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Instagram Stories – Connect and Grow your following

Instagram Stories are the new buzz in social media.  Some call it the copycat of SnapChat Stories (which let's face it is a fair call), but there is no denying it's already turning into a runaway success.

Like its competitor – Stories allows you to create a string of pictures and videos that play sequentially for 24 hours before they disappear.  You can even add text or draw on your images (and my guess is filters will be released in the future).  The great part about Stories is that they don't appear on your regular Instagram feed.  This is important for accounts who are building a certain aesthetic look to their feeds and don't want them ‘messed up' with content that doesn't necessarily fit with their look.

Instagram Stories for growing your blogging business
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Photo Courtesy of Instagram

How does it work?

Instagram Stories are a string of images and videos that can be uploaded to a feed that's separate from your regular Instagram feed.

Here are some things to know:

  • Your story plays chronologically as you add content to it
  • The videos or photos in your story cannot be liked or commented on, but you can send the user a message directly from the Stories slideshow
  • You’ll be able to see exactly who watched each part your story
  • You can edit your content with fun features like text, finger paint and emojis
  • Swiping down on the Stories camera allows you to post content shot in the last 24 hours from your camera roll straight into your story feed.
  • You can feature a specific part of your story by using the share button to share it directly to your regular feed
  • Everyone has access to Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories to grow your Instagram follwoing for business
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Photo Courtesy of Instagram

How to create a story

To create your own story, you tap on the plus sign on the upper left-hand corner at the top of your feed. You’ll be able to record video or snap a photo and add text, freehand draw or use emojis. You then hit the arrow at the top right to share. Your story will be available for followers to click through with content vanishing after it's been posted for 24 hours. Watch this quick tutorial video to get a basic overview.

How is it Going to Help my Business?

One of the things that I've noticed with  many small businesses who start on Instagram is that they have a hard time transitioning from a personal feed (where you share random photos of what you ate for lunch and the kids and family outings) to a business feed.  If you are using Instagram for your business or blog your purpose really needs to be to serve the ‘needs' of your followers.  While your dinner might be delightful and you want to share it – if someone is following you because of your makeup tips they are probably not wanting to check out your plate of pasta.

Depending on the type of business you run you generally want to stick to purposeful posts that give your follower snippets of information that serve them, you throw in the odd promotional posts (sales based posts) and finally you throw in a bit of personality so they get to know the ‘person' behind the scenes.   If you are creating compelling content in your feed people will want to find out more about who is behind it all.  The Instagram Stories feature is the PERFECT way to throw in these types of personality posts because people are opting in to seeing this kind of content by clicking on the Story icon.

If you are new to using Instagram for business and want to find out more on how to use Instagram to strategically build your following you need to check out this course from Sassy Suite to get you started on the right foot.  It's designed for anyone who is running a solopreneur style business from bloggers, direct sellers to Etsy store owners who want to use Instagram to grow their customer base and connections.

What Kind of Posts Can I share?

One of the biggest drawcards of the Instagram Stories is that it doesn't just show up in your regular feed. The truly successful Instagram accounts have strong visuals and have a certain pattern to their feeds like the examples below.  Often throwing in a ‘selfie' or behind the scenes picture can throw the flow of your feed off.

Instagram Feed from Jams and Coffee
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Instagram feed from jess cox nutritionist
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Using the stories you can throw in more personal shares of pictures and videos without disturbing your central theme.  Best of all you can use the stories to strategically grow your business by:

  • Share real-time behind the scenes footage of you working your business.  Say good morning or share a joke.
  • Humanize your brand by showing what you are doing and how you do it.
  • Build Buzz about new products if you have them or about new posts or stories if you are a blogger.
  • Do mini tutorials – while the videos only last 10 seconds it's easy to string together a series of videos and show your followers how to do something special.
  • Do a Day in the Life series – quick vlogs on the run!
  • Grow your followers. You can now have exclusive content that is only available to those who follow you and can access your stories.  You can share contest rules or bonus codes that are only available on your Instagram Stories – share content that isn't available anywhere else!
  • Who doesn’t love to have extra content handy? Instagram Stories gives you the chance to not only create Instagram exclusive content but you can also download your Stories’ photos and videos and use them later. Repurpose your content into teasers for your other platforms to get them over to Instagram. Maybe something like a “throwback Thursday” or just “in case you missed it” posts to give followers on other networks to now follow you on Instagram.
  • Drive traffic and awareness to other platforms – do you use Facebook Live or Periscope?  Tell your followers to meet you over there.
  • Need a few more registrations to your webinar? Instagram Stories is a great tool to remind your audience you have something going on today and that it’s their last chance to get there.

These are just a few ideas on how you can use Instagram Stories to build your following and grow your business or blog.  I'd love to hear how you are using this feature or if you've got any great ideas to add – tell us in the comments below so we can all grow and learn.

Here's to your success,

Tammy Rose-Townsend
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Author: Tammy Rose-Townsend

Tammy is a mom to 5 kids ranging in age from 20 to 3 - they all have Pyrrole disorder and MTHFR gene modification and she is passionate about sharing tips on what works for her family in managing symptoms naturally and on a budget. When she's not taking care of the gang she is blogging and sharing tips on how to make money from home through blogging, social media and direct sales. She also runs the online direct sales site the leading online direct sales consultant directory and blogging platform.

How to use Instagram Stories to build your social media following

I Would Love to Hear Your Thoughts

2 thoughts on “How to Use Instagram Stories to Make Meaningful Connections

  1. I still have to wrap my mind around the Instagram Story concept. I guess they'd be a great alternative/supplement to live blogging/tweeting event coverage?
    Posted on August 15, 2016 at 4:23 am
  2. Thanks for sharing more about IG stories. I did see the new thing on IG and that 3D scroll sort of thing looks good. Coming to content, you are right - people want to see small stories so it certainly is a good way to build content.
    Posted on August 12, 2016 at 12:59 pm