How Instagram Stories Can Help Your Brand Gain Relevance

Instagram Stories offers an opportunity for users to get back to the roots of social media. You can establish a one-on-one conversation with consumers, improving engagement and creating some buzz while you’re at it.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the social media landscape is flush with flatterers.

Consider how Facebook borrowed the hashtag from Twitter. In turn, Twitter lifted the algorithmic feed from Facebook. More recently, Instagram adopted Stories from Snapchat, although Instagram appears to have improved upon the feature.

Similar to Snapchat Stories, Instagram Stories allows users to create rolling montages of pictures. After users draw on the photos, type words over them or apply various filters, the creations vanish into the ether after 24 hours.

While Snapchat puts Stories in a side menu, Instagram Stories are featured front and center. Users can find them at the top of their main feeds. They can also pause, rewind and view anyone’s story–even if they’re not following them.

The feature is about more than flexibility, though. It’s a chance to tap into the medium people seem to be using to comment on the world around them: images. It’s not about archiving the best moments in life, but discussing them–a fact not lost on marketers.

Adding to the conversation

Nike’s first Instagram Story racked up 800,000 views in a mere 24 hours. That figure dwarfs the attention received by the company’s best video on Snapchat, which garnered about 66,000 views.

It’s perhaps not shocking that Nike saw so much buzz considering its inaugural Instagram Story was a well-polished masterpiece to unveil new uniforms for the University of Michigan’s football team. Another way to garner attention could be adding authenticity to your content by allowing users to go behind the curtain, so to speak.

A restaurant brand, for example, may already use Instagram to post pictures of new dishes. With Stories, it could shoot a quick video detailing how the dish was made or capture footage of a well-known food blogger weighing in on the cuisine.

Instagram Stories offers an opportunity for users to get back to the roots of social media. You can establish a one-on-one conversation with consumers, improving the level of engagement–and creating some buzz while you’re at it.

Telling your story

While Instagram Stories presents significant opportunities, a question still remains about how to use the tool to improve brand relevance. Here are six pointers to get you started:

  1. Stay the course: You don’t need to completely overhaul your brand’s marketing strategy. Instead, look for creative ways to share your stories on the platform. Start with the content you already share on social networks. Can you expand on it in some way? Whatever you do, be sure to cater your content to the audience of each platform.
  2. Share blog posts: Leveraging social media to get the word out about a blog is nothing new. As social media is the ideal place to share content, create something that users will want to broadcast to their own networks. Instagram Stories presents an opportunity to flash teaser images to drive audiences back to the blog.
  3. Give sneak peeks: Do you have something new on the horizon? Give your followers a sneak peek with a short video. Even if it’s only a prototype of a new product, early adopters would be thrilled to have a glimpse of the future.
  4. Seek feedback: What better way to get feedback than soliciting it on Instagram Stories? Throw several options into one post and ask followers which they prefer. Think Amazon’s pilot season, which gives viewers a chance to choose which pilots will be ordered to series. It encourages audiences to engage with the product before it has launched.
  5. Tap influencers: Brands already tap Instagrammers to promote contests and giveaways. Why not add immediacy by getting a social media star to announce a promotional event or offer in a short video? You instantly gain access to her followers, which easily can reach into the hundreds of thousands.
  6. Plan a takeover: Takeovers are similar to tapping influencers, but they raise the stakes a bit. Consider partnering with an Instagram influencer to encourage his or her followers to watch Stories on your Instagram account. Of course, your Instagram Stories should feature the social media star to make it an official takeover.

There’s undoubtedly some crossover between Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories. With a little bit of experimentation –and a whole lot of measuring and repeating–you can determine where each fits into your marketing strategy. It’s all about developing a unique voice for your brand and having some fun in the process.

Tony Tie is a numbers-obsessed marketer, life hacker and public speaker who has helped various Fortune 500 companies grow their online presence. Located in Toronto, he is currently the senior search marketer at Expedia Canada.