Why Instagram Stories are the most underrated small business marketing tool

October 17, 2019

In this 5-minute read:

  • What makes Instagram Stories more effective than other social media
  • Why your small business needs to be on Instagram
  • Instagram owns the youth market
  • Tips for using Instagram Stories for your small business

Any marketing guru worth his/her salt will tell you that in today’s market, social media engagement is one of the best ways to build trust from potential and current customers. Here’s why you should use Instagram Stories as a highly effective small business marketing tool.

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What makes Instagram Stories more effective than other social media for businesses?

Facebook has been the traditional “go-to” for a business looking to get into social media, but Instagram shows far better engagement and conversion figures. According to Neil Patel, 68% of Instagram users regularly engage with brands, compared to only 32% on Facebook.

Instagram Stories in particular boasts crazy-good engagement figures among its 400 million daily users. An incredible 1 in 5 Instagram Stories shared by a brand receives a direct reply. This alone can provide invaluable insights into your current and potential customers’ thoughts about your products and services.

Here’s another biggie: 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business. That would probably seem strange to marketers a couple of decades ago, but today, businesses have become personalities, like any other social media content creator.

Need more evidence? 75% of Instagrammers take action (such as visiting your website after viewing your Instagram post or Story). This all adds up to a 2.2% “interaction rate” for Instagram. That may sound like small potatoes, until you learn that Facebook has a 0.22% rate. That means that Instagram is NINE HUNDRED PERCENT more effective than Facebook in generating action from your potential customers.

If your business wants to target the youth market, you must be on Instagram 

Instagram is now the top platform for teenagers, largely because the “Instagram Story” feature is a not-so-subtle ripoff of Snapchat (which has fallen to second place). 72% of U.S. teens use Instagram, and the number grows daily.

Instagram’s mobile-friendly tap-to-navigate platform, fun face-filter tools, and image- and video-based content is the epitome of youthful social media success.

How to use Instagram Stories to grow your business

Small business marketing’s entire raison d’être is engagement, and Stories is the king of Instagram engagement, which is in turn the undisputed king of social media engagement.

Instagram Stories make your business feel more fun, human, and personal

While your main Instagram page should be super-clean and bright, with professional-looking, well-composed photography, Stories is a way to make your business’s “personality” more casual, fun, human, maybe even a little bit fallible. 

If you use Stories effectively, people can start to identify with your company and start to think of you as a friend rather than just someone who provides goods and services they like.

Since Stories default to a 24-hour life cycle (before they disappear forever—but more on this later) they can convey less formal, “throwaway” content that can feel at once more immediate and more personal and valuable to some consumers than the “put on your best face” aspect of your main Instagram page. 

Ironically, this lowering of expectations from consumers can make your business seem more authentic and personable, more “real.”

Use Instagram Stories to highlight products, offers, sales, and special events

Naturally, products and services can be the subject of a Story. With the “swipe up” feature, you can direct your followers to any link, page, sale, website, or other social media account you wish.

Stories is a great way to try out new content, test an offer, etc. If you get a good response, you can consider making them a more permanent feature via your regular Instagram posts and/or your website.

Take the opportunity to show owners and/or employees using your products and services. Maybe show them struggling with issues in a human way. (Do you run a gym? Consider profiling an employee or customer—with permission—struggling to lose weight or reach a fitness goal. Salons and pet businesses can show stylists or technicians doing interesting hairstyles or nails or treatments. Restaurants can show a “behind the scenes” look at how a popular dish is made. The possibilities are endless.)

Stories can show how your products and services fit into everyday life. You can share tips, how-tos, product demonstrations, unboxings, reviews, rants, raves, whatever you want. 

You might feature a Story about recent positive customer testimonials and recommendations, or highlight recent reviews from Yelp, Google, or TripAdvisor.

Use your Story to link to your blog, website, youtube channel, or any other interesting content to build interest and improve conversions. Make it special and engaging.

Bonus: Instagram Stories are given front-page priority on both Instagram AND Facebook. Take advantage!

Use fun Story features like polls, geotagging, and hashtags to increase engagement

The “polls” tool encourages enormous engagement on Stories. A simple, binary “this” or “that” option gets people to express their preference with a simple tap, and you can direct them to related products that build on that choice. 

You can also ask a couple of fun questions on your main Story page, and then “swipe up” to finish the quiz, complete the form, visit the website, or get a coupon for an in-store offer.

Use “geotagging” (built-in location link) in your Story to let people know where your store is, where you’ve visited, where a special event is going on, etc.

Instagram Stories also lets you use #hashtags and people tags, face filters, and all the other fun tools Instagram has to offer. By tagging other Instagrammers, businesses, or people you like, or whom you think your customers would like, you create valuable connections and keep people coming back for more.

Be sure to respond when people engage with your Instagram Story

As noted above, the response rate for Stories can be very high compared to other media. So make sure you are actually available to respond to DMs (direct messages) while your Story is up. Instagrammers can contact you directly with a quick tap of their fingers, so if you plan to use Instagram Stories to build your brand or attract new customers, make sure you actually engage those customers when they respond to your story or ask questions about your products and services. Otherwise you may convey that your business is unresponsive.

But… my Instagram Stories will disappear after 24 hours!

Not so fast, bub. Although the default setting for Stories is to disappear forever after 24 hours, you can select “save to archive” when creating your Story and it will be saved in your main Instagram account.

Even better, use Instagram Stories Highlights to feature any Stories you want to share with your followers indefinitely. Here’s a great how-to post on using Instagram Stories Highlights. 

Remember, your “Highlights” should be the absolute best of your Stories, displaying the most popular or highest-quality content that features your business.

Consider Instagram ads

If you want to maximize your results on Instagram, consider augmenting your audience with targeted Instagram ads. Facebook owns Instagram, and Facebook’s demographic segmentation and targeting are second to none. If you pay for advertising on Instagram, you exploit those powerful Facebook resources, and your ads may be displayed on both platforms, depending on which options you select.

Want to know your customers better? Use small business CRM software

Instagram Stories help you engage with your customers and portray your business in a fun, human light. To get to know more about your customers, how they spend, and what they respond to most, consider a good small business CRM platform like Womply. 

Womply designed and built the first and only “pre-populated” CRM in the world, that comes already loaded with your customers names, contact information, transaction data, and much more. If you know how to target your best customers, you can build loyalty, repeat business, and revenue. Get your free demo by completing the form below.

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