The Best Practices for Instagram Stories

Do you participate in Instagram stories? If you said yes, keep up the good work! But if you said no, why not? Today I want to talk about why you should be posting Insta stories and how you can build the confidence to do so!

“How do I decide what content to create for Instagram Stories?”

I hear your questions. 

“What content should I be doing?” 

“Are there different types of posts I could be utilizing?”

“How do I decide what to post on?”

The good news: the opportunities are endless. Instagram is the best social media platform to show off your raw, authentic self. This is what people want. They want to see, work with, and purchase from a raw, authentic person. People want human connection. When your audience can see you are a real person it can make your brand awareness shine, bring you leads, and boost engagement with your followers. This is why your content should bring connection and give a peek into your real-life.

“What are the types of posts I can utilize as a business?” 

That’s a great question.

Show the inner workings of your business or your life. It makes you appear more relatable and people want to work with and purchase from real people.

  • Teasers

If you have a big event or product launch coming up you can use the countdown feature on Instagram stories to tease your audience and build up some hype around whatever you’re teasing on your story.

  • Engagement Posts

These are the best types of posts. You want to actively try to get your audience to engage with you. You can do this in several ways. The first way is to run a poll on your Instagram stories. This way you can also learn about your audience. You can see what type of content they are looking for, what they like, what they don’t like, and this can help you think of future ideas for your Instagram stories.

  • Questions

The questions feature lets you hold a classic question and answer session. It allows your followers to ask you questions about yourself, your business, or literally anything else, and it allows you to actively respond to them. This lets you show your followers that you are someone who will engage with them. That will keep them coming back to watch your stories. 

You can also do Instagram Live. 

Going live allows you to respond in real-time to your followers, answering any questions they have and listening to their suggestions. As an added bonus, Instagram notifies your followers if you are going live so people can instantly engage with you. Take note, however, that you do need another app to go live on Instagram. 

You can also send your viewers to a private chat in your DM’s. You could say, “I am about to have a brainstorming session about the best way to work and I’d love to hear your input!” and give them a way to join in. This is a cool, interactive feature that Instagram rolled out recently. 

“Help! I’m a total beginner. What should I start with?”

You should start by posting whatever aligns with your marketing strategy. This could be video or photos. Strategize on the front end when you are trying to decide what kind of content you want to put out. Take into account what kind of message you’re trying to convey to your viewers, what you are trying to sell to them, and what kind of information you are trying to relay to them. 

So, should you post a photo or a video? You can take a photo on the spot. You can take a quick selfie or show a quick peek behind-the-scenes. A video takes more planning but it is something you can add to your Instagram stories.

The bottom line is that you’ll have to decide what works for you and your business. What works, what doesn’t, what feels right, what feels like sandpaper or fingernails on a chalkboard and makes you want to jump out of your skin. Find your groove.

“How should I position ads to work for my business?”

Facebook sucks, or that’s how people feel about it according to this study. According to the same study, Instagram has a satisfaction rating of 72 (versus Facebook’s rating of 63). Which would be a better place to run ads? Instagram, of course. 

You can put ads in your Instagram stories. This is great because unless you have 10,000 or more followers, you don’t get a swipe up feature that can immediately send your followers to your website. With the Instagram ads in your stories, you can do the same thing. 

You can create the ad from scratch on the Facebook ads manager, as Instagram is owned by Facebook. Or you can click the promote button on your existing Instagram story to convert it into an ad, almost like boosting a post on Facebook. First, you choose where to send people (your profile, your website, your DM’s). Next, you choose your target audience to show your ad. Then you pick your budget, duration, and whatever variables you decide.

Some of the best ads are video ads. The motion captures their attention. You can choose from traditional video, stop motion, or text video. Motion causes people to stop, even if it’s only for a second. It’s up to you to capture their full focus with your ad. 

Share a Giveaway.

Giveaways are another great way to use your Instagram stories. People love free stuff. You could give away freebies, courses, printables, memberships, products… the possibilities are endless. You can use your Instagram photos and post them to your stories to let your followers know you have this great giveaway on your page. It links to the post to show them how they can enter your giveaway. 

“Are Instagram highlights dead?”

They say Instagram story highlights are dead. I don’t believe that. Highlights are great because you can see where you started and where you are now. They show off your brand and show that you are organized.

A great highlight to have is one where you have a video where you are talking to the camera and explaining who you are and what you do. This works well to introduce yourself. If you think about it, an Instagram page is kind of like a landing page for your brand. Using highlights can let your audience view what they are most interested in. Both these strategies also allow anyone who is new to your profile to get to know you a little better.

To create your highlight covers you can use Canva. They have templates so you can design your highlight covers easier (and they have story templates too!). Be sure your colors and fonts go well with your brand.

“Who do people want to buy from?”

Who do people want to buy from? People want to buy from those who make them feel listened to and who care about them. They want to buy from those who appreciate them and who engage with them. You can be yourself on your Instagram stories, unfiltered or barely filtered. You can be authentic. Don’t air your dirty laundry, but be real. It’s important to normalize the “imperfect” parts of our lives.

Why should we use Instagram stories?

Jess Gutman leaves us with some words of advice:

“Just do it. I know it can feel like ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ or ‘I don’t look great right now.’ It’s so important to use Instagram stories because regularly talking face to face or screen to screen with your followers helps foster a connection with them to see the real, authentic you. You don’t need to be picture perfect on your stories. We’re all humans doing human things. If you’re sitting at home with your hair up, no make-up, and wearing sweatpants, I guarantee you look like everybody else who’s watching your story right now. I say just go for it. Do a little bit of planning on the front end so you know what kind of message you want to convey. People want to get to know you and your followers want to have a connection with you. That’s how followers become clients or customers.”

*This blog post was taken from The Virtually Free Podcast with Amy Demone with special guest Jess Gutman. Listen here.*

VIRTUAL ASSISTANT BUSINESS ADVICE