Get "expirational:" five ways to use Instagram Stories for your brand or business

(Photo: Instagram)

(Photo: Instagram)

Last week, Instagram rolled out its newest feature, Stories, a very Snapchat-inspired offering that allows users to upload quick videos and photos that disappear in 24 hours. It was a bold step for the social network, now opening its doors for more user generated content, not just beautiful user generated content. While Snapchat has had the upper-hand when it comes to reaching and engaging teenage audiences across the world, many ‘grammers are already seeing the Stories feature as a way to deliver content to their Instagram following without having to worry about building an audience on another platform like Snapchat. If Instagram's parent company, Facebook, didn’t feel like it was taking over the world before, it certainly feels more like it now. 

Brooklyn jewelry brand, Catbird, is using Instagram Stories to share a look at products coming soon. (Photo: @Catbird)

Brooklyn jewelry brand, Catbird, is using Instagram Stories to share a look at products coming soon. (Photo: @Catbird)

Recently, too, Instagram also unveiled its new business profile feature: a way for user accounts to transition into a business-minded account that offers analytics, easy-to-access contact information for its followers, and promotional and paid opportunities to reach new audiences. 

Hand-in-hand, these latest Insta-velopments are likely going to be a big boost for brands and businesses, a market that the social network is increasingly trying to monetize from. 

Here are five ways you can start using Instagram Stories for your brand or business. 

1.) Introduce you and your team.

Go beyond the bio and headshot on your website. Introduce a member of your team with a quick series of videos that shares some insights on that person: their name, what they do at work, their hobbies outside of work, projects they are working on, etc. It’s both authentic and transparent, and your followers will appreciate getting you to know a little more. (Disclaimer: This doesn’t replace the a bio and headshot on your website. You still need some kind of visual and story on your website!)

2.) Share a behind-the-scenes look at a product or launch.

This is not only beneficial to your audiences in offering them a sneak peek of what you’re producing, but an important learning opportunity for you and your brand, as well. Want to know if the public will respond more enthusiastically to your new mint green shade of custom planters or the orange ones? Ask them! 

3.) Schedule live Q&A sessions.

On the flip-side, schedule time for your audiences to tune in and ask you questions. Through the direct messaging features on Stories, Instagrammers can send in questions and comments, and you can respond via video. Can't make time to dedicate to a live Q&A? Post a photo on Instagram asking for questions, and let folks know to check their Stories feed at a certain time to see the answers.

4.) Offer special incentives like coupons and discounts

Like Snapchat, the great thing about Stories is that engaging with content suddenly becomes an urgent matter. How can you use that urgency to get your audiences to take action, or make your content “expirational,” as I like to call it (That’s expiration + inspirational!) You could post a photo of a coupon with a code, announce a contest, and more. Either the offer could be good for only that 24 hour period, or folks can screen shot to present it at your business during a limited time period if you have a physical business location.

5.) Partner with influencers.

Just like with Instagram takeovers on your feed, why not offer an influencer, special customer, or blogger into your business or special event to take over your Stories feed? This is a great way to share a brand perspective other than your own and highlight different voices. And best of all, if you’re very particular about the overall aesthetic of your Instagram feed and profile, you won’t have to worry about breaking your cohesive look and feel with dozens of photos on your feed that may become too overwhelming for your followers anyways.

These are just a handful of the ways I see using the new Stories feature on Instagram to the advantage of just about any brand or business, and I hope you found them helpful! If you're interested in instant or committed support with your social media channels, definitely check out our Social Media services page, and sign up below for the FACTEUR e-newsletter for more tips and tricks!

(Photo: Mallory + Justin)