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A Brief Explanation of Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is one of the latest features on the Instagram social media platform, and it showcases one example of a recent trend in social media and marketing – content of a limited duration and time period. On Instagram Stories a user is able to post a short clip, video, quote, or image that is visible and viewable by other users for 24 hours. Upon expiration, the content disappears, but the engagement, opportunities, and data remain.

The feature is quickly becoming another channel for eCommerce companies to engage with customers, build a broader set of content, and give a different look at their business and brand.

#1: Create More Engagement with Followers & Other Businesses

Instagram allows you to edit the content of Instagram Stories in various ways. Just as in rival Snapchat, there are filters and funny faces that allow you to distort the video or image you took. Although fun and comical, these can be difficult for eCommerce companies to incorporate successfully into their branding. However, some of the other features are fantastic for encouraging follow engagement and increasing partnerships with other eCommerce companies or influencers.

The first example is geotags. Just as Instagram allows an eCommerce company to tell followers where a particular picture was taken, you can similarly mark your Instagram Stories. The only difference is this geotag can be placed front and center on your image or video, in a manner more visible to your audience. It’s a great feature to make a local connection with followers and mark a special place for your brand. Plus, you can retrieve the data on who clicks your link or uses the tag to find other accounts that post from the same location.

Instagram Stories also allows personal and business accounts to incorporate text, mentions, links to websites and product pages, and hashtags into the content. You can cross-market with another business by providing a post that mentions the company or partner with an Instagram influencer to provide a shoutout to one of your products.

For example, a lifestyle blogger can take a short clip of her using your face wash or hand soap and then tag your Instagram account in the post, or even better direct people to your website. Anyone watching could seamlessly move from her post, straight to shopping on your website. It is a fantastic way to drive sales and focus your followers’ attention in a specific direction.

#2: Polls Provide Additional User Data & Feedback

Instagram recently introduced a new function to Stories called “polls.” Here’s how it works: After you record your short clip or take a photo, you can place a short question on an overlay atop the image. It can ask anything from which dress your followers prefer to whether they prefer to stay in or go out on a Friday night. Then, the two possible choices are provided on the user’s screen as clickable buttons.

After voting the shopper sees the voting results in the form of a percentage. For instance, a user may see that 45% of people like pepperoni pizza, while 55% would choose vegetarian. However, what’s more impressive is what an eCommerce company could mine from this function. Instead of merely seeing the percentages, the individual or business posing the poll is provided with much more specific information. You receive not only the overall result, but the full list of people who voted and their choice.

#3: Provide More Content without Overloading Followers

At the dawn of social media’s marketing boom, digital agencies pressed upon companies the importance of posting to social media thoughtfully, but often. Many brands started an Instagram account, only to abandon it for months at a time. Today, maintaining content is a top priority for most eCommerce companies, and some marketers find themselves giving the opposite advice – don’t inundate your followers with post-upon-post. Instead, be selective about content and upload high-quality content when it arises.

Instagram Stories offers a new way to share content often, without inundating your followers with posts. The structure of Instagram Stories even promotes frequent, multi-day updates that followers can check every couple hours. As well, what you share doesn’t have to be as refined. It’s acceptable for your brand to be more casual and comfortable on Instagram Stories; just remember that even when using this less formal channel to reach customers, you want to keep your content on brand and interesting.

#4: Instagram “Commercials” Are Short, Sweet & Effective

Back in January, Instagram announced that its paid advertising features would be expanded to include posts and advertisements in Instagram Stories. Instagram was allowing these short and simple ads to run across all businesses globally by May, and eCommerce, in particular, began to see some benefits from placing an ad in the Stories feature.

Instagram actually ran test ads in their Stories feature through some of the biggest brands on the social media platform. The pre-launch testing allowed marketers to notice a few trends from marketing on this specific channel, including info on the type of information that works well in Instagram Stories commercials. The conclusion was that ads within Stories are probably best for an exciting announcement or limited time offer or experience. Even better, give your followers a sneak peek at an upcoming product, model, or feature. The temporary nature of Instagram Stories pairs well with a temporary aspect of your brand – such as a limited release or discount.

Other things to keep in mind when using Instagram Stories for paid advertising is that the continuous reel of stories works in your favor. A user is already engaged in the content from friends and other connections when they see your ad. If your content can hit the right demographic, you are likely to see a jump in the number of viewers that backtrack to your ad, as there is a minor time commitment to see your content a second time. Plus, the feature is video-centric, which has been outperforming other types of content across marketing platforms.

#5: Gives an Inside Look at Your Business and People

Putting a face with a name is always helpful; it aids in memory and interpersonal relationships. In formal marketing strategies and campaigns, when we want to give customers a face of an eCommerce brand, we lean towards another customer, influencer or celebrity. Rarely are eCommerce companies able to showcase the other face of their brand – the hardworking owners and employees. Instagram Stories provides a great opportunity to showcase the people that are actually behind your brand.

When you put a founder, owner, or staff members in Instagram Stories it can humanize your brand, provide a new medium to tell your brand’s story, and give shoppers an exclusive look at the people designing, creating and building their products. It is also informal – a great way to connect personally with customers. While eCommerce can sometimes become mechanical in other marketing channels, Stories provides a cost-effective and low-risk way to portray your brand’s heart and soul.

Need More Info on Instagram? 1Digital Agency in Philadelphia handles a wide range of social media marketing for eCommerce companies. Jump to our website to learn more.


Dan Kogan

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