Social Trending: Instagram Stories

Our second trend for social media in 2018 is Instagram Stories. Instagram’s popularity has been growing steadily since it first debuted back in 2010. As of September 2017, the mainly mobile photo sharing network had reached 800 million monthly active users, up from 600 million in December 2016. The app is one of the most popular social networks worldwide, it’s currently the second most popular social media network in the world, behind only Facebook (unless you count YouTube), and marketers are falling more in love with the platform.

Between January 2017 and August 2017, the number of advertisers using Instagram has doubled to more than one million, in part due to the fact that Instagram is now considered the best social media platform for customer engagement. Furthermore, more than 200 million people use Instagram Stories each month, which is over 50 million more than those who use Snapchat -- and Instagram Stories aren't even 18 months old! With Instagram Stories moving at this pace, it is more than likely that nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018. This translates to the need for brands to master Instagram Stories ASAP.

What though, are Instagram Stories and how do they differ from a "traditional" Instagram post? A story is kind of like a daily log of photos that you share throughout the day that end up in a slideshow format, but after 24 hours they disappear.

So, what makes Instagram Stories so appealing to users and marketers? It’s simple: ENGAGEMENT and FOMO.

Advantages

  • Mobile functionality. Instagram Stories is easy to use when you’re on the go. It’s a mobile-exclusive platform that allows users to immediately edit images they take on the move, making it easy and convenient. Instagram Stories provides your clients with an in-the-moment experience, which naturally attracts more people.
  • Budget friendly. Although official sponsored ads on Instagram are expensive, Instagram’s relatively lax promotion rules allow businesses to set up accounts for free and immediately begin advertising on their stories and in permanent posts. Since smaller companies tend to have fewer resources, this is a great opportunity for them to set up an early advertising platform.
  • Visual nature. Human beings prefer to gather and interpret information through sight, which is why visual marketing has become so popular.
  • Fresh Energy. Instagram has an energy that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have lost. Instagram Stories humanize your business and deepen your relationship with your customers. The stories can include customers using your products in behind-the-scenes footage and photos, or to provide an inside looks into office spaces or production facilities to illustrate how certain things are made. All of this helps establish a more intimate connection with users. Giving people a peek into creative processes helps them feel that they really know, and are a part of your brand.
  • Instagram also caters to an interesting audience. It offers publicly available posts like Twitter, but has greater control over spam and reasonably tight personal networks. It isn’t limited to just one social function and is approachable to a wide number of people, therefore maximizing the potential user base.
  • BONUS ADVANTAGE: Instagram is connected to the Facebook ecosystem.

Disadvantages

Before you run off to set up an Instagram account, I do want to review some of the things Instagram Stories can’t do.

  • No links. You can’t publish links in your Instagram posts, so it’s harder to lead people back to your site. The usual workaround is to include a link to your homepage in your main profile, and reference that link in your post. Though it may be annoying, it’s part of what cuts down on spam—making audiences more engaged.
  • Word Count. No one is using Instagram to read posts; they are looking for images. Remember the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Don’t forget that when on Instagram, unless you use the text as the image, meme style.
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Tips to Utilize Instagram Stories Effectively

To promote engagement, try these tips:

  • Image forward. The better your image is, the more it will stand out in users’ newsfeeds, and the more they’re going to engage with it. Make sure the subject matter is clear and in focus.
  • Keep it short. Your goal should be to keep things as succinct and light as possible. Get in and get out.
  • Call to action. Make sure every post has a kind of call to action, whether it’s cleverly leading people back to your site (remember, no links) or having them compete in a contest.
  • Reward their efforts. Offer your followers exclusive content, discounts, or freebies on occasion. And, sometimes, a simple thanks can encourage a follower to stick with you.
  • Invite an influencer. Influencers have thousands of mostly young followers who witness their every move. Invite an influencer to “takeover” your Instagram Stories for a day. Many up-and-coming ones do guest spots for free.

The love for Instagram Stories and their popularity does not seem to be headed for a decline anytime soon, so now is a great time to get started. Get out there and keep your users’ interests and needs in mind, refine your photography skills, and stay active, to secure the rewards of a more active, engaged following.

If you're unfamiliar with Instagram and want a helping hand through the process, give us a call and we can help you better understand Instagram Stories and discuss how you can curate Stories to establish the perfect balance of humanity, energy and connection!

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