Instagram’s Stories feature enables brands to connect with followers via authentic content; here we explore the best practices.
The fashion industry is one of the most active industries on Instagram, representing a whopping 70% of total activity, according to Klear. Carefully selecting the right photos to upload, thoughtful planning of the content, curating an editorial-like feed and knowing how to combine it all with a good series of Instagram Stories is what every fashion brand should aim for to truly master this social media platform.
A year ago today, we brought stories to Instagram and quickly saw a shift in how businesses connect with and inspire their customers. From behind-the-scenes dance parties when the boss wasn’t looking to exclusive product releases, our community of businesses have been able to share their passions with the world in an immersive, new way like never before. Because of this, we want to thank our growing community of 250 million for sharing these experiences with us and helping make stories what it is today. Without you, Instagram wouldn’t be the same. Video by @100Soft
Instagram Stories is aiming to revolutionize the way brands share their content, product launches and updates with consumers. Even though the tool has only been around since August 2016, it already offers a wide array of filters, GIFs, stickers and other accessories to customize your stories, and those who have more than 10k followers can even include links to their web via the “swipe up” feature. You can even select stories that you want to keep on your profile by “highlighting” them, eliminating the 24 duration limit.
Highlighting the right stories is a must, to give them greater visibility and a wider reach. However, it’s important to remember that Instagram Stories isn’t designed to be used for flawless videos. Even though brands tend to use Instagram to transmit their aesthetic and branding via perfectly edited images, they should remember to use Stories for what it was designed: to share relevant and timely content in a way that feels natural and spontaneous.
The types of stories that are most commonly shared by brands include: merchandise, how-to’s, events, ‘inside look’, competitions and others. There’s still no single, magic formula to create the most popular or most engaging content, but it is becoming increasingly common for users to access online shops, other social platforms, blog posts, promotional landing pages or apps via Instagram Stories links.
Offer a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look for your brand or products
The stories you share on Instagram may only last 24 hours but can have long-lasting effects. As a brand, when you share exclusive content or interesting experiences, it gives the user the feeling that they’re getting to know the brand personally. Mango takes full advantage of its Instagram Stories by showing “behind-the-scenes” footage of their photoshoots, divided into different “slides” in the stories, showing snippets of different parts of the process, as if it were a series.
Amplify Your Event
Last Black Friday Everlane launched a charity campaign with the aim of raising $300,000 to build an organic farm for the workers at Saitex. Not only did they reach their goal, they showed the whole process, proving just how powerful the Stories feature can be.
Gain quick feedback from one of your best advisers: your followers/customers
Without a doubt, whenever you want to gauge the popularity of a new garment, capsule collection or event, Instagram Stories can allow you to get quick feedback via the polling stickers which are not only attention-grabbing, but fun and easy to use as well.
Use filters, stickers and surveys wisely
Instagram Stories is where brands can show their more spontaneous side with a “homemade” feel, but regardless of the type of product a brand sells, less is more when it comes to using filters, stickers and surveys. Brands like boohoo know how to use these details without overdoing it, while keeping to their brand aesthetic. Their attractive stories with memes and hashtags entice followers to swipe up, driving traffic directly to their online shop.
Let Influencers, employees and customers take over your stories
Letting these personalities take over your Stories is key to engaging your audience. This can be through interviews, tutorials or unboxing products, allowing your audience to take part and see the brand from a different point of view. By getting others to participate in your stories, you’ll potentially see brand loyalty rise among your followers.
Create Ads and Measure Traffic
Before creating an ad on Instagram Stories, we recommend having a strong presence on this social network and the secret to strengthening your profile is posting high-quality content frequently.
Instagