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Overview: Instagram Stories

Originally created as a way to share snapshots from your daily life as they happen, over time Instagram has morphed into a more curated sharing platform.

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Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to using Instagram Stories for your business:

Share Later or Share Now?
The average Instagram user tends to scroll back through photos on their camera roll that they took weeks or months ago, applies a filter, and uploads their photo or video with a #tbt (throwback to…) hashtag. Instagram’s solution for spurring more in-the-moment sharing? Instagram Stories.

Like Snapchat, the (relatively) new Stories feature allows users to share photos and videos that vanish 24 hours after they’re posted. To ensure that users are only sharing new content, the app requires you to use recent photos: only those you’ve captured during the last 24 hours will be available to share on your Story.

Using Instagram Stories
Stories appear at the very top of users’ screens when they open Instagram.

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If your business already has a presence on Instagram, this means that your Stories will be seen by all your current followers. No need to create a new account and build an audience from scratch on Snapchat. (Keep this in mind when debating what social platforms to build your business on!)

How can you use Instagram Stories for your business? Amuse your audience when something funny happens while on the job, or snap a picture or short video when you get in a new piece of equipment or a new cleaning solution. Don’t worry about applying the perfect filter, or getting just the right angle for your shot: the point of Instagram Stories is for sharing to be organic and spur-of-the-moment.

Have fun with the editing tools provided: use the text options and color filters to make your photos more entertaining.

Instagram Story Analytics
What could be considered a negative, Instagram Stories doesn’t allow for public likes or comments. If someone sees your Story and wants to reply, their only option is to send you a private message on Instagram’s message feature, Instagram Direct. However, one positive trade-off: You can view a list of users who have viewed your Story, which gives you insight into who’s paying attention to you.

Bonus: Maintaining a Captive Audience on Instagram
The Stories feature came on the heels of Instagram’s decision to adjust how users’ feeds are delivered. Originally designed to list followers’ posts in the order they were uploaded, placing the most recent posts at the top of people’s feeds, Instagram’s now taking advantage of a new algorithm that sorts photos and videos in your feed based on which photos you’re most likely to be interested in, based on which accounts and content you’ve interacted with in the past.

The unfortunate part is that this means that, as a small business with a (presumably) small audience on Instagram, it makes it harder for your content to garner the same exposure that it would have before the change. Two things we recommend you keep in mind to mitigate this as much as possible:

1) Encourage your followers to turn on post notifications: Doing this tells Instagram that they are engaged with your account, which means they’ll be notified any time your account is updated. How does one turn on post notifications? Once on a profile, tap the menu (three dots) in the upper right-hand corner, and select “Turn On Post Notifications.”

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2) Use hashtags: Selecting popular hashtags allows others interested in that topic or tag to see your post (all posts are sorted by ‘most recent’).

If your business is interested in sharing some off-the-cuff content and connecting with prospects and customers in a more organic way than what can be done on Facebook, we recommend trying out Instagram Stories!

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