How To Use Instagram Stories To Grow Engagement

by Halie Smith

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Instagram stories are a free and effective strategy to increase engagement for your brand. As algorithms change and social media platforms increasingly add opportunities for engagement, your brand should know how to optimize the use of its exciting and ever-changing features. Keep reading to find out how to maximize your brand engagement with the Instagram feature used by more than 500 million users.

1) Do your research.

Instagram for Business offers many insightful analytics to brands, including demographics of your audience, what time of day your audience is most likely to engage with your brand, and what type of content your audience responds to the best. 

Who and what is your audience following? Identifying the key stakeholders and influencers of your brand and its audiences can encourage future collaboration using Instagram stories. Collaboration with these audience-specific influencers keeps the strategy true to the interest of your brand and audience, thus encouraging authentic engagement in real-time using stories. Additionally, staying up to date with relevant trends, hashtags, and news can be useful when crafting a successful Instagram stories strategy that keeps your brand in on the latest conversation. With the time-sensitive nature of stories, relevancy is key for engagement.

Are you competitors using Instagram stories? Seeing if and how competing brands are using the Instagram feature provides an opportunity for your brand to determine your competitors’ pitfalls and successes in the execution of their strategy. Researching competitors’ use of Instagram stories not only saves your brand trial and error but also gives inspiration for what is working for your competitor to determine how your brand can execute an even better strategy.

Starting with the information already at your fingertips, brands have the opportunity to be specific with their Instagram stories strategy, ensuring that the content aligns with what their audience wants to see, relates to the current news and trends of the industry, and differentiates themselves from their competitors.

2) Be interactive and intentional.

Remember: you’re not talking to a wall on Instagram. Get your audiences involved! Successful promotions and marketing activations using Instagram stories seamlessly integrate story features such as polls, Q&As, countdowns, etc. into their brand’s strategy.

By using Instagram story’s Q&A feature, your brand’s audience can get to know YOU. This provides a unique opportunity to strengthen brand presence and perception while making users feel special by highlighting their questions on your brand’s story to answer them. Q&As also help address the needs and wants of your audience by answering and engaging promptly using stories.

Polls and quizzes are effective ways of conducting informal research about your audiences. For the audience, it makes them feel as though their choice truly makes a difference. It is fun for the user to come back to a brand’s story periodically to see if their poll choice has the lead. When users are encouraged to make a choice, especially when it’s anonymous, they will choose the option that resonates the most with them which gives the audience a chance for their voice to be heard.

Countdowns are tactile and should be implemented in your brand’s Instagram stories strategy. Creating a countdown and featuring it on Instagram stories allows your audience to add the branded countdown to their own story, thus promoting your brand to their own followers. Countdowns generate buzz for an event, product launch, or announcement, so get your audience talking and excited! 

3) Repurpose and promote in-feed content by sharing it to your Instagram story.

Speaking of longevity, give your brand’s post a second wind of engagement by resharing it on your Instagram story. Whether your followers missed the post initially or the story shares a promotional update or announcement to accompany the original post, resharing to your story gives the content more exposure to your audience. Resharing posts using Instagram stories reinforces the message your brand is sharing, while creating another opportunity for users to engage with your content.

4) Add captions to your video stories.

Let your audiences in on the great experiences of your brand through Instagram stories, even when they are unable to hear your video’s sound. Instagram’s latest Captions sticker allows the platform to auto-generate and transcribe the spoken dialogue within an Instagram story. Captions streamline the opportunity for ALL to easily engage with your brand and experience the social media strategy to its full potential. The inclusive feature is a step in the right direction to ensure that all users can have positive experiences when using the app and engaging with your brand.

5) Have your audience get the word out about your brand.

Instagram stories allow users to hold down on the story’s image and screenshot it. To make the most of this capability, brands create ‘Fill in the Blank’ story slides that encourage users to screenshot, fill out, and share their own stories, tagging the brand that created the slide template. User-generated content is trusted 50% more than all other media sources, so it only makes sense to get your audience to start disseminating your brand’s message and content. This not only gets your audience involved and engaged but also spreads brand awareness to new audiences. Take this story strategy even further by leaving a blank spot for your audience to tag some friends! These resharable stories bring longevity to the 24-hour Instagram feature, creating an even greater impact for both the brand and its audiences.

Knowing how to best use features created by social media platforms, such as Instagram stories, allows for better experiences for both the brand and the user. Instagram stories add another dimension to the brand-consumer relationship that extends conversation and promotes engagement to further a brand’s social media strategy. Instagram stories are only live for 24 hours, so get researching and start posting to amplify your brand’s strategy today!