Instagram is our favorite social media platform right now. It’s so simple to use, and it’s focus on photos and video helps grab people’s attention and hold it. Also, can I get an AMEN for Instagram stories? They’re the best. It’s like everybody has their own little TV show in the palm of their hand!
As you probably know by now, growing your audience is CRUCIAL to building your business online. Your Instagram followers, Facebook fans, and Email list are the lifeblood of your business. Plus, if you’re a creator or maker, connecting with an audience of people who genuinely love your creations is one of the best feelings in the world.
The Key To Successful Instagram Stories
Building an engaging community has HUGE rewards, but it takes some creativity and intentionality to start it. Maybe you feel overwhelmed about where to start, or which way to go. That’s okay, my friend. I’ve been in your shoes and am here to guide you in the right direction.
If you’re struggling to gain solid momentum, don’t fret my friend. People have limited attention. This is why Instagram stories are such a HUGE opportunity for you to engage your audience.
When you increase your audience engagement, Instagram rewards you by increasing your organic reach. This leads to even greater audience engagement, and before you know you have a thriving audience of people who are passionate about your products as much as you are!
Instagram stories are designed to be just that- stories. People have been connecting through stories for thousands of years. The key is to find ways that make your audience the hero of a story. Do this and they’ll be excited to join in!
5 Ways To Win With Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are currently the most effective way to create a more engaged audience of loyal fans. The more people see you doing interesting, relevant stuff on video, the more they grow to like and trust your brand.
Let’s explore five ways to leverage Instagram stories to create a more engaged audience (and have some fun in the process)!
● Create a longer video and cut it into Instagram story bite-size pieces
Right now the length of stories is just 15 seconds. That sounds like a pretty tough constraint. However, it’s actually a blessing in disguise.
We like think of it more as a 15-second milestone than a time limit. If someone taps on your story, Instagram skips them to your next story. So think of each story as a 15-second fast forward of a larger scene.
Get creative and tell a longer story. Record a 1 minute video with your phone’s native camera app, then use an app like CutStory. This app will take your longer video and automatically cut it into 15 second clips that you can upload as individual stories.
Your users will experience your multiple 15 second clips as a longer video. This also gets you major engagement points with Instagram, because viewers will be viewing multiple stories of yours instead of just one.
● Use polls in your Instagram story to get audience feedback
Engagement is the name of the game, folks! And now you can add polls directly into your stories.
Pose a question to your audience in your story, then attach a poll that people can interact with. You’ll get real-time results about what your audience likes, plus Instagram will see your increased engagement as a positive indicator to increase your organic reach. WIN WIN!
Here’s one I posted from October 13, 2017:
● End stories with an “open loop” that you answer in your next story
Have you ever watched a TV show, and then after an hour it just says “To Be Continued”. There you are, jaw on the floor, and (before the days of Netflix binge-watching) you had to wait an entire week to find out what happens next!
That’s what we call an “open loop” in storytelling. You literally telling enough of a story to get your audience interested, and even create some questions in their minds. Then you stop. Maybe time runs out or maybe you switch topics, promising to come back to their questions in the next story.
By creating an “open loop” in the mind of your audience, you’re compelling them to keep watching your next stories so that they get the answers their minds craze. Now don’t take advantage of this by never closing loops, or people will begin to ignore you.
However, by using “open loop” stories you’ll see engagement go up a ton!
IDEA: I haven’t tried this yet, but it sounds fun. Combine an open loop story with a poll at the end! (Think of a “choose your own adventure” scenario.) You’ll give your audience the chance to be a part of the story AND compel them to keep watching for the finish.
● Post a video to your Instagram feed enticing people to watch your latest stories
After you’ve posted some winning stories on Instagram, go back and post a video on your Instagram feed. In the feed video, ask an interesting question that you might talk about or answer in your Instagram story. Then tell your audience to watch your stories to find out the answer.
This strategy increases audience engagement and reaches a chunk of your audience that hasn’t been watching your stories yet. Unlike your stories, you can include plenty of hashtags as part of your feed posts. This attracts a fresh audience to your Instagram stories.
● Highlight select stories to show them on your Instagram bio
Typically your stories only last for 24 hours. After that they’re gone! However, you can rescue them and keep them on your bio by highlighting them.
A great way to use highlighted stories is in conjunction with the link on your bio. Use your highlighted story to call people to action telling them to tap the link in your bio. This is the closest organic opportunity Instagram gives you to directly call people to action using a link.
Above all, HAVE FUN! Instagram stories are a great way to show off your creativity and personality. Don’t overthink it.
People are looking for authenticity. Therefore, it’s better to mess up your words a little bit and keep it rolling then to do a dozen takes trying to get the “perfect” take. Believe me, what we think is perfect is often seen as fake and disconnected. Shoot a video and post it. As long as you’ve probably planned it out beforehand your story should be a winner.
Remember that you’re always telling a story. Even when you’re not telling a story, that’s still telling a story (usually that you don’t think things through). Take a minute to think through any video sequence so that your audience connects with you and feels compelled to join you on the journey.
Take Action Now
You’re well on your way to growing a fully engaged Instagram audience! Stories have some great benefits for you and your brand so get started today.
Take action now to hit a home run with Instagram stories:
- Download my free Instagram Audience Growth Cheat Sheet here.
- Use the cheat sheet to create smarter Instagram stories and posts that get people tapping those hearts.
- Review what works best for your audience. Make tweaks and do more of the good stuff!