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Instagram Stories: How to make your small business win on social media

In a move that gave Melania Trump a run for her money (read Speech), Instagram launched a new Snapchat-inspired feature called Instagram Stories last month.

If social media already wasn’t confusing enough, this feature has got all of us wondering 1) How Instagram stories work? 2) How is it different from Snapchat Stories? and 3) Which platform should you be investing your time in?

In this new battle of two arch nemesis, let’s find out what gives Instagram Stories an extra edge over its Snapchat counterpart and how your small business can benefit from it.

Let the battle begin!

What is Instagram Stories?

If you can’t beat it, buy it and If you can’t buy it, COPY it!

That might sum up why Facebook launched Instagram Stories. The brand new feature from Instagram is a slideshow of pictures and short 10-second videos that last no longer than 24 hours.

Sounds similar? You are not alone!
If you are still sweeping all over your app and can’t quite figure it out, here is a rundown how the feature works.

How Instagram Stories Work?

#1. Start with installing the latest app version

Once installed, you will notice a new ‘+’ icon at the top left corner of your Instagram home screen.

Instagram stories button

#2. Go to your Instagram Stories screen

Now tap on the icon or swipe left anywhere on your feed to fetch the Instagram Stories screen. Next, start playing. Either select from your gallery, click a still photo or make a 10-second video for your story. To make it further interesting, Instagram provides a few filters and doodle options in different inks and styles. Once done you get the option to delete the story, save it to your device, or share it with your followers.

Edit Instagram Stories

Pro Tip: While it may seem like it at first glance, the feature provides more colors than those appearing at the bottom of the screen. Simply press and hold one of the colors and voila! there’s a whole new range of palette for you.

#3. Configure settings

Play peek-a-boo! Select who you want to hide your story from or who can reply to it through Story Settings.

#4. Find who viewed your story

Who needs Sherlock Holmes when Insta allows you to not only view how many people have viewed your story but who exactly have seen it!

Instagram Stories

#5. View the comments on your story

View the good, bad, and ugly of all the “comments” people have left on your stories in your messages tab.

Wait, isn’t that Instagram stealing Snapchat’s lunch?

Instagram vs Snapchat

Technically speaking, both the Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories have similar basic features. But as they say, the devil is in the details.

While Snapchat stories take up most of your Snapchat feed, Instagram has nailed the concept of personal space. It has launched the Stories feature as a solution to overposting, giving it a separate space where users can post as frequently as they want to without over-saturating their and their followers’ feeds.

Another place where Instagram kills it is with their Explore tab, where recommended stories based on a user’s following or search history are rolled out. The tab has already touched a 100 million daily user mark, which is one-third of Instagram’s daily user base! Considering that Snapchat has only 150 million daily active users, these personalized tailored recommendations will surely benefit businesses by endorsing their stories to their unexplored target audience.

How to make Instagram Stories work for your Small Business

Now that you have the idea about how Instagram Stories work, here are the 3 ways to incorporate the feature in your marketing campaigns.

#1. Launch special promotions

A great way to build brand loyalty and increase sales among your Instagram clientele is by launching special promotional events such as sales. As curiosity kills the cat, the ‘24 hours only’ promotion or sale might encourage them to buy from you.

J.Crew, a multi-brand apparel and accessory retailer, turned to Instagram Stories for a pre-sale of their new “Jane in Pink” sunglasses. With the sunglass’ distinctive color as the central theme, the story featured J.Crew staff sporting the shades in a personal way. Because these stories disappear after 24-hours, the company made a huge benefit from their limited-time bargain hour, getting more sale requests than they expected for.

Instagram Stories for businesses

#2. Build the buzz

Instagram Stories can help you keep your followers on their toes around your brand. If you are about to launch a new product or service, tease a short release of it in the form of a photo or video-based story that will keep your audience anticipated and keep coming back for more.

Starbucks used the same strategy and launched a tasty story, showcasing a new range of their new caffeinated summer drinks. Starbucks used a combination of photos and videos, creating the effect with the neon drawing tool, and driving its customer mad with anticipation.

#3. Drive more engagement

The feature presents you with an amazing opportunity to increase your audience’s interaction with your brand. You can now encourage your followers to send you a message directly under your Stories.

Taco Bell smartly used this attribute in their inaugural Instagram story. The food chain used a combination of funky videos, encouraging its followers to put forward what they would like to see most in its Instagram Stories. After getting an overwhelming response on the story, the company is now tailoring its stories based on the suggestions.

42Works Verdict:

Instagram Stories has opened yet another gate for small marketers to reach their target audience in a more approachable way. While it’s already getting favored over its inspiration from audience worldwide, we just hope Instagram keeps on rolling more engaging add-ons to its timeline.

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