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Social media has the power to drastically change how we market our products and services to the public. With millions of people interacting with these platforms every day, it’s no wonder that social media marketing has become such a powerful tool in today’s digital world.

When Instagram launched its Stories feature in August 2016, a whole new world of marketing possibilities opened for brands across the platform. This feature enables users to post a photo or video that disappears after 24 hours, similar to the Snapchat story feature. Stories enable effortless content creation for brands and a world of creative possibilities.

Since then, Instagram has launched several new features to make Stories even more engaging and fun to use. These features include live Stories, polls, questions, and sliding-scale voting. With over 400 million daily users for Stories on Instagram, it’s no wonder that this feature is becoming such a mainstay in the digital marketing handbook.

From colours to GIFs to stickers and text fonts and more, you can design your Stories any way you like. Still, there are some best practices that you should follow to get the most out of this exciting feature.

Here are some of the top marketing strategies for Instagram Stories available to savvy digital brands.

  1. Interact With Your FollowersInstagram Stories come with tons of features that enable you to interact with your social following. Engaging with users increases your brand’s social presence, as well as, helps you develop your brand’s personality. Both of these qualities are essential for developing an organic following on social media, which also helps boost your search engine optimization. With higher search engine rankings, you get more traffic – and more traffic means more business.

    Here are a few ways you can leverage Instagram in your marketing strategy.

    • Instagram polls enable you to ask your followers questions. You can use polls to quiz your followers on facts about your company, the products and services you provide, or other industry-related questions. You can also use polls to help gauge your follower’s opinions about current events, upcoming releases, and anything else you might think of.
    • Instagram’s live videos allow you to engage with your followers in real-time. You can go live whenever you want, and your followers will usually receive an Instagram notification telling them that you are live. In addition, your live story will be one of the first Instagram Stories that your followers see on their feed. You can broadcast a Q & A, a company event, or a product launch. However, be careful not to overuse the live story function. You should go live with a purpose. Keep other material for the Story itself!
    • You can also encourage your followers to submit questions via Instagram Stories. You can gather questions for a later Q & A, your products and services, or anything else your followers might want to know about your company.

    Hashtags can also increase your engagement with your followers. Including a company hashtag in your Story or another popular tag can increase your viewership. Hashtagging also helps spread important information about your brand.

    If you’re a local brand, geotagging can help you build your social following. Geotagging lets you digitally reach people who are within your business’s range. It’s what Target does with Cartwheel – if you’re in a few blocks’ radius of one of their stores, users will get a Cartwheel notification. When you use geotagging with Instagram, it works in a similar way. Whenever you enter a geotag, Instagram combines your Story with all the other Stories that use the same geotag. That way, local users can see all the Stories for a particular location. This can help increase your local exposure, and boost your interaction with local followers.

  2. Have a Story Takeover
    A story takeover is another way brands use Instagram Stories to increase their following and drive sales. A story takeover is a kind of collaboration between your business and an influencer. For instance, a local radio personality may take over your business’s Insta stories for a day. Such an event will likely get lots of attention because a radio personality will have their own following. They bring those followers with them when they take over your Insta and do fun and surprising things when they have it. They may video themselves in the sound booth being silly or make jokes about having a face for radio while posting images.

    When they bring excitement to your brand, it comes with the excitement of all those who engage with this personality. Like celebrity endorsements, these story takeovers begin with a partnership between your brand and a social media influencer.

    Consider the success of Sephora’s campaign in 2015, when they asked Tamanna Roashan, @dressyourface, to take over their Instagram for Contour Month. Roashan is a beauty expert with over 2.5 million followers – and she brought all those 2.5 million people with her when she took Sephora’s Insta. In return, she was able to promote her online makeup school, DressYourFaceLive.com.If you have a hosting business, consider the kind of influencer who would best reach your target audience, and look for a partnership. The Sephora campaign worked so well because its followers and Roashan’s followers would have similar interests. As a web hosting business, look for digital influences on a national scale and consider what you can bring to the table to help them if they agree to an Instagram Takeover.

    Choose an influencer based on a number of criteria, including:

    • Their social following
    • The demographics they cater to
    • Their general interest in your brand
    • The relevance of your product/service to their following

    Once you’ve gained a partnership with an influencer, you can invite them to take over your company’s Instagram Story for a day. Conversely, your brand can take over their Instagram Story for a day.

    In the days leading up to the takeover, you and the influencer will post regular reminders to build excitement. During the day of the takeover, the influencer will post updates to your company’s Story. Usually, you and the influencer will agree upon post guidelines beforehand, but the influencer should retain creative control.

    Their followers will tune into your Story and learn more about your brand while engaging with a familiar face. As a result, you gain major publicity and a celebrity endorsement – win-win!

  3. Show the Relatable Side of Your Brand
    Private Instagram users use Instagram Stories to provide updates about their daily life. Businesses should also provide relatable updates to increase their fun factor. The more relatable you are to your customers, the more likely your social following will trust you – and the more credibility you have, the more customers you’ll gain!Instagram Stories allow brands to humanize themselves. This is because, through Stories, companies can share updates in a fun and relatable way that is similar to how non-business users engage on the same platform.

    Through your Instagram Story, you can highlight aspects of your company culture, your employees, and even your daily routine. You can have an employee take over the company’s Instagram Story for a day and walk your followers through his or her daily routine, including their day at work. Whatever relatable content you decide to post, make sure it’s relevant to your company’s operations.

  4. Add Links
    If you have an Instagram following of 10,000 or more, you get the special “Swipe Up” feature. Since links can’t be shared in Instagram posts, this feature lets you give your followers quick access to your content.When you add a link to your Instagram Story, an arrow appears at the bottom of the screen telling viewers to “Swipe Up.” When they swipe up, a web browser appears with the loaded link.

    For example, if your company recently released a new line of products, you can add a link to your website on your Instagram Story. In the Story post, you can tell users to “swipe up” to see the new products.

    Other ways you can use Story links include:

    • Sharing new blog articles published on your company site
    • Highlighting your recently published e-book or white paper
    • Sharing your latest YouTube video
    • Publicizing a new Facebook post or Tweet
    • Implementing advertisements
    • Encouraging your influencer partners to include links to your company site, products, or collections on their own Stories

    This feature allows you to gain even more interactions with your company’s content. The possibilities are endless and the results are tangible. You can generate more leads, engage new followers, and market new products and services easily and effectively!r

Instagram Stories offer an innovative, creative, and easy way for companies to share content and increase customer engagement. By building your brand’s personality and sharing snippets of day-to-day company life, you’ll increase your credibility and build a humanized social presence.

Simply existing on the web is no longer enough – you must use social media to your ultimate advantage. These qualities will boost your brand into the 21st century. Search engines and AI assistants are using our companies’ social following for search engine rankings.

While social media is a crucial aspect of any marketing campaign, it doesn’t take the place of a website. No matter how good your Insta game is, you need a place to drive traffic. Local link building, a powerful tool for SM businesses with local customers, and other SEO drivers can only happen with a strong website. Use all the tools at your digital disposal and learn the tricks to making them all work together.

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Karan VoraKaran VoraKaran Vora is a passionate digital marketer, designer, avid tech blogger. He is associated with SPINX Digital. He has always been interested in digital marketing, tried lots of tools, and also done lots of research. Apart from writing, he loves gaming, photography, and traveling. Follow him on Twitter @karan_digitalView all posts by Karan Vora