Cast your mind back to 2016. The world was a simpler place. Users spent 15 minutes on Instagram each day back then, just enough time to check-in with their family, friends and second cousin's Shiba Inu account. The hardest decision you had to make was whether your content deserved the Clarendon or Crema filter (who are we kidding, it was Low-Fi or bust). Brands were only just starting to consider the platform as a meaningful channel.

Cut to 2019. Instagram Stories have changed everything. The feature allows users to share real-time updates in a creative, full-screen format via photos and videos that disappear (unless saved) within 24 hours. Some say Snapchat 2.0. We say a whole new world of possibility.

Since the introduction of Stories, the average time we’re spending on app per day has increased threefold, with more than a third of users reporting they’ve become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it shared on Stories. They've become an essential tool for digital marketing – one likely to supersede the Instagram feed in persuasive power, their growth accelerating 15x faster than that of the feed.

There are three simple reasons why you should pay attention to Instagram Stories:

Maximise your visibility

In the race for content views and high engagement, posting content on Instagram Stories increases your brand's visibility. Beckoning for your finger tap at the top of the feed, Stories are the most tangible touchpoint for followers checking the app. For most users, it’s where their Instagram energy is directed first and foremost. What's more, Stories play into the new algorithm; the more often you post, the higher your engagement and greater the chance your posts will show up in the feed and appear first in your audience’s Story queue.

Diversify your content

Instagram Stories offer a glorious opportunity to share content that further develops your brand identity and ethos. Say, a video series that complements a photo on your feed or a step-by-step dive into a particular multifaceted dish. They allow you to enhance your posts with colours, stickers, text and filters too. From still pics with overlay text to playful boomerangs, you can create all kinds of content AND repurpose it for a later time by saving it to your Camera Roll before uploading. Think of it as another channel for storytelling, an exclusive feed for your more dedicated followers, and a funnel for behind-the-scenes, real-time content.

Engage your followers

At the end of the day, it’s engagement that keeps us warm at night. Instagram Stories facilitate a new and improved avenue for communication between brands and users. The direct message feature encourages followers to respond with a comment, question or an emoji of their choice (heart eyes all the way). The feature further encourages engagement through the use of stickers as well as the poll and question functions. Generally, Stories take less preparation and can help you reach a broader range of audience, building hype and keeping your account at the forefront of engaged follower’s minds.

With this newfound knowledge under your belt, let’s chat channelling it into captivating content...

Prioritise relevant, engaging posts
As with any content shared on socials, your uploads should give followers a unique, interesting insight or ‘takeaway’ into your brand. Whether it’s a one-time-only dish making its way onto menu or behind-the-scenes kitchen banter, Stories should celebrate real-time updates that speak to your brand’s ethos and key messaging. We suggest using the Story Highlight feature to showcase the most enticing and engaging content, allowing you to keep the posts on your profile past the initial 24-hour upload period.

Consistency is key
A successful Story strategy calls for a one-two punch of what to post and how often to post it. Just as a solid, consistent tone of voice is critical to brand development, so is a consistent visual style. Choose colours and fonts that best represent your brand and stick with them. The less time it takes followers to recognise your content, the more time you have to communicate your messaging. As for how much should you be posting? It depends on your product, but generally we suggest 2-3 Stories per week to stay relevant, 4-5 to be on top of the game. Remember though, quality over quantity - always.

Shake what the 'gram gave you
Instagram provides many tools for piquing engagement and interest in Stories. We suggest using what the 'gram gave you and getting creative with its interactive features. For example, using the question function to stimulate discussion or the re-post tool to capitalise on follower hype. Alternatively, add a little rainbow text, a surefire way to cut through the digital clutter. And, if you’re lucky enough to have an audience size over 10k, you can link to a webpage via swiping up – the holy grail for pushing conversions and building website traffic.

Get your nerd goggles on
Instagram insights offer you real-time data into how your Stories are performing. Monitor for common patterns in engagement – are people more responsive post-8pm? Maybe your Stories get the most views first thing in the morning? Keep track of these trends and use them to your advantage, adjusting your content and timing to optimise performance.

If all else fails…
Keep Stories short and sweet. Generally, the less text the better. Instagram is a largely visual platform and in this case, a well-shot photo or video really can speak a thousand words.

Can’t keep up? Get in touch to find out how we can help with your social offering.

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