53.5% of you either ‘Never’ (31.6%) or ‘Very Rarely’ (21.9%) use the social media story feature…
…it’s time that changed.
Instagram are the most popular network for stories, with more than 500 million people considered ‘daily active Instagram story users’.
The feature is a great way for businesses to increase exposure, appear prominently at the top of the newsfeed, share insights, drive engagement, become relatable and boost reach. In other words, stories are an incredible marketing opportunity.
However, one of the barriers that many businesses face is the creation of story ideas. Instagram stories disappear after just 24 hours, which means consistently sharing new stories to remain visible.
In this article, I’m going to arm you with enough fresh story ideas, so you can inject variety and excitement into your Instagram stories, without repeating the same thing day in, day out.
Behind the Scenes
Followers typically only see a business from the outside, which is why a ‘behind the scenes’ story can be so powerful.
This story idea involves you showing the real workings of your business.
A glimpse behind the scenes makes your business feel more relatable to your followers, prospects and customers, because it shows that you’re run by real people, with real personalities, in a real work place.
A behind the scenes Instagram story takes very little creativity or thought, because it shouldn’t be staged or feel artificial to your audience. Be as real as possible, pick up the phone and record or take a snapshot behind the scenes of your business.
If you’re launching a new product, developing an existing one, about to run a competition, adding something new to your business…just about anything that’s worthy of excitement, create a teaser for the upcoming release.
A teaser shouldn’t reveal everything, instead, you should use your Instagram story to highlight one (or two) features of the update, or just a small part of your new product.
Teaser’s are amazing content for businesses on Instagram because they create intrigue, build anticipation and excitement and can be used over a series of days. For instance, you could gradually reveal more and more information over several story posts.
In a few of the other Instagram marketing articles I’ve published, you would’ve noticed how highly I rate user generated content (UGC).
If you’ve been successfully gaining mentions, tags or utilising branded hashtags, user generated content is an amazing idea for your Instagram story. After all, the content is already created, all you have to do is share it to your story.
When you publish user generated content to your story, it makes your audience feel closer to your business and provides social proof to the rest of your audience.
If you’re selling products, a great way to encourage more user generated content is to offer customers a discount for posting a photo/story with them using the product. This post can instantly be shared into your story showing others that your product is the real deal!
When you’re low on ideas, you should let others contribute their own. The best way to do this is to have a social media takeover.
The takeover works by somebody else taking control of your social media account for a set period of time (usually 24 hours) and they post their own material in this time.
These work really well for Instagram stories, because they generate lots of interest, draw new audiences (from the take-over user’s following) and increase exposure.
Takeovers can be run by staff, customers, experts in your industry, a friend of the business…anybody who can create an Instagram story that relates to your business, whilst giving a fresh insight to your audience.
Received amazing service from another business? Are you excited about product? Has one of your customers achieved something awesome? Do you know somebody who is smashing their goals?
These are all opportunities for a shout-out story post. Simply take a photo or video that highlights the success of somebody else and tag them in the post (or use a branded hashtag).
These shout-outs are often shared on the story of the tagged user, immediately increasing your content’s reach and your brand’s exposure.
If you create semi-regular shout-out posts, the love is often returned by others, who will give you a shout-out in return.
Have you ever heard of the ice-bucket challenge? This challenge went viral several years ago, with users completing the challenge before calling on others to do the same.
Challenges are an awesome way to create fun, entertaining content that engage your following. Keep your eye out on social for any challenges that are gaining popularity, and make your own version.
If possible, try to make the challenge relate to your industry and call on others to take part (particularly staff or loyal customers).
Early in 2019, Instagram released the ‘Quiz’ feature in stories.
BTW: You can find it under the ‘stickers’ option at the top of the Instagram story post page.
Quizzes create an amazing opportunity for business accounts to learn more about their audience. As a brand you can discover preferences, pain points, problems, gaps in the market…or just make a fun, engaging quiz for your audience.
The ‘Quiz’ feature allows you to ask a question with multiple choice answers for your audience. I’d recommend making several story posts in a row, with a variety of questions.
