Two years ago, the social media giant Instagram undertook a bold move—it took the best product from Snapchat, its direct competitor, and added its own a twist to create Instagram Stories.
The idea behind Instagram Stories was to enable users to share “the less-glamorous” moments of their lives, with the posts disappearing after 24 hours. Stories can be shot and decorated right in the app, offering a pressure-free alternative to the otherwise “perfect” Instagram feed. Instagram Stories turned out to be the best product Instagram—and Facebook in general—has offered.
Considering these Instagram Stories stats, it’s clear that this feature offers a fantastic opportunity for businesses to reach a broader audience and promote their brand, taking engagement to a whole new level.
In fact, according to Instagram, one in three of the most viewed Stories are from businesses. So not using Stories could mean you’ll get left behind the competition.
Savvy marketers and entrepreneurs have embraced this feature, clearing the path for increased engagement and brand awareness. The storytelling has reached a new dimension with the added creative touches via stickers, music, or polls, making them an exclusive feed for the most dedicated followers.
Let’s take a look at some of the fantastic benefits Instagram Stories offers.
Can only your followers see your Instagram Stories? Luckily, no. Stories are “discoverable,” meaning that even people who don’t follow your business account will be able to discover your Stories—an excellent opportunity to attract new fans!
Stories are marked with a purple circle around your profile photo, letting your followers know that there’s must-see content exclusive to those who are in the know. With this recent feature, you can also save the Stories to your homepage in the form of “Highlights” under your bio, letting your fans know what they might have missed out on.
If you’re using Instagram Stories for business, you can share special offers or flash sales designed explicitly for your followers, helping you drive direct business. Even greater news? You can track your analytics to see what worked best and create even more successful promotions in the future.
By giving people something to relate to, you add a personalized approach to engagement. You can let them peek into your workday, the atmosphere at the office, or the preparation of their favorite products. This will humanize your brand—showing fans that you’re not a robot while giving them the sense they’re part of something bigger.
Undoubtedly, Instagram Stories has transformed the way brands share content and do marketing campaigns. Once considered a Snapchat replica, Instagram Stories has offered incredible potential for businesses looking to build their brand or strengthen engagement with their fan base.
Starting to use Instagram Stories for your business might seem overwhelming at first, so let’s kick off with the basics.
When considering how to use Instagram Stories and leverage its full potential, you need to post content that aligns with your goals.
Posting fun and creative content is as easy as it gets thanks to the innovative features the platform offers.
Polls enable you to write a question and customize two answers between which your followers can choose from. This is an incredibly engaging tool that can be used to gather audiences’ preferences on different topics. Involving your followers in your business planning and the choices you make will leave them feeling more inclined to interact, bringing them closer to your brand.
The question sticker is one of the latest features introduced to IG Stories. It’s another interactive way to engage with your audience when using Instagram Stories for business. It offers you plenty of options, such as hosting Q&A sessions, collecting feedback, or asking for ideas or preferences. Like with the polls, followers are willing to participate, which boosts the engagement.
These are a great alternative to the traditional “how-to” educational content. Even the complicated format can be broken down into appealing and engaging short videos, enriched with beautiful visuals.
If your business account has more than 10000 followers, driving traffic to relevant landing pages from within your Instagram Stories is rather simple. You can include links within your Stories so that viewers can swipe up and be taken anywhere you want them to go—your blog or website, or even an affiliate page.
Influencers are a big thing in advertising. Having them take over your Instagram Stories to promote your products has proved to be a fantastic strategy for reaching new audiences. This is one of the most popular plans—14% of brands use it.
A promoted IG Stories campaign is a powerful tool for lead generation thanks to its CTA capabilities, as well as linking and geo-targeting features. What’s more, the ads are far more interactive compared to conventional ads—they often feel much more natural as well.
In the following section, you’ll discover how big brands have put the features Instagram Stories offers into practice to address their business goals and needs.
Mercedes-Benz UK collaborated with Facebook Creative Shop to create an innovative ad that would showcase the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet. Instagram Stories provided a seamless experience to the audience and showcased the car in an exciting way, focusing on the enjoyment of open-top driving.
DriveNow, the German-based car-sharing company, is one of the best examples of using Instagram for business. They wanted to attract new customers while also testing which channels perform best for them. They decided to throw a cross-platform strategy in the marketing mix and set up an Instagram performance campaign.
Enel, the Italian energy supplier, has used Instagram Stories to run video ads that were created with the goal of increasing brand awareness. They wanted to reach new, previously untapped audiences. The ads were designed to work with and without sound, communicating the message that customers can find flash sales and other compelling offers on Enel’s site.
