With over 500 million users across the globe, chances are good that many of your customers are on Instagram. Marketers have long been using the image-sharing social network to promote their brands, but the launch of Instagram Stories last August has changed things up a bit.
Essentially, Instagram Stories is nearly identical to that of Snapchat Stories, where users can send photos and videos that disappear after a certain length of time after the receiver views them.
If you’re an eCommerce merchant, this is an excellent opportunity for you to share more than just the picture-perfect moments that you’ve carefully worked into your marketing strategy. You can now share those random and real moments—the ones that can show a different side of your business and your brand.
The potential with this new feature is huge, and marketers shouldn’t waste this opportunity. Here are six tips to help you begin promoting your eCommerce brand with Instagram Stories:
1. Tease New Products, Promotions, and Content
One of the reasons why Instagram Stories is so effective is that it creates FOMO (fear of missing out). The stories disappear within 24 hours, which gives your followers a sense of urgency that they don’t get with your regular Instagram posts. This makes it perfect for teasing new products and upcoming events.
We’ve seen some brands do this brilliantly. J. Crew used it to tease its September sunglasses collection with huge success, while Sephora gave followers a glimpse of their makeup tutorials that they would soon release. Try it with your own products and promotions and see how your followers respond.
2. Give a Glimpse Inside Your Brand
Putting a face to your business is important—especially online. Customers want to connect with humans, not a business that they can’t relate to. That’s exactly why you should take advantage of the casual nature of Instagram Stories and give those interesting glimpses into your eCommerce store.
For example, you could post a story that shows your employees taking part in a viral trend or celebrating the achievement of one of your employees. It puts a human touch to your brand that can lead to greater brand recognition and loyalty in your followers.
3. Reward Your Most Engaged Followers
Unlike your regular Instagram posts, the Stories you share don’t show up in your followers’ news feed. Instead, they can click on your story at the top of their screen if they wish to view it. This means that you may need to create a little incentive to get them to view your Story.
Your incentives don’t have to be huge, but they do have to be worth it; otherwise, your followers won’t bother opening your Stories in the future. Besides, you want to give the best to the followers that are loyal enough to follow you on Instagram, so you should reward them for their loyalty!
Offer coupons that only appear in your Stories, show promo codes that become ineffective once the 24 hours are up, or offer free swag like Mountain Dew to its followers. You can even announce breaking news related to your brand in an Instagram Story if you have hotly anticipated products coming out.
4. Give Quick and Helpful Tips
There is a reason why headlines that begin with “5 Fast and Dirty Tricks for A/B Testing” get our attention. Consumers want helpful information that they can process quickly, and Instagram Stories is perfect for this.
The subscription-based apparel startup known as Stich Fix regularly uses their Instagram Stories to provide helpful styling tips to their followers, and now your own eCommerce store can use it in a similar way. Show off your expertise in your industry by providing your followers with tips and tricks that will make their lives easier in just seconds!
5. Show Off Your Creativity
It doesn’t matter what you sell—there is a way to make it exciting using Instagram Stories. Online stores everywhere are using it to show the human side of their brand and let some silliness show.
Take Starbucks, for example. They made coffee exciting by posting a humorous Instagram Story in which two of their iced coffee drinks fall in love with each other.
Some businesses use Instagram Stories to ask questions of their followers and keep them engaged, while others use a mix of filters, drawings, and text to liven up their products. There is an endless number of ways for you to show off your creative side and promote your brand.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Feedback
Did you know that Instagram Stories can be used as a feedback tool? Unlike your Instagram posts, your followers can’t comment or like your Instagram Stories. The only way that they can respond is through a direct message that no one else can see.
Basically, you have the ability to treat Instagram Stories as a one-question anonymous survey, of sorts. For example, Taco Bell used their first Instagram Story to ask their followers what they would like to see using the new feature. Users can then send their answers via Direct Message, and you can further improve your social media marketing efforts based off of this feedback.
Finding a way to connect with consumers is key to your eCommerce store’s success, but it’s not always easy to engage with your audience. With Instagram Stories, you now have another way to promote your products and tell a compelling brand story that inspires loyalty in your followers.
There are many exciting ways for you to use Instagram Stories, and we look forward to seeing how other brands use this feature in the future. Just remember to keep your audience in mind as you create your stories so that your message continues to make an impact!
Erika Jolly Brookes is the CMO at Springbot where she leads all brand, product and marketing campaigns and communications. Before joining Springbot, Erika was the vice president of product strategy for Oracle and vice president of marketing and communications at Vitrue. Previously, she held other executive-level marketing positions at leading technology companies like MindSpring, Earthlink and Rackspace. In her limited free time, you’ll find Erika running through Atlanta with her yellow labrador Charlie or sharing marketing insights on Twitter: @ebrookes.