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If you have still yet to start using IG stories in your marketing strategy, it’s not too late. Instagram stories is still one of the most powerful tools the app has to offer and yet so many people have yet to take advantage of the opportunities stories can bring them. In this episode of The Branded Cowgirl Podcast, I am breaking down the things you should and should not be doing to have Instagram stories work for your brand.
Unfortunately I see so many people not utilizing stories to their full potential and it’s hurting their growth in the long run. I believe it’s important that we talk about why Instagram stories is relevant compared to other features the app offers.
Let’s break down some of the main features of Instagram and what their purpose is.
Reels are huge right now. We all know this. The main purpose for Instagram Reels is to reach new audiences and to increase brand exposure. They can also serve your current audience, but overall the focus is to bring new people onto your platform. This is why so many brands are seeing huge success with Reels are really hammering down on the new feature because before long something else will come and we will all have to switch to that. Isn’t marketing fun?
Feed posts on Instagram serve your current audience. These are the people that already follow you. This is how you will bring value to them through serving them content that entertains, inspires or educates. Posts on your feed can also help you reach new people through hashtags as well, but not in the same capacity that Reels does.
Feed posts are like the middle man where they can show people credibility as an expert whether they follow you or not.
Stories are how you build connection and trust with your current followers. Think of it like a journey. Someone finds your brand because of a reel you posted. They go onto your profile and start scrolling your feed to see what kind of content you provide. Then if they decide to follow you based on that, they will start seeing your stories where you will really establish a relationship with them.
Something I see a lot with stories is people only using stories almost as another version of their feed. Meaning they only post pictures and text on stories and re-share things, but they hardly ever point the camera at their face and talk.
This is a big big mistake and you are missing out on so much potential. People watch stories for more than to just see links you posted to feed posts. If you are not hopping on video and talking you are leaving potential customers on the table.
Connection leads to leads. By only posting photos (even if they are of yourself) you are not offering much additional value than you already do in your feed. Video will take you so much further as a brand.
Can You Grow Without Instagram Stories?
Is it possible to grow your account without being on video and talking on stories… yes. Will you grow as fast as someone who is doing these things? Nope. You just won’t. The choice is yours. And next time someone complains that the algorithm is out to get them and they haven’t posted a video of them talking all week… I may rip all of my hair out. There is no way to cheat the system so stop trying. Instead of fighting against it, work with it. I promise this will take you further.
Talking on stories can be scary stuff if you are not used to doing it. You may feel vulnerable and intimidated at first. But guess what? Just like anything that is hard in the beginning, it gets easier the more you do it.
You will have to GROW as a person, by growing your confidence to show up to Grow your audience. That’s a fact.
Don’t #1: Not Giving Context On Your Stories
Stories are automatically muted when people first start watching them. Which means they physically have to click the volume button on their phone to hear the sound. But when people are at work or in a place where they don’t want to have their volume on, they need to have something to read that at least summarizes what you are saying.
Most people also don’t have very much patience, so it’s a lot faster to read a quick summary instead of trying to listen to you talk about it the whole time. If you don’t caption your stories, they may skip past it which hurts your engagement.
Don’t #2: Misplacing Features
Instagram story features are fun ways to keep your audience engaged with you but if you place a poll or a tag too close to the bottom or right side of the screen, someone might accidentally click it with their thumb as they are scrolling through stories. This can lead you to getting skewed results or people won’t be able to access the feature or link at all.
Try placing the stickers in the middle or higher on the screen or even slightly to the left. Most people are tapping to the right not the left so this leaves less chance for error.
Don’t #3: Not Making Digestible Content
When you are captioning your slides, don’t try to put one long paragraph of text on one story slide. Break it up into multiple slides, so that people can retain the information better. But also don’t make it too long to where it takes 100 slides to get one message across.
You want your content to be easy to read and more digestible to take it. Less people will be tempted to skip off your story if they only have to read a couple sentences at a time.
Don’t #4: Not Tagging Someone In Every Slide
People cannot repost stories unless they are tagged in it. If you are making a series of slides talking about someone, make sure to tag them in every single slide that is relevant otherwise they are only able to re-share 1 slide which can be annoying since you may not have gotten to the point yet in that particular video. It’s worth it to take the extra time to pay attention to little details like this… trust me!
Do #1: Post Videos Of Your Face
When you are talking on your stories, make sure you are talking how you normally talk. Imagine you are just FaceTiming a friend. You probably wouldn’t be so stiff and awkward to a friend… You need to treat stories the same way. Don’t try to put on your professional robot voice because it will be really obvious to people that you are not being your most true self.
Do #2: Post On Instagram Stories Throughout The Day
You want to be posting on stories all day long or at least a few times throughout the day. Not just all at once in the morning and then never sharing anything again until the next day.
The goal with stories is to stay front of mind and if you are constantly popping up every time someone logs into Instagram throughout the day it will be hard to forget about you. Don’t overthink this or feel like you need to say a million things every time you log on. But at least show a glimpse of things that are happening in real time as your day progresses.
Do #3: Add Engagement Boosters
Utilize those features such as polls, question boxes, voting boxes, etc. This not only boosts your engagement but it will make your followers know that you value their opinion. People want to know that they are seen and heard and by including them into the conversation you are able to validate their thoughts.
Bring them into your business, or your life. Ask how they feel or what they want to see next. Have them vote on what you should wear today. Whatever you can do to make them feel connected to you is going to be a good thing.
Do #4: Make Sure Your Face Is In The First Slide Of The Day
Post a video of your face as your first slide of the day instead of sharing a post or something else. You can throw those in later on but you don’t want to do a bunch in a row. People follow you to see YOU, not other peoples posts that you have to share.
This can cause people to click off your stories to go onto someone else’s page which will make your engagement dip. It’s good to strategically tag other creators and brands when it’s relevant but not 100 in a row or all day long, especially if you are not talking on your stories in between.
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I'm Sarah Elrod
I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.
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