Instagram Stories: What You Need to Know Now for a Successful 2019 Strategy
The latest Instagram stats show how important the Instagram Stories feature has become for brands and businesses. Not long ago our strategy on the platform was almost entirely focused around our feed. That is no longer sustainable. Brands that want to remain relevant now need to device strategies that encompass everything from their bio to their feed to Stories and Highlights.
Yes, it sounds like a whole lot of work, but this is the new norm and we all need to adjust and find ways to make the most of our limited resources and time. In this post, I will provide you with information and tips for devising an Instagram Stories strategy, but first, some data from Instagram to keep in mind.
Over 400 million users are watching Instagram stories every day
80 percent of all Instagram users are spending the same amount of time watching stories as they are scrolling through their feed
45 percent of the most viewed stories are from businesses/brands
Over 50 percent of businesses on Instagram are already posting stories, and that number is set to grow in 2019 as 88 percent of businesses are saying they plan to increase posting to stories
20 percent of Stories posted by brands result in direct interaction with users - 15-25 percent of Story viewers swipe up to follow a link
The first two things I want to recommend to any brand or business looking to incorporate Stories into their plan are: 1) Always have a clear goal or plan for what you want to achieve as you plan your Stories. Do you, for example, want to promote an event, educate your followers on your brand, create buzz around your new collection, or encourage your followers to sign up for something? 2) Try different things and see what works best for you and your audience in terms of content, posting frequency, times for posting, etc. So, although I will provide some stats and tips here, it doesn’t mean these are the things that will necessarily work for you.
Engaging your followers with Stories
Stories allow brands to share everything from behind the scenes to sneak peeks, and we already see many brands taking advantage of this. What we still don’t see much of in bridal are stories that invite the user to engage with the brand. Using the Poll, Slider, Question, and the brand new Countdown stickers are a great way to get creative and invite your audience to engage with your brand and to be in the know about your upcoming events. Other industries are using these stickers to crowdsource ideas, explore customer preferences, spot trends, to create excitement around a new product, and to educate their followers on their brand.
Telling a story
Think about your goals and create Stories that align with those goals, but do it in a way that will pique your audience’s interest. In other words, create Stories with multiple slides that engage, educate and entertain your audience while keeping things simple. If you have no idea what your audience is interested in seeing from you, ask them! This an excellent way to engage your audience while procuring some fresh ideas for content.
Think of your Instagram account as an extension of your website. Use Highlights to categorize your content. FAQs, New collection campaign, look books, retailers, your blog, bride reviews, upcoming events. These are just a few ideas you can create Stories around and save in your Highlights. The goal here is to provide any and all information a potential customer might need to make a decision on whether they’ll buy your brand or not.
Elements of an optimized Instagram Story
In Stories, you can use up to 10 hashtags that will help you get discovered.. use them! You can actually pinch your hashtags to minimize and make them pretty much invisible, or hide them behind a sticker. Also, using the location sticker is a great way to get found. If your goal is to be discovered by potential followers within a specific location, use the relevant location, otherwise, you can use a popular one like New York, NY. And finally, post during optimal times for you.
Tips and helpful stats
User engagement levels are highest on Monday and Thursday between 7-9PM
Posts with geotagged location get significantly higher engagement
Hashtags increase engagement on Stories by up to 12 percent
Noteworthy: some influencers are posting shoutouts about other influencers that are willing to reciprocate in order to increase their following
Instagram Stories takeovers are still relevant
Optimal times to post Stories: 4AM, 6AM, 8AM, 10AM, 12PM, 2PM, 8PM, 10PM Eastern time.
After 7 Stories/slides, the completion rate drops to below 70%
Brand your Stories
Create beautiful Stories that not only engage, educate, and entertain but that do so while staying on brand. The good news is you don’t have to be a graphic designer to accomplish this. Apps like Canva and Over have a tremendous number of templates you can access for free and which can easily reflect your brand with a few tweaks. Similarly, there are a number of free apps for video which can help you create beautiful, branded content very easily. We like Inshot and have heard good things about Cutstory.
The last thing I’d like to say is that your Stories and feed content should align to promote your goals, and also that you should definitely plan your content at least one week in advance. This will not only save you time but it will help you keep the focus on your message and overall business goals.