AirPay used ads in Instagram Stories for the first time to efficiently tap into mobile users among the millennial demographic. To reach a broader audience and drive app installs, the mobile payment service used video ads in Instagram Stories. They used animated, full-screen, vertical videos that highlighted the user-friendly functions of the app.
The Indonesian travel company had a goal to reach a younger audience and boost app installs. They have created two mobile app ads using 15-second videos that featured bright yellow and blue hues, simple iconography, and the company’s new tagline.
Country Road’s goal was to raise hype about their limited collection of premium fashion apparel and increase their return on ad spend. According to their marketing manager, Paul Conti, the campaign on Instagram Stories helped them reshape their approach to video from mobile. The Australian retailer used ads that combined boomerangs, GIF videos, and cinemagraphs.
Tokopedia is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in Indonesia and has mastered the creation of Instagram Stories for business. They run Instagram ads, along with Facebook and Instagram News Feed ads, during a mobile app install. The e-commerce agency used a holiday-themed video of young Indonesians on vacation. Viewers were able to download the app with a simple swipe.
Founded in 2014 with the goal of making a difference on the market, the teeth whitening company used an influencer partnership with Conor McGregor and Instagram Stories to attract and engage male customers. This was a demographic they’d struggled to reach, but thanks to Instagram’s targeting tools and HiSmile’s relevant video content, the company saw a 90% increase in male customers. The 15-second videos were combined with eye-catching elements that effectively told the brand’s story. They also used a direct link to HiSmile’s site.
As a market leader in Malaysia, McDonald’s continually explores new ways to capture a greater audience. Taking into account the Instagram Stories stats and the prominence of new features, McDonald’s allocated 70% of its budget to digital platforms. Committed to exploring the possibilities Instagram offers, they leveraged the potential of Instagram Stories and created animated ads, combining storytelling and branding. The ads included colorful text overlays and animations highlighting product features.
ASOS, the world-famous, fast-growing fashion retailer, has used IG Stories to engage their customers and drive awareness in an authentic, entertaining way. The solution came in the form of an ad series that combined high production values and a fashion shoot style with mobile video.
Mastering the art of using Instagram Stories for business, CoverGirl created an ad campaign for its brand awareness marketing. The American cosmetic brand introduced a new, powerful tagline, “I Am What I Make Up,” emphasizing that beauty is inclusive and diverse. They collaborated with six brand ambassadors, among which were Katy Perry, Issa Rae, and Massy Arias, who exemplified how makeup can be used for self-expression. Furthermore, the brand ambassadors got personalized video cuts, which they posted on their Instagram accounts with a CoverGirl tag.
The toy company leveraged a Canvas format within Stories to boost awareness and sales of their new playset. The campaign used a combination of full-screen images, calls, and videos, as well as a CTA to generate engagement. The ads featured Vernie, a robotic LEGO character, who showed viewers how to make and program the same robot.
Leveraging the Instagram Stories stats, the world-renowned fashion house targeted the millennial audience with custom content to promote the Michael Kors Access smartwatches. The videos that featured model Martha Hunt varied in length to determine what worked best.
E! News has built a reputation for delivering news in a timely manner. Staying true to its goal, the company shares the latest news on Instagram Stories.
Maybelline wanted to see how well Instagram ads worked with TV while also attracting interest in their new product, Big Shot. They customized their ads for each channel. Those run on Instagram emphasized the mascara with the goal of improving the brand’s image and increasing purchase intent.
Twitter is another giant that isn’t immune to using Instagram Stories for business. They use Stories to share tweets related to trending topics. This serves as a great tactic to attract more people onto Twitter.
The leading fashion retailer, Nordstrom Rack, came up with an innovative way to create a buzz for their holiday collection. They went “behind the scenes” on their collection shoot, showing their audience how clothes look IRL. By the time the professional photos along with the collection hit stores, they’d already gotten shoppers excited.
Brunch Boys shares its love of brunch through original videos and photography posted on social media. They took advantage of the Swipe Up function, as well as the tagging feature, both of which are excellent features of Instagram Stories for business.
NASA certainly knows how to get its fans excited. They share BTS Stories, keeping a friendly yet informative tone. Followers can get a close-up view of the NASA telescope or sneak a peek into their operational center. This has provided great feedback for the company. For instance, their BTS deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope reached 400,000 likes in one day.
Buffer, the company that stands behind the powerful social media tool, is a good example of how to use Instagram Stories to connect with a community by taking them behind the scenes or discussing their latest blog posts.
Airbnb used a series of photographs as part of their Travel Tuesday series to provide their community with inspirational travel ideas. To generate better engagement, they transformed the pictures into a quiz asking viewers to identify the destination shown on the photograph using Instagram’s poll feature. Then, Airbnb used a CTA that prompted viewers to swipe up, directing them to the website. By engaging the audience through Instagram CTAs, they can measure their follower engagement as well as their impressions.
