Instagram Stories have become a go-to for brands looking to engage their audience in a fresh and interactive way and boost brand presence. Why? They’re quick, they’re visual, and they allow for real-time connection.
With millions tuning into Stories daily, it’s clear that this feature can be a game-changer for brands looking to boost brand presence.
So this guide is all about helping you make the most of this feature and growing your Story views organically. From understanding its appeal to leveraging its unique features, we’ll walk you through strategies to boost brand presence.
Whether you’re new to the Instagram game or looking to up your Stories game, you’re in the right place.
Let’s dive in.
How Does Instagram’s Stories Algorithm Work
First things first, let’s break down how Instagram ranks Stories. Unlike the chronological feed of the past, Instagram now uses a mix of factors to determine which Stories appear first in your lineup. Here are these:
Think of this as a popularity contest. If a user frequently interacts with your content—be it likes, comments, shares, or even DMs—your Stories are more likely to appear at the front of their queue.
So, if Jane always reacts to your brand’s posts with heart-eye emojis or shares them with her friends, your Stories will likely be the first she sees when she logs in, explains Ashley Newman, Content Director at Accountant Glasgow.
Instagram loves fresh content. If you posted a Story two hours ago and another brand posted theirs six hours ago, yours might get priority simply because it’s newer. It’s like choosing between a fresh-out-of-the-oven cookie and one that’s been sitting out for a while.
Both might be delicious, but there’s something irresistible about the fresh one, explains Claire Walker, Chief Human Resources Officer at View Auckland.
Instagram is a bit of a matchmaker. If a user frequently DMs you, tags you, or even searches for you, the platform considers you two to be “close.” It’s like telling Instagram, “Hey, I really like this account!”
As a result, your Stories get bumped up in their feed, explains Sumeer Kaur, Founder of Lashkaraa.com.
Now, you might think, “Okay, I’ll just post multiple times a day to stay recent.” But hold on a second! While timeliness is crucial, quality should never be compromised. Posting a blurry, irrelevant image just for the sake of posting can do more harm than good. Your audience values meaningful content.
For instance, if you’re a coffee brand, instead of just posting a random picture of a coffee cup, why not share a quick tutorial on making the perfect cold brew? Or perhaps a behind-the-scenes look at sourcing your beans? Quality content not only engages but also educates and entertains your audience.
Check out this Harvard Business Review example. They’re educating their audience in a fun and engaging way. This will lead to more users sharing, liking, and saving their Instagram stories.
So discovering something that your audience cares about, and creating informational bite-sized, fun content around that can be a good start to boost brand presence with Stories.
So while it’s essential to understand the mechanics of the Instagram algorithm, it’s equally crucial to remember the human element in order to boost brand presence. At the end of the day, genuine, valuable content that resonates with your audience will always win.
Tips to Boost Brand Presence With Instagram Stories
Follow these tips to use Stories the right way, to boost brand presence.
#1 Craft Engaging Content
Dive into any successful brand’s Instagram Stories, and you’ll notice one thing they all have in common: captivating content that keeps viewers hooked. But what’s the secret sauce? Let’s talk about a few things that make your content engaging.
“Instagram is filled with picture-perfect images and rehearsed videos, so authenticity stands out like a breath of fresh air.
Authentic storytelling is all about being genuine, sharing your brand’s journey, its highs and lows, and connecting on a human level.”, says Ritika Asrani, Owner and Broker of Century21 St Maarten Real Estate.
Remember, people relate to stories, not sales pitches.
For instance, if you run an eco-friendly clothing brand and want to boost brand presence, instead of just showcasing the final product, why not share the story behind sourcing sustainable materials? Or perhaps a heartfelt chat with the artisan who handcrafted the garment?
These genuine narratives not only build trust but also foster a deeper connection with your audience.
Instagram Stories come packed with a plethora of interactive features, and they’re not just there for the aesthetics. Stickers, quizzes, and Boomerangs can turn passive viewers into active participants.
- Stickers & GIFs: Whether it’s a simple poll (“Which color do you prefer: Blue or Red?”) for a Q&A session, stickers invite direct feedback, making your audience feel valued and heard. Not just that, there are stickers & GIFs for almost anything. Use them to maximize engagement.
