Using Instagram Stories can help grow your business from engagements to sales. Use these four strategies from expert marketer, Jen Conger.
These are the three frustrations I hear from business owners using Instagram to promote their products or services:
- It’s not actually driving any sales
- There’s an overall lack of engagement
- It’s a struggle to build a loyal following
At the end of the day, they want to create meaningful relationships and build a community of followers that are as passionate about their product or service as they are.
If you have these same goals and are facing the same frustrations, I have good news for you. All of that is possible for your business, with the right plan in place. I’m sharing four strategies for using Instagram Stories to attract your ideal customer, position your brand as an authority, and start to have real conversations with people that lead to sales.
Why Instagram Stories?
300 million people are logging in to Instagram every day and consuming Stories. They’re spending a lot of time there too – at least 10 minutes every day. More and more people are skipping the scroll and going straight to watching Stories.
Why is that? Well, the mere seconds worth of content and the 24-hour expiration make interacting with the content quick and habit forming. People also want to see the raw, unedited moments of a brand’s life and journey. Since the introduction of video there’s been no better medium for humanizing a brand and making that one-to-one connection.
Another great bonus to adding Stories to your content mix is it helps you beat the algorithm. Instagram wants you to use all of their features, and it rewards those who do. When someone views and interacts with your Story content, the algorithm responds by showing more of your Stories to that person, along with your feed posts. Win win!
How to Be Effective with Instagram Stories
There is a framework for creating Instagram Stories that attract an audience and leads them down a path to purchase. The four main parts of this framework are:
Let’s dive in to each piece separately, so you can craft your plan for creating engaging Instagram Stories that lead to sales.
I’m going to take you back to seventh grade English class where your teacher taught you the elements of a good story. We know all great stories must have a beginning, middle, and an end. Your Instagram Stories need to follow this same flow to hook your viewer and get them interested. Think of your Instagram Stories as an opportunity to hold your ideal customer by the hand and take them on a journey of what it is like to know you and your business.
The first part of your Story needs to set the stage by introducing the characters, talking about a problem or dilemma, or demonstrating excitement over something that is happening. The follow up Stories should show the path to a solution, or learnings along the way of solving a problem, or the unfolding of the thing there was excitement around. Lastly, your Stories need to show the final outcome and close out the story.
Instagram Stories are such a unique social tool because you don’t just tell your followers about your business, you get to show them. The more you begin to share personal aspects of the business, the more your customer can relate to you. They learn to trust you when they see you solving problems they have from beginning, middle to end.
These are the techniques to expose your content to people who don’t already follow you. By adding tags, hashtags, and geotags to your Instagram Stories, you expand your reach and opportunities to grow your followers.
Here’s how they work:
Tag – @mention another Instagram account. That account receives a direct message and they can then share your Story to their Stories, giving you exposure to their followers.
Hashtags – add hashtags to show up in the Search & Explore tab depending on your Stories engagement
Geotag – tag a location to potentially show up in the neighborhood, city, state, and possibly country of that location in Search & Explore
Use these intentionally and thoughtfully to gain exposure to potential new followers. Get creative with these tags to be more personable, stay on top of trends that your audience cares about, and show off your brand personality.
This next strategy focuses on inviting your followers to interact with your Instagram Stories. One of the best ways to do this is by using the audience feedback stickers. By asking your audience to answer a poll or question, you get feedback that helps you get to know them better and you also see engagement increase (which helps you beat that pesky algorithm).
The types of questioning stickers available are:
Poll – lets you ask a question as a two-answered poll
Question – allows you to ask an open-ended question
Emoji Slider – this measures a response to a particular topic
Most people can’t help but to participate in these interactive, voting stickers. The answers they provide become the foundation of your content because your audience can tell you what their interests are and where you’re needed most. By asking them about what they struggle with, and what they want to be/do/have, you can begin to hone in on the right messaging to nurture them along the sales journey.
This is where the magic happens! Your end goal for using Instagram Stories needs to be having conversations in your direct message box. This is where you create relationships that lead to sales because you start to have real, one-to-one conversations.
Instagram is not a traffic driving platform. There are other places better suited for that. Instead, Instagram is a place to develop authentic relationships with potential customers and collaborators.
Stories are the best way to do that on Instagram because 1 out of 5 Stories receive a direct message. There are ways to encourage people to send you a message. Here’s some tips:
Ask people to send you a message as your Story call-to-action
Send messages to people who watched your Story to get feedback on that content
Watch other accounts’ Stories and send them messages
This is what social is all about – connection. Your customer wants to be seen and heard. Make it your mission to see them and hear them, and then show them how much you understand them through your Instagram Stories.
Ready to create engage-worthy Instagram Stories? Get an easy jumpstart with my 10 free Story Templates.
Jen Conger is an online marketing strategist and business coach for companies ready to create an online following, position themselves as experts, and make an impact. When she isn’t busy helping clients craft and implement results-driven marketing plans, you can find her drinking wine with her husband while chasing her two young boys.