Integrating Instagram Stories into Your Social Media Plan

By now, you’ve heard or have experienced the Earth shattering news of the new Instagram Stories. With the rollout, there is one question on every marketer’s mind, “How am I going to integrate Instagram Stories into my overall social media plan?” You probably already have an Instagram strategy for your business or clients. But Instagram Stories is going to be a bit trickier.

The integration is designed to be used like Snapchat. Instagram’s CEO was not shy about copy catting the growing platform that its parent company, Facebook, tried to purchase for $3 billion a few years ago. The appeal of Snapchat is that it was real time, in the moment, unpolished video and photographic content. It is the antithesis of Instagram which is used for beautiful, polished (sometimes Photoshopped) photos and videos of food, landscapes, clothes, and travel.  That is probably what your marketing content looks like on that platform. It’s all about visual appeal.

Back to the pressing question on everyone’s minds. So far a few brands have tested out the Instagram stories by asking their users what they want to see, if anything from them via Stories. The brands that have done it amazingly well so far are brands like Taco Bell that already had a strong Snapchat strategy and following. They simply shifted that strategy to Instagram stories. For those that didn’t have Snapchat for their brands before, there are a few things you can test.

  1. Showcase Behind the Scenes Footage

Are you a food or fashion brand that typically posts stylized photos? Show your consumers and followers how you get to those final images. Give them a sneak peak of what’s to come and then post the final photo or video a few days later. The good thing about Instagram Stories is they disappear after 24 hours. So the final content will be like a new experience a few days later.

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  1. Decide Your Mix of Videos vs. Pictures

A few brands have been sticking to their regular Instagram strategy and uploading photos into their Stories feed. I suggest testing this. Once again, Instagram Stories was designed to be like Snapchat and users are likely looking for a different experience in Stories than their regular feeds. A good way to gauge which you should do more of is to look at how your regular video and photo content performs against each other. Video content is great for brands that have a personality or a spokesperson. Run your Instagram video Stories like a guided tour where someone is showing your viewer around.

  1. Alert Users About Flash Discounts

With Instagram Stories disappearing in 24 hours, it gives users an incentive to view and be in the know of what’s going on. Use this to your advantage and give special codes and discounts to users that view that can later be used on your website or other ecommerce platforms. People are more likely to purchase when they don’t believe they are going to get a better deal than the one they currently see.

With any new feature on a social platform, the smartest thing to do is to test and learn. If you mess up, it’s erased and you can start over. You can see from views whether followers are interacting with your Story and regular content. Be sure to compare the numbers to adjust where to spend the most dollars and time for your brand.

Only time will tell how users truly feel about the new feature. It’s shiny and new right now and a lot of people are loving it. However, it was not why they came to the platform in the beginning so they may lose interest. For now, Snapchat has animated and geo-targeted filters that are absent from the Instagram platform. That difference may not last long and it will be an all-out battle between the two platforms. Do you have any other tips for creating an Instagram Stories strategy? If so, put them in the comments section below

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