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How to use Instagram Stories for Your Business

Have you tried Instagram Stories yet? It's Instagram's 10-second video cure for the lure of Snapchat, which had been labeled as the next big move for marketers. Several marketers I know have held back from jumping on Snapchat as they felt it was younger than the audience they were trying to reach, and frankly didn't have the bandwidth to build a new following on yet another platform. The introduction of Instagram Stories gave us the video outlet we need while retaining our Instagram following. Perfect! Although it's only been out for two weeks, and I generally don't love being on camera, I jumped in with both feet!

Instagram Stories Basics

Viewing Stories: Instagram Stories are found at the top of your home page in little rainbow circles. Tap on one, and they will keep playing until you X out. You can also tap right to skip to the next story on that person's profile, or you can swipe left to skip to another profile.

Creating Stories: On your home page, you will find a circle with a plus. Tap that and your camera will come up. You can take a photo by clicking the white circle, or film a video by holding the white circle down. Like Snapchat, you can color or place text on top of the video/photo/graphic, and there are limited filters. So far, they do not have the "fun" filters that change you into a bee or Elvis like on Snapchat. Once you have your story the way you like it, tap the white check mark to post. Videos are limited to 10 seconds, but you can film several and string them together, or post photos/graphics. Stories expire after 24 hours.

Instagram Stories Tips

  • Put your best story first. If your first story is uninteresting, people will swipe left, and never bother with the rest of your videos.

  • Don't post more than 5 stories a day. There are definitely people that do more, but since most people have very short attention spans, they will move on before they sit through all 20 of your stories.

  • Use Instagram Stories as an extension of your regular Instagram post. For example, you could post your perfect shot of someone modeling your product on Instagram, and then show the grittier behind the scenes of the photo shoot in your stories.

  • See who viewed your Instagram Story by opening your story and clicking the number at the bottom of your screen. Take note of who is watching, and look at their account. Maybe they are worth following, or you can thank them for watching on their page.

  • Invite another business or staff member to do a "takeover" and have them post stories on your profile. They may add a fun new twist to your feed, or help you get more followers by cross-promoting you on their profile.

  • You can upload videos or photos from outside of Instagram, but they will only allow you to upload items filmed in the last 24 hours (workaround - edit them in another tool and resave). To access the videos or photos you have stored, open a new Instagram Story, then swipe down. You will see all available media there.

Those are my quick tips! Stay tuned, I am sure as I use Instagram Stories more, I will find more insider tips to share! Are there any I missed?

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