How to Use Instagram Stories + 10 Ideas for Businesses

How to Use Instagram Stories

The evolution of Instagram from a selfie-sharing stage to a savvy business platform over the past six years is a social success story. Last week Instagram launched its latest feature: Instagram Stories. Stories lets you share multiple photos and videos as a single slideshow that becomes your story.

With this feature, you can share as many photos and videos as you want throughout the day without worrying about over-posting as your audience gets to choose whether or not to engage. The moments you add to your story will appear as ten second increments of photo or video. After 24 hours, the posts on your story will disappear and will not be visible on your profile grid unless you choose to save them.

What does it look like?

The first thing you need to do is update your Instagram app – the upgrade will automatically give you access to Instagram Stories. When you post to your story, a colorful ring will appear around your profile photo.

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The stories of people you follow will appear in a row across the top of your feed on the home screen. When new content has been added to a story, a colorful ring will appear around that user’s profile photo. To view someone’s story, simply tap his or her profile photo. While you can’t like or publicly comment on a story as you can on a normal Instagram post, you can send private messages to that person using Instagram Direct. You will see the option to “Send Message” in the bottom left of the story. To check your own message requests, simply click the message box in the top right corner of your home screen.

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How do I create one?

You will notice a circled + button in the top left corner of your home screen. After you tap this icon you will be able to take a photo or record a video.

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Touching the shutter button in the center will take a photo while pressing and holding it will record a video for up to ten seconds. The icon to the left will allow you to configure your flash settings and the one to the right will allow you to switch between front and rear facing camera.

What’s next? Make it your own! Instagram Stories gives you the option to add text or draw on your photo/video using the icons in the top right corner of the screen.

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Now you’re ready to post! After adding content to your story, your profile photo will always appear first – the farthest left in the row of stories – so it is easily accessible to you at all times.

Who Can See It?

There are several ways you can monitor and analyze your Instagram Story. You can modify your privacy settings for each individual story you publish should you choose to do so. Another option is to set default privacy settings for all of your stories by going to your Instagram profile and clicking the settings icon in the top right. Directly under the “Account” section you will see “Story Settings.” From there you can elect to hide your story from certain followers as well as select which users will have the ability to send you message replies.

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10 Ideas for Using Instagram Stories for Business

So, how can you use Instagram Stories to advance your business and engage with your audience? There are infinite possibilities, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Products being made, orders ready to be shipped or other behind-the-scenes glimpses of your business operations
  • A sneak peek of a new product or item
  • What’s happening around the office, like a staff meeting or team working on a project
  • Spotlight different members of your team
  • Grand opening of a new location
  • Special events (Instagram Stories is a perfect way to share lots of content from an event without over-sharing on the regular feed)
  • New product launch day
  • Short interviews (with employees, customers, special guests)
  • Share an announcement or reveal something, like a special promotion
  • Give someone else the chance to “take over” your story for the day (such as the CEO, an employee, a partner organization)

Analyzing and Engaging

After you’ve posted your story, you can manage and analyze each individual photo or video you add. When you first tap on your story you will notice three dots at the bottom right. Tapping the three dots will allow you to delete, save, share or manage the privacy settings for that specific photo or video.

You will also be able to analyze your story using the small eye-shaped icon at the bottom of the screen that appears when you view your own story. If you swipe up on this icon, you will be able to see who has viewed specific increments of your story.

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This feature allows you to see which photos or videos are popular among your audience members – maybe you’ll want to share the most popular ones as a post to your profile grid. On the other hand, if a certain photo or video is not so popular with your audience, maybe you’ll decide to delete it to encourage your audience to continue viewing the other portions of your story. These analytics can help provide insight as to what sort of content you will want to create and share to grow your following on Instagram.

Another way to maintain and grow your Instagram audience is to engage with them by encouraging message responses to your stories. If you invite followers to interact with you this way, be sure to keep a consistent presence on your account by responding to messages as soon as possible and within 24 hours. If your desired outcome is to engage with your audience in the form of messages from your story, it will help if you send message responses to your followers in order to spark a dialogue.

Content and timing are king in modern social media practices – know when your followers are logged in and know what content they find attractive and engaging. To stay relevant, make sure you are continually adding new content to your story so you can keep your business at the top of your followers’ feeds. Happy posting!

 

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Heather Allen

Director of Marketing and Development at Belle Communications
Heather oversees the development and implementation of Belle’s overall marketing strategy to clearly communicate the mission, culture and expertise of the company and team. She ensures that the vision and Core Belle-iefs are upheld within business development, marketing, processes and culture to support the agency’s continued growth and success. In her free time, Heather loves reading, trying new restaurants and hanging out at home with her husband and toddler.
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