Instagram is the number one social media network right now, in terms of user popularity, and potential, as a business owner. I recently wrote a blog post about how you can build a large Instagram following fairly quickly, and now I want to talk about one of the most under used, yet most effective Instagram features: Stories.

You know you have to be active on Instagram, and if you weren’t, hopefully my previous blog post changed you mind and you started to put some effort in. Well, now I am here to tell you that simply uploading and posting picture isn’t enough. If you want to leverage Instagram to its fullest potential, you need to use the Stories feature.

For those that aren’t familiar with Stories, it’s a feature that allows you to post images and video that disappear after 24 hours. It’s basically Snapchat. Yes, Instagram copied it. But I’m not here to discuss that…

I’m here to tell you that Instagram Stories is a goldmine.


Tips to Get the Best Engagement on Stories

You can’t just post regular images via the Stories feature and expect miracles to happen. A certain type of content performs well, so use the following tips:

Geo-tag every post: Doing this helps you get discovered on local Stories. For example, if you are located in Los Angeles, make sure to tag LA. With such a large population, many people are sure to see your Story, and if the content is interesting, you could potentially attract a new follower or even customer.

Post at peak times: Nobody is going to see your Story if you are posting at dead times. To see what your location and audience responds best to, start testing. Typically, early morning and late in the evening will do the best, but it’s always best to test Instagram’s analytics, it gives you a lot of data in regards to post times and engagement to use it fully.

Use 20-28 hashtags: Some people will say this is spammy, but hashtags is how people search for content on Instagram. If you don’t use any or just a few, you are greatly limiting your exposure. The goal is to attract people to your Instagram profile and then drive website traffic, so pick the best hashtags to help your content be found.

Be personal: Nobody wants to see Story images and videos that are just about products. To make it feel less like a commercial and more like a personal experience, use Stories as a platform to allow your audience to get to know you. Consumers want to feel connected to a brand, and if they know the person behind it they will be more likely to do business.


How to Post Instagram Stories

Here are step-by-step instructions for those who have never used the Story feature on Instagram:


  • Click your photo icon in the left corner (next to all the other Stories)
  • Tap the camera icon


You can now either:


  • Take a photo
  • Record a new video
  • Upload an old photo from your phone
  • Select an old video from your phone


Tapping the circle on the bottom of the screen will take a new picture. Holding the button down will record a new video, which must be 15 seconds or less.

There are several effects you can select from:


  • Normal: a regular picture or video
  • Boomerang: a forward and back motion video is created that has an infinite loop
  • Rewind: records a video and then plays it in reverse
  • Hands-free: if you want to place your phone down and record yourself


Click on the “sticker” icon if you want to add a geo-location tag or other features, like the time, temperature or other images and or emojis. You can also click the text icon to write a message on your picture or video, and even draw on it. Customizing your Story images and video is a great way to make it more personal and creative.


Use Instant Discounts as Your Call-to-Action

When you post something on Stories, it only stays visible for 24 hours. So, if you are simply extending a regular offer to your Instagram following, that is fine, but the real opportunity here is the ability to present special offers exclusive to Instagram.

Since posts are only live for 24 hours, you can easily determine how effective they are. For example, if one offer rives little to no sales, it’s clearly not right for your following. But, if an offer sees a huge response and you are able to generate a lot of revenue within a 24 hour window of time, then you will want to deploy that offer o a regular basis and cater additional offers around it.

Always use an Instagram specific promo code when tracking this, that way you know without a doubt that the sale came from someone engaging with your Story.



Show Behind the Scenes and Provide Exclusive Information and Offers

Creating a story that constantly shows the behind the scenes of your business gives your followers the impression that they have special access to content that others’ simply aren’t able to see. It doesn’t matter if you are a mom and pop shop or a large corporation. The opportunity exists to provide an interesting look inside.

You can show manufacturing processes, introduce your audience to key employees and team members, and even let them sit in on meetings. This shows that your company is human, and not just some faceless corporation that exists to make money.

When consumers see that a company is made up of real people, who love what they do, it gives them more confidence in the brand and a reason to give them their business. People want to support fun companies. It’s why so many startups make their company culture known. It attracts positive attention, which then leads to new customers.

You can also use this as a way to create fun contents, which then opens the door for engagement and interaction. The more involved you can make your followers the better response you will receive. Also, your followers will look forward to your Story, knowing it’s providing entertainment as well as value.


Pay Influencers to Promote via Their Story

Influencer marketing is one of the most popular ways to drive brand awareness and sales. Everyone is doing it these days, and demand for top talent is at an all time high. Now, even micro-influencers are cashing in, leveraging their niche following to promote offers and brands that align with their account.