- Quizzes: These are fantastic for both entertainment and education. Launching a new product? Create a fun quiz to educate your followers about its features.
Make sure you ask questions that your audience can relate to, to maximize interest in your quiz. Here’s an example from America’s Test Kitchen:
- Boomerangs: These short, looped videos add a playful touch to your Stories. Imagine showcasing a sneak peek of an event or a quick toast during a team celebration. It’s these fleeting moments that make your brand relatable and allow you to boost brand presence.
- Countdowns: Launching a new product or hosting a flash sale? The countdown sticker builds anticipation and ensures your audience is ready when the time comes.
Keep the Balance
While it’s tempting to curate every piece of content to perfection, there’s a charm in the unfiltered, raw snippets of life. It’s about finding the right balance.
- Polished Content: This includes well-thought-out promotional videos, product launches, or any content that aligns with a significant brand campaign. They’re typically high-resolution, edited, and aligned with your brand’s aesthetic.
- Casual Content: Think behind-the-scenes clips, impromptu team shoutouts, or even a simple “good morning” greeting. These spontaneous snippets humanize your brand, showing that behind the polished facade, there’s a team of real people.
#2 Use Templates for Branding Consistency
Cole Vineyard, CEO and Founder of Teach Simple, says, “Instagram Stories, where content disappears in 24 hours, you might wonder: “Why bother with templates?”
But here’s the thing—consistency is key. Just as you wouldn’t change your logo every week, maintaining a consistent look and feel in your Stories can elevate your brand’s recognition and trustworthiness.”
Let’s talk about how templates can help you boost brand presence on Instagram.
- Instant Brand Recognition: Imagine scrolling through your Stories feed, and even before seeing the username, you recognize the brand. That’s the power of consistent templates. They act as a visual cue, instantly reminding viewers of who’s behind the content.
- Time-Saver: Ever spent hours trying to decide the font, colors, or layout for a Story? With templates, you have a ready-to-use framework. Just plug in your content, and voila! Your Story is ready to go live.
- Professionalism: A well-designed template exudes professionalism. It shows your audience that you care about the details, reinforcing your brand’s commitment to quality.
- Cohesiveness: Templates ensure that all your Stories, whether they’re about product launches, behind-the-scenes glimpses, or customer testimonials, have a cohesive look. This uniformity strengthens your brand narrative.
Things to Remember
- Stick to Your Brand Guidelines: Your templates should be an extension of your brand. This means using your brand colors, fonts, and style. If your brand voice is playful and quirky, your templates should reflect that. If it’s more on the elegant side, your templates should ooze sophistication.
- Create Templates for Different Content Types: Think about the various types of content you post. Product announcements, team highlights, customer reviews, and more. Design specific templates for each category, ensuring you’re ready to roll no matter what the content.
- Update, But Don’t Overhaul: While it’s good to refresh your templates occasionally, avoid complete overhauls. Remember, the goal is consistency. Small tweaks—like updating a color or introducing a new graphic element—are welcome, but the core design should remain recognizable.
- Plan and Schedule: With templates in your toolkit, there’s no excuse for infrequent posting. Plan your content in advance, and use scheduling tools to ensure you’re consistently popping up in your followers’ Stories feed.
So in simple words, templates are a strategic tool, ensuring that every time you post a Story, your brand’s identity shines through. So, invest some time in crafting templates that resonate with your brand, and watch as they work their magic, one Story at a time!
#3 Hashtags and Mentions
“On Instagram, where millions of Stories are uploaded every day, standing out can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. But with the strategic use of hashtags and mentions, you can amplify your reach and foster collaborations that benefit your brand.”, says Eric Eng, CEO and Founder of AdmissionSight.
Here’s how to leverage them in your Stories:
- Relevance is Key: It might be tempting to jump on trending hashtags, but if they’re not relevant to your content, it can confuse and even alienate your audience. Stick to hashtags that align with your brand and the specific Story you’re posting.
