short videos on their feed, with their new stories feature Instagram has been able to turn momentary and fleeting messaging into an effective tool for businesses without ruining it for consumers. In fact it offers the unique advantage of being equally as desirable for both regular users and businesses and offers a host of features for both. For businesses specifically it offers a channel to share both fun, beautiful and light-hearted content, a marketing campaign, or a specific story to drive sales.

Social media trends are pointing to the fact that live streamed, interactive and video content is set to grow in importance in 2018 and beyond. Instagram Stories represents a way to do this on this platform. So if you are already using Instagram for your business with success, here are some ways you can make this platform even better using their Stories.

How to use Instagram Stories

  • Create a collection of stories that feed into each other

It’s not much of stretch to find that Instagram stories work best when a brand or business actually tells a story. By this I mean the upload of multiple different individual stories, one after another, to create one larger and ongoing narrative.

This works because using an underlying story told in a series of snippets is a great marketing strategy and keeps your audience engaged and interactive. They look forward to the next part of the ‘story’ and completely buy-in to your message. This is great for product launches, the use of brand ambassadors, an event, occasion or marketing campaign.

  • Use all the features

You don’t need to use every feature in every story but Instagram Stories look fresh and work best if you mix it up. You should try to use different stories features to enhance your content like text overlay to highlight a particular point, emojis to generate a emotion, filters and other drawing features.

These features make your content fun, interactive, easy to interpret and engaging and will highlight the message you are hoping to convey.

  • Tell your audience what to do

Make sure that each story not only builds your brand identity but has a specific point, action or message for your audience behind it. Be creative but tell your audience what you want them to do. You would be surprised how many of them do!

  • Use the Analytics

Initially not available, Instagram’s Insights (available for business accounts only) now give us analytic information about story performance. It’s important to use this feature so you can understand what worked, with who and when. And then do it again!

How Often to Post on Instagram Stories for Business

Unlike regular Instagram posts, which are influenced by the Instagram algorithm, Instagram won’t punish you for posting too many Instagram Stories.

This might change in the future as more accounts starting using Instagram Stories regularly, but right now it’s important to know that you won’t get penalised… by Instagram, that is.

How many you post should be determined by your followers and what they expect and want from you. Some accounts are geared to posting 10+ stories a day and others need only post a few a week. Depending on the time you have committed to itm what your followers expect and the ROI, it’s good measure to have enough that people look forward to seeing yours without getting tired of your content. This can be determined by looking at your analytics.

When to Post on Instagram Stories

When it comes to normal Instagram posts, it’s very important to post when you followers are most active and likely to see them. However, this isn’t the case with Instagram Stories for business.

Due to their temporary and fleeting nature, Instagram Stories can only exist for a maximum of 24 hours and will be at the top of your follower’s feeds for that time. So even if you post a story at a time when your followers are asleep, they’ll still be able to see your story at the top of their feeds when they wake up if its within a 24 hour timeframe.

What to post on Instagram stories for business

Like with regular posts, if you’re using Instagram Stories for business, it’s good to post a mix of fun, light content and some more directed promotional content. As Instagram stories are only given a 24 hour time frame to exist, the expected quality of the content is lower than that for regular posts. This is a great format to experiment, get creative and tap into the fun side of your target market. Still keep it true to your brand, but it’s a tool where you can have fun with your image.

As with all social media tools, there are some tricks for success. The following few tactics can help increase your follower engagement and get results.

  • Use location and hashtag stickers to help people find you

When Instagram first introduced stickers to Instagram Stories at the end of 2016, they were more gimmick than useful.

Since that time, Instagram has added a new functionality to stickers, including the ability to see location based Stories on the Explore page and the ability to search by location and hashtag.

These features have made a huge difference to the usability of Stories. At first you could only share Instagram Stories with your own followers, however now Stories are searchable by location and hashtag, meaning anyone can see your Stories or search for them.

  • Use links in your Instagram Stories for business

Instagram recently added the ability to add links to Stories. This is important; as it’s the first chance the users of the platform have had to add a link to an online ecommerce site that isn’t in their bio. As you can imagine this makes it much easier for a business to send a follower to a specific web page and drive traffic to your site.

  • Tag Other Accounts in Your Instagram Stories for Business

Instagram contests are very effective for boosting engagement and building an audience. It’s important to tag other (relevant) accounts into your Instagram Stories to drive traffic to your contests.

  • Share Polls in your Instagram Stories for business

Instagram have now provided interactive poll stickers on Stories. This functionality allows you to survey your Instagram audience and ask them questions about their interests, likes, dislikes, and more. You are then able to see the results. This has great benefits for business use in terms of collecting feedback on certain products, asking your customers what they want, gathering their ideas on how to make an offering better and many other things. It’s a way to directly engage with your audience that didn’t exist before.

To conclude

If your business is already investing in building an Instagram following, then employing Instagram Stories in your strategy is a no brainer. Another tool in the kit, it will allow you to engage and interact with this audience that is measurable, fun and unique.

Instagram Stories, like Instagram, are fun and creative, and they’re great for growing your engagement and building brand personality. And the punch line is that they provide a more direct route to ecommerce sales.


Blogs that have been read or reference in the writing of this blog:

Share article

Picture of Margot Stolle

Margot Stolle

Margot Stolle is a marketing professional with over 15 years experience within several different industries including: sports and events sponsorship; business and financial planning; and fashion. She also owns and manages her own brand of children's sleepwear which is e-retailed and has experience in designing and editing websites and managing social media platforms.

You may also enjoy these articles:

Call us

South Australia:

Western Australia: