How to make Instagram stories work for your brand

Instagram has been one of the platforms that have completely transformed the way brands interact with their audience. Over the past couple of years, they have released several updates that make it more fun to use. One of the most relevant changes has been Instagram stories.

Truth be told, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Instagram these past few months and I’m pretty sure a lot of bloggers and small business owners out there feel the same way. With all the changes they’ve had, such as the timeline algorithm, they have changed the way you can interact with your followers. In some way, it makes it harder to connect and reach new followers.

I have to admit that I did feel frustrated about this for a long time. But it’s always best to take action and work with what you have.

My friend Sarah from Creative and Coffee shared this amazing post by The Identité Collective where they shared a very interesting case study. They implemented different strategies to find out what works and what doesn’t. Amongst these was to use Instagram stories more since they can have a higher engagement rate.

When I was reading this I had a classic ‘Aha!’ moment. I was completely missing out on Instagram stories. Why? Because it can be tricky to know exactly what to post there, especially if you are used to planning your content ahead of time and don’t feel as comfortable with live video or more spontaneous photos.

Here on the blog we talk a lot about how important it is to create a cohesive branding, how using design to stand out is key and planning your social media schedule ahead of time can bring more attention to your brand. This is why it’s not a surprise that a lot of bloggers and business owners don’t know where to start with Instagram stories either.

So, last week I decided to conduct a study myself by posting a few times a day on Instagram stories. A focused on sharing a combination of quotes, latest work, blog posts and freebies. Want to guess what happened? It worked! I saw an increase in the clicks to profile, clicks to my website and a higher number of likes on regular posts. I even received a new client inquiry from a lovely blogger who found me via Instagram stories.

While Instagram might soon change how things work, for now, we know that stories are gaining more exposure and that taking advantage of them is a crucial step to grow your brand.

Now comes the exciting part. How do you get started? Let’s go through some of the ways you can make Instagram stories work for your brand.

Share your recent blog posts

One of the best ways to bring traffic from Instagram to your blog is to share your recent posts. Using stories to do this is ideal, since this way you don’t have to change your grid, especially if you only want to share photos instead of blog post graphics.

If you already have a blog post template for your website, you can easily copy the same style for the Instagram stories size of 1080×1920. You can use Canva, Photoshop or Illustrator to do this.

Share the behind the scenes…But stay on brand

Behind the scenes posts are huge right now. Brands are constantly using them to share upcoming products, content, and events.

If you are a business owner or blogger you can also follow this example. You can share how you create blog posts, sneak peeks of your work, new products, your desk area and so on.

To stay on brand, make sure that what you share has something to do with your niche. For example, if you are a food blogger, it wouldn’t be ideal to share your outfit of the day. Sharing your recipes on your stories would be perfect to attract your ideal audience. While you can mix it up, keep the focus on your brand-related content.

The best part is that since Instagram stories are live for only one day, you can still keep your feed looking as you like, without having to worry about changing it.

Use your branding elements

Even though the idea behind Instagram stories is to share spontaneous content, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use your branding elements on it as well.

You can create templates by using your brand colors, icons, and even typography. This will help you maintain a cohesive style and look professional.

Include a call to action

One of the most talked about features from Instagram stories is the ‘Swipe up’ feature, which allows you to add a link to your post so that whoever sees it can just swipe up to follow it.

Unfortunately, this is only available for users with 10K followers or more, at least for now. But you can still add a call to action by typing your link in your post.

You can even insert your username so that they can easily click on it and follow the link in your bio.

Use Instagram highlights

Lastly, using Instagram highlights is a must these days. This is a fairly recent feature that allows you to save your favorite stories and categorize them so that they are available from your profile.

This is huge because now people who visit your profile can learn more about what you do. You can also highlight the content you want them to see first. This way all those lovely photos or graphics don’t go to waste.

This works by uploading a story and clicking on the ‘highlight’ button located in the lower right corner.

You can even create beautiful covers with your brand elements to arrange your stories in different categories. Here’s how you can do this:

– Upload your cover as a regular story
– Click on Highlight > Create Highlight
– Choose a name for it
– Go back and click on Edit Highlight > Edit Cover
– Zoom in or out your cover so it looks good inside the circle

Easy, right? You can several categories here such as blog posts, freebies, recent work, and more.

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