If the first step is admitting that you have a problem, then I am a city block of steps ahead when it comes to my obsession with Instagram Stories.
Since its launch last week I have quickly become addicted, posting a story or two each day and consuming as many as I can get my hands on. Which, to be honest surprised me, considering I never joined the Snapchat bandwagon.
So if you are like me, you have probably been asking yourself, what's the difference anyway?
Don't worry, we're here to help.
Here's everything you need to know about about Instagram Stories, the newest kid on the social media block.
What exactly are Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories are snippets of photos and/or videos strung together to tell your followers a "story" of your day. They were designed as a way to share multiple images and videos temporarily without oversharing in your newsfeed (which we all know is a no-no).
Unlike traditional posts, Instagram stories will not show in your newsfeed and will only exist for 24 hours. Similar to traditional posts however, in Stories, you will find a limited set of filters as well as a new addition of text and drawing tools to add even more personalization.
How do they work?
Creating Instagram Stories is quite easy, and addicting, once you get the hang of it. Still not sure? Never fear, we'll hold your hand and walk you though it.
#1 Make sure that your Instagram is up to date, if so head on down to step #2. Not sure? Well, if the app icon doesn't look like this then you need to update your app, stat.
#2 Once you open the app you will notice that the layout has shifted slightly; with a series of profile images inside colored circles you follow along the top. These are the accounts in your network that have stories that you can view (quick click on them now...before they expire! No really...do it).
#4 Once inside the story creation you can tap the button to take a photo, or press and hold to capture a video (just like Snapchat). You can also access any photos or videos you have taken, in the last 24 hours, by swiping down.
#5 Once you have taken, or selected your content, you can add text, drawings, or filters to complete your masterpiece.
While Snapchat is a powerful platform with 150 million people, the app opens directly to the camera, which can be confusing to new users. Because of this Snapchat's Stories are also put on secondary page of the app alongside Discover Channels and after direct messages.
Instagram, which dominates with 500 million users opens directly to users' newsfeed allowing them to scroll, explore, or create stories from the comfort of their familiar home screen. Interestingly, their new stories are placed front and center, above new user "grams."
Can I use Instagram Stories for my business?
Absolutely! If you are like most businesses, you already have an existing base of Instagram followers who are consuming and enjoying your content.
Now you can take that to the next level and invite users behind the scenes and show them what goes on each day; sharing video, images, funny moments, and a glimpse into your world.
Keep in mind, you still want to be strategic with what you share, so make sure to have a solid content plan, and have an ultimate purpose or goal.
You want to drive interaction but you also need to be mindful that the end goal is a sale, a lead, or a conversion. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are planning your next Instagram Stories campaign:
Don't be afraid to get real! Although users love perfectly staged and filtered Instagram images and videos, they crave raw, real insider footage.
Show your face. They want to feel like they are a part of your brand and really know you, so interact with them. Ask them questions, share fun tips, and don't be afraid to have fun!
Try A/B Testing. Not sure what's going to work? Try various images and videos and see what kind of a response the get. The good thing is that they only last for 24 hours so if you don't received the traction you desired rinse and repeat.
Another great place to start is with the demographics and statistics of the Instagram audience. Here are some quick facts to get your wheels turning:
Top 7 Ways to Use Instagram Stories for Your Business:
#1 Behind the Scenes Footage
Give your followers a glimpse into your world. Show them around your office or location, introduce them to your team or show off the office dog's newest trick. Traveling for business, a conference, or tradeshow? Take your users with you and let them see what you are up to, especially if it's a place where they will also be. It's the perfect way to interact in real time.
#2 Create buzz or show teaser content
Have a new product or service launching? What about a sale or new promotion? Why not release snippets of information in the form of images and videos to get users interested and build the anticipation. Once your buzzed-about piece is ready for launch, you could do an early release, or even an extra special, time-sensitive discount, for your Instagram followers.
Planning a giveaway in the near future? Why not tell it's story and have users submit their entries through the 'send message' feature within Instagram Stories?
#4 Interactive Questionaires, Surveys, or Polls
Want to know what your followers really think? Ask them face-to-face through Instagram stories by posting a series of videos and photos to get the conversation going. Users can then ask or answer the questions via the 'send message' feature.
#5 Celebrate your team or your customers
Have a team member that your customers love or that went above and beyond for your brand? Why not celebrate them and share those moments with your followers? On the flip side, if you have a brick & mortar location and have a customer who you all want to showcase invite them to join in on the story creation and have them share it with their own network.
#6 Reduce, Reuse, Recyle
Ever feel like there isn't enough time in the day to share all the good content you have? Well, then Instagram Stories are perfect for you. You can use this new feature to reduce the amount of posts on your wall to ensure you are not oversharing, and reuse old posts that received a lot of interaction. Plus, you can recyle old videos by chopping them up into small segments and turning them into new, fun buzzworthy stories.
Invite your users to 'takeover' your Instagram Stories for the day by having them submit photos and videos and then using them to create user-generated stories. You can also reach out to industry influencers, bloggers, well-known clients, or what I like to call the 'movers & shakers' to have them take over your page and invite their audience to follow along. It's a great way to get other brands or individuals involved while reaching a new audience and ideally gaining new followers.
Still need Some IMPACTful Insta' Inspiration?
Check out these brands who are doing Instagram Stories proud: