Tips To Market Your Brand With Instagram Stories

Get ahead in ephemeral marketing

The way we use social media constantly changes, and so does the way we absorb its content. The age of curating, editing, and scheduling is not the status-quo. The new trend is ephemeral marketing.

Instagram recently launched a Stories feature. Equivalent to Snapchat, it allows you to share photos and videos in a slideshow like manner that disappears after 24 hours. One thing that sets Instagram apart from Snapchat is the user interface.

The moment you open the app, Stories are visible across the top of your newsfeed. Smart move by Instagram because with the Facebook style algorithm, even if your photo isn’t the first post a user scrolls through … your story could potentially be the first thing they see.

There are plenty of people who can take a picture, but only a select few who can tell a story. We’ve put together a list of ways to enhance your storytelling and your brand.

Behind the scenes content

Today’s audience craves authenticity. It’s the future of marketing.

Instagram’s objective is to: “lower the bar for sharing all types of photos and video — and not just the carefully planned and painstakingly touched-up photographs that are typical of the service,” said Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram.

There’s something about bloopers at the end of a movie that make you eager to stay the extra five minutes to watch. Apply that idea to marketing content. Take Chris Burkard, an accomplished travel photographer with almost 2 million followers on Instagram. He provides a step-by-step process on how he captures every breathtaking photo.

Now, your company may not have the same adventures, but you surely can make your own. Show brainstorming sessions, team lunches, or take them on a tour around the office. The best way to grab someone’s attention is to have him or her feel part of the process.

Keep in mind, even though behind the scenes content is supposed to be candid, you are still marketing.

Here’s a sneak peak into how we Story photo shoots, while still illustrating our photographic eye.

Previews & Launches

To be the first person that knows about a new product, a sale, a blog, or a new feature is a sense of power. Provide your followers with that power. Victoria Secret PINK, for example, builds a strong brand lifestyle without producing content that feel like ads (not to mention, cute models help).

Another example is Sean McCabe, a well-known hand-lettering artist. He fills his Stories with sneak peaks of training events along with reasons why his followers should sign up. It’s human nature to be curious, so use it to your advantage.

Have a new product coming out? Show different angles of it with a series of videos or photos. Holding an event? Take viewers through the event process.

Don’t be afraid to collaborate

“One of the most beneficial [collaborations], from a marketing perspective, is account takeovers,” said Gary Vaynerchuck. Let brand influencers take over for a day. This provides the audience a face-to-face conversation with your brand.

Amplify “takeovers” by switching accounts with other brands and influencers. They’re in charge of yours while you’re in charge of theirs. Not only does that expand your brand into a new audience, but also it increases awareness. We can see this done consistently by YouTube stars, so why not apply the idea to Instagram.

Collaborate with your fans and share user generated content. Understandably, not every photo will be of the best quality or match the theme of your page, but that’s the beauty of Stories.

You can still keep your flawless stream of photos and showcase your customers. Take Minaal, professional travel gear company. At the top of their profile reads: “The best of our gear, the best of your photos … Tag #minaal to get storied!”

How much is too much?

Content must serve a purpose. Instagram Stories eliminates the worry of bombarding feeds with photos and videos that don’t necessarily need to be there. Post your best photo and use Stories to give an in-depth explanation or continue the sequence.

Instagram Stories allows you to upload photos that have been saved in the past 24 hours. Sports Illustrated ran with the idea and provides a: “daily scrapbook of the photos that [they’re] capturing,” said Collin Orcutt, digital and video editor. Usually consisting of 10 to 15 of their best images from that day.

The ability to have a carefully planned profile AND the ability to show authenticity is a unique feature. Get creative. Huffington Post composed a short photo summary with captions to report recent news. This provided a more visual way for followers to grasp the information.

Take a scroll through some of your blog posts, find a couple attention grabbing key points and turn them into photo Stories. Also, post a as the last photo to drive followers to your website.

Real-time experience

Social media is based around a “live in the moment” mentality. People share what they’re doing, thinking, watching, eating and so on. Adopt this concept and create real-time events, challenges, or questionnaires.

If you have a question you want answered by your target audience, post it on your story. There is a “Send Message” on the bottom left corner that viewers can respond to. Not only do you get engagement, but also you get answers.

Take your followers on an epic challenge. That’s what LOFT, a women’s clothing brand, decided to do. The company invited two friends to duel in a fashion standoff. Each one had to find something in the LOFT store the other didn’t think she could wear.

Even if you’re not a retail company, that doesn’t mean you can’t challenge your followers. Travel + Leisure, a travel inspiration and information magazine, previews a slideshow of photos from around the world and asks their followers to guess where they are. Use this approach for an upcoming event, a new product line, a conference, or a company retreat.

In a previous blog we note how video is vital for digital marketing, strengthen your brand by applying some of these concepts to your next Story. We all know a picture is worth a thousand words … but how much are Instagram Stories worth?

If you know other ways to boost brand marketing on Instagram shoot us a tweet @UptownTreehouse.