Instagram Stories launched last year, in a move clearly intended to make Snapchat less relevant, described by many as a potential ‘Snapchat-killer’. A year later it has become the clear leader, with a daily audience of 250 million users. Unlike Snapchat, Instagram offers easy-to-use instructions for publishing Stories and Live Broadcasts in their blog. They continue to update users and add features, giving influencers the opportunity to promote and support campaigns. For example, influencers with a business account and over 10,000 followers can add hyperlinks to their Stories which take viewers to an external site. The product has quickly evolved to include features like stickers, hashtags, locations, filters, text and multiple photos (up to five) within each Story.
In May 2017, Instagram added location tags as a new feature to their Stories. This offers users the chance to appear in Instagram’s collective Stories based on the tags they add. The location feature is available on 3 levels. On the first level, a user’s Story can feature in a larger city (e.g. London); on the second, a certain area (e.g Notting Hill), and on the third level, a specific location, such as a restaurant or bar (e.g. Farm Girl Cafe). This pushes a user’s content beyond their existing audience, driving additional discovery from users who found them through a hashtag or dedicated channel within their category, like #Travel for example. Although this means that an influencer or brand’s Story may benefit from a gain in followers and a wider audience, it also makes it susceptible to increased negative feedback.
Stories also offer the chance for branded content to be less formal. It adds the human element and removes the added worry of the post disappearing after a few seconds. It allows influencers a chance to showcase additional information that wasn’t deemed worthy enough for a sponsored post on the main feed, and provide behind-the-scenes elements to build up to the main post.
Hyperlinks to external products instead of asking followers to “click link in bio” gives audiences less work to do, which can lead to a higher conversion rate. Influencers as big as Christine Andrew of Hello Fashion have reported significantly higher sales driven for brands this year than last year, and attributed this spike to the addition of Instagram Stories 'because of the ease of linking out and the ability for followers to just swipe up to buy a product'. It also brings a story to life, allowing influencers to include more products that they wouldn’t choose to feature in their main feed.
Influencers can add hashtags to Stories but hide them, either by making the text small and illegible (not advised!), or by layering. A post can be layered by adding a solid colour block over the hashtags, then adding text in a different colour on top of that block.
Stories are the perfect way to build anticipation, broadcast live, interact with users and take them along an influencer’s journey. Live Stories are now saved and visible for 24 hours, giving users the option to create more Stories, or post on their main feed.
There are a number of ways in which Stories can benefit an influencer’s account, so, if you are not yet using it, it’s time to start!
Colleen Quill is a digital marketing professional with over fifteen years working for entertainment companies including Yahoo!, NBCUniversal, Sony Music and Disney. She uses her micro influencer account, @grrlgenius_, to test strategies and amuse 13K followers.