Why Aren’t You Using Instagram Stories Yet?

Instagram has grown incredibly, and Instagram Stories has been part of it. It's time to jump in and get started!

Instagram is on fire, shown by its growth from 600 million to 800 million users in a 4-month period. They’ve grown from their simple Instagram feed to the dynamic new features like 24-hour lasting Instagram Stories, and a Live Video feature.

Instagram Stories are not brand new. Even back in 2016, I wrote about how to develop your Instagram Stories strategy (it’s still applicable if you’d like to take a look!) But, Instagram does continue iterating, which has brought more and more interest as time has gone on.

As popular as Instagram is, there are many businesses that haven’t even touched it yet. But, why? Perhaps they…

  • Have a fear of disappointing followers
  • Are unsure of what to feature
  • Aren’t confident they’ll be able to stay consistent
  • Don’t want to take the time to learn how to do it

Whatever the reason is, one thing we all know is that if we want to mimic the success of others on Instagram, we need to leap over that roadblock.

That’s why we’re here today.

I’m here to give you the know-how to jump straight in and to use Instagram Stories and Instagram Live to your advantage.

Instagram Stories Stats

As a little motivation, 99 Firms pulled together some stats regarding the benefits of using Instagram Stories. Take a look:

Instagram Stories graphic
  • There are 300 million daily active users of Instagram Stories
  • Users spend an average of 28 minutes
  • Over 50% of businesses use Instagram Stories
  • 20% of businesses that posted a story had a direct interaction with a user
  • Over 1/3rd of Instagram users watch stories every day
  • 1 million monthly active advertisers have access to Instagram Stories Ads

You might feel like you’re the only one who isn’t yet on Instagram Stories, but that’s not the case at all!

The stats below indicate that there’s a ton of room for you to sneak in early and capitalize on the Instagram Stories audience. One thing to note is that these stats will just keep growing, so as with many things, “right now” is the best time to jump in.

Instagram Stories graphic
  • 24% of businesses rank story engagement as a measure of success
  • 88% of businesses say they want to start posting more Instagram Stories in 2018
  • 30% of businesses plan to use Instagram Stories ads in 2018

What kind of content can I share on Instagram Stories?

Really, the sky– or at least your creativity– is the limit as far as what content you share within your Instagram Stories.

Here are some ideas for you:

  • Behind-the-Scenes: Showcase your workspace, your newest inventory, your equipment, etc.
  • A day in the life: It might seem mundane to you, but it’s not to us!
  • Showcasing your business partnerships: Having others in business who support you is a strong way to show credibility.
  • Shoutouts to followers: Recognizing your followers for the great things they’re doing or the content they’re sharing can strengthen their love for you.
  • User-generated content (UGC): Your beautiful business photos have their place, but adding in photos that your customers are sharing can allow your prospects to see themselves using your products or services.
  • Sneak previews: Raise your followers’ endorphins by sharing what’s coming up (leaving the full details for later).
  • Teasers: While in a sneak preview, you might expose the actual content without the context, teasers give just a little less. Tease your upcoming surprise with a hint, and get those followers to come back for the full reveal.
  • A reveal: It’s the full shebang! Surprise your followers with something new, be it an announcement or a new product/service.
  • Tips and Tricks: There’s always more to a product or service than meets the eye. How can your customers take your product or service one step further?
  • Step-by-step instructions/guides/tutorials: Think about any topic related to your industry, and walk your followers through it.
  • News about your industry: Share news about your company or industry. Be your followers’ source of information!
  • A tap-through game: What a fun way to encourage some interaction. For an example, see the @wholefoods highlight below.
  • Surprise announcements: The more your followers catch you surprising them, the more they’ll want to proactively look for your Instagram Stories (think flash sale, giveaways, etc.).
  • Poll your audience: Whether you’re hoping to get the answers you need to make your next business move, or just engage your audience, polls are fun for everyone.
  • To increase your DM 1-to-1 conversation: Encourage comments on your Instagram Stories. All comments go to DM, and now you have the opportunity to chat 1-on-1 with your followers (ahem…prospects!).
  • To show that you’re human and relatable: Our Instagram feeds are normally very put together. Instagram Stories gives you the avenue to expose a bit more about yourself, which can be the start of your followers relating to you.
  • To more deeply explain something: Take the time in your Instagram Stories to go more in-depth about any topic.
  • Promote your business: That’s why we’re here, right? While most promotions are passive, it’s ok to make the “ask” every once in a while!
  • Promote one of your Instagram posts: Is there a post you really want more engagement on? Point your Instagram Stories to it!
  • Share quotes: Everyone loves a good quote. Warm the hearts of your followers by sharing your favorites.
  • Share success stories or testimonials: Next to word-of-mouth, testimonials are one of the best ways to gain prospects. 
  • Review another product: It doesn’t have to be all about your company. Feel free to review other products, especially if they pair well with yours!
  • Encourage your followers to go to your other channels: If they love you on Instagram, they’ll also love you on Facebook and Twitter. 
  • Share your favorite things: This can be anything you’d like – books, songs, products, food, restaurants, anything at all!
  • Progress posts / Before & Afters: Whether you bake, sell skincare, have a cleaning service, or other, most brands have some form of before and after they can share. They’re fun – go for it!

