Instagram is one of the most popular social sharing networks in the world and its meteoric rise (it grew 1400% in five years!) is testament to its popularity.

Needless to say, this popularity among users is also what makes it one of the best marketing platforms for brands. The reach and engagement on Instagram is second to none!

However, there is a method to maximizing the potential Instagram provides and simply publishing content is not the best way to go.

Instagram stories are a great way to reach out to and engage with people if they are done right.

Brands should follow some basic guidelines when thinking about Instagram Stories as a marketing tool.

Show a fun side different to regular posts

It doesn’t matter what category your business falls in or what your brand’s voice is like. Instagram Stories give you the opportunity to shed all inhibitions (at least in posts!), forget about being serious and displaying your brand’s personality in its marketing material.

No matter how stuffy your brand’s field is or how much fun you already have online, Instagram Stories give you the opportunity to use fun images, videos and casual terms in a laid-back way that is different to your regular feed.

Use GIFs and stickers, emojis and out-of-character videos to engage with customers who are just swiping through but are then compelled to see all you’ve posted as a Story.

Increase engagement through live videos, polls & AMAs

Instagram Stories allow you to poll your audience on absolutely anything under the sun. Brands can offer two options for answers to any question they want their audience to vote on.

Polls are a fun way to engage with the audience and to get an idea of what they like / dislike, what they want from the brand as goods and services and anything else at all.

Ask-Me-Anything is a format to engage with the audience by inviting them to ask you anything related to your business. These questions can also be answered in a video format

People send in their questions and brands can type out a quick response to keep the engagement going and audience coming back for more.

Live videos are a great way to take audiences behind the scenes in your brand’s journey or to involve them an event that they cannot attend in person, or even experience the same thing that you are at a certain moment in time.

Link to landing pages

Instagram allows Stories to be linked to a landing page, which could be a sign-up form, a purchase item page, “read more” or anything else. The provision of links in stories is a great way to get people to visit your website, make quick, impulsive purchase decisions, provide email addresses, increase sales and generate leads that you can then take further by retargeted ads to take a customer further in a sales funnels journey.

Instagram Stories are a great way to connect with your audience, no matter what industry your business belongs to. Staying active and engaged through stories means you are at the forefront of your audience’s recall and that means good things for your business!