A Viewer’s Journey: 7 Techniques to Create Compelling Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are versatile: you can see what celebrities do during their daily lives. Your influencer-wannabe friends might post backyard photo shoots that make you roll your eyes. Businesses use them to entice you with artistic marketing. And sometimes, you can see what your friends and family get up to when you’re not around, or learn something you never knew before.
Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms around, with over 1 billion users. Half of those people, a whopping 500 million, use the Instagram Stories feature daily. It’s even suspected that more people swipe through Stories at the top of their screens than those who scroll through their feeds.
Happy dark skinned female with pleased expression, reads online book via cell phone, checks email in social networks, connected to high speed internet, holds paper cup of coffee, poses near window
Instagram Stories’ popularity makes it an essential tool for your business. Whether you want to promote a new product or spread brand awareness, Stories provide an opportunity to connect with your audience that’s hard to find elsewhere. This raises a question: how do you engage an Instagram viewer when they have access to so much content?
Tell a Complete Narrative
An Instagram Story is not the same as your average online ad. Promoting your business is your goal, but merely posting information about your product or service isn’t engaging. Instagram Stories only last for a few seconds, so you have a fraction of that time to grab people’s attention.
To do this, tell a complete narrative. Not a feature-length story, of course, but a narrative arc that starts with a hook will keep viewers watching. Keep this question in mind: where do you want your audience to arrive at the end of their viewing journey? Maybe you want them to buy, sign up for, or share something. Your job is to get them there, so craft a narrative that:
- Sets the scene (For example, “Do you love coffee in the morning?”);
- Identifies a problem (“Don’t settle for the same brew every time”);
- Gets people excited about a potential solution (“Try coffee made from beans grown all over the world”);
- Ends with a climax and a CTA (“Coffee subscription boxes available for $35 per month, swipe up to explore”).
Keep Your Stories On-Brand
Staying on-brand requires walking a fine line. You need to produce a diverse range of content that keeps people interested, but not so different that your Stories become unpredictable. It’s wise to use or create an Instagram template that sets parameters for all your future Stories. Such parameters include your brand’s signature (and recognizable) colors, fonts, image sizes, camera angles, borders, tone of voice, and other elements.
Use Third-Party Apps
Instagram offers a broad range of native features to create exciting content, such as Stickers, gifs, and various fonts. However, these may not be enough to get people to watch your Instagram Stories.
Fortunately, third-party apps that make it easy to produce unique Stories are abundant. Later, InShot, Canva, and Mojo are just a few examples. You can incorporate multiple images in one frame, adjust video orientation, apply visually appealing graphics, and schedule Stories for later in the day.
Make Stories Discoverable with Hashtags
Using hashtags beneath posts is a given, but you might be forgetting to include hashtags in your Instagram Stories to make them more discoverable. By putting #BusinessName or something more creative, like #CoffeesFromEverywhere in your Stories, it’s easier for Instagram users to find your business profile or similar content, and it connects your brand to relevant online communities.
Create Instagram Filters
This technique requires using a separate platform, Facebook’s Spark AR Studio, but you can use it to create your own Instagram filters. You know those puppy ears people take selfies with all the time? How cool would it be if your business had a filter like that of its own? It’s a great way to show off your brand’s personality and encourages your audience to create UGC (user-generated content). The more fun or unique your filter is, the more people will use it, and the more knowledge of your brand will spread.
Interact With Your Audience via Questions & Polls
If you have a business account, Instagram already provides you details about your audience — such as which posts they engaged with the most — through Instagram Insights. However, you can glean further information by asking them directly.
When creating a Story, you have the option to include Questions, Polls, Sliders, and Quizzes. These features are excellent for encouraging audience interaction. Ask people details about themselves, like their favorite songs or their opinions. Post polls related to your products to collect feedback. Get people thinking by publishing multiple-choice quizzes. As compelling as your image and video Stories may be, incorporating interactive elements encourages your audience to engage with you on a deeper level. Respond to their engagement to establish a more reciprocal relationship than other brands enjoy.
Get People to Talk About Themselves
Similarly, one of the best things you can do to create compelling Stories is to get people to talk about themselves. Instagram viewers don’t just want to consume content — they want to share! You could experience immense growth if you provide your audience an outlet to do so.
If you need an idea, create an Instagram template that asks for personal details. Returning to our coffee subscription box example, your template could say something like, “How I like my coffee, and you can’t change my mind,” with a space to fill in the answer. Encourage people to tag the coffee lovers in their lives, so the template spreads as people delete each others’ responses and replace them with their own. It doesn’t take much work on your part, and now more people are aware of your brand.
Countless people watch Instagram Stories every day, but getting your target audience to watch your Stories consistently is another matter. Take each Instagram viewer on a journey that educates and entertains them to create compelling content and grow your brand’s social media presence.