how to use instagram stories

Instagram Stories: How to Use it to Engage your Audience

It was back in 2016 when Instagram introduced Stories, copying Snapchat. It gained popularity almost instantly and now, Instagram boasts of 500 million daily users of stories. Why did instagrammers take to Stories so well? Doesn’t the 24 hour period (after which the stories disappear for your followers) put users off?

Truthfully, it’s quite the opposite.

The 24-hour time period allows the user to post freely, almost without inhibitions, because they know that it isn’t there for long. Instagram has a BILLION active users a month, most of them being young people.

Yes, a billion. The highest number of users are between 18-24 years old.

Here are some more statistics about Instagram that will probably blow your mind.

But I digress. Back to Instagram stories.

So, through insta stories, users share their life’s daily moments in a quick manner, whereas their actual feed is highly curated. Influencers and businesses have used this format to their advantage in various creative ways. Apart from the usual photos and videos with a swipe up link, here are some interesting ways you can increase engagement multi-fold via Instagram Stories if you’re a business.

 

Conduct Polls

People on social media like to give their opinion about everything, so when Instagram introduced polls in their stories, it went viral. Users asked questions along with two options and their followers voted on their favorite one. This not only makes your audience feel like their opinion matters (it does!) but also provides an ice breaker for further conversation. Oftenn, I’ve had a follower turn into a friend, after a conversation fueled by a poll. If you have a business, this is a great way to gain feedback, increase engagement and find out what your customers (current and potential) like and dislike about your brand.

 

Quiz your Followers

Another good feature added by Instagram is the quiz, where you can ask questions with three options, out of which only one answer is correct. This can come in handy if you want to quiz your audience about your brand’s trivia or just post a random quiz for engagement. 9gag’s instagram account recently posted a few insta stories where they quizzed users about the correct spellings of a few US states. They added a ‘swipe up’ link to a related image, which probably gave them more swipe ups than just directly promoting their content. By adding the quiz, they made their followers take a short test and when they were intrigued, they went ahead and checked the link they were actually promoting. Bulls eye. 🙂

 

Instagram Takeover

Instagram takeovers are those where your followers can gain an insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ of your brand and its employees. That’s right – the employees of the company take you on a virtual tour of how things work in the company, while creating trust and a bond between them and you, their consumers. This is a great way to put a human face behind the company’s logo. Some employees even end up becoming crowd favorites! @BuzzfeedIndia does this regularly and I’ve seen @tastemade do something similar too.

 

Show the Step-By-Step Process

This is yet another thing that @tastemade implements. Since it’s a food related account, they (sometimes) post steps of a certain recipe in video format. This creates curiosity as your audience would want to know what comes next in the process. Your ardent followers will mostly likely avoid skipping your story as well (But remember to keep things exciting!).

 

Answer Questions in your Instagram Stories

Here’s another trick to get loads of replies! Just ask a question and let your followers give you all the answers. I’m sure you must be thinking – what? yet another question-based feature? Well, yes. But these questions are different. These aren’t quizzes or polls,  but questions that will give you a different answer from different people. A few examples: “What’s your favorite movie ever?” “Your fondest childhood memory?” etc. A meme page that I follow asks their followers’ Sunday plans every weekend and boy, do their interactions go through the roof. It also gives followers the excitement of getting featured by their favorite page/business, making it a win-win situation for both.

 

Provide a Template

Templates went super viral on Instagram some time ago but they’re still quite relevant to use in your stories. Not sure what templates are? Check these out. With templates, you basically create one page of a slam book (remember those? 🙂 ). Your followers can screenshot the template and post their answers on their own stories. You can even host a giveaway along with this (and get your audience to tag 3 friends in the contest) to increase your reach. It’s simple, fun and useful. 

 

It’s Time for a Countdown

Have a big sale coming up? Or a brand new offer that your customers won’t be able to refuse? Then build some anticipation for it by adding a countdown in your story! Youtubers often use this feature to generate some excitement about their upcoming video. Artists use it to create some curiosity before their album hits the market. Even makeup giants use it to create a ‘don’t miss it when it’s out’ kind of feeling about their latest palettes. And…..it works! When your potential consumer is excited even before your product is launched, you know you have a winner. Plus, you can also gain some insights into what kind of content works and what doesn’t when you use a countdown along with them.

 

Testimonials Made Fun

Testimonials have been creating a sense of trust since the beginning of time, so why not use it in your Insta stories as well? Yes! You can ask your followers to send you short clips talking about what they like about your product and why everyone else should try it too. I’m sure this works better than just the text-based testimonials you might have elsewhere. Try it out!

Start a Challenge

This is one of THE MOST tried and tested formula to go viral on Instagram – just start a fun challenge, pick a good hashtag and let your followers create videos. You can share the best ones on your story and then pick a winner if you want! Recently, marketing teams for Bollywood films have begun promoting movies in this format. They simply post the ‘signature dance moves’ from their songs and ask fans to recreate them. This is the perfect opportunity for fans to get noticed by their favorite actors/actresses online and gain some bragging rights too. 

Bottom Line

Instagram stories provide a brilliant way to connect with your followers and must be used by every business on the platform. Since the stories disappear after 24 hours, you need to consistently keep creating and posting new content to keep your audience hooked, but if you manage to do it right and keep things fresh, you are guaranteed #InstagramSuccess!

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