Before I launch into how you can use the Instagram story feature to increase engagement, first, let me first clear up the question that may be on your mind:
 
What exactly IS an Instagram story?
 
To sum it up simply, an Instagram story is what appears at the top of your Instagram feed. When clicked on, you’ll see photos and videos from people you follow. An Instagram story can only be viewed for 24 hours and you are only able to add a photo or video to your story that has been taken in the last 24 hours on your phone.  It is different from a post, which will stay on your account forever until deleted.
 

Here you can see an example of both an Instagram post (left) and an Instagram story (right).

 
Now that we have cleared that up, here’s ten ideas of how you can use Instagram stories to increase engagement:
 

1. Share user generated content:

 This can be a great way to engage with your audience, and show your product or service being used in the “real world.” Announce on your story you are sharing user content and then have the following images be from your followers.
Using user generated content has two advantages: you’ll have more content to add to your stories, and the content that users create will also be shared with all of their followers, extending your reach to them.
 

2. Create a custom hashtag

 Having a custom hashtag for you brand is a great way to build awareness. Adding a hashtag to your story is easy – simply click on the sticker icon in the top right corner when you are adding a photo to your story. Pick the #hashtag sticker, and update it to the custom hashtag you have created. Using custom hashtags on your stories is especially helpful as it encourages your followers to share content using this hashtag. And as a bonus, whenever anyone clicks on that hashtag, they’ll get to see all the posts that contain it.
 

3. Add location stickers

 Whenever possible, add location stickers to your stories. This not only reminds your followers of where you are, it also makes it possible for you to be featured on the “explore” page. This means you’ll get a lot more people seeing your stories. To add a location to your story, click on the sticker icon, click on the location sticker, and search for the location you want to enter in.
 

4. Announce a new product

 Your story is also a great place to announce a new product you’re releasing. This is a way to create some buzz about it, and to showcase the product or service using different photos and video.
 

5. Announce a new blog post

 Let your followers know when you’ve got a new blog post up by announcing it on your story! You can create a series of images to show the value they’ll get by checking it out. Note: Currently Instagram only allows clickable links in stories for accounts that have over 10,000 followers, but you can always direct them to your bio where you can insert a direct link to the blog post you’re referencing.
 

6. Run a giveaway or competition

 If you’re running a competition or giveaway, use Instagram stories to reinforce your message and to remind people of it. This is when the stories only lasting for 24 hours is a great thing!
 

7. Share photos or videos from relevant events

 This could work a couple different ways. You can use Instagram stories to promote an event that your business is hosting, or to share photos or video from an event that you’re attending that will be of interest to your audience. It’s a great way to let people know about early bird deadlines, how many tickets you have left, what to expect at the event, etc.
 

8. Share motivational quotes or tips

 Mix things up and provide motivational quotes or tips on your stories. This might be something you are already posting on Instagram, but there’s no reason why you can’t provide some inspiration in your story as well.
 

9. Get behind the scenes

 I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. People love to get behind the scenes! This helps to humanize your business and brand, and turns you into real people. Share photos of what you’re working on, from a staff event, or even something as simple as what you’re having for lunch.

10. Do a how-to or tutorial

Provide extra value by doing a how-to or tutorial for your followers. Pick something that your business specializes in, and do a series of photos or videos to teach your followers how they can do it themselves.
I hope these 10 tips have given you some ideas on ways you can use Instagram stories in your business. If you feel like you need some help with it though, I’d love to chat with you. Book a free consultation call and we can discuss your goals for social media and how I can help.

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