Right now, Instagram’s Story feature is hot, and a Story post is receiving much more attention than just a regular profile post. So, consider identifying the right influencers and having them promote your product or offers directly in their Story feeds.

If you hire large accounts that feature verified influencers, you can also have them include a “swipe up” call-to-action, which will take the viewer to any URL you desire, simply by swiping up on the story. This is great for special offers and to generate immediate conversions.

Don’t think you need influencers with millions of followers to experience results. If an influencer has just 50,000 followers, but they are very niche focused and active, a Story can drive tens of thousands of website visitors over a 24 hour period.


Repurpose Customer Generated Content

This is a brilliant strategy for two reasons. First, you don’t have to do anything to create the content nor pay for it. When your users are generating your content they are providing you with plenty of free options to select from. There will be some gems in the bunch, allowing you to be active with little effort and cost.

Second, when your users see themselves featured on your Instagram story, they feel connected with your brand and the relationship is strengthened. You create raving fans that are out there promoting your brand.

This is what you need to do…

Create a contest, which requires your followers to post a video on their own Story, tag your Instagram account in the Story and use a designated hashtag. So, everyone that participates will essentially be marketing your business to their entire Instagram following for you at no cost. Pick some that you like, and then re-purpose them in your own Story, being sure to tag the people you select.

You should also DM them letting them know they were featured on your Story. The prizes don’t have to have huge monetary value. Most just want to feel cool, and being featured on a brand’s Story is enough to crave that want to be popular.


Create Micro-Content and Drive Traffic to It’s Website Counterpart

This is very easy to do and takes little to no effort. You can use this strategy to drive traffic to specific blog posts or even specific products on your website. It’s very simple to use the selfie camera mode and film a quick intro video. Something like, “You need to be using Instagram to grow your business. Swipe up to read our newest blog post!” is all it takes to get people interested and taking action.

You can do this with any blog post on your website. You can also re-purpose older content, depending on what topics are popular at the moment. Constantly push traffic back to your website using this strategy. The more traffic you are able to push over on a consistent basis, the higher the chance of converting more sales.

You can also do the same with specific products. “Hey, check out this new blue widget. It’s currently on SALE and if you use the code ‘FREESHIPPING’ we will waive the shipping cost!” You see, the opportunities are endless. You create interest and excitement, and then push that traffic directly to the offer.


Broadcast Live

One of the benefits of building a large following on Instagram is the ability to market to this audience at any time, with no additional costs. The Story feature allows you to broadcast live at any time, giving your followers the ability to watch your stream.

You can use this in several ways. You can have weekly Q&A sessions, which is a great way to build up trust and position your company as a leader within your industry, or you can broadcast live to announce special offers.

Either way, it’s important that you remain consistent. If your following knows that every time you broadcast live you are going to release a special offer or discount code, they are going to tune in when they receive the notification that you have started a live broadcast. The last thing you want to do is switch it up on them and start talking about industry news when they are expecting to see a special offer and make a purchase.

Test a bunch of different live concepts and see what ones lead to sales and making money. That is the entire point of this. Nobody is taking time out of their day to broadcast live just to be seen. It all comes down to what generates sales and money.



Pay to Boost Your Story (Sponsored)

Remember when Facebook organic reach went down the toilet and fan pages that had massive amounts of followers were experiencing poor results? Nobody was seeing posts, and it required paying to promote the post if you wanted to receive any exposure and engagement.

Well, guess what? Instagram is owned by Facebook, and there is no doubt that organic reach will soon be all but gone, requiring a pay to play approach. So, it’s best to get familiar with the paid options now, including sponsored Stories.

You create a video or image Story post, just like you normally would, and simply promote it. There is nothing out of the ordinary, and you are able to target specific accounts, and show your Story to the followers of those accounts.

Your sponsored Story will be shown after the Story of the accounts you use for targeting purpose. This ensures that the right type of people see your Story and have the opportunity to engage with it. You want to keep your message straight to the point and trigger the person to swipe up by using a strong call-to-action.


Final Thoughts

You need to use Instagram to promote your business on social media. That is no secret, but many business owners are missing out, failing to use all of the features that Instagram provides, namely Stories.

There is a lot of talk about Facebook being where all of the users are, but Instagram has more than 700 million active users on their platform every month. It’s a huge opportunity that simply cannot be passed up.

As you can see, the Stories feature alone gives you several ways to promote your business to Instagram’s large user base. The only way to find out what works specifically for your niche and business is to test. You will never know unless you try for yourself. Invest the time into trying all of the strategies outlined in this blog post, and clip the under-performers and scale the efforts that work well.

If you have any questions related to Instagram marketing or Stories in general, drop them in the comments section. If you have any real world input and experience to share, I’d also like to hear from you.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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