Elizabeth Little

For me, it’s hard to believe that the Instagram app (IG) is turning a decade old in 2020. The social media platform rose to fame quickly by allowing people to share snippets of their lives through photos and videos, and now has over 1 billion users.

Of course, it’s not just people like me sharing their pictures on the platform. Businesses large and small now have an Instagram strategy that includes sharing photos, posting ads and engaging with new and existing customers. Now a fairly new feature, Instagram Stories, is the next function for organizations to take advantage of. We’re here to help you learn how.

Instagram Stories vs. posts

While Instagram Stories and posts live in the same app, they are decidedly different and require different utilization strategies.

Instagram Stories typically take the form of short, 15 second videos or static images that disappear after 24 hours.

A regular post, on the other hand, remains on your profile and followers can find it at any time. For this reason, posts are better for evergreen content, while Stories are best for timely, relevant and more engaging information that a user must act quickly on.

Similar to other social media platforms, there is a proprietary Instagram algorithm for how Stories and posts are seen by users.

If you’ve ever wondered why posts are not shown chronologically (I know I have), it’s intentional. Only new content and ads that the algorithm thinks you would be interested in appear at the top of your feed. Instagram determines this by examining the accounts you engage with most often along with when the content was posted. Stories follow a much simpler algorithm, showing you the most recent Stories first, alongside the ones you would be most interested in due to your past interactions.

With this being said, it’s important to build engagement with your audience to ensure your Stories and posts are first in their feed. Otherwise, you may be posting pictures and videos into the void.

8 Instagram Story ideas for B2C and B2B businesses

The social media platform estimates that 90% of accounts follow a business and 500+ million accounts are watching or using Instagram Stories every day. There is a clear opportunity for businesses to directly engage with consumers no matter if they are B2C or B2B.

On a platform that relies heavily on visuals, businesses can showcase their creativity and imagery with strong calls to action to organically grow their followers and brand presence.

Here a few creative Instagram Story ideas that can help your branding stand out from the rest:

1. Poll your audience for their preferences

One of the most exciting features of Instagram Stories is the ability to ask direct questions and receive instant feedback from your followers through polls.

In 2018, Burger King Spain used this tool to their advantage and asked their audience to build their own burger with a question sticker and poll.

Via Mashable

The company even went one step further to include a giveaway. Those who participated in the poll received a promotional code to redeem their “custom” burger in-store and Burger King sold an “Instagram Whopper” for a limited time based on the overall poll results. This campaign was a massive success and shows how businesses can engage unique users with a simple Instagram Story poll.

Other brands can post a similar Story highlight with a poll or emoji slider to collect direct consumer feedback on a campaign or new product.

2. Show how things work behind-the-scenes

Instagram is one of the best platforms to have some fun and share posts that help humanize your brand. This is especially important for B2B businesses that sometimes have impersonal or very professional advertising campaigns.

GE, a predominantly B2B company, was perhaps the first business to share a sneak peek into their behind-the-scenes project in 2016. Shortly after Instagram Stories was launched, the company posted pictures to their IG Story of team members collecting data from active volcanoes.

Via Adweek

The context was fresh and exciting for their audience who were blown away by the visuals and intrigued by the project. GE capitalized on this to encourage viewers to follow its other social media accounts. Other B2B businesses can follow suit by giving factory tours and other behind-the-scenes information their audience may be curious about.

3. Promote your website content

Just like GE used Instagram Stories to promote its Snapchat, businesses can also use this feature to get audiences to their website.

Shopify exemplifies this strategy by posting Stories urging viewers to read more of their website content. The trick is to be visual with how you display the information.

Via Shopify

Instead of writing a paragraph or showing a preview of the content, simply post the title or compelling statistic that will urge readers to want to know more context. This text, alongside a custom image that grabs the viewer’s attention, will have them wanting more.

Instagram makes it easy to link your website in your Story with buttons, so all it takes is one click to turn a viewer into a website visitor.

4. Showcase your packaging process

Since Instagram is a free platform to join, small businesses on a tight budget have a great opportunity to connect with customers on a personal level and grow their followers at no cost.

Many startups share Instagram Stories featuring their packaging process to engage existing buyers and entice viewers to purchase. For small businesses, the packaging is often a differentiator. By showing the care you put into each order and simultaneously promoting your product, viewers can get a taste of what your brand is all about, like what this small bookstore did.

Via smallbizrefined.com

5. Brand your gifs and stickers

Instagram Stories allows people and brands to use stickers and GIFs in their Stories to make them more interesting. For instance, if you are posting about going out to eat, you can include cute stickers of what you got.

McDonald’s capitalized on this feature by branding their own GIFs, so when you search for McDonald’s you have a number of images to choose from instead of generic hamburgers and fries.

During the month of March, the fast-food chain even released special addition GIFs to celebrate the seasonal release of their Shamrock Shake. Not only did this make their Story unique, but it also inspired their audience to continue to use the GIF in their own posts. Other businesses can do this by personalizing a new product or location sticker.

Via Elite Daily

6. Repost a newsletter in a different way

Content like newsletters, case studies or reports may not seem like good candidates for an Insta Story due to their lengthy text, but they are actually perfect to promote through this channel.

Repurposing your existing resources is a good way to drive traffic to your website and inform your audience of the problems your product or service solves. By taking a compelling quote or headline from your website content and turning it into something visually appealing with a clear call to action (like a “swipe up”), you can turn casual viewers into avid readers of your more complex resources.

Via later.com

7. Share user-generated content

As you build up your brand’s Instagram presence, you may have users tagging your account in their posts as they use your product. This is especially true for B2C brands.

There is an opportunity for businesses to turn their audience’s posts into their own Instagram Stories. When your account is tagged on the social media platform, you will be notified and can use their content in your Story. This will show viewers how your product or service works from an actual user’s perspective.

B2B organizations can also share user-generated content in the form of case studies or customer testimonials.

Via later.com

8. Host a takeover

An Instagram takeover is when your business partners with an influencer or another brand, allowing them to post Stories to your feed for the day. This is a great way to reach new audiences and showcase your product.

The influencer may also share some other fun tips, educational content or go on Instagram live during the day. This is a nice break from your regularly posted content but still supports an overall business goal.

If you do host a takeover, ensure you have someone else signing off on each Story posted so that it adheres to your brand guidelines. Additionally, promote your takeover with a branded countdown sticker and provide sneak peeks to build excitement around the event.

Via picmonkey.com

How to measure the success of your Instagram Stories

Of course, Instagram Stories is only a useful marketing and engagement tool if users are actively viewing, commenting and sharing them. Another plus of this social media platform is that it’s easy to track the success of your Instagram Stories.

On your “Insights” page you can review data on how your audience is reacting through specific metrics, including:

  • Swipe-ups: How many people completed your call to action.
  • Replies: How many people sent you direct messages from your Story.
  • Profile visits: How any people have visited your page from the Story.
  • Sticker taps: How many people have tapped on the hashtag, mention or sticker used in your Story.

You can also see impressions, reach, follows and taps to determine how engaging your content truly was and if it helped your brand.

These are just a few unique Instagram Story ideas for your brand to try. And don’t forget that if you have a Story with an exceptionally positive response, you can reuse it to inspire other content like Facebook and blog posts.

With this inspiration in mind, you’re on your way to making a splash on one of the world’s most popular social media platforms.