May 21, 2019 by Kristian Segelken | Social Media Specialist

If you are only posting to your business’ Instagram feed, you are missing out on half of what the platform has to offer. Instagram stories are a fun and effective marketing tool and recent updates make it easier to use than ever.

Not sure where to start? Try using Instagram stories at your next event or trade show. Fans will almost certainly follow along with the action for fear of missing out or #FOMO. This kind of in-the-moment posting gives your business a personality and adds a literal storytelling element to your page. If you are feeling comfortable, go live. Live videos can now be added to your stories as well. Adding a location or hashtag sticker to your posts will allow other users to find you whether they follow you or not.

In addition to location and hashtag stickers, Instagram offers other interactive stickers like polls, emoji sliders, quizzes, countdown timers and questions to help boost engagement. Ask your fans to choose between two products or create a countdown timer for a new product release. The possibilities are endless. Stickers can even help boost your e-commerce sales. Shopping stickers are a newer feature that allows users to shop for items directly from a post. This feature was previously limited to business accounts with more than 10,000 followers but was recently made available to all business accounts.

If you would rather send your fans to a different site like a homepage, blog or email list, Instagram has a solution. New tools also allow you to send users to any webpage with just one tap. This can be useful for driving website traffic, directing people to your blog or promoting your email list.

Stories also offer a full-screen format that regular posts do not. Take advantage of this feature by creating custom-made templates that users can edit and share with their friends.

Remember to include your business name or logo to help spread brand awareness. There are several apps that can help you create good-looking Instagram templates but it’s best to work with a graphic designer to ensure your template reflects your brand and is worth sharing.

Because stories last for 24 hours, you do not need to worry about what time is best to post. Stories appear before your fans’ feeds for a whole day so there is no doubt you will reach them when they are most active. Be careful not to post too frequently as fans now have the option to mute stories that they find annoying. Mixing in a few behind-the-scenes or lifestyle posts will also keep fans interested. Posting about business or product all the time will almost certainly result in fans muting you.

Although stories only exist for 24 hours, story highlights allow you to categorize and save your stories permanently. Story highlights stay at the top of your page between your bio and feed so they’re easy for new fans to find. Use story highlights to feature a particular product line, answer frequently asked questions, expand on your “about” section and more.

Instagram stories provide your fans with one more way to follow along with your brand. They provide an engaging alternative to posts in your feed which means more clicks, views, sales, website visits and an increase in brand loyalty.

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