A Quick Guide to Crafting the Perfect Instagram Story

 

If your brand uses Instagram without making the most of its Stories feature, then you’re leaving money on the table. 

Because with a little effort, you could be using Instagram stories to increase sales, get more customers, and even validate new product ideas… while growing your audience and generating buzz about your business at the same time. 

We’re not judging you, by the way. 

As a business owner, your time is valuable. New social platforms and shiny marketing tactics crop up every day — who can even keep up anymore? 

And at first glance, it’s easy to dismiss Instagram stories as just another social media marketing time sink with no clear ROI… 

But they aren’t! And we’re going to prove it with this week’s article.

We’ll show you why Instagram stories are an amazing marketing tool and how exactly you can make the most of them. 

You will learn:

  • Why Instagram stories should be your not-so-secret social media marketing weapon
  • How to structure your Instagram story to hook people in and get them to take action
  • 7 easy-breezy, surprisingly effective marketing strategies that use Instagram stories

And more.

Now, let’s start with the big question: why should you use Instagram stories at all?

crafting the perfect Instagram story

5 reasons Instagram stories are an awesome marketing tool

You’re already putting a lot of time and effort into your Instagram marketing. You meticulously plan and produce every post, from top-notch photography and video editing to fun and engaging copy…

Do you really need to worry about Stories, too?

Yes — for these five reasons:

1. They engage your audience. Instagram stories are fun to consume, and the social network reports that 500+ million of their most active users watch them every day. If you want to reach the most active segment of your customer base, Stories are the way to go.

2. They’re easy and super-fast to create. You can knock out a great Instagram story in a fraction of the time it takes you to make a regular post. And the ROI will be similar, or higher, because of their huge appeal.

3. They have built-in urgency. Unlike regular posts, Stories come with an expiration date. 24 hours, and they go poof! This helps to drive further engagement and gives you the perfect playground to test content ideas and execute tiny marketing campaigns (more on that later).

4. They’re endlessly customizable. Instagram stories give you the tools to turn even the blandest video or image into something quirky, attention-grabbing, and compelling. You can draw, place stickers, add a huge number of filters, and otherwise let your creativity run wild. It’s the perfect way to make your content stand out more.

5. They have tons of marketing uses. Stories are much more versatile than regular posts. You can use them for everything from driving traffic to gathering feedback, to educating your audience, and much more.

We’ll talk about #5 in much more detail later in the article. But for now, let’s examine what makes a high-converting Instagram story…

5 steps to crafting irresistible Instagram stories

In this part, we won’t be telling you what to do or which buttons to push to publish your Instagram story. You can easily learn this on your own just by poking around the app (or just reading this tutorial).

Instead, we’ll talk about the exact steps you need to follow to make sure that your stories are memorable, engaging, and compelling enough to get your viewers to take action. They go like this:

Step 1. Create a high-level content plan

Stories are just like any other form of content — and if you make content plans for your blog articles or social media posts, you need one for Instagram stories, too!

Think about how many Stories you want to publish per week or per day, and what they’re going to be about. It helps to reserve specific days of the week for certain Story formats — for example, every Friday you’ll do a Q&A, you’ll publish fun, light-hearted entertainment on Mondays, and Wednesdays will be for sales and other promotions.

And yes, you should think about your Insta stories not in terms of specific topics but more along the lines of formats, or certain actions you want viewers to take. For instance, if you want to do a Q&A, then you need people to send their questions in the form of comments. If it’s a sales promotion, then your goal is to get them to click on a specific link. And so on.

Once you’re clear on the format and the outcome you want, you can think about what specifically to share on any given day.

Step 2. Think about the two levels of structure

Instagram stories consist of smaller clips. Videos are played for 15 seconds, and photos are displayed for 7. So the structure of any Story has two levels: the “macro” story arc that happens within 24 hours and the “micro” building blocks that make up that arc.

So on any given day, your Story could contain one video or picture — or ten!

You can use this structure for all sorts of things, from delivering real-time feedback and reactions to your audience, to stoking their curiosity, to building suspense about new product announcements, and more.

Step 3. When creating Stories, convey ONE message

With this kind of strict time limit (15 seconds per video and 7 seconds per photo respectively), you should limit yourself to expressing one message per each micro-story. Share a funny thing, post a screengrab of raving customer feedback, ask one question, and so on…

But even on a macro level, you don’t want to bombard your customers with multiple messages demanding their attention. Remember: many of them will be watching your Story in one sitting, so it’s just going to be a sequence of really short clips all telling them different things — in other words, super-annoying!

Make sure that your sequence of smaller Stories has a unifying message, and each builds on the next.

So for instance, you can post a playful message in the morning telling your viewers that something awesome is coming at 12 pm sharp. Then at noon, you can upload a video showing off your newest product, and point them to your online store. And finally, in the evening you can share pics of your team celebrating the new launch. This is just an example, but you get the idea.

Step 4. Make your stories more discoverable

Stories aren’t just for your regular followers — they can get discovered by millions of other people. To make sure it happens, add geotags that attract local customers and tag other accounts whose users might be interested in your Story.

Step 5. Don’t forget the call to action

You can use calls to actions for two things: driving engagement or driving conversions. So, for example, you can add a branded hashtag to your Story and get people to explore more of your content that way. You can direct them to a link in your Instagram bio, ask them to post a comment or Direct Message you or vote on a poll.

You don’t want to use calls to action in every single short clip inside your Story — save them for the most important parts (beginning, middle, and end). You also don’t want to present more than one call to action at any given time.

So:

Now that you know all the steps to craft a great Instagram story, how should you use your newfound knowledge? What specific Instagram marketing strategies will give you the highest ROI?

Well, here are 7 easy ones you can implement right away…

Steal these 7 ideas for engaging Instagram story marketing

You can use Instagram stories to:

  1. Humanize your brand with behind-the-scenes videos of your headquarters, employee shenanigans, office celebrations, and more.
  2. Make announcements for new products, services, features, and brand initiatives like charity fundraisers or collaborations.
  3. Generate sales by telling your followers about new promotions and discounts.
  4. Gather customer feedback, valuable market research, and useful “problem language” (amazing for copywriting) through surveys, Q&A sessions, and polls.
  5. Drive traffic to your website or your best content, which helps to nurture new leads and build your brand’s authority.
  6. Display social proof by sharing user-generated content like testimonial videos or screenshots of customers’ comments, five-star reviews of your products, or endorsements from celebrities and other brands.
  7. Test new ideas for products, designs, features, and content, thanks to Stories’ 24-hour expiration date that creates a nice low-stakes environment for exactly this type of thing.

This list is by no means complete. Basically, anything you can do with emails, marketing videos, surveys, or regular social media posts, you can also do with Instagram stories.

Just don’t forget to follow our five-step framework, and you’ll be able to generate sales, attract new followers, and boost engagement — on demand!

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