Testing Out Instagram Stories For Your Business

by Social Fresh on Nov 30, 2017

Guest post by Marji J. Sherman, Social Media Manager at CUNA Mutual Group

If you have not been convinced of the value of switching from Snapchat to Instagram Stories yet, maybe hearing that in just one year, Instagram Stories has surpassed its rival, Snapchat, in users and time spent on the platform will change your mind.

In fact, Instagram Stories has over 250 million users, leaving Snapchat’s 166 million users in the dust. If that doesn’t convince you, then maybe Facebook’s new integration of allow Instagram Stories to be published directly to your Facebook page will.

I was always, ALWAYS, against Snapchat, so I understand if you cannot take my word verbatim.

I completely admit my bias. I mean, why would I use an app originally created for ‘personal’ reasons to tout a conservative brand? Also, why would I put the time and energy into content that was going to only last for 24 hours when, often times, I am a one-woman show?

Then entered Instagram Stories, right when I was writing a strategy on how to take an old school brand to Millennials.

I was already scheming ways to use Instagram to reach this new target audience for the brand, so when Instagram Stories became available, I obviously had to try it out. I was blown away. Here was a Snapchat-esque medium that I could easily sell to the C-Suite because it came with the brand recognition and years of experience that comes with the powerful duo of Facebook and Instagram. It was the perfect marriage of hip, Millennial social media paired with the sophistication of one of the very first social media networks. In other words, it did not come with the skeptical, controversial background of Snapchat that sometimes causes giant hurdles when you are the table with executives.

So, I wrote Instagram Stories into my strategy and literally just went for it.

I flew to Aspen to accompany the CEO to a speaking engagement, and began Instagram Story-ing away with just my iPhone and a whiteboard. Three days later, our Instagram had many new followers, tons more engagement and we even had a few cool interactions with major influencers that were at the event.

On top of that, experimenting with a new platform also allowed me to experiment with new visuals, which performed exceptionally well and eventually inspired our brand’s new visual template.

Yea, but Instagram Stories also last only 24 hours, right? Which was my original issue with Snapchat, right?

Well, here’s how my team and I found a way to turn an Instagram Stories campaign into content that is still being used months later:

Publish Instagram Stories To Main Profile

This helped us out so much since a lot of people don’t have the time to click on every Instagram story as it updates on their feed. We found the audience at the event loved being able to get a recap of our CEO’s day at the end of each day. We also could catch more outliers by adding more hashtags to the actual post. Friendly tip: Instagram will crop your story to their standard square, so make sure to align your story in a way that each frame makes sense in the square format.

Cross-Publish Instagram Stories To Facebook

This is an awesome new feature that helps your Facebook fans have insight to your Instagram page. Cross-publishing not only draws more eyes to your story, but it also makes your fans aware of your Instagram account and can help you gain new followers. Admittedly, this handy new feature was not available when we tested out stories in Aspen, so we manually uploaded each story to Facebook as a photo album. We also made sure to ask people to tag themselves on our Facebook page if they saw themselves in a story.

Film More Than 15 Second Videos

Something I learned WHILE Instagram Story-ing, was that Instagram stories only accept 15 second videos. So, I found myself scurrying to quickly edit videos on the fly. I found that this little ‘mistake’ actually was a blessing. I was able to use the longer form videos to publish natively on Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube. The longer videos helped provide more context for networks outside of Instagram.

Involve Twitter

I actually saw great engagement by promoting our Instagram Story on Twitter. I would take a photo, or video, from the story and use it as a teaser to drive people to our Instagram page. There was an immediately uptick in story views and engagement with our tweets. The increase in people coming from Twitter to Instagram led to a spike in our Instagram followers.

Think About Evergreen Visuals

Having low resources, it was important for me to think about what photos I could take at the event that would have an ‘evergreen’ impact. Hence, the whiteboard I mentioned earlier. I developed a strategy that included asking people at the event a question, with a branded hashtag. I would then have them write down their answer to the question on a whiteboard and take a picture of them with it for our Instagram Story. This helped permanently connect individuals with the brand, as well as provided content that the brand is still using today with the branded hashtag. Some of the photos even turned into long-lasting Facebook cover photos and Twitter header photos.

I know Snapchat is trendy, although apparently losing some ground, but Instagram Stories is the way to go if you are looking to invest in more than just a 24 hour content fest. Its integration with Facebook is invaluable, along with the increasing amount of users that are flocking the platform. As Snapchat tries to navigate muddy waters as it waits to be bought out, give Instagram Stories a shot. I promise you won’t regret it.

Join me at Social Fresh 2017 in Orlando, December 8-9, to discuss what’s next for making Instagram work for your business.

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