If you haven’t already discovered Instagram Stories – a Snapchat-like feature where photos and videos disappear after 24 hours – then it’s time to get on board as it’s fast becoming the channel for social media marketing.

Unlike your main Instagram feed where no doubt you share only your best edited and curated content, Instagram Stories are only live for 24 hours; your story disappears once someone has seen it, and don’t get saved to your permanent Instagram profile. So you can relax and have a little fun with them and do some rich and still visually compelling – though slightly less polished -storytelling.

There’s no set length for a story but to better engage with your audience’s relatively short attention spans (no-one goes to Instagram for in-depth news analysis after all) the shorter your story, the better for your engagement rates.

So how can you make the most of Instagram Stories as a marketing tool? Just like your other social media channels, success lies in strategizing before posting.

Plan out your stories, test, find out the right time to post (usually, when your followers are online), and analyzed your data to create content that your audience will love. Here are a few quick and easy tips to create compelling content for Instagram Stories.

Tip #1: Find Out Who’s Watching You

If you haven’t already done so, switch your company or brand’s Instagram page to a business account. Do me a favor go to your Instagram settings and switch your account right now, here’s how. Don’t worry about me, bookmark this page and I’ll wait right here.

Welcome back! I made you set that up because the insights that an Instagram business account provides are incredibly valuable.

The stats include impressions from your feed content, your stories, and promotions. Also, more in-depth data about your followers like gender, age range, location and when your followers are online by both the days and the hours. Super useful, right?

With all this info, you can put together a clear audience profile that includes who your followers really are and what content they enjoy most.

Tip #2: Create One Story a Day

Take a cue from the 24-hour story window and create a new story every 24 hours. As you get into your stride, you can then make these stories overlap or follow on from each other. And, don’t just string together a few random images – tell a story!

Use Instagram Stories to connect with your audience at a more personal level. You can include a promo of your blog posts, behind the scenes coverage, what a day in the life in your business is like, teach your audience something new or even share what you like to do in your free time.

Plan your stories, use the insights to create and share stories your audience wants to see, but don’t forget to have fun with this feature. Be authentic, raw and super creative. That’s the whole reason why this feature was created.

Tip #3: Overlay Your Own Branding

Use an app like Canva to write text using your own branded font on your images. Creating branded content gives your story a personal touch and makes your images more recognizable.

Tip #4: Use Location and Hashtag Stories on Explore

Take advantage of Instagram’s new feature that allows you to add a location sticker or hashtag to your story. Using this feature might get you included in the Explore section of Instagram which means that your story has the potential to be seen by not only your followers but the Instagram community all around the world (or as they called it the larger story).

Location and Hashtag Stories on Explore

Photo Credit: Instagram

Why’s that? Explore is Instagram’s search tool. This is where you see top posts, and can search for people, tags, and places. Now, at the top of the Explore section and if you add a location sticker or hashtag to your story, users will see your story when they are searching for what’s happening around them and want to find stories related to their interests.

To see if your story was added, you’ll see a line at the top of your stories viewer list showing how many people saw it in the larger story. If you don’t want your story to appear on Explore, tap the X on your stories viewer list.

Tip #5: Promote Your Products

Use a series of images of a single product taken from different angles then overlay with descriptive text, filters, stickers, and CTAs (call-to-action). Simple to do yet extremely effective in driving sales. Add a location sticker or hashtag to your story to be found by more people as I mentioned on tip #4.

Tip #6: Take Advantage of the DM Feature

Instagram Stories allows your audience to message you directly. Not only will this give you instant feedback but also priceless insights into how to engage your audience in the future.

Tip #7: Post Stories on Your Feed

Save a still image from your story and post it on your regular Instagram feed. Doing this lets people know there’s a new story waiting for them to discover.

If Snapchat has proved anything, then it’s that there’s an appetite for sharing raw, real live moments. But if you’re still not sure if Instagram Stories is right for your business, just start small. Try it out, have fun with the tool, and analyze the results. With time you’ll learn what your audience wants to see from you and get a steady viewership.

Are you planning on using Instagram Stories for your business? Let us know in the comments!