Boost Your Instagram Stories Game With These Practices

There are about 40 million users viewing daily. As brands continue to brainstorm for better social media strategies, Stories has become a marketing battleground that they have to take to win.

Here, we've listed 10 best for brands to make perfect Instagram Stories, all demonstrated with successful examples from brands. Hope this will give you some inspiration to develop your Instagram strategy for 2019.

1. Don't underestimate the use of stickers

Instagram Stories is a highly “clickable” space when viewers see something that they can click on, they are more likely to feel the pulse to give it a try. This creates great opportunities for hashtags stickers. Hashtags are great items for grouping relevant content together, and encouraging individuals to become part of a hashtag campaign built by brands.

A great example of this would be UN Women's #hearmetoo. When UN Women's Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman gave a speech at a recent United Nations event, UN Women posted an Instagram Story of a photo of Nicole speaking at the podium with a hashtag sticker #hearmetoo. The sticker created an opportunity and an entrance for anyone who've viewed this Story to click in and see more relevant content, and even potentially contribute their own content to the hashtag see how many actions a simple hashtag can incur?

2. Go behind the scene

One thing that is particularly popular among Instagram Stories content is anything behind the scene. Viewers want to see things that they wouldn't normally see – this especially applies to brands that are big and always tend to provide well-crafted, delicate content.

Since your audience expects to see something raw, behind-the-scene Stories don't even have to look all that professional. Just show how a product is made, go into the heart of a newsroom, or talk to a celebrity backstage. There are tons of opportunities for behind-the-scenes content once you start looking for it.

In Maybelline's Behind The Scene Stories, the brand shows viewers how makeup artists and models get ready backstage for shoots. Selfie-style short videos not only get viewers closer to the models but the brand itself.

In VICE News' Election Day Stories, viewers follow news producers as they followed candidates running for office across the country, and recorded they were getting people to vote. These Stories make the audience feel attached because they were shared real-time during election day, and were taking viewers to places they wouldn't have been in – this feeling of exclusiveness is something unique to behind-the-scene Stories.

At Social Media Week London 2018, That Lot's Creative Director David Levin echoed this behind-the-scene method. He went on to add that content with a sense of authenticity is what will ultimately capture audience's heart.

3. Be simple in style

Lots of brands spend time crafting, polishing and perfecting every photo they post on Instagram's main feed, and there's no wrong in doing that. However, Stories is a different channel where a completely different style of content speaks to viewers more effectively. Countless examples have shown that straightforward, concise photos with simple text overlay are what viewers usually buy into.

Fitbit's RNR 2018 Stories is a promotion for its products as being one of the sponsors at a Las Vegas marathon event. It features simple photos of a past event and informative text telling the audience what the event is about, along with how pretty the city looks. Stories like these give audiences a short but strong dose of information that helps a brand promote a product. And since the text is simple, make sure your visuals shine through.

4. Use UGC content

UGC, namely User Generated Content, is a great tool for brands to diversify their content. You can only afford to have so many staff members on your editorial team, but users' ideas are unlimited, so why not try to make full use of them?

There are many ways to gather responses from readers, like creating a Questions sticker. Meme and viral content manufacturer 9GAG oftentimes post “caption this” kind of Stories, of photos with meme potential for the audience to caption. Another perfect example would be Follain's Cleanwashing 101 Stories, in which the brand asked their audience what the term “clean beauty” means for them and did a thread of Stories featuring their answers.

It's something satisfying for followers to know that their answers were picked, which is a great way to generate customer loyalty, keeping them interested in the next moves of a brand.

5. Create categorized story highlights

Who says that Instagram Stories can only stay for 24 hours? You can make them last longer by adding them to Highlights, collections of past Stories that you can name, and for people to access through your profile page.

This feature creates a perfect chance for new followers of a brand to quickly look through different products or campaigns. Ipsy's Highlights are the perfect example. This beauty brand has created different Highlights showcasing the brand's products, past events, beauty looks, etc. Once done well, Highlights is a quick and efficient way to get the hearts of undecided newcomers to the page. It's time to impress visitors with some fancy Highlights!

6. Think carefully about incorporating a “swipe up”

Instagram is always adding new and exciting features to Stories for brands to keep up with, and one of those that shouldn't be missed is the “See More” feature that is seen at the bottom of a story. By swiping up, viewers will be redirected to a link set by brands themselves.

This feature is great to create a call-to-action. Whether it's about donating to a charity or buying a product on an app, or a YouTube video, this is the chance to get desirable actions from your audience.

In Southwest's Shark Week Stories, each of them has a link that directs the audience to a ticket purchase site. Ultimately, features like these are supposed to make an action from consumers effortless.

But note that you can only use this feature if you have a verified account, or you have a business profile that has more than 10,000 followers.

Here, David Levin used NIKE's Story to show how by adding a simple sticker, you can make it even more tempting for viewers to swipe up.

7. Use multiple slides to narrate a story

Everyone loves a good story. In a time dominated by audiences with short attention span, it takes great talent and effort to produce Stories that are thumb-stopping.

National Geographic is on its fourth year as the number one brand on social, constantly producing Stories that are great material for brands to learn something from. A great example would be their “Story of a Face” Stories, which narrates the unbelievable visually engaging journey of a girl who went through a face transplant in just 25 slides on Stories. This collection complies of videos, photos, texts, explainers, etc., all in a fashion so narratively enriching that no viewer would ever want to quit watching.

It's also very smart of them to include a link at the last slide of this collection to direct viewers to Nat Geo's website for a even more complete and longer version of the same story, for viewers who want to know more information.

8. Deliver information that's clear even without the sound on

A striking 40 percent of Instagram Stories are watched without sound on, according to Likeable. Although some content can only be delivered with sound, like selfie-style, behind-the-scene Stories, when it comes to other formats, brands need to think about content with information that can be delivered even on silent mode, but not compromising the visual elements.

Hopper's ICYMI Stories showcase its new hotels addition featuring well-shot images with simple text and tags. These Stories have enough information to tell the audience where the hotels are and how they look like without the necessity to have sound.

9. Give shout-outs to your audience

A shout-out to your loyal subscribers is a necessary next step following UGC content – a great way to thank them for what they've contributed to the growth of the brand, and also to show that you've been paying attention to what they have to say.

Bremont's #MyBremont Stories highlight owners of Bremont watches with either photos or videos of themselves wearing the products, all submitted by consumers themselves. It's a smart act not only to choose a wide range of products to showcase, but a way to show followers that the brand does listen.

10. Host limited-time promotions

Giveaways or discounts aren't so unique when they are all-year around, but when offered with a sense of urgency, it usually works better, because consumers now feel tempted to act before it's gone. That's why limited-time promotions can generate great engagement.

Pnwonderland's Hallmark Resort Stories offer a free night's stay at a hotel. It directs the audience to a specific post for more information and encourages them to take action.

By understanding what your brand believes in, who is your audience, and what you hope Instagram as a platform can contribute to your brand, you can start choosing wisely and incorporating some of these strategies to make your Stories shine in 2019.

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