Going back to 99 Firms‘ infographic, here’s a quick view of what others are sharing.

Instagram Stories graphic
  • 36% – product promotion
  • 22% – an inside look
  • 14% – influencer takeover
  • 10% – live event
  • 5% – how to
  • 4% – fan content
  • 2% – contest
  • 7% other

Oh, and in case you’re nervous about the fact that Instagram Stories only offers vertical video, don’t be! 94% of all mobile phone users view their videos in portrait mode, according to this study.

Owen Williams predicts that vertical video is here to stay, and advises that since many marketers haven’t yet embraced it, it’s also an opportunity for you to really jump in and take ahold of it. (ref: Buffer’s “How to Master Vertical Video” email series)

Instagram Stories in action

Let’s look at some examples of different types of Instagram Stories that can pique interest from your followers from some awesome food-based Instagram accounts.

Day in the Life

naturally essie Instagram stories

Naturally Essie’s (@naturallyessie) Instagram Story here showed her healthy food and beverage choices throughout the day. Along with her stunning, clean images, she added the time and a brief explanation of what was included in each meal.

If I’m looking for clean eating ideas (or if I just want to check out some great food shots), you can bet I’m going to spend some time tapping through!


whole foods instagram story

As you know, Whole Foods (@wholefoods) is a huge brand and fairly ingenious. The first page I came to in their Instagram Story was the “Ready for your horoscope” image. It told me how many taps to get to my horoscope, so I tapped 5 times, and arrived at the Leo image!

There’s no Instagram Stories magic occurring here. They just added the horoscope table of contents image, and then added each sign’s horoscope image after that, and you just flip through until you find yours. However, the fact that they give you the number of taps really does make it feel like a little game. I found myself tapping forward and back just to look around more.

User-Generated Content

dunkin donuts instagram story

There’s nothing like being noticed by a huge brand! Dunkin’ Donuts (@dunkindonuts) used National Coffee Day as an opportunity to show off some of their user-generated content (UGC). This tactic isn’t only interesting to other followers to view, but it also makes those who are featured feel really special and connected to the brand!


brunch boys instagram story

The Brunch Boys (@brunchboys) had a really simple how-to about getting in the mood for the changing of seasons by making a Fall-inspired coffee. He had a mix of short videos, boomerangs, and still images in this Instagram Story, which made it really engaging! To enhance it even a bit more, he added stickers and interactive polls.

Companies have different goals related to Instagram Stories usage for 2018. These might give you an idea of a goal for your company, inspire you in your plight, or light a fire beneath you to work harder and faster to beat the upcoming growth.

going Live on Instagram

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the value in using the Live component of Instagram Stories. In fact, a majority of people do prefer watching Live video to standard video, so let’s capitalize on that!

Not only does Live video interest your followers*, but because it’s one of their newest features, Instagram also rewards you by way of newsfeed priority, as Instagram Live videos fall to the beginning of your followers’ feeds.

So, how do you start an Instagram Live video? It’s simple! Just head into your Instagram Stories creation area and scroll over to “Live.”

How to get onto Instagram Stories Instagram Live

*Most of Instagram audience is between 18 and 29 years old, with the age group of 30-49 just behind.

So, what do you think?

The fact of the matter is that Stories is just another way to take advantage of Instagram’s giant user base. Any activity will show your followers that you’re putting forth the effort to engage with them.

Have you dabbled yet? Let us know!

Thoughts or Questions?

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