- Diversify Your Hashtag Game: Don’t just stick to broad hashtags like #fashion or #food. Mix it up with niche ones like #VeganDesserts or #BohoChicFashion. These specific tags can help you reach a more targeted audience.
- Stealth Mode: If you feel hashtags clutter your Story’s aesthetics, you can minimize their size or hide them behind other elements like stickers or GIFs. They’ll still function, but won’t be visible to your viewers.
- Engage with Hashtag Stories: Occasionally, view Stories under the hashtags you use. Engaging with them can increase your visibility and foster community spirit.
How to Use Mentions to Boost Brand Presence
Mentions (@) are more than just shoutouts; they’re bridges that connect brands, influencers, and audiences. Here’s how to use them effectively:
- Collaborate for Mutual Growth: Partner with complementary brands or influencers for takeovers, joint promotions, or contests. For instance, a skincare brand might collaborate with a nutritionist for a holistic beauty takeover. Mentioning each other amplifies reach to both audiences.
- Acknowledge User-Generated Content (UGC): If a user tags your product in their Story, reshare it and mention it. It not only validates their loyalty but also encourages others to share their experiences.
- Engage with Mentions: When your brand is mentioned, don’t just view and swipe. Engage with the content, whether it’s a simple ‘Thank You’ or a more in-depth conversation. It shows you’re attentive and value your community.
- Network with Industry Peers: Occasionally mention industry peers or thought leaders in your Stories, sharing valuable insights or news. It positions your brand as a well-informed player in the industry and can lead to fruitful collaborations.
So, the next time you craft a Story, think beyond the content. Ask yourself, “How can I connect and expand my reach?”
#4 Invest in Instagram Story Ads
Christine Evans, Sr. Director, Marketing Communications at FICTIV, says, “While organic content on Instagram Stories can work wonders in engaging your existing audience, there’s a vast sea of potential customers you might not be reaching. That’s where Instagram Story Ads come into play.”
These ads, seamlessly integrated into the Stories feed, can be a game-changer for brands looking to expand their reach and drive specific actions.
- Expansive Reach: With over a billion monthly active users on Instagram, the potential reach of Story Ads is enormous. These ads allow you to tap into a diverse audience, many of whom might not be aware of your brand yet.
- Targeted Advertising: One of the strengths of Instagram Story Ads is the precision of its targeting. Whether you want to target a specific age group, people with certain interests, or even a particular location, Instagram’s ad platform has got you covered.
- Full-Screen Engagement: Unlike other ad formats, Story Ads take up the entire screen, ensuring undivided attention from the viewer. This immersive experience can lead to higher engagement and conversion rates.
- Swipe-Up Feature: For accounts that don’t have the 10k followers needed for the organic swipe-up feature, Story Ads offer a way to drive traffic to external links, be it a product page, sign-up form, or any other call-to-action.
Tips on Placing Story Ads
- Stay True to Your Brand: Even though it’s an ad, it should still feel like a natural extension of your brand. Maintain consistency in terms of colors, fonts, and overall aesthetics.
- Craft a Clear Message: You have a limited time to capture the viewer’s attention—make it count. Whether it’s showcasing a product or announcing a sale, ensure your message is clear and concise.
- Engage with Video: Videos often outperform static images in terms of engagement. Consider using short, engaging clips that tell a story or showcase a product in action.
- Include a Strong Call-to-Action (CTA): What do you want viewers to do after seeing your ad? Whether it’s shopping for a sale, signing up for a newsletter, or visiting your website, make sure your CTA is clear and compelling.
Instagram Story Ads offer a potent mix of expansive reach and precise targeting, making them a valuable tool in any brand’s marketing toolkit. However, the key lies in crafting ads that don’t feel like ads—content that resonates, engages, and drives action.
#5 Use Cross-promotion Strategies
Brandon Armstrong, CEO of Quinable Inc, says, “Every post and Story is vying for attention, so cross-promotion emerges as a smart strategy to maximize your content’s visibility and engagement.
It’s like having two megaphones instead of one, amplifying your message across different formats.”
Here’s what I mean:
- Highlight Upcoming Stories: If you’re planning a significant Story event—maybe a behind-the-scenes tour, an influencer takeover, or a product launch—create a post about it. A simple “Tune into our Stories tomorrow for something exciting!” can build anticipation.
