500 million people use Instagram stories every single day. It's a ripe opportunity for your business. And although a third of stories watched come from businesses, not many are truly leveraging them properly. If you want to play the powerful long-term game leading to not just selling but also brand advocacy and loyalty - you'll want to stick around.
1. How to Design Better Instagram Stories
You know that super cool-looking story you saw with the graphics and effects the creator said took them a 2 to 3 app combo to make? Yeah, forget that. The first rule of making Instagram stories like a pro is to ditch unsustainable and over-complicated processes that don't contribute to the impact of a story.
What good is a beautiful-looking story if it doesn't inspire action?
There's a reason why sponsored stories (ads) disguise themselves as looking like a regular story - they feel natural and convert better. Over-edited prettified Instagram stories make people feel they are being marketed. Nobody likes to feel they are being shoved an idea down their throats. Content is an experience. Keep your story designs simple and just use the in-app tools.
Quick Tips to Design Better Instagram Stories
- Use your brand colors (see TikTok tutorial below)
- Add text over your video for people with sound off
- Avoid placing text too close to the top or bottom so it doesn't get awkwardly hidden by Instagram's user-interface
2. Smile and Show Your Face on Stories
You need to show up on camera to create a much more human & personal connection with the viewers. No excuses, we’ve heard them all. Yes, you’re gonna suck at first but you will get better fast the more you do it. It doesn't matter if you're a solopreneur or a global corporation - you need put a face or faces to the brand for social connection.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to start off from day 1 looking and sounding like a pro. Because of this, most brands allow insecurity and fear of failure to "play it safe" and not even try. Big mistake and the reason why their content won't perform.
In order to be the best you can be and the best out there overall you need to adopt an experimental mindset that embraces educational moments of "failure" just as much as you embrace the wins.
3. Learn and Practice Better Storytelling
Great Instagram stories grab and retain attention in the first 3 seconds. Waste those first couple seconds and you lose. The biggest mistake most brands make is starting a story saying things like:
- "Hey guys, soooo I just wanted to pop in and say really quickly that...."
- "So you guys know I hate to talk about sales and stuff but I'm running this sale and..."
Don't apologize for selling or pitching an idea. There will always be people who exit a story. But your true target audience will stick around as long as you provided a good story around your great product or service. Enter with purpose and knowledge about your audience's pain points and you'll enter with greater confidence.
My Top 3 Books for Storytelling and Content Writing
- "Building a StoryBrand" by Donald Miller
- "This Book Will Teach You How to Write Better" by Neville Medhora
- "Everybody Writes" by Ann Handley
My personal preference for structuring my stories goes like this...
- Immediately lead with a question or a statement speaking to my audience's pain points. This helps them decide if they want to keep watching
- If there's a quiz or question sticker in there, I let them know it's coming up so their brain can process what they want to say while they watch. More on this in the next section under pattern interruption.
- Go into the meat of the story. Use similes and metaphors that can help tie in your subject matter with experiences that are relatable for your viewers.
- Sum it up. This is also where you can place your question, quiz, countdown, or poll stickers if you used one.
4. Pattern Interruption and Engagement Checkpoints for Instagram Stories
Want to avoid people being bored and spark conversation? Break up the monotonous feel to your story. This can be classified as a pattern interrupt. In video marketing, it's when you don't do what people expect will happen next. This causes your viewer's brains to go back to paying attention mode.
For example, if you're teaching something, rather than talk for 2 minutes straight you could throw in some poll, quiz, or question stickers. This then creates an opportunity for you to follow up and start a conversation with participants based on whatever they answered.
5. How to Use Polls & Questions for Instagram Stories
Remember, content is an experience. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to engage with you. Always reduce anything you say or request to as few and simple terms or steps as possible.
When it comes to using questions for Instagram stories, let people know a few stories before it's coming up. This prepares them mentally to think of their question and pay closer attention. It also makes it easier to engage because they will only have to do the following:
- Think as they are watching what they'll say
- Stop on the quiz or question sticker to prepared to respond
- Watch stories
- Get the sudden request on the story to read a question or do a quiz
- Think, become frustrated because it's too much to do in one go, and exit
As for how to use Instagram polls, this one doesn't usually need teasing. This is due to the more black and white nature of the sticker. Whereas, on quizzes and questions, people have to process a much more complex train of thought to consider multiple options.
6. Host Story or Instagram Live Events
Not a big page yet but want to be? You need a reason to give people to come back. Creating events for your stories trains your audience on what they can expect from you and when. A word of caution, don’t promise things you aren’t sure you can actually stay on schedule to deliver as inconsistency can and will break trust.
Ideas for Story Events
- Host a tutorial on a set day every week and use the countdown timer sticker so people can set an alert notification
- Go live every week with a guest and benefit from each other's added reach
- Invite a guest to take over your stories. and share something interesting with your audience. They send you pre-recorded story content, tell their audience to come check you out, and both of you benefit from the reach.
I know this might be a lot to take in for some of you. Remember, take it easy but don’t hold back from starting to show up. What truly matters is you give it your best shot and go for it now. With time you’ll improve and get a better feel for what your company’s own personal style of story delivery is.