If you already use Instagram, you’ve probably seen that new line of circled photos across the top of your feed. These mysterious images are Instagram Stories and they are the hottest thing in social media right now.
Instagram Stories are 10 second videos or slideshows that disappear after 24 hours – yes, just like Snapchat but with one huge difference. With Snapchat, a person has to be following you in order to see your posts, but with Instagram, anyone can find your posts while browsing. That’s why Instagram Stories are a better marketing tool than a post on Snapchat.
Before you run off and start filming, there are a few things you should know:
Instagram Stories: The Pros
Instagram recently switched to a non-chronological feed, which made it harder for business accounts to be seen on a regular basis. Instagram Stories show up right at the top of the feeds, so your followers are more likely to see your updates.
Go With the Flow
Because Instagram Stories disappear, you can post away without worrying about messing up your Instagram flow. For example, if you normally post only carefully composed birds-eye shots of your handmade goods; a photo of the pizza you had for lunch isn’t going to cut it. Now, you can post that pizza pic, along with other photos from your day at the beach as a side note. 24 hours later – poof! They’re gone.
Who Goes There
The small number at the bottom of your Story is the number of views. Swipe up and you’ll get a full list of everyone who viewed the piece. Use this list to find new people to follow and to gauge the popularity of one story over another.
And There’s More!
When you create an Instagram Story, you can add text, emojis and filters to your finished piece. Use these sparingly and in a way that enhances your brand. You can also hide stories from certain people – handy if you don’t want your boss to know that you spent the day at the beach.
Instagram Stories: The Cons
Timing is Everything
Instagram Stories are about capturing the moment so you can only use images or clips you’ve shot within the last 24 hours. To keep this from getting complicated, think of it as a live feed like Periscope. It’s not that you can’t get mileage out of images you shot earlier in the day, but you’ll stress less if work with “here and now”.
The Stories Disappear
If you’re in this for marketing purposes, the fact that your stories disappear overnight is defiantly a con. You can save individual images to your feed, but that really defeats the purpose. To get around this con, don’t spend too much time putting together a Story. This isn’t a YouTube video. Get in, get out and don’t fret about the quality of the end product. Because of the transient nature of these beasts, it’s the perfect time to experiment and show off your personality. The goal here isn’t to convert a viewer into a buyer. The purpose is to convert a viewer into a follower.
If you already have an Instagram audience, jump on this trend right now. Use Instagram Stories to show off new products, deliver “secret” coupon codes or messages, and connect with potential customers on a personal level. Instagram has over 500 million active users, so showing up front and center has the potential to turn your little business account into a marketing powerhouse.
Ready to give it a try? Check out this step-by-step primer from TechCrunch