The American news and TV network MSNBC used Instagram Stories to answer questions asked by followers. For this purpose, they had an employee take over the story, conveying a better feeling of closeness between the brand and its followers.
Furthermore is yet another brand that leveraged the creativity of Instagram Stories for business in relation to their newsletter promotion. They highlighted their content categories through a series of images and CTA offers, providing them with an opportunity to build a loyal audience.
Glossier, the successful beauty brand, boosts trust between customers and the brand while adding authenticity by posting multiple Stories that highlight their newest products and give a peek into a typical workday at Glossier Headquarters.
IBM used Instagram’s geotargeting features to create unique geo-filters. This has allowed the company to serve targeted Stories and customized filters for their industry events based on the location of the follower.
When it comes to using Instagram Stories for business, Whole Foods is another brand that excels in the game. The company shares lifestyle shots of the items on sale on a weekly basis. This is an excellent way to influence in-store purchase intent.
Spy Valley Wines converted user-generated content into micro-video ads. The short, vibrant videos created through Shuttlecock’s InstantVideo technology drove brand exposure and helped this boutique company attract a broader audience.
Ever wonder, how do you run ads on Instagram Stories and consistently deliver engaging material? Look no further than MAC Cosmetics’ feed, and you’ll get the answer. They use their Instagram feed to showcase makeup inspiration and promote their newest products, thus keeping the makeup artists, influencers, and beauty bloggers on top of the latest trends. In their Instagram Stories, they use branded hashtags such as #MACGirls and #MACArtistChallenge to increase their follower network and generate organic engagement.
Brit + Co uses playful and informative Instagram Stories to keep the audience engaged. They consistently post “NEWSYS AT NOON,” which highlights the popular news from their website. The company includes a CTA that directs viewers to their website for more.
National Geographic continues its tradition of keeping audiences engaged through captivating photographs and storytelling on Instagram. Through Instagram Stories, NatGeo promotes conservation efforts and uses the Swipe Up CTA feature to take viewers to the company’s landing page, where they can pledge to reduce their plastic usage and further promote this on their social media feeds.
Reebok is a brand that has best answered the question, how do Instagram Stories work to boost engagement rates? The shoe company created FOMO (“fear of missing out”), which is an effective marketing strategy, especially when used on Instagram Stories. The line “It’s back … for a limited time” creates a sense of urgency among potential customers, and they engage because they want to keep up with the latest trends.
The lifestyle brand promoted the idea “Original Is Never Finished” using an epic video featuring celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The spot was set to a version of “My Way” by Frank Sinatra and featured unique imagery that presented the products and asked viewers what it means to be an original. The brand took advantage of a custom audience that enabled them to retarget and re-engage with the audience.
Excelling in the use of Instagram Stories for business, Aldo ran a contest that required participants to try on an Aldo style, snap a selfie in a mirror, and publish it using #CelebrateYourStyle on their Instagram feeds. Then, the company used Instagram Stories to declare the winners on a weekly basis.
The beauty titan created a dedicated hashtag, #ultabeauty, and prompted their audience to share their photos.
Sephora was among the first brands to use Instagram Stories as part of its efforts to become a digital-first brand. They offered exclusive BTS looks at their makeup tutorials. They are also known for giving deals and unique content to loyal followers.
The subscription box service for dog toys and treats has been taking advantage of humorous, engaging storytelling to entertain its audience. They posted multiple clips from a “doggie interview” between a pug and an employee.
A strong adopter of Facebook advertising, American Eagle leveraged Instagram Stories for business to connect with their audience on a whole new level. They run the #WeAllCan campaign aimed at empowering young LGBTQ Americans. For that purpose, they engaged with activists and micro-influencers who shared their testimonials, encouraging followers to shop the collection and use the above-mentioned hashtag for a chance to have their image featured on the brand’s account.
Influencer marketing isn’t a new practice for Old Navy. They usually partner up with bloggers to promote their lines. For example, for Black Friday the company struck a deal with New York Yankee retiree Alex Rodriguez to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of America.
Gap wanted to attract attention to its Logo Remix program, an apparel collection for men and women. For that purpose, they created a fun marketing campaign and tested the carousel ad format on Stories. The video used upfront branding and simple messaging. Each of the carousel cards contained a Swipe Up CTA linked to the Gap website.
Since we know infographics are the best way to deliver a message, check out the one we’ve prepared for you below!
Instagram Stories for business offers amazing opportunities. Apart from its creative side, Stories provides great targeting features that help you drive traffic and conversions and increase brand awareness.
These are just some examples of how to leverage the fantastic features of the most popular social media platform to grow your business. How do you implement Stories in your marketing strategy? Are you excited about the evolution of Instagram Stories’ features?