Literally Just 12 Great Ways to Make Your Brand Stand Out With Instagram Stories

Written by Laura Roeder

On August 29, 2017

If you’re on Instagram, it’s pretty impossible to avoid seeing Instagram Stories.

(Literally. They are right at the top of your feed, after all.)

And while you might have played around with Stories on your personal account, Instagram Stories for your business might not be your first thought when it comes to marketing.

After all, why spend time on content that just erases itself after 24 hours?

Well, that same expiration date that has you spooked might actually be the key to success here!

See, the short format (15 second videos) and short lifespan (24 hours from the time it’s posted) make Stories easy to consume, highly addictive, and virtually irresistible to your fans.

They’re fun, community-focused, and informal – and that helps give you a serious air of well-deserved authenticity!

Not sure how your brand can make the most of Instagram Stories?

We’ve got a ding-dang dozen ways that other brands and marketers are using them to score big – and there are definitely a few ideas in there that you can borrow!

(So, you know, no excuses.)

Share limited-time discount codes

Reward your most loyal followers with discounts for your products. Running an Instagram Stories deal is a great way to get your followers to click over to your website (where the real magic happens)!

Paleo Passion Foods does it here with the See More feature, which is currently limited to certain types of accounts (as of Summer 2017, it’s business profiles with at least 10,000 followers).   

Instagram story swipe up example

Not a big enough audience for See More? No problem – just drop the link in your profile’s description!

Go behind the scenes

Throwing together a new recipe? Writing a fresh blog post? Skydiving in Antarctica? Whatever you’re up to, taking your followers behind the scenes gets them connected to the final product!

When Minimalist Baker Dana Shultz shares her behind-the-scenes Stories, her followers see that she’s putting tons of effort into her work, and it builds excitement for whatever recipes are going to appear on her blog next!

Instagram stories behind the scenes

(It also has a tendency to make us super hungry.)

Link to your brand from your personal account

Have a bunch of followers on your personal account, but trying to start a fresh new Instagram account for your brand? Link up that newer account with an @-tag, and your personal followers can click on over and give you a follow on your brand, too! (Tagging someone – including yourself – is ridiculously easy.)

Link to other brands

Speaking of @-tags in Instagram Stories, don’t forget to link to other brands – it’s a great way to branch out and embrace the community aspect of Instagram!

Check out how Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income did it in this example: he tagged another blogger and the conference they were both attending, which told his followers what he’s up to and who he’s hanging around with. 

Pat Flynn Instagram Stories

(Hooray for making new friends, too!)

Make your product pop 

Want to catch someone’s attention as they’re tapping their way through their Stories? Make your product pop by setting it in motion!

Instagram Stories allows you to share bursts of video up to 15 seconds long each, or to capture GIF-like moving images with its Boomerang feature. Try these options so you can show someone dancing in the clothes you designed, washing up with your all-natural sugar scrubs, or posing for one of your most sensational wedding photos!

Pump up events

Going somewhere?

Use Stories to take your audience from IG to IRL!

If you’re attending or hosting an event for your brand, tell your followers where they can meet up with you in person, and score some real-life face time with you.

Katie Dalebout regularly meets up with her followers, and Instagram Stories is a great place for her to remind people when and where they can see her very soon:

Katie Dalebout Instagram Stories

(And remember, you can follow up by posting Stories of the actual meetup, too!)

Because Instagram Stories are temporary, they’re perfect for sharing things like this that you don’t necessarily want cluttering up your profile when the event has come and gone!

Share a goofy moment

Let’s be real.

(No, really.)

Behind every brand is at least one real, live human – or at least a fairly convincing animatronic one – and Instagram Stories is a great place to embrace that! Dance, play, sing a song – just do the things that come naturally to you. Your followers will love connecting with you on a more personal level, and that connection helps turn followers into customers.

Lewis Howes regularly hops on Instagram Stories and shares real glimpses into his life in a perfectly imperfect way:

Lewis Howes

Is it perfect for literally every type of business? Probably not – but pulling back the curtain and getting a little lighthearted with the people behind your brand can go a long way when you’re forging emotional connections with your followers!

IG Story takeover

Instagram takeovers – where you give a special guest control of your account for a short period – have been popular for years. Hosting one as an Instagram Stories takeover can be an even better fit, because the content is only available for about as long as the event lasts!

Invite another brand to take over your Instagram Stories for a day or so, so they can share what they’re up to with your followers – and you can do the same with theirs.

This can be more of a special occasion sort of event, because otherwise, it can get a little confusing – but if you’re looking for an in-depth guide on how to set up your own, this post from Social Media Examiner has you covered!

Promote other brands you love

Did you notice something going on with another brand that your followers just have to know about? They already know and trust you, and they’re tuning in to your Stories to hear what you have to say!

Point them to that must-know piece of info like The Everygirl does for their own loyal followers:

(Just remember that if you do something like this as part of an affiliate marketing plan, offering full disclosure can make a big difference!)

Run a contest

Want to use Instagram to grow your email list?

Run a contest!

Use your Stories to show the prize, share the deets, and tell people how to enter – if you’ve got that Show More dealie we mentioned earlier, you can even use that to carve out a shortcut to the entry form!

You can arrange for people to enter via an email list signup, or even by following a certain account, like in this example from Studio DIY:

Instagram Stories Contest Example

(This slide doesn’t even say what they’re giving away, and we still want to swipe up!)

Go live

Going live on Instagram might sound nerve-racking, but it sounds a lot scarier than it is – especially because unlike Facebook, which automatically saves live broadcasts after they end, Instagram allows you to easily and automatically make them disappear.

Live video on Instagram makes your profile more discoverable in the Explore tab, and even makes you stand out to your followers in the Stories section at the top of the screen.

Once your broadcast ends, a few taps will allow you to publish that video to your Stories, where people who missed it can tune in for the next 24 hours!

Promote your blog

Want some front-and-center visual content that’ll get people curious about your latest blog posts? Instagram Stories is the perfect place to publish it!

Take a look at how Brit + Co uses multiple images in a series to promote their newest posts:

Instagram Stories Example Brit and Co

Put together a quick template that you can use week after week, and promoting your blog content via Stories will be a snap!

Are you using Instagram Stories for your brand?

What’s your favorite way to engage with your followers?

Do you see yourself using Stories for your brand?

Let us know in the comments – or find us on Instagram and give us a shout!

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