Thanks to the introduction of Instagram Stories, users are staying on Instagram longer, posting more frequently, and engaging more. Stories allow you, as a direct seller, to go beyond the basic content strategy and do as the name implies: tell your story. They are perfect for short updates that you don’t want to hang around indefinitely: seasonal product releases from your direct sales company or technology updates that find themselves dated after a short amount of time. In many ways, this expiring content is perfect.
Creating Instagram Stories
To create a new story, visit your profile on Instagram and tap on the small plus sign on your profile photo. This will open up your smartphone’s camera. You can choose to use the camera to take a new photo or video, or you can tap and choose an existing photo or video from your camera roll. You also have the option to add any photo filters or text you wish to your story: tag someone or use a hashtag.
If you have more than 10,000 followers, you can also add a custom link to your story. When you’re done, you will see a red circle flash around your profile photo and your story will appear in the Stories feed along the top of your followers home feeds when they open up Instagram.
You can also take Instagram Stories further with highlights. Highlights sit near the bottom of your profile, below your bio but above where your feed begins. To build a highlight from your Instagram Stories, tap on the plus sign near the bottom of your profile (it will only appear there once you have published your first story) and select the story that you would like to showcase. You can add multiple stories to each highlight, allowing you to splice together your stories into longer arcs for your followers to enjoy.
At first glance, Instagram Stories might seem like a fairly straightforward area for you to showcase your products and promotions. However, the real value of these stories is to use them to engage with your audience in new, exciting ways that you can’t do on your basic Instagram profile:
- Create a poll to break the ice and get people talking to you.
- Capture “A Day in the Life” in a story. Since you can combine videos with still photographs in your stories, you can offer your audience a unique peek into your everyday life behind the scenes.
- Create a microblog to showcase your content from elsewhere.
- Show off your love for your product by showing it in action, or featuring others showing off your product. Or use it to showcase video testimonials.
- Celebrate major milestones in your business or personal life.
- Celebrate crazy holidays or trending hashtags in your stories.
- Promote events happening around other channels on your platform.
Other ways to engage with your audience
Even if you don’t want to create or post Instagram Stories to your own profile, you can still listen to your followers’ stories to learn more about them, their needs, and what they’re looking for. Take some time to go through your list of followers and take a peek at some of their stories and find some to interact with and start up a conversation. They’ll be glad for the engagement, and you’ll learn something new about them.
Owning your own business doesn’t mean you have to do it all on your own! Come hang out with me over in my free Facebook group: Social Marketing for Direct Sales, with Brenda Ster.