How Instagram’s story feature can work for your business

Posted by Daniela Hamill

According to Instagram more than 200 million people use their stories feature every day. Since the now infamous Snapchat update, which seemed to have caused an international uproar from every person aged 13 – 25 (we’re clearly not a generation that welcomes too much change), the use of Insta’s stories feature has continued to increase, and has around 50 million more users than Snapchat. Whilst the obvious use for Instagram stories may be a boomerang of your clinking cocktail glasses on a Friday night; it’s also quite a useful business tool.

Instagram story basics

The average person’s attention span is 8 seconds so shorter stories are most effective. Still images on stories last for 5 seconds. If you press and hold down the capture button, it will start to record a video for up to 15 seconds. For example: If you have 3 images and a video, it will give you a 30 second story. Don’t bombard your stories with too much information; it will turn viewers off. If you are going to include text on your story, make sure that it is quick to read before it skips to the next image or video.

A chance to build brand authenticity

The rise of the digital age and social media has made people increasingly nosy. This is, in part, why Instagram stories are effective; people want to see what is happening right now. For businesses it’s an opportunity to show that they’re not just a corporate robot but there are actually humans behind their account. It’s a window into the personality of the company.  Regardless of sector, there is overwhelming evidence which supports the theory that transparent companies are trustworthy. It’s worth bearing in mind that 2 in 3 business profile visits are from non-followers, so whilst superzooming the director’s spag-bol for lunch may entertain you, keep in mind that this could be, potentially, future followers or even clients’ first impression of you so it’s always good to keep your stories relevant, engaging and true to you as a company.

Instagram stories make you more discoverable

Unless your account is on private, Instagram stories are discoverable so non-followers can see your story too. This is particularly useful now that you can use hashtags so that your story appears at the top of the hashtag search page; helping you to reach relevant audiences. To use it look for the stickers button at the top of screen – it looks like a little square emoji. When you click on it, a drop down list appears with icons including the temperature and some phrases that you’ll probably never use. Find the hashtag sticker, type what hashtag you want to use and your story will then appear in a compilation of stories on the hashtag’s page. FYI, the location sticker can be used in the same way too.

Another great tool that Instagram has trialled is the ‘swipe-up’. This allows you to add a link on the story which takes people directly to the URL, rather than asking viewers to follow the link in the bio. Find it by looking for the ‘see more’ and an arrow pointing up at the bottom of a story. Currently, the swipe-up tool is only available for business accounts with over 10,000 followers. At the minute, it is useful for celebrities trying to flog their autobiographies and for big stores to lure you into putting everything you definitely don’t need into a basket within two minutes. However, this is an improvement from the old criteria that accounts could only use it if they were verified and had over 1 million followers. It’s clearly becoming a more popular feature and the trends suggest that Instagram will start to feature this tool on smaller accounts and reduce the eligibility criteria, although, as yet, there’s no hint to when that may happen.

Download our free top tips guide to make Instagram stories work for your business