Instagram Stories: Strategy Deep Dive

We all know about them, and for the most part: now love Instagram stories.

Believe it or not, they came out four years ago. And have since become a staple on the social network. They tend to function as a more casual platform than your main feed, and can even serve more impressions in their twenty-four hour lifespan than those more permanent posts.

General Considerations

Instagram stories, in my opinion, don’t always need to be as scheduled as the content on your main feed. They’re fairly freeform. Without overwhelming your audience, post stories when you see fit. But remember: consistency and frequency are still key.

A mix of scheduled and ‘off-the-cuff’ story posts will give your audience something to look forward to, while still allowing for a sense of mystery (or intrigue). Stories feel a little bit less intrusive than main feed posts. Users have more of a choice on whether or not they view the content. However, even with this sentiment, they possess the potential to provide even more impressions and engagement than your main feed content.

Styles & Strategies

Still, Video, or Something Else?

The story is an extremely versatile medium. Both still photography and video (including boomerangs, and even superzooms) perform well here. The platform also offers industry-leading interactive add-ons and elements. However, @Instagram: I think you could do even better here, to stay ahead.

You could post a story every day for a year, with no two being too similar. Perhaps even longer. And that is really the first key to any successful story strategy. A consistent, but varied presence that encourages and fosters a closer connection with your consumer.

Scheduled, or Random?

Again, in my opinion, Instagram stories don’t need to be as scheduled out as the content on your main feed. However, there should be some level of consistency that your audience can depend on. As with most things in the ad space, there is no formula applicable to every brand (if someone’s selling you one, run away).

Instagram stories provide highly detailed insights that will allow you to make a pretty good judgement of when people stop caring about your stories, and what kinds they prefer. It’s usually dependent on the quality of the content.

Finding your balance might take some time, and that’s okay. However, I can promise the balance isn’t positing fourteen stories one day; none for three days; then two in a day, followed by a week of silence.

Curated and Edited, or Raw and Unfiltered?

Of course, you can use the Instagram camera to take photos or video in app for a direct post. Or you could capture whatever, however, whenever; edit it, and then post it.

Both serve certain functions, and again; this decision depends on your brand, your audience, and your message. Typically, raw (but not necessarily unfiltered) photos and videos perform best on stories. As referenced in the intro, they already tend to have a more casual feel to them. Think about your story-viewers as friends first, then customers. Don’t ignore them as customers, but just don’t lay it on too thick here.

Play around with curated and raw story content. An intentional mix of the two is more than acceptable, and will allow you to adjust and readjust that balance over time.

Behind-the-Scenes Content

One of my favorite kinds of story is a behind-the-scenes look. Whether it is a partial sneak peak of a yet-to-be-released product, or a tour of your facilities; any kind of content that allows your consumer to look further inside your brand, is extremely powerful.

Interviews with executives, brand leaders, and employees from all levels of your organization can be an effective behind-the-scenes story strategy as well.

These help build trust, connection, understanding, and loyalty—just about any positive consumer attitude can be developed through this more intimate, casual style of content.

Serialized Stories

It’s pretty high level in itself to create content worthy of your audience’s attention, however, an even higher level execution is creating content that they look forward to; in the same way they anticipate that TV show they can’t stop watching.

This is a fairly broad strategy; it can be implemented in a variety of ways, with a variety of content. And while we’ve previously discussed that stories don’t require as strict of a schedule as your main feed social; introducing a story series can be a great way to anchor and contextualize the content you share more loosely around it.

Game-ify Your Stories

Like story series, game-like stories can be an effective way to capture more of your audience’s attention. And, they don’t even have to be that complex.

You can use the poll feature to ask a series of questions over the course of a week or so. Think about it like a “do something with us,” kind of project. Revealing the finished product at the end, perhaps with a discount code or exclusive purchase link.

It may even be voting to help create an ad; a music video; to help design your new logo, or office space; this level of interactivity allows your audience to be a part of some usually internal brand process. It’s adding to, and advancing their position as a stakeholder, increasing loyalty and community.

There is near limitless potential with Instagram Stories. The platform is consistently investing time and effort into this feature, meaning: they perform well, and they’re here to stay.

What are some story strategies that you may have found to be successful, that I may have left out of this list?

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