- Share Story Snippets in Posts: Every now and then, compile snippets from your most engaging Stories into a carousel post. It’s a great way to showcase content that some followers might have missed and can serve as a teaser to encourage more Story views.
- Redirect to Posts from Stories: If you’ve just uploaded a detailed post, use your Story to direct followers to it. A quick “New post alert! Swipe up to dive deep into our latest adventure” can drive traffic from your Stories to your posts.
Here’s an excellent example of this by Converse:
Then it connects to their Stories:
How to Use Posts to Maximize Your Engagement on Stories
- The Sneak Peek Strategy: Let’s say you’re launching a new product. Instead of revealing everything in a post, share a teaser image with a caption like “Something big is coming.” Then, use your Stories for the grand reveal, showcasing the product in all its glory.
- Behind-the-Scenes Access: Use your main feed for polished, curated content, and then invite followers to your Stories for a behind-the-scenes look. For instance, if you post a picture of a finished dish, your Story could be a step-by-step recipe guide.
- Engage with Polls and Questions: Post an intriguing image or statement on your main feed, like a new product prototype or a potential new flavor, and caption it with “Want to know more?”
Direct your audience to your Stories, where you can use polls or questions to gather feedback and engage in a deeper conversation.
- Countdowns and Launches: If you’re counting down to a significant event or product launch, use your main feed for the official announcement and your Stories for daily countdowns, building excitement and anticipation.
Cross-promotion is all about leveraging the unique strengths of both Instagram Stories and posts.
While they might seem like separate entities, when used together, they can create a harmonious flow of content that keeps your audience engaged, informed, and always craving more. Ultimately, helping you boost brand presence.
#6 Highlight Key Stories
While Instagram Stories add a sense of urgency and excitement as they disappear in 24 hours, not all content should vanish. Some Stories are just too valuable, too informative, or too representative of your brand to let go.
That’s why, there’s this feature: Highlights, that lets you immortalize your best Stories, adds Martin Seeley, CEO of Mattress Next Day.
Here’s how you can go about it:
- First Impressions Matter: When someone new lands on your profile, they’re likely to do a quick scan before deciding to follow or interact with your content. Highlights serve as a trailer for your brand’s movie, giving visitors a snapshot of who you are, what you offer, and why they should care.
- Evergreen Content: Some content remains relevant regardless of time. Whether it’s a tutorial, a frequently asked question, or a showcase of best-selling products, Highlights ensure that these evergreen Stories remain accessible.
- Trust and Credibility: Testimonials, reviews, or user-generated content can be highlighted to build trust. New visitors can see real feedback and experiences from existing customers, adding a layer of credibility to your brand.
Here’s an example by NAT GEO:
- Categorize Thoughtfully: Think of your Highlights as a bookshelf. Each Highlight is a book, and the Stories within are chapters. Organize them by theme or topic. For instance, a fashion brand might have Highlights for “New Arrivals,” “Style Tips,” “Customer Looks,” and “Sale Alerts.”
- Custom Cover Icons: Consistency is key. Design custom cover icons for each Highlight that align with your brand’s aesthetic. Not only does this make your profile look polished, but it also gives visitors a visual cue about the content within each Highlight.
- Refresh and Update: Just because a Story is in your Highlights doesn’t mean it should stay there forever. Periodically review and update your Highlights, removing outdated content and adding fresh Stories to keep things current.
- Limit the Number: While it’s tempting to create a Highlight for everything, too many can overwhelm visitors. Stick to the most important ones, ensuring that each Highlight adds value and represents a facet of your brand.
- Narrative Flow: Within each Highlight, ensure there’s a logical flow to the Stories. It should feel like a curated journey, guiding viewers from one Story to the next seamlessly.
Navigating the vibrant world of Instagram Stories can initially seem like a daunting task. With a plethora of features, tools, and strategies at your disposal, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
However, at its core, Instagram Stories is about authentic connection, storytelling, and engagement. Always keep your audience at the forefront. Listen to them, engage with them, and tell stories that resonate. You’ll eventually boost brand presence.