Just make sure you don’t overuse this Instagram story idea, as your audience will quickly become fatigued by having to answer questions all the time.
The Instagram story Poll has been around longer than the Quiz, and whilst the feature isn’t as fresh for your followers, it still creates engaging results and allows you to learn more about your audience.
BTW: You can also find the Poll option in the ‘sticker’s tab.
An Instagram poll presents your audience with a question and two answer options. When they choose their answer on the Instagram story, they can also see how others have voted.
The poll can be used to predict future events, get your audience’s honest opinion, ask for advice or entertain.
As a brand, the Instagram poll is a valuable story feature that you should incorporate into your posting strategy. It will encourage your audience to become accustomed to engaging with your brand and make them feel like they have had a hand in your decisions.
This story idea is particularly relevant to businesses who create their own products.
The process walks an audience through how something is put together within your brand. This could be as simple as manufacturing a product, creating a new piece of content, or revealing how a service is performed (with a before and after state).
The process is a brilliant story for those of you who see real transformations, as it explains the steps from before to after, as well as helping to promote your product’s greatest strengths and the intricacies of the ‘process’ itself.
Use the process to demonstrate your expertise and the problem solving abilities of your brand.
Lots of brands use Instagram to run competitions, but they rarely promote them in their story. Instead, they create a post and leave it to run in the newsfeed.
Whilst purely posting a competition can create high engagement, it’s unlikely that a high percentage of your audience will see it (because of how the Instagram algorithm works).
Promoting the competition in your story, or running a limited time competition purely in your Insta story, is an amazing way to keep people interested in your story and generate responses.
Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours. Marketers can use this to their advantage by creating FOMO (fear of missing out) around a competition that expires when the post expires.
The best competitions give away something of real value to your audience, that could be a product, service or discount. What can you offer that your audience would go crazy for?
The Link Promo
If you’ve got a new piece of content, offer landing page or a new product, adding a link with the ‘swipe up’ feature can be a great way to utilise your Insta story.
The link promo builds exposure and drives traffic to a desired destination, however, this feature is only available to accounts with 10,000+ followers.
If you’re short on followers, use the other Instagram story ideas in this article to build up your following.
We have used the ‘swipe up’ feature extensively and have found that videos perform a lot better than photos. They allow you to sell the link and capture the attention of your story viewers. Make sure you don’t waste the ‘swipe up’ feature with static images that are quickly exited.
Another option amongst Instagram’s stickers, is ‘Questions’.
This feature provides your audience with a blank space, where they can ask you anything. These work really well with video’s calling for your followers to ask a question about something in your industry.
When you have collected enough questions, answer them in story posts. Followers who have asked a question will be a lot more engaged and likely to watch the rest of your story. They also feel more connected and ‘special’ because they have been featured in your story and mentioned specifically.
Answering questions can help position you as an expert, build social proof and prevent followers exiting your story early.
As far as Instagram posts go, nothing is newer and fresher than a live Instagram story.
The ‘Go Live’ feature gives you the opportunity to present an extended story live to your following.
This type of story allows users to respond in real time with comments and emojis, encouraging them to engage with you and giving you the opportunity to reply in real-time.
Going live is ideal for those brands who really want to get the most out of their Instagram Story, particularly if they’re used regularly.
And the best thing is, when the live story is over, you can upload it to you story as a regular story post.
If you’re unsure about ideas for your ‘live’ Instagram story, start out with a Q & A, ‘ask me anything’ or the unveiling of a new exciting part of your business (e.g. a product).
Instagram stories are an amazing way for businesses to connect with their audience.
They always appear at the top of the feed, increasing visibility and awareness, as well as giving you the opportunity to actively engage your following.
If you are one of the 53.5% of you who either ‘Never’ or ‘Very Rarely’ use social media stories, start out with the story idea that appeals to you and see what kind of results you receive.
As you continue your social media marketing journey and post stories consistently, you will see engagement, viewing numbers and follows grow!
Don’t be shy, create a story!