Instagram as a platform has always been high-engaging and a priority for many businesses, but it’s become even more important since Facebook Zero has struck.
With more importance placed on the platform, it only makes sense that the competition for users’ attention has only increased. Businesses and brands are having to do more to stand apart, and part of that includes embracing Instagram Stories.
It’s easy to think of Instagram Stories as a secondary part of the platform, with newsfeed posts still taking center stage, making it easy to let usage of the feature slide. Because of this, not using or underutilizing Stories may actually be the biggest mistake I see brands making on the platform.
We’ve talked a lot about how to make great Instagram stories in past posts, but today we’re going to take a look at 7 key reasons why businesses and brands can’t afford to skip out on using them. I know this is something many of my clients have asked me about it, so here’s my definitive answer in blog post form.
1. It’s an Essential Part of the Platform
Instagram marketing and usage has four main components (if you aren’t counting ads, which I’m not for the sake of this explanation):
- Newsfeed posts
- Profile information
- Direct Messaging
I guarantee that most brands on Instagram understand the importance of optimizing their profiles and consistently distributing visually interesting newsfeed posts. Direct messaging isn’t utilized with nearly the same frequency as Messenger, and it’s not a crucial marketing element as long as brands are engaging when customers reach out to them.
Stories are the last main crucial component of Instagram usage. It’s another way to connect with your target audience, and the fact that it appears at the top of the search bar and takes up the user’s full screen (and undivided attention) eliminates all other visual distractions from the field.
Most businesses would never disable reviews on Facebook or neglect to create specialized boards on Pinterest, so you shouldn’t skip out on Stories, either. If you do, it’s a huge missed opportunity for another way to connect with your audience and stay relevant.
2. They’re Incredibly Popular
As soon as the Stories feature was released on Instagram, it took off. I felt like the only person looking around going “isn’t this what Snapchat was supposed to be for?” (Full disclosure, I’m the only Millennial I know who hates Snapchat.) Eventually even I’ve come around, and now Stories are an integral part of the platform and are exceptionally popular with users.
Just how popular is it? Last year, Instagram revealed that there were more than 250 million daily users of the feature, and that has likely only increased since. It actually surpassed Snapchat’s daily usage in the blink of an eye.
While most organic Stories don’t give us the opportunity to gauge their effectiveness overall, Instagram has released data in case studies on Story Ads that show the feature is effective due to its popularity with users. AirBNB, for example, saw a “double digit point increase in ad recall” when testing Story Ads.
Even if we didn’t have this data, you need to go where your users are, and they’re all waiting for your next Story.
3. It Can Start Private Conversations with Your Audience
Stories are engaging for users to view, but unless you’re using poll stickers, you really won’t see a lot of actual engagement except for views. Users can’t comment on the Story or share it. They can, however, respond privately to your Story. These responses go straight to your inbox, and gives you the opportunity to jumpstart one-on-one conversations with interested, engaged customers.
I make it a practice to respond to every person who sends one of my clients a message based off a story, even if it’s just a “Wow.” Responding with a simple “Thanks, you’ll come to come in to see us soon!” has gotten great responses, and sometimes has even generated further conversation where the user asked questions we were able to answer quickly.
4. It Provides Engagement-Building Opportunities
In addition to the conversation, you have the opportunity to drive engagement and some social proof with the Poll sticker. This option lets you ask users a question, and give them a choice between two answers. This can be “yes” and “no,” or “black” and “green.” You can ask any question as long as it can be answered with one of two choices.
Other users will see the poll’s answers in real-time, encouraging more engagement. It also will give you an idea of how many people are really engaging with your content and finding value from it. To get a more solid idea, compare the number of people who engaged against the number who viewed it.
5. It Provides Brand-Building Opportunities
Instagram Stories are a solid brand-building tool even without any added features. It puts you in the mix of Stories your followers see, even if they don’t engage with your organic content often enough for it to be towards the top of their feed. This gives you a huge boost in visibility.
The hashtag sticker, however, is also powerful brand-building opportunities. If a viewer clicks on your hashtag sticker, they’ll see all the most recent posts with that hashtag attached. If you have a lot of UGC, this will work in your favor and can win customers over quickly.
6. They’re Easier Than Ever to Create
Part of my original beef with Stories was that the were going to take awhile to create, and I already had to deal with creating normal posts. Fortunately, there are some amazing tools out there to help you create Stories faster and easier than ever before.
Shakr and Hubspot teamed up to create StoriesAds, for example, which utilizes Shakr’s video template system to help businesses quickly create interesting, quality Story Ads (or regular Stories) in just a few seconds with just a few clicks.
All you need is video or images, and you’ll be able to upload the text you need. You can use these for Stories and edit them further by adding stickers from your profile, or upload them straight to the ad platform.
7. They No Longer Disappear After 24 Hours
I just might have saved the best for last. Until this change, I’d never wanted to invest a ton of time or money into creating Stories. I did it a little begrudgingly knowing that it was a necessity. I understood the brand-building and conversation-sparking potential, but I hated that the content I’d worked hard to create would disappear after 24 hours. There was no social proof (until the poll stickers), and there was no lasting impact for users who missed it in that short window.
This is no longer the case. Several months ago, Instagram released the “Highlight” feature. This feature lets brands to add Stories to Highlights, which works like an archive on the business’s profile. Your Stories can now live on indefinitely, giving them much more staying power. Now, they’ll have that lasting impact– when users come to see your profile, they’ll be able to see every Story that you’ve saved, just as they can with your organic posts.
Since Instagram Stories no longer disappear (which is enough of a reason to use them more), your business’s profile will also look empty if you aren’t taking advantage of the highlights. You know your competition will, after all, so don’t give them any room to get an edge over you.
Instagram Stories are here to stay. And with the new highlights archive feature, they’re more important (and long-lasting) than ever before. The popularity of the feature amongst users already is an instant reason why you need to be using Stories for your business. All the other brand-building and engagement possibilities are pretty substantial, too.
Since you should aim to upload content daily (or as close to it as possible), check out StoriesAds and start creating more high-engaging Stories and Story Ads in just a few seconds. It’s free, and there’s no technical or editing knowledge required, so this is a great way to up your content without sacrificing quality.
Ready to start creating more Stories content? Get started with StoriesAds here.