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How to Use Instagram Stories for Business: Small Biz Edition  

  • 12 Minutes
Instagram Stories can be a powerful digital marketing tool - here's how to get the most out of them to connect with your audience.

Instagram isn’t just about pretty photos anymore. It’s a platform with various types of content and businesses need to keep up.

For small businesses, who often have limited budgets for social media content, Instagram Stories can be a powerful digital marketing tool. It’s an opportunity to truly connect with your customers (without the ick factor that often comes with marketing.)

Need convincing before you dive into Stories? Below, we explain why you should use Instagram Stories for business and also share a few ideas on how you can use this type of content for your Instagram marketing purposes.

5 Reasons to Use Instagram Stories for Business

So firstly and most importantly, why? Why should you bother with Instagram Stories? Isn’t it enough to just post some photos to your Instagram feed and be done with it? Nope, not quite.

Here are five great reasons to create Instagram Stories on your Instagram business account.

1. Reach more people

Posting on your Instagram newsfeed doesn’t quite have the same impact any more. With more and more brands competing for their audience’s attention, you can’t just limit your brand to Instagram posts alone.

Posting on Instagram Stories allows you to reach more people who may not have otherwise seen your content. You see, every time you post a new Story, your Instagram account appears above your followers’ Instagram feed with a brightly colored ring around it. Sometimes your followers may also get a notification when you publish a new Story. This makes your Stories much harder to miss than your Instagram posts.

Plus, you can post multiple Stories one after the other or at different times during the day. This helps to further enhance your reach on Instagram. n fact, posting up to five stories per day ensures a retention rate of over 70%, according to a SocialInsiders study.

2. Interact with your audience

Unlike regular posts, Instagram Stories by design are much more interactive. Your Instagram followers are used to (and expect to) interact with brands via various Story features and stickers such as questions, polls, countdowns, DMs and more. 

The more your audience interacts with you on Instagram, the more it boosts your overall engagement rates on Instagram as well. It sends the Insta algorithm all the right, warm fuzzy signals that your followers like you and your content and want to continue to see more of it.

Check out 21 Instagram Interaction Post Ideas if you’re stuck for how to make your posts more interactive. 

3. Generate leads

Social media marketing is often about brand awareness but your efforts don’t have to end there. You can make use of Instagram marketing to generate new and valuable leads for your business as well. 

Stories allow you to include links within them. When used in a relevant manner, this can be great to drive traffic back to your site and collect new leads for your business. You no longer have to ask to ask your users to swipe up, now the links are easily clickable within Stories.

In addition to links, you can also add product tags to your Stories. This way, your audience can view your Story and click through ot the product directly and make a purchase and if they’re interested.

4. Run ads

One of the main advantages of a business account on Instagram is that you can use it for advertising. Did you know that the estimated advertising reach for Instagram users is 1.22 billion?

As an Instagram user yourself, we’re sure you’ve seen ads interspersed between regular Stories. So why not try them for your business too? In fact, Instagram Story ads can be very effective to drive more traffic to your website or even generate new leads for your marketing campaign.

5. Increase engagement

Finally, and actually, the most important reason you should be making use of Instagram Stories for your small business is for engagement. Instagram engagement is one of the most important metrics to keep an eye on for your marketing efforts. 

As we already discussed, the best Instagram Stories are fun, interactive, and a great way for brands to build brand awareness and create engaged online communities. This leads to more engagement. More engagement = better reach as it tells the Instagram algorithm that your content is valuable and interesting for your audience.

How to Use Instagram Stories for Business

Alright, so you get it. Instagram Stories have got some serious power. So how can you as a small business owner use Stories for your business? 

We know you’re business and don’t have a lot of time to constantly create social media content. Don’t worry! Unlike Instagram Reels, your Instagram Stories for marketing don’t actually require much production effort.

Due to the more authentic, and off-the-cuff nature of Stories, your content can be much easier to create.  Here are some ideas for eye-catching Stories  your business account: 

Share sneak peeks

Do you have a new product in the works? Getting close to launch? Share sneak peeks of your upcoming product to create excitement with your audience.

You can share snippets of the product in production, or even share a little glimpse of a product to get your community excited. You could even get your community further engaged by asking them questions about their expectations about the new product. Build buzz while you also build engagement. Double win!

Go behind-the-scenes

Your audience and customers love to see what goes on behind the scenes of a business. Something as simple as a look at a “day in the life” can be great content for Instagram Stories and fairly simple to create. If you produce products, you could go into the production center and share snippets from there. If you design products, share your process. 

You could also spotlight team members. Introduce new team members to your Instagram community and highlight the work they do at your company. Showcasing your team humanizes your brand.  You are no longer just a company. Your customers see the real faces behind the brand. It makes your brand more attractive to potential customers.  

Demo a product

Show your customers how to put your products to use by hosting a product demo on your Instagram Stories. You could even share tutorials of how to really use your product for maximum benefits. 

For example, if you’re selling a handbag, show them why it’s the best bag on the market, highlight all the feature, show off all the pockets and secret uses. Your customers will love to get to know your product inside and out before they even purchase it!

Go live

Want to interact with your audience in real-time? Make use of the Live feature on the Instagram app. 

Nothing quite beats real-time interaction with the “fans.” Instagram Live is a great way to host a live stream and interact with your audience through their comments.

Going live is also great for boosting your engagement. You could collaborate with other brands or influencers to go live. You could host instructional videos or a live event such as a live meditation or yoga class. Be creative! 

Host Q&As

A good old-fashioned question and answer session is always great for inviting interaction from your target audience. 

You could host your Q&A via live video on Instagram live. This is very popular with brands and allows for real-time interaction with your followers. 

Get customer feedback

Need to make a decision about a product? Want some input on color choices? Get your community involved and ask them for their feedback and thoughts.

Your customers will enjoy having the opportunity to have a say in creating or improving your products so ask them for their feedback openly. Who knows they may even come up with some ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own!

Share user-generated content

Most small businesses don’t have the time or bandwidth to constantly create new content for Stories. That’s fine. Your followers are probably creating content about your brand that you could share to your Stories. 

People love to see other people like them featured on brand social media accounts so make use of your user-generated content if your followers are creating it. You’ll automatically up the levels of engagement on content too. 

When you share UGC and tag your users, they are more likely to share the content with their followers as well. Instant boost in engagement!

Partner with influencers

Don’t have the time or skills to create your own Stories content? Collaborate with an influencer (or few) to create the content you need. Influencer marketing isn’t just for big businesses. 

Influencers often have their own legion of followers as well, which can be very helpful for expanding your reach and engagement. Influencer content is often seen as “more authentic” than just plain old branded content. People are more likely to interact with a brand that feels and acts human. 

Resharing influencer or user-generated content on your Stories is also a great way to share more authentic content without having to put too much effort into it.

To learn more, check out: 10 Simple Ways to Increase Instagram Engagement.

Add hashtags to your Stories

Hashtags go hand-in-hand with an Instagram marketing strategy. Use hashtags in your Instagram Stories.  After you tag your Stories with a hashtag sticker, you’ll be able to tap the tag to see a page that shows all photos and videos people have uploaded with that hashtag, thus increasing the visibility of your Stories to a wider audience.

A well-thought-out hashtag strategy will help you get the most out of your Stories. The stronger your hashtag game, the more people will see (and engage!) with your content.

Make use of Stories stickers

Instagram Stories are designed to be interactive and the various new features and stickers make this even easier. Make full use of them in your Stories to make your Stories more engaging. Some ideas:

  • Use poll stickers to conduct useful or completely random polls.
  • Ask questions to get to know your followers better or you could even get them to ask you questions.
  • Use GIFs to add a bit of fun.
  • Invite followers to direct message you. 
  • Use product stickers to link to products and drive click throughs to your website.

Save your content in story highlights

Adding your content to Instagram Stories highlights helps increase their visibility and further enhances their reach. Highlights are also great for saving content that can be useful for your audience over and over.

When and How Often to Post to Your Stories

So we’ve convinced you. Stories matter and your new Instgram marketing strategy is definitely going to include them. But how many Stories should you be posting daily and is there an ideal time to share them?

Share consistently

How many times you post to Stories is really up to you. But, if you want to show up more often, post to Stories more often. It’s really as simple as that. Kind of. 

You don’t have to overshare. However, remember that every time you post fresh content to Stories, you will show up first and make it more likely that your audience sees your content.

If posting repeatedly throughout the day is getting too much, Sked Social can help you automate the process. You can bulk upload your Stories content to Sked, set a time and rest easy that Sked will take care of your posting schedule for you. Learn more here: How To Schedule Instagram Posts [and Stories]: The Ultimate Step by Step Guide.

Time your posts right

The timeliness of your Instagram Stories matters. By timeliness, we mean everything from the specific time you share content to the timely relevance of your content (i.e. sharing seasonal content). Instagram will check how timely your Instagram content is as irrelevant, poorly timed content is unlikely to resonate with your audience.

What is the right time to post? That will depend on various factors such as your industry, your target audience, your time zone, the type of content you share and so much. Figure out the best time to share Stories for your target audience and make use of that data. This will send Insta all the right “timeliness” signals you need for better performance on the algorithm.

Instagram Insights and more advanced Instagram analytics tools (like Sked Social!) can be very helpful for figuring out the best time for posting content. Sked’s Best Time to Post feature is a great way to optimize your content strategy and make nail the timing of your Instagram posts.

You can read more about these ranking signals directly from the horse’s mouth

Supercharge Stories for Business with Sked Social

Stories should be a vital part of your Instagram marketing strategy. But managing even more social media content can feel overwhelming for small business owners. We get it.

This is why you need Sked Social. Sked is the Insta marketing partner every business owner needs. Upload your content, select a time and let Sked take care of the posting for you. We can help you automate your Stories so you don’t have to stress about it day-to-day. 

Learn more about how Sked can help you streamline your Stories (and more!) with a free 7-day trial today.

Photo of Photo of Kyra Goodman

Kyra is a Junior Marketing Manager and "Spicy Meme Master" at Sked Social who loves to create content. Born and raised in Hawaii, her favorite things are traveling, yoga, beaching, coffee and baseball. Connect with her on twitter at @kyra_n_goodman.

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