How to Utilize Highlighted Instagram Stories
Even though Instagram has been around since 2010, Instagram stories are a fairly new form of social media marketing. Before you say it, yes, they have been around for a few years, but there seems to have been a recent boom of creativity when it comes to using stories for marketing. This is especially true with the release of the highlighted Instagram stories feature in 2017. So if these highlighted stories are so important, how do you make sure that yours are fully utilized?
We’ll show you.
What are Highlighted Instagram Stories?
First off, what is a highlighted Instagram story?
Well, a typical Instagram story is displayed at the top or on the side of your followers’ newsfeed (depending on what kind of device they’re using), and can only be viewed for 24 hours. But highlighting a story allows you to pin that story to your profile so that your followers can see it past the original 24 hours. This is what highlights look like on an Instagram profile:
As you can see, Glossier has a lot of stories that they’ve highlighted, including a Q&A, their history, and information on their products. This helps their customers and potential future customers find answers to questions and learn more about them.
Now let’s talk about how your brand can utilize highlighted Instagram stories.
The Nuts & Bolts
One of the first things to add to your highlights is the nuts & bolts of your operation. Now, if you don’t have a brick & mortar store, this highlight won’t be as important. But for those of you who own stores, restaurants, and businesses that aren’t exclusively online, it can be a good idea to have things like hours, menus, and daily or weekly specials on your highlights. For example, one of our clients is a bar in Austin, Texas, have highlights detailing the bar’s hours, their happy hour specials, and their karaoke hours. Here’s what their operations highlights look like:
All it takes is a simple highlighted story like this to help take your brand’s Instagram presence up a notch.
Like we showed you in the Glossier example above, an FAQ or Q&A highlight is one of the simplest ways to market your brand in stories. Answering questions can help you turn first-time customers into followers, into repeat customers, into loyal fans. Here’s how it can help the different forms of followers:
If someone is new to your profile and your brand, they probably have some questions. And having a highlighted FAQ story can help them find answers without having to comment on your posts or send you a private message. That’s not to say that won’t still happen, of course, but having information easily accessible for new followers can make the difference between them following you or purchasing something from you, and deciding to go with another brand.
Followers & Repeat Customers
Now, every brand (most likely) has followers. Some of them might just be casual followers who’ve purchased something from you once or twice, some might still be deciding if they want to buy something from you, and some might be customers who’ve repeatedly purchased your products. But no matter who your followers are, they can still gain something from an FAQ highlighted story. If they’re repeat customers, they might have questions about new product launches or bringing back old favorites. If they follow you but haven’t bought anything from you, answering their questions can make them feel seen and bring them a deeper understanding of you and your products. This can be the push they need to make the leap into buying something, becoming a serious repeat customer, or leaving reviews of your products.
Loyal fans are your customers who have repeatedly purchased your products and often use only your products. These are the customers who can do your marketing for you- so you might be wondering how FAQs would help this group. Well, just because someone knows a lot about your products or your brand doesn’t mean they won’t still have questions! Loyal fans are probably even more likely to ask questions when it comes to a new product or change to the brand. They want to know as much as they can because they’ve invested so much into your brand. So make sure you’re not ignoring your big fans’ questions!
Another easy way to market your brand through Instagram stories is by using it to showcase your products. You can use a product highlight to showcase a new product launch, a new collection or line, and limited edition products. This is also a place where you can add detail about your products, for people who might be curious about the ingredients or materials. EVOL Foods does a great job of showing off their products in their highlights.
Their product highlights show you some of their offerings, and give you details, like the amount of protein and calories. In addition, if your account is verified on Instagram, you can use these highlighted stories as a selling tool as well. Users can swipe up on your story and they will be taken to a page on your website. It could be the products page, a specific product page, or your home page. No matter what you decide, this feature is an easy way to turn followers into customers.
