We always praise the importance of the “3 E”s in a social media strategy:
Entertainment, Education, Emotion. If a Post or an Instagram Story does not fulfill one of these metrics, you shouldn’t waste your time posting them.
Over the past months social media has changed a lot. Lately with the emergence and hype around TikTok it seems easy to summarize how:
The more creative the better. 
With this movement, the value of the Entertainment pillar is becoming increasingly important. In order to keep all your possibilities open, you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously when it comes to social media in the first place. 
Teens, bloggers, influencers and probably also most of your friends are using Instagram Stories regularly and on a daily basis. There’s no excuse not to jump onboard with your business: every succesful business has a “Story” to tell. 

 “Dark Social”

When Instagram copied (and stole) Stories from Snapchat in 2016, they knew perfectly well that this was going to be the future form of social media entertainment. A few years ago it was a fool’s mistake to record a video vertically: Youtube or TV were the dominant formats. Today, it’s quite the opposite.
Stories have become a direct insight into the personal space and into the daily life of ordinary people, celebrities and also businesses. The perfect tool to reach out to your fans and your customers and most importantly: to entertain them.
What makes Stories so powerful is the idea that interactions and engagement happen directly between the creator and the consumer, hidden from everybody else (thus: Dark Social). In fact, depending on where you live and which networks you use, between 70% and 80% of all social media interactions happen as direct messages.
From a psychological point of view Story interactions are highly interesting: You get a complete personal view into the life of another person
(or company), all full screen and in the palm of your hand. 
With the rise in creative possibilities, interactive tools like the “Poll”, “Ask a Question” or the “Slider” can easily be considered as the new forms of the “Like” button.
Stickers are engagement drivers. They help to shape your relationship with your fans and help your account stay connected with your audience. The more a person interacts with your stickers (and Stories in general), the higher the person will be rated by Instagram’s relationship ranking algorithm. 
Social media is consumed in the moment.
Typically it doesn’t matter if people see your brand in their Stories or on a feed. They will forget the exact details of what they saw, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. 
In this sense we can summarize: If you’re not using Stories and Stickers, or worse if you don’t understand them, you’re missing out on the hottest thing in social media right now.

6 Ways to use Stories as a business

There are endless ways to use Stories to boost your customer relationships. We’ve picked out a few of them for you.
Before we start, one important note:
Use the Location, Mention and Hashtag Stickers whenever you can.
If you don’t want them to appear right on your Story (because they look ugly yukkk…): just make them super small and hide them using another more prominent Sticker as overlay.

Ask for feedback

Polls are one of the easiest forms to explore your customers’ interests.

The red or the purple lip stick? The brown or the blue jeans? The possibilites are endless and a simple yes or no question can do real wonders for your business. After all, people love it to be asked for their opinion and the poll sticker is an extremely easy way to do just that. 

Go behind the scenes

This is one of the most popular ways businesses (especially smaller ones) tend to use Stories for.  It is fairly easy to do so: Everything that happens at your company could have the potential to act as a look behind the scenes. Show what life in your company is like, how you’re working on things and document the process. A simple “boomerang” clip can go a long way and leave a friendly impression.

Be careful though what you’re filming. A messy desk or a dirty floor can make for a bad reputation and if you’re abusing these videos people might lose interest quite quickly.

And remember: A true magician doesn’t reveal his tricks. So don’t be too detailed with your “Behind the Scenes”.

 

Talk to your audience

If you haven’t done this yet: Get out of your comfort zone because this is one of the most interactive and honest ways to reply to FAQs, critique or any other kind of feedback.
As this method is very often used by Influencers, bloggers or politicians, effective strategies for businesses are “Instagram Takeovers”, where you hand over your account’s access to a social media manager or Influencer and allow them to show their faces for a day. 
Also don’t be afraid to take this a step further and do “live” videos or set up entire environments to make your “Ask Me Anything” videos appear as honest and professional as possible. This is the type of Story people will remember you most for.

Get new customer leads

The “Dark Social” way to collect customer leads (new potential customers): Make your audience send you their interests via direct message (for example by asking a question), then chat with them and sell your product or service.

Don’t forget that Instagram also has “Quick Replies” in the settings which you can set up to automate a few things there. 

Easily tease new content

A few seconds are usually enough to make a cool little teaser. Whenever a new product comes to your store, consider leveraging the pleasure of anticipation.

A cool and easy twist you can try is to use the pen and eraser tools to hide certain areas from your Story image like in the example below. Either to tease new post on your feed or an entire product.

 

Pro tip: Select the pen tool and hold your finger tapped on the screen to automatically fill the entire screen with the selected color.

“Swipe Up” and sell

If you’re among the succesful accounts that have managed to obtain the “Swipe up” functionality in your sticker collection (instead of only in your ads), you have a lot more possibilites to market your product and generate traffic to your site. Typically you only get this sticker if you’ve reached 10’000 followers.

The “normal” people can still refer to the “Link in bio” to generate traffic, but the call to action button right in the story typically does a much more effective job.

Use both of these functionalities to send people directly to your online shop or website. 

What else?

On the technical side, the obvious main difference between the Story and your feed is the fact that Stories disappear after 24 hours. This difference alone opens up a lot of creative possibilities. 
You can use this feature to your advantage by testing all kinds of things. Not entirely sure if a post fits on your feed? Just drop it in your story and test the reactions. If they’re good, there’s almost never a reason not to share the post on your feed as well a few hours later.
In general one can argue that post quality is not as important in a Story than on the feed, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think of your Story when preparing a new post or an entire strategy. The advantage is that you can use your Story to “catch the moment”,  even if this means that you’re just using your phone’s camera to create a post without any photoshop skills or other fancy adjustments. 
No matter what you do, please keep in mind: Posting a picture of your cup of coffee won’t do the trick if there’s no message that goes with it.



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