Eloise Emley of the PHA Group explains how businesses can use Instagram stories to strengthen their brand and win new customers.
Instagram stories are now a well-established part of the platform, offering everything from face filters and GIFs of dancing dogs to Polls and Live streaming.
This diverse tool is the perfect opportunity to build your brand’s personality on Instagram, and interact with your consumers in an authentic and engaging way, whilst maintaining that ‘Instagram aesthetic’.
Using Polls to Gain Customer Insight
Getting a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ from your customers can be extremely valuable. Knowing what works, what looks right and what you need to be doing is hugely rich and important data for a brand to have. Instagram polls can offer this in a format that is both digestible and engaging to your consumers. It’s a win-win, you get unique insight into how your audience understand and interact with your product, and they feel that their opinions are heard and valued.
Of course, with anything like this, be sure to take their comments on board where possible. Some of the best ideas come from customers; Missguided’s ‘Jeans and a Nice Top’ collection is proof of this, and the success that comes from listening to your audience. In this case, the interaction was unprompted, but using polls in your stories is a great way to utilise this captive audience, and get a little market research done on new product development and innovations.
Story takeovers are another brilliant tool that inject vibrancy and authenticity into your brand’s Instagram. Partnering with an influencer means you’ll be driving eyes to your page, and assuming you’ve done your research properly, they should have a similar audience to yours, with shared interests. In an activity like this, the influencer is an acting ambassador of your brand, but through the lens of their individual personality and style. Collaborating with highly engaged influencers is a brilliant way to increase your reach, visibility and hopefully, followers!
Try and hook the takeover around an event or activity, so that the influencer can provide your followers with a unique take on the experience. They could be previewing a new product, hosting a Q&A or attending an exclusive event. Either way, make sure your followers feel like they’re getting an ‘inside scoop’, this will promote repeat engagement throughout the day, as well as making it more shareable.
And luckily all this hard work no longer disappears after 24 hours! You will need to discuss this with the influencer, but you can now host your takeover in the Instagram Highlights, so you can save all the best bits forevermore.
Behind the Scenes
We all know that Social Media is all about authenticity. Providing your audience with a genuine connection is the easiest way to build a relationship, brand affinity and repeat purchases.
Putting a face to a brand is a great way to do this, but even better is showing the strategy, hard work and bloopers that are inevitably involved in any creative process. Behind the scenes videos are a fantastic way to do this, simultaneously curated and natural, these snapshots make a brand feel human, and also do a great job of highlighting the talent and thought behind any idea.
These behind the scenes could feature anything from live events, to internal meetings, or just a team outing! Even better if you have a small team, so you can introduce and build a relationship between each of these individuals and your online audience.
Swipe Up and ROI
The swipe up feature is possibly the most immediately valuable tool on Instagram, driving traffic to your site, and hopefully converting to sales. This has previously been difficult as Instagram is notoriously bad for hosting links; they’re not enabled in the post copy, and you can only have one in the bio at a time. Instagram stories combats this with its swipe up feature, which allows an already highly engaged audience to travel straight to your website. Used with a CTA for ticket sales, or a ‘shop now’ element, it is an incredibly easy way to monetise your platform (although Instagram becoming shoppable will do wonders for this too).
However, and here’s the catch, so far, this feature is only available to verified accounts or business accounts with over 10,000 followers. So, you’d better start using some of the other features to grow your following!
When to ‘Go Live’
Similar to the Behind the Scenes content, Instagram Lives are a great way to showcase your company. But they should be used carefully and sparingly. Instagram will notify your followers when you go live, so make sure that you’re not bombarding your followers with Lives/notifications, as this can get irritating very quickly. Make sure you have a good reason for doing one, and that this reason lasts a sufficient amount of time. It will take about 5-10 minutes for your Live to gain traction, so terminating before this period is not advised. The ideal length for a Live is around 30 minutes.
Likewise, make sure your Live is well advertised on your page, and that you give people plenty of noticed so they can tune in when the time comes. This is essential for the smooth running of any Q&A type Lives, or those that capture something that cannot be repeated, like a fashion show or other performance.
Put together a rough plan for running order, and prompts if necessary. Think about who is going to be involved, and how you will integrate them. The great thing about Instagram Lives is that their mobile format makes them, well, mobile. So, you can move around and change scenery naturally, this also works well to provide a journey and narrative if you’re focussing around a particular event or place. Remember, you’ll be streaming from your phone, so make sure you have plenty of battery, and 4G signal or strong WiFi!
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