Your highlighted stories are also useful to help your customers find your products. There are a couple of ways that you can use highlighted stories as a locator for your products. First, if your account is verified, you can use the swipe up feature to take your customers to your product locator page on your website. Here’s an example from Halo Top Creamery:
Having the swipe up feature makes it super simple for customers to find your products, but if your Instagram account isn’t verified yet, don’t worry! You can still have a product locator highlight. One option is to create a highlight with all the stores that have your products. Here’s an example from Beetnik Foods:
Beetnik Foods tells your customers where to find them, and also tags the stores so that they can access their Instagram accounts. This doesn’t take customers straight to your website, but you could also include a link in your Instagram bio that takes them to your website or store locator page. Just make sure that if you have this link in your bio, you point to it in your highlighted stories so your customers know they can find it there!
UGC, or user-generated content, is a great way to market your brand in your Instagram stories and reward your loyal customers for sharing your products. It’s also easy to do because your customers are making your highlights for you- all you have to do is reshare them on your highlighted stories. Now, you won’t want to just label your highlight “UGC,” so take some time to brainstorm some more creative titles for your user-generated content highlight. Here are some examples of brands taking advantage of UGC in their highlighted stories:
In the first example on the left, we have a highlighted story from Sweat, a workout app. They pride themselves on having a tight-knit community, so resharing photos from their members is one way that they not only market themselves but also continue to focus on community.
The second example is from Picolé pops, a popsicle store in Dallas. Their UGC highlight has tons of images that were submitted to them by customers, as well as reshares of individual stories and stories from their locations. They give credit to the original poster, which promotes loyalty and authenticity, and shows others that these aren’t staged photos of their products.
The last example on the right is from Ivory Ella. Ivory Ella is a brand that sells clothes and donates 10% of its profits to elephants and other causes. Their UGC highlight is titled “You Guys ?” which lets Instagram users know exactly what the highlight is about while staying true to their brand. This highlight features photos of Ivory Ella customers who have submitted photos to them to be reshared. This is a great marketing tool because it shows how their products look on real people, and it encourages their customers to take photos in their clothing because they might be rewarded with a share on their profile.
Inspiration is another option for Instagram story marketing. This shows customers and potential customers how your products can fit into their own lives. Here are some more specific options for inspiring followers to become customers.
GoodPop, a popsicle company has a highlight dedicated to what they call Poptails. These are recipes that really take inspiration and creativity to the next level. Instead of just showing their popsicles coated with toppings, they show how customers of all ages can enjoy a popsicle.
Aerie, a clothing company, uses their stylist picks highlighted story to give their customers a sort of lookbook. Their stylist helps put together different pieces of their clothing to show women how they can wear them. They vary their lookbook from video tutorials, like the story on the left, and flat lay photos of their clothes, like the story on the right. These kinds of highlights can help customers see themselves in your clothes, and may even seal the deal when it comes to making a purchasing decision.
Target might sell groceries, clothes, and electronics, but they’ve got a highlight just for their home decor. This highlight shows how you can use their decor in your own spaces. They even ask questions about your decor preferences to engage customers and show how their products can be used in a variety of different spaces.
The last highlighted story we’re talking about today is a team highlight. No matter the size of your company, showcasing the faces behind your brand can bring it down to a more human level, making customers feel comfortable engaging and asking questions. Here’s an example from Tarte Cosmetics:
The Tarte team, or Tartelettes, as they’re called, isn’t afraid to show how they have fun and what they love about their products. The highlight shown above is a fun, personal look into the Tarte headquarters and their employees’ personalities. This brings a personal and transparent feeling to the brand, which can make customers feel more comfortable buying from them. After all, your highlighted Instagram stories should be there to market to your customers, and sharing with them on this level creates a stronger connection.
Want Help with Your Instagram Highlights?
While any of these options can help you use highlighted Instagram stories in your marketing strategies, these are by no means the only options! Get creative and see what kinds of unique highlights your brand can come up with, or reach out to us if you need some help getting started. We’d love to help you make a strategy that takes your social media marketing presence to the next level.