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Instagram Stories: How brands can utilize Stories for business

If you missed our Facebook Live on how to use Instagram Stories yesterday, check out the recording now!

An amazing new feature has been rolled out to Instagram users – and this one’s a game changer!

The unspoken rule of Instagram is to only post stunning, carefully selected photos to your account. A ‘rushed’ photo is unlikely to match up to the quality expected by users of the platform – which can mean days without posting when you’re not snapping pictures in Paradise with your supercar and your designer clothes and cocktails (I’m exaggerating, but it’s not far from the truth).

Enter the feature which will completely change the way we will use Instagram. Stories are here!

What are Stories?

Stories were introduced by Instagram to enable users to post temporary photos of their everyday life, ridding them of the need for hours of fiddling around trying to get the right angle, the right lighting, not to mention editing, scheduling for just the right time and day… The list goes on!

With Stories, users can capture any instant in their day and put it in a Story. The photo or video they post will be visible to their followers for 24 hours before disappearing. The interesting part is that these Stories do not need to match the quality and feel of the feed, as they are displayed separately, behind avatar circles at the top of the home screen in the app, as well as behind the avatar on the profile page.

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How can you make a Story?

Create a Story by clicking on the ‘+’ icon at the top left of the screen while on the home page. From there, Instagram will ask you to take a photo or video, or select one from your most recent media from your photo gallery. You can then begin editing the image or video by drawing or writing with the pen tool, and adding text and emojis. Once you’re happy, you can add it to your Story by clicking the ‘tick’ at the bottom of the screen. And there you have it! Your Story has been posted and will be visible for 24 hours. It can be watched as many times as your followers like, at the top of the home screen or by clicking the circle avatar on your profile page.

How is the Stories feature similar to Snapchat?

If you already use Snapchat, you’ll have noticed the similarities between the app and this new feature on Instagram. Not familiar with Snapchat? This is what the Snapchat interface looks like:

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With Snapchat, you take photos or videos in-app and upload them to a story which is visible by your followers for 24 hours. Like with Stories, there are editing tools (pen tool, text tool, filters), but unlike Instagram’s new feature, Snapchat allow you to select the length of time a photo will be visible for (from 1 to 10 seconds) although video time is the same for both platforms (10 seconds maximum). Snapchat also offers stickers and different geofilters (depending on the location the photo/video was taken in) which are not available on Stories at this time.

The order: Stories on Instagram appear in an order which has not yet been specified by Instagram: all we know is that the order is not chronological from left to right. It appears that accounts that follow you back are privileged in the order of appearance. We’d be interested to find out more about the algorithm used here!

Where can we watch Stories? Stories are not visible on desktop: only on the mobile app.

That being said, Instagram users are absolutely loving this new feature, despite being aware of the fact that it’s (more or less) a copy of Snapchat.

We did a quick survey on Instagram, to gauge users’ thoughts. Here are the results we collected:

  1. When asked if they use Snapchat, 40% said YES, 60% said NO
  2. When asked if they planned on using Stories on Instagram, 51% said YES, 49% said NO
  3. When asked whether the arrival of Stories would alter the way they use Instagram, 52% said YES, 48% said NO

Brands that are already using the feature

Some of the brands who jumped right on as soon as Stories became available to express their appreciation to Instagram for the new feature are:

@netaporter
@mtv
@nasa
@generalelectric
@lorealmakeup
@techcrunch
@urbanoutfitters
@asos

Most brands who took to Stories yesterday were simply trying the feature out, and the majority haven’t posted again since. It’s now up to businesses to decide on their strategy for this completely new functionality on Instagram.

Brands’ reaction to Stories

A good number of the brands we follow immediately began using Stories more or less as they would Snapchat, but this time on Instagram.

These are a few examples of the kinds of things brands can accomplish with Stories:

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@elleuk promoted their September edition of the magazine in a video and @maccosmetics showed off some of their products, and even did a 4 step make-up tutorial in a series of Story videos.

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@blueprint also showed off their product in a natural, non-pushy kind of way, @mercedesbenz were obviously off on an adventure and posted tons of photos and videos of their trip in a Story and @draperjames showed the boss starting off her day with a cup of coffee for the benefit of their fans.

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@mclaren hosted a Summer Chat in a succession of Story videos, @forever21 posted a sneaky CTA telling customers to check out their Snapchat as did @amazon with Periscope.

How you can utilize Stories for business

As shown above, Stories can have an infinite number of uses and are an easy way to send your followers cross-platform depending on where you want them at that particular moment.

You should not be afraid to use Stories for:

  • Showing off your products
  • Showing behind the scenes views of inside your company’s walls (great for brands looking to share moments of their “team life” in a work environment, developing relationships with their customers and fans on Instagram)
  • Takeovers (à la Snapchat – a great way of getting in lots of different faces and points of view)
  • Special events (today we’re doing a photo shoot, etc.)

Our thoughts!

Here are a couple of thoughts we had about this new feature. Within our team, very few of us actually use Snapchat, so the fact that the same kind of thing is now available on Instagram has us split down the middle. on one side, non-Snapchatters are happy to be able to benefit from this feature within their favourite social platform, and on the other, some just aren’t interested in the temporary nature of photography. Everyone’s different I guess!

For those who don’t use Snapchat yet who are prepared to embrace Instagram Stories, I asked them why. These are the answers:

  • I do not enjoy Snapchat’s user interface, but I love Instagram’s design and usability. Therefore I will happily use Stories within the Instagram app!
  • I use Snapchat occasionally. I won’t be posting Stories, but it’s great that I can view the backstage snaps of my favourite brands without ever having to leave Instagram – a time saver.
  • I don’t use Snapchat because I do not get on well with the interface, however I love that Instagram have included Stories in the app. This won’t necessarily mean the end of Snapchat, as I’m not sure Stories will be used in the same way as Snaps. I think Stories on Instagram will push people to be more creative than on Snapchat… Time will tell!

 

Thank you for reading! We hope this article gave you some ideas about ways in which you can use Stories for the good of your business! Let us know in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Instagram Stories: How brands can utilize Stories for business

  1. Pingback: Updates to Instagram Stories | Blog Iconosquare

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