When Instagram revealed its new Stories function last year, allowing users to upload and decorate pictures and videos that vanish after just 24 hours, we felt more than a touch of Deja Vu. However, despite the fact that this had previously been Snapchat’s turf, forward-thinking brands were quick to jump on board. After all, Instagram has a clear advantage in the numbers game with reports last summer revealing a whopping 300 million daily active users, compared to Snapchat’s 100 million. When a figure makes 100 million look like a paltry sum, you know things have got real.

But how much appeal does Instagram Stories hold for customers? And what can it offer to your business? Well, quite a bit, as it turns out…

Instagram Stories = brand engagement

Last month, Instagram announced that its Stories feature hit 150 million daily users – just five months after its launch – and savvy marketers have been keen to reap the benefits. The main appeal of Stories is that it sits oh-so nicely with Instagram’s traditional feed. So, if your Instagram account is a finely honed, polished gallery of carefully curated content, Stories provides the opportunity to offer a more authentic, raw glimpse into the brand behind the business. Think of it as a peek behind the scenes. And there’s something a bit spesh about getting behind the scenes, isn’t there?

Instagram’s users seem to think so. Last year, high-end beauty and grooming brand Kiehl’s reported that 8% of its followers were clicking on Stories posts, compared to the 2% who clicked on its traditional Instagram updates. Not too bad considering their Stories had only just started running.

Also, Stories are arguably a way to beat the controversial Instagram algorithm – which arranges posts in a user’s feed according to those they believe the user will care about the most, instead of chronologically – thanks to their neat position at the top of the Instagram feed. It’s a pretty effective position to grab the eye of a user – the first step towards greater engagement.

Tips from brands getting it right

Show your face

UK fashion brand Missguided has become a regular on Instagram Stories, showcasing their wares in daily snapshots that echo their polished gallery. Instead of taking the rough, raw and ready approach, they create candy-coloured animations which are not only items to shop but feature style icons which form a face and personality for the brand.

Schedule a takeover

Brand ambassadors have been big news lately, and Instagram Stories provides the perfect platform to show yours off. However, a takeover can be used in many ways. Selfridges offer smaller brands the chance to post directly to their Stories, giving the brand a global feel whilst basking in the cool factor these up-and-coming brands bring to the table.

Sell, but not too hard

A sneak peek of new products with links to shop is a standard move for Instagram Stories. But don’t sell too hard, too fast. Instead, build a relationship with your audience, like shoe brand Sophia Webster which offers a selection of stories from stylishly-pictured product favourites to meet-the-team profiles most of the week. The links to ‘buy’ and ‘see more of the product line’ just pop up occasionally – giving users a nudge instead of ramming it down their throats.

Go live

With the launch of Instagram Live, the platform became the latest to demonstrate that live video is here to stay. Influencer and beauty mogul Zoella often taps into live video to engage with her followers, answering questions about both herself and her products. By interacting and engaging with followers in this fashion, brands can effectively tap into the spark that kicked off the social media phenomenon: the desire to connect.

Of course, Stories won’t work for everyone, but how will you know unless you try? And while you’re at it, why not say hi via our Instagram feed @m2bespoke. Here you can see what we’re up to when we’re not creating dynamite content for businesses just like yours. Contact us today for more information.