If you haven’t gotten around to using Instagram stories for your business yet, Instagram’s most recent announcement gives you all the more reason to start.
Instagram announced Tuesday that they are introducing shoppable stories — which means when a brand posts an Instagram story, they can tag the image or video with the products featured and provide viewers with a direct link to shop. Users can click on the new “shopping bag” tag and immediately purchase the product— without leaving the app.
Given the nature of Instagram stories (they are usually posted in real time and only available to view for 24 hours) this could give brands the opportunity to gain quick conversions from their content, on a platform that has previously made it notoriously difficult for brands to drive users to their sites.
Why should you care?
Brands who want to stay relevant in today’s social media landscape need to be using stories — because that’s where a huge portion of active users are hanging out. Instagram reports 300 million people use Instagram stories daily, up from 200 million in April 2017.
Beyond that, stories are an excellent place for users to connect with brands without feeling “sold to.” According to a recent survey, Instagrammers say they use stories to stay in-the-know with users they’re interested in, find new relevant products, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the brands they love.
Instagram stories feel more personal and less curated than Instagram posts and viewers will be more likely to view a shoppable story as a helpful resource — a link to a product they already want — rather than an annoying ad they didn’t want to see.
A new frontier
Shoppable feeds aren’t new: The social media giant first introduced in-feed shopping in 2016. In 2017, they followed up to add business analytics, and they debuted “action buttons” last month, allowing users to complete certain actions on business profiles, like make a restaurant reservation.
Shoppable stories are the next logical step in social media eCommerce, and the potential for high return will further incentivise brands to invest money and time into Instagram.
While shoppable stories are not available to everyone just yet, major brands such as Adidas and Louis Vuitton are already using the new feature. According to Fortune, the click-to-shop feature will be free for brands to use for now.
How to use shoppable Instagram stories for your business
We’re still waiting on information from Instagram about the inner workings of the feature, but it’s safe to say all brands won’t have immediate access. Much like the “swipe up” feature, which allowed brands to link directly to pages or products in their story and was only available to business accounts with 10,000 followers or more, there will almost certainly be a minimum follower requirement before a business account has access.
If you’re still growing your Instagram following, don’t fret: Now is the perfect time to begin building an engaged audience on Instagram and Instagram stories so you’ll be ready to begin selling when the feature becomes available to you.
How to Use Instagram Stories
The good news is that Instagram Stories are very intuitive to use — and because they have a more “real-time” feel, there’s less pressure to make every Instagram story feel perfectly curated and produced.
Log in to your Instagram account and follow the following steps.
1. Click on the camera icon in the top left corner of your screen. You can also click the “+” in the corner of your profile picture.
2. Create or upload your content. You can tap the white circle on the screen to take a photo, hold it to take video, or use the gallery in the corner to upload images or video you’ve already taken. You can toggle between different content creation options: Live videos, boomerangs (1-second looping videos), Superzoom (a comedic effect that zooms in on a subject from afar), Rewind (plays videos in reverse), and so on. Creative should be shot vertically on a phone. If you upload any content, make sure it’s 1080×1920 so it fits inside the medium.
3. You can edit your video or photo using the editing options available. Swipe from side to side to put filters on the video or swipe up to access stickers, gifs, and location tags.
4. Have fun with it. You should be true to your brand voice, but Instagram stories are not meant to be serious.
5. This is when you would add shopping tags and links to your Instagram Business Account. If this feature isn’t available to you yet, no worries— just skip this step.
6. Click “Send to” and then “Your Story” to add it to your stories feed. If you click any of the followers below, you’ll send it privately as a direct message, which should be used sparingly if at all.
Use correct tags for more visibility
Using hashtags in a traditional Instagram feed is a standard way to reach new eyes. Stories are a different game because they’re more likely to lead users away from your content. Use hashtags you own and want to increase visibility for.
However, while hashtags may not be a slam dunk, location tags are an excellent feature to utilize in stories. Tagging relevant locations will put your stories in front of users who are in the same area or interested in a particular region.
You can add tags in the “stickers” menu when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
If you’re featuring other Instagram users in your stories, you can also add a mention (@username) to give them a shoutout in their story. They’ll receive a notification that they were tagged and will be more likely to interact with the story or reshare it on their own page. This is especially powerful if you’re working with influencers as part of an influencer marketing strategy.
Use the highlights feature to save high-performing stories
The typical Instagram story is only available for 24 hours. However, you’re able to save a story or set of stories into your “Instagram highlights,” visible on your profile above your photo feed.
When you have stories that perform well or do a good job of capturing your brand message, save them as a highlight so they don’t disappear a day later. You could use these highlights to advertise a sale, showcase a product, round up reviews from customers or influencers, or just show a fun behind-the-scenes look at your brand.
Instagram highlights are likely to be a gamechanger once your brand can create shoppable stories. If a product on a certain story is converting extremely well, save the story as a highlight so you can continue to monetize that story even after the 24 hours are up.
Use Instagram Analytics to Know What Works and What Doesn’t
Instagram business accounts have access to analytics to see how stories and posts truly perform. When you post a story, you can check analytics to see how many people watched, clicked, replied, or swiped away.
If one set of stories is getting far more engagement than others, make sure you save it as a highlight — but also analyze what it is about that story that made it successful, and mimic that content more. Similarly, if analytics say a high number of users bounced away from a particular story, take a look at why that might be (Was it too long? Too loud? Not engaging enough?) and pivot away from that practice.
Your customers are on Instagram — you should be too
No matter how small your business, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be leveraging Instagram to reach new audiences and connect with your customers on a personal level. Start now, have fun with it, and let your personality shine through. Your audience will appreciate it.
Stryde is an eCommerce agency helping small businesses and enterprise brands expand their reach and revenue. Request a free analysis from one of our specialists to see your business could be driving additional revenue using social media.