Your Instagram feed plays a crucial role in establishing your brand presence, but if you stop there, you’re missing out on the growth, sales, and engagement that can come from using another powerful feature of Instagram – Stories! In fact, this power tool can impact sales and catapult your reach even more than your feed!
That’s because Instagram Stories has handy tools to help you reach entirely new audiences that might otherwise never see your content. Plus, with the right sales strategy (hint: there’s one below!) you can drive a ton of product and service sales right from your Stories!
Since 1.7 billion Instagrammers browse Stories every day, there is huge potential for growth, sales, and engagement that no one can afford to ignore. Let’s explore each benefit and along the way get inspiration from some great Instagram image Story ideas from the examples throughout this article!
But first, what exactly ARE Instagram Stories, and why are they crucial for effective Instagram marketing?
Let’s dive in! 🏊♀️
What Are Instagram Stories?
(…And Why do I Need Them? 🤷♀️)
Instagram Stories are different than the traditional square post on your Instagram feed that lives forever (unless you delete it, anyway!). Instagram Stories (images, photos or 15-second videos) live in a small section at the top of your feed, and disappear after 24 hours!
In fact, the 24-hour window to view a Story is part of the reason why these handy little tools are SO effective at growing, selling, and engaging! Your audience knows that the Story will disappear forever after a certain amount of time, which creates a scarcity mentality.
After all, no one wants to miss out on cool deals, amazing features, and handy tidbits in your stories than they are on your feed.
The other part is that Instagram makes them MORE prominent in the feed – if you miss them at the top, they will show them to you again as you scroll!
While they can visit your feed any time, a Story is gone forever after one day! Furthermore, your followers are always aware of this – the length of time the Story has been up is posted next to the username (look next to @sarah.grove’s username in the screenshot below)!
Plus, Instagram Stories allow you to post a bigger image or video than on your feed! Instagram image story size is 1080 x 1920px, or a 9:16 ratio compared with the typical 1:1 square in your feed.
How to Grow Your Followers with Instagram Stories
There’s no doubt about it: using Instagram Stories is a powerhouse way to grow your following. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- That scarcity mentality we talked about above, where users feel more inclined to look at Stories than a feed because images and videos only last for 24 hours! They’ll be more likely to click on a Story than a feed post for this reason, and be entranced by your content!
- There are three available Instagram Stories stickers specifically designed to put your content in front of new audiences who might love to see more!
Let’s talk about how you can use three stickers (Location, Mentions, and Hashtags) to expand your reach and attract new followers.
Plus we have some handy hacks to use them in Stories for maximum impact!
Use Location Stickers in Your Stories to Increase Reach
Locations stickers indicate that you’re in a particular location and that increases the chance that users searching for that place will see your content.
However, rather than appearing in the main body of search, your Stories will appear in the Stories section – signified by a bright orange circle around the icon at the top of a search.
Below, you can see an example from a search for Cozumel (can you tell we don’t want summer to end? 🏝🍹😩)
Here are some screenshots of the first few Stories you’ll see if you click on that icon!
You can see each of these users tagged the location in each of their posts – that’s how we’re able to see it here! But there is more you can do to increase your chances of snagging a spot in a Stories highlight:
- Try to post a video, rather than a still image. All of these examples are videos! Although the Instagram algorithm is a closely-guarded secret, evidence suggests that video Stories are favored over still posts for Location Highlights!
- Tag yourself in your story! Seems silly, right? However, it actually helps curious users to navigate to your profile. Notice how the user’s name is featured next to the location but isn’t clickable? @Mentioning yourself will give users a button to click to go right to your profile – and hopefully follow!
- Choose your location carefully. The more ultra specific you are on your location, the less chance that a wider audience will see it. You can practice targeting a well-trafficked location for more reach and views
Unsure what we mean by that last one? Basically, more users are likely to search Cozumel, Mexico over a really specific location like a coffee shop in Cozumel! Take a look for yourself:
You can see that Cozumel, Mexico, Cozumel Puerto Maya, and San Miguel de Cozumel all have Stories attached to them. However, Starbucks Cozumel, Mexico doesn’t! Chances are you won’t find a large prospective audience at this location. Sometimes, bigger really is better!
On to our next handy growth tool: mentions!
Mention Other Accounts And Reach Their Audience, Too
We mentioned (Ha! Get it? 😎) above that you should make a habit of tagging your own profile in your stories. That’s so curious watchers can navigate to your profile if they find you via search!
Mentions are also useful for catching the attention of other Instagram accounts that might even repost your content.
This is an important goal for putting your content in front of the audiences that larger (or just similar accounts!) have. Those audiences could then be tempted to check out your profile, and see what you’re all about. Hello, Follow button!
When you @Mention another account in your Story, they’ll receive a Direct Message, with a handy option to repost to their story. Check it out!
A word of caution though. Mentioning people in irrelevant content is spammy and annoying. Make sure there is a benefit for the person you are tagging as well as for yourself.
By reposting this content, we place this user’s Story in front of our own audience. Then, @busymomsmakingbank would get views, engagements, and maybe even click-throughs from our audience as well as ours!
At a minimum, this tactic would positively affect your Instagram Analytics by adding more views, impressions, and click throughs from your new audience.
These metrics then tell the Instagram Algorithm that your content is interesting and relevant, which increases the chance that your Stories would appear towards the beginning of your followers feed AND push your posts up towards the top!
#Goals, right? Speaking of hashtags…
Use Hashtags to Get Your Story Into More Highlights!
Your hashtag strategy will work similarly to your locations-tagging strategy when pursuing more followers!
Chiefly, you’ll want to target hashtags carefully based on how much traffic they get (or how many posts are attached to the hashtag!). However, you can include more hashtags in your Story than you can Locations, so you have more flexibility in your hashtag selections.
Keep in mind that you can only use one hashtag in through the Sticker option, but you can include hashtags (and mentions) through the text option! Here’s what it looks like:
As you can see at the bottom of the screen, Instagram will auto-populate hashtag suggestions. You can test out a handful of hashtags, or hone in on your target audience using a hashtag strategy or get great recommendations from Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder 2.0!
You can use up to 11 hashtags in your Instagram Story; although to avoid cluttering up your screen, you should shrink the text boxes containing your hashtags as much as possible.
Now that we’ve gone over some easy-to-implement ways to grow your reach and following with Instagram Stories, let’s talk about the real money-maker: selling with Instagram Stories! 💰
How to Grow Your Sales Using Instagram Stories
Have you ever tried selling products on Instagram? If so, you’ve probably noticed that just posting a product and telling people to buy it doesn’t work as well as you’d like.
Think of it this way: Instagram Stories provide a glimpse of your personality, brand, and product. You have a limited time (24 hours!) and just a few frames to introduce yourself your product and move potential clients into your sales funnel.
So how do you do it? Just posting your product might fall flat if users don’t have enough information, backstory, or trust in your brand to make a purchase.
Instead, use a handful of Instagram Stories to provide the information your followers need!
Here’s how to do it:
Step One: Decide How You’re Going to Achieve Buy-In
Before launching into any kind of sales pitch, you first have to decide how you’re going to appeal to your audience. Three common ways to do this are:
- Share a personal story, relatable scenario, or a simple introduction to build an emotional connection
- Drop facts, knowledge, or education to position yourself as the expert they NEED
- Work in results, before-and-afters, proof of success, or client reviews to create trust in your product
Most of this is best done by you talking to the camera. They want to see and connect with YOU. Now that you’ve shared a few Stories using the prompts above, and your viewers feel like they know you a little bit, it’s time for:
Step Two: Prepare Your Audience For the Product
More than just telling your audience “hey a product is coming up next” this short series of Stories is about getting your audience to connect the mental dots on why your product makes sense for them – before you even show it!
In fact, there are several Instagram Story stickers that can help you accomplish this (we just love those stickers! 😍):
- Use Polls to help your viewers determine if they have a need you can fill. For example: leading questions like: “Which Do You Struggle With More?” “Which of These Do You Wish You Could Master?” or “If You Could Do One of These Two Things, Which Would It Be?” work great!
- Use the Rating Bar to get your followers thinking about how much they value, like or are even scared of a concept!
- Use the Quiz sticker to ask your audience leading questions that lead to your product as a natural conclusion.
- Use the Countdown Timer to let your audience know if your product is a limited-time offer, signaling that this item is scarce and they should act quickly to get it!
User @audrey.chaney uses the rating bar to ask followers what they think of this wall. Now if Audrey was a designer or a wallpaper supplier, she could then feature a product or service! As a realtor, she could also then lead into a listing if this house was for sale!
By using these tools, you can lead into your next frame, which should be the product reveal – and your audience can logically follow the progression!
Step Three: Feature Your Product!
Now it’s showtime, with a frame featuring – you guessed it – your product, service, or event!
To highlight your big sell, make sure to keep your Story frame visually appealing and interesting. You also want to avoid cluttering up this frame with too much text or effects.
Here’s a great example from @honestlizhere:
However, you SHOULD make a point to highlight a few benefits of your product, service, or event. This will help your audience make up their minds in a favorable way and reinforce the idea that your feature can help them!
Step Four: Include A Strong CTA
After you’ve featured your product, spell out exactly what your audience needs to do next to get it, or even to ask more questions! The Questions sticker can be really helpful for this and gets that curious follower into your DMs for more opportunities to close the deal.
Or the Countdown Timer could be useful for letting your audience know they have a limited time left!
For example, social media expert @Jenns_trends uses the countdown timer here to encourage her followers to set a reminder for her Live, explaining her latest topic.
If you have over 10,000 followers, that means you can include a link in your Stories (they can swipe up from your CTA Frame right to the link!). If that’s you, you should also add a link to your Instagram Story that leads to the product, service page, or event registration.
However, if you aren’t quite there yet, all is not lost. Simply include text stating that the link is in your bio, and include a helpful @Mention tag so they can click on it and go right to your profile!
We highlighted the Questions sticker in this section, but it also doubles as a powerful tool for another major Instagram goal – boosting engagement!
How to Boost Your Engagement with Instagram Stories
In addition to supporting your goals to grow your followers and sell your products, Instagram Stories also plays a key role in boosting your engagement!
Engagement is the new key to helping your posts gain relevance (and a higher spot!) in user feeds and Stories. When this happens, more accounts are able to see and interact with your content, which tells Instagram your content is interesting to lots of people. Then, it’s more likely to push it out to even more users!
Instagram Stories stickers encourage your followers to interact with your content. Rather than only liking or commenting on your Story as users would with a post in your feed, they have all-new options for getting to know you and interacting with you on a more personal level.
We’ve talked about some of the available stickers in the previous sections, such as polls, quizzes, rating bars, and countdown timers. We’ve even touched on questions, which may be the secret weapon you need to boost your engagement!
Here’s another way to use Instagram Stories for another purpose- building interaction with your audience.
Use Instagram Story Questions to Boost Audience Engagement
The questions option allows your followers to ask you anything on their minds, or to offer valuable feedback! One of the most popular ways to use questions is to label the sticker “Ask Me Anything!” and allow your viewers to type questions into the answer box.
Once you’ve collected enough of these questions, you can then begin to answer each of them, creating a fun, engaging series of Stories in which your followers can begin to get to know you, your brand, and your products!
That’s how blogger @bethereinfive was able to work in a super-easy affiliate discount, product feature, and link in a totally natural interaction!
While Questions is the favored choice for a lot of Instagram users looking to boost their engagement, any of the interactive stickers on Instagram Stories will give you a leg up. That’s because they often massively increase the interactions your Story receives!
For example, user @themarisamohi used a fun, lighthearted poll to interact with her followers and feature a BTS of her day-to-day life.
How do Stickers Affect Your Instagram Story Engagement?
If you post a quiz, a poll, or a question box, you’ll be able to monitor how many times someone interacted with the stickers you chose.
The interaction is recorded in your metrics, along with your Instagram Story Views which sends a positive signal to the algorithm that your content is engaging and interesting to viewers to a lot of viewers. Therefore, your Stories could appear towards the beginning of the Stories reel – and your posts could move up higher in the feed.
What does this have to do with engagement, though?
The short answer: everything.
The higher your content appears in Feeds and in Stories, the more likely it is that more of your followers will see and have the opportunity to engage with it. The more engagement your content receives, the higher your profile and posts rank in the algorithm.
Nifty, huh? So if you want to build your engagement on Instagram, use your Stories to start collecting clicks, votes, ratings, and answers from your followers. That interaction will begin a trickle-down effect that will raise your engagement rates across your entire profile!
Not to mention, you have a TON of interactive sticker options to work with. Here’s a screenshot of all your options!
Main Takeaways – Why You Need Instagram Stories
If you’ve been skimming up until this point, here’s a summary of the main points:
- The fact that Stories disappear after 24 hours creates major FOMO that you can use to your advantage!
- Location, Mention, and Hashtag stickers are perfect for putting your posts in front of new audiences (and collecting new followers!)
- Just posting a product on your Stories and a link to buy may not be very effective – you need to create a mini customer journey using Stories to get maximum results!
- Use Stickers like Polls, Questions, and Rating Bars, to build engagement and interaction with your viewers.
- Positive engagement metrics on your Stories will boost your content in the algorithm, impacting engagement and reach positively across the board.
Did you know that you can NOW schedule Instagram Stories and Videos from our Tailwind App? You simply load up your video or post, and use Push Notifications to send it to Instagram and into your Stories!
Click the link below to sign up for a FREE 30-post trial of Tailwind, and see it for yourself! 🤩
Start a Free Trial of Tailwind for Instagram!
- Schedule photos and videos directly to your Instagram feed with Auto Post.
- Optimize every post for more engagement with SmartSchedule and Hashtag Finder.
- Automatically hide your post’s hashtags in the first comment to keep your caption clean & clutter-free.
- Make your posts more discoverable with user tagging & location tagging.
- Analyze what's working across every post and profile with smart analytics.
Don’t Forget to Pin For Later 📌:
Kristen Dahlin is a Content Marketer at Tailwind — a Pinterest and Instagram scheduler and analytics platform. A recent graduate of OU with a degree in Entrepreneurship and Venture Management, Kristen is living in rural Oklahoma with her husband Kyle, daughter Sophie, terrier Kerouac, and a very temperamental flower garden.