Everybody is talking about how small businesses need to better connect with their customers on a more personal level. One of the best ways to do that is by telling your story:  who you are, what drives your business. what customers say about you, etc. It’s a great way for people to see the “real” you; who your business really as and how they can connect with you at a deeper level. Instagram stories is an ideal way to do that. Here’s how to use Instagram Stories for your business.

What is Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories is the Instagram’s disappearing content offering, which allows users to share photos and videos in slideshow format.  The intent of Instagram Stories are to create a space for more unique, unfiltered, real-time sharing. They vanish after 24 hours. They can’t be viewed once 24 hours have passed, and content shared to stories also won’t appear on your profile grid or in the main Instagram feed. What’s great is that they are easily found by users; Instagram Stories appear in the apps Explore tab, making it easy for users to find new Stories.

Creative ways businesses can use Instagram Stories

Ok, so now you understand what Stories is, how exactly can businesses use it?  Here are a few quick ideas:

  1. Show a “behind the scenes” of your business – again, the idea is to connect on a more personal level with customers. One way is to show them a behind the scenes or a day in the life of your small business. That could be a tour of the office, showing them how you brainstorm a service or product, or simple day-to-day operations of how your business runs. People really are interested in seeing this stuff!
  2. Showcase an employee – people do business with people (yep, we’ve used this statement a few times in past blog posts because they do!) so why not highlight an employee?  Maybe it’s an anniversary or promotion or some other milestone to celebrate. Put a face to the name and let people get to know your company up close and personal!
  3. Do a mini how-to slideshow – this is especially effective for products but really can be done with a product or service. Create a quick how to video and show people how certain products are used, and show them in “action”. If you’re a restaurant, you could actually show how a dish is created, or maybe just show them how you plate a certain dish so people get an inside view of your creativity.
  4. Repurpose a blog postSocial Media Examiner came up with a creative way to repurpose content by suggesting that businesses put together short how-to articles on just about any topic; these are really conducive to Instagram users you are always looking for ideas, and Instagram Stories lets you share this kind of information in an interesting, digestible format.
  5. Promote a time-sensitive event or sale – restaurants, hotels and retailers can really benefit from this one.  Want to do a quick sales to hyper-promote an item?  Maybe you’re a restaurant and have a special you want to promote only for a certain day. Hotels can use Stories to promote a last minute vacant room available. Remember, you’ve got 24 hours to make sure you take advantage of the short time allotted.

Don’t forget the Instagram highlights!

Instagram Highlights are the best content from your stories, the clips you don’t want to disappear in 24 hours. A story appears on your Instagram profile for only 24 hours, but a highlight lives forever unless you choose to delete it. On your Instagram profile, highlight reels are located below your bio and right above your feed. Once you’re comfortable with the Stories feature, dive into Instagram Highlights! Here’s how to add stories to Instagram Highlights.

Instagram has always been a powerful tool for small businesses. Adding stories and highlights can really help you connect even more with your customers. Learn how to use Instagram Stories for your business, and then use Instagram Highlights and watch your engagement increase. Make sure it’s part of your small business marketing plan to help grow your business.

Patty Hughes
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