Instagram marketing

How to Use Instagram Stories in Your 2022 Marketing Strategy

  • 14 Minutes
Getting the most out of Instagram Stories for your marketing takes more than compelling content - you also need these three magic elements...

500 million. 

That’s how many users are actively checking out Instagram Stories daily. 

If you don’t already use Instagram Stories in your marketing strategy, you’re missing out.

In fact, 200 million+ Instagrammers visit at least one business account daily. Plus, 58% of Instagram users claim to have become more interested in a brand/product after seeing it in Stories. A further 50% of them say they have visited a website to buy a product/service as a result of seeing it in Stories.  

Those are some pretty epic numbers! Stories clearly have sticking power, so if your brand hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon, now’s the time.

Instagram Stories: A Quick Refresher

You probably don’t need us to tell you what Instagram Stories are. After all, these vertical, disappearing-after-24-hours, photos and videos have become a ubiquitous part of the Instagram landscape since 2016.

While this format was initially made popular by Snapchat, this “new feature” quickly took on a life of its own, and Stories have gone on to become one of the most beloved features on the social media platform.

In Instagram’s own words, “with Stories, you can share photos and videos that disappear from your profile, Feed, and messages after 24 hours, unless you add them to your profile as story highlights.”

To make your Stories more fun and interactive, you can use fun features like stickers, hashtags, polls, gifs, link swipe ups, music, and more. You can also put filters to work to make your visuals pop in true Instagram fashion. 

The Must-Know Details

While many of us are familiar with Instagram Stories, we may not always know everything there is to know about how to use Stories for social media marketing. So here’s a quick rundown of the basics of creating stories for Instagram.

How to create Stories

  1. Click the + icon within the Instagram app (next to the heart icon) to get started.
  2. Choose Story from the menu.
  3. Click on Camera if you want to take a photo or a video. Hold the white circle down for a video or click once for a photo. To take a selfie, flip the camera.
  4. Alternatively, select the photo or video from your camera roll that you want to use in your Story.
  5. You can add stickers, hashtags, and other interactive features to your Stories as well—more on this below.

The dimensions

Instagram story dimensions are 1080px by 1920px i.e. your image or video should be 1080 pixels wide and 1920 pixels in height. The aspect ratio for Stories is 9:16.

Keep these dimensions in mind when creating your content. If you upload an image or video that doesn’t fit within these dimensions, your content will be cropped or lose quality due to being too zoomed in. 

Length

As of writing this article, videos on Stories can be up to 15 seconds long. If you record or upload a video longer than 15 seconds, it will automatically be split into multiple different Stories. There have been reports the company is testing videos up to 60 seconds in length, but this is yet to be rolled out officially.

Stickers

Stickers are Instagram Stories features that allow users to create more engaging content within their Stories. After uploading your photo or video to Stories, tap the square smiley icon at the top to begin adding stickers to your Stories. FYI, stickers can also be added to Instagram Reels.

Sticker options include:

  • Location
  • Mention
  • Add Yours
  • Hashtags
  • Captions
  • Question stickers
  • GIFs
  • Music
  • Links
  • Selfies
  • Polls or Emoji slider
  • Quizzes
  • Donations
  • Countdowns
  • Time and weather

Hashtags

As you probably already know, hashtags are a key tactic for successful Instagram marketing. They can be useful for Stories as well. 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.

Analytics

When you use Stories for marketing on your Instagram account, you will also have access to Instagram analytics that will allow you to analyze how your content marketing efforts are performing. 

Instagram Insights allows you to dive into the data and understand the performance of your Stories better (within 14 days of posting). 

While Instagram Insights are great, they can sometimes be limiting for brands looking for a bit more. Sked Social’s robust analytics features pull all your Instagram data into one centralized platform and deliver what you most need – insights! With Sked, you can see in-depth Story analytics such as reach, impressions, completion rate, taps back/forward, replies, exits, and plenty more! 

Instagram Stories highlights

Highlights are a popular way to save Stories on a profile so that they can still be viewed after the initial 24-hour period has passed. Stories highlights appear underneath the bio on your Instagram profile. 

To create an Instagram Stories highlight, tap the “New” circle at the far left. From there, you can choose any stories from your archive, select a cover for your highlight and give it a name. Once you’re done, your highlight will appear as a circle on your profile that plays as a stand-alone story when someone taps it. Highlights stay on your profile until you remove them, and you can have as many highlights as you’d like. Just tap and hold that highlight on your profile to edit or remove a highlight.

Why Use Instagram Stories for Marketing?

Like any new feature, Instagram Stories have continued to evolve since their launch. While the basic premise (disappearing after 24 hours) remains the same, several new capabilities have been added along the way. 

The one thing that remains constant is Stories are the most popular content format for authenticity. They’ve always been a way for Instagram users to peel back the layers, go beyond the perfectly curated image and showcase something a bit more real. 

This is true of individuals as well as Instagram business profiles. 47% of users said Instagram Stories help them be more authentic in their communication with friends and family.

For businesses wondering why your Stories even matter in the grand scheme of social media marketing, authenticity is why! Stories help your brand show a real side to you and connect with your audience in an authentic, vulnerable manner that they love.

In addition to building authentic connections with your target audience, making Stories a critical part of your social media marketing strategy can also be helpful to:  

Reach more people

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.

As a result you’re likely to reach more people with your Stories content vs your posts. Plus, you can post several Stories in succession or at various times during the day, and further improve your reach on Instagram. In fact, posting up to five stories per day ensures a retention rate of over 70%, according to a SocialInsiders study.

Finally don’t forget that your Stories may only last 24 hours, but they have the potential to reach your target demographics even outside your current follower base.So keep posting!

Interact with your audience

Instagram Stories are designed to be interactive and a great way to truly engage with your target audience in a more human way. Some quick ideas:

  • Conduct polls using the Poll stickers.
  • Invite followers to send you direct messages in response to questions.
  • Ask for feedback on a new product. 
  • Host team member Q&As by using the Questions sticker or via DMs.

For more ideas, check out: 21 Instagram Interaction Post Ideas

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.

Drive traffic to your site

You already know that you can’t share clickable links on your Instagram posts. But, you can definitely share links on your Stories so make the most of it. Use links whenever relevant and possible to drive traffic back to your site.

For example, if you’re an ecommerce brand and you’re sharing images of your products in use, be sure to add a product sticker to your Stories so your followers can click through and check out the exact product being featured. 

Or, if you’re running an influencer marketing campaign and asking influencers to mention your brand in their Stories, you could ask them to link directly to your products for direct traffic.

Even if you’re not selling products, you can also drive traffic back to blog posts, competitions, lead magnets or anything else you would like your followers to see on your website.

Run Instagram Stories ads

The estimated advertising reach for Instagram users is 1.22 billion. Instagram Stories are also obviously useful if you want to run advertising campaigns. Instagram Stories ads are integrated in between regular Stories which makes them look like normal Stories and can be very powerful for generating leads and/or driving sales and traffic. 

Increase your engagement

Last but definitely not the least, Instagram Stories matter because ultimately they affect one of the most important metrics on Instagram—your engagement. Stories are fun, interactive and a great way for brands to build brand awareness and create engaged online communities. 

If you’re not sharing on Stories yet, your Insta engagement could be taking a huge hit.

7 Tips for a Killer Instagram Stories Strategy

So if Instagram Stories are really as important as we insist (we do!), how can you make the most of them for your digital marketing plan? Here are some tips:

1. Determine your visual identity

First and most importantly, think about what you want your brand to look like on Stories. This isn’t set in stone obviously (nothing ever is, in the social media world). However, consider whether you want your brand’s personality to be on Stories.

For example, you may only want to post real time and raw behind the scenes content on Instagram Stories. Or, on the other hand, you may prefer a much more curated look, using premade templates to post Stories content. 

Spend some time considering how you’d like your storytelling to look on Instagram first. Then begin, creating Stories to suit this visual identity that you have in mind.

2. Post consistently

Simply sharing one Story every other day and waiting around for Insta fame to arrive isn’t going to work. If you truly want to make Stories a key part of your marketing strategy, you will need to post consistently. 

This may sound pretty basic, but it’s one of the easiest ways to get more people watching your Stories. As we mentioned above, every time you post a Story you will appear at the top of a user’s Instagram feed, and therefore increase your chances of getting seen.

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.

3. Invite interaction (use stickers)

Instagram Stories already come built-in with lots of great interactive functionality like Stickers. To really make Stories work for you, you should really make use of Stickers to invite interaction from your followers, and in so doing increase your engagement too. 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.

4. Include CTAs 

Including clear calls-to-action in your Stories so your audience knows exactly what you want them to do after watching your Stories. This could be as simple as getting them to click on a product link or asking them to DM you. 

5. Schedule your stories

To really take your Instagram Stories strategy to the next level you need to jump on the scheduling and automating bandwagon.  Feeding the beast that is Instagram can become a full-time gig. That’s why using a scheduling tool to plan, organize and post content on your Instagram account can be a huge timesaver.

Instead of creating your Stories content one at a time, get into the habit of batching your content creation. Planning and creating a bunch of content in one sitting will actually save you much more time.

In addition to saving time, it also helps you plan ahead and tell better stories with your content. Sked Social can help you schedule your Stories (and other types of Insta content). Plus remember how we said consistency matters. Well, planning ahead and scheduling can definitely help you stick to a more consistent Story posting schedule as well. 

6. Include user-generated content

Many brands 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.

7. Make use of Instagram Stories highlights

Want to extend the shelf life of your 24-hour Stories? Don’t forget to make use of highlights. Adding your Stories to 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.

If you create a great tutorial through a series of Stories for example, the usefulness of it doesn’t have to disappear in 24 hours. Save it to your highlights and you can direct your followers to it whenever they need the information. 

Depending on your brand, you can use highlights in different ways. It doesn’t just have to be tutorials. Some brands use it to showcase and save new season products. Others may use it to curate frequently asked questions. 

8. Don’t forget to tell a story

Finally, don’t forget Instagram Stories are ultimately about storytelling. When thinking about how to use Instagram Stories for marketing, remember to put storytelling first, selling second.

Ask yourself what story you want to tell about your brand through Stories and how you want to tell it. Great storytelling cuts through all the mediocre content that gets shared everyday by brands online. So if you want your audience to engage and interact with you, use creative ways to tell your story to them instead of doing the same old thing every other business is doing. 

Take Your Stories to the Next Level with Sked

Needless to say, Instagram Stories are a vital part of any marketing strategy. However, managing all the different types of content on Instagram can sometimes feel like an overwhelming, neverending task.

Sked simplifies Instagram Stories by automating the process for you. All you have to do is upload your content and select a time, and Sked will automagically post it for you! No intervention needed, whether it’s 2 am or 2 pm, Monday or Sunday – and no matter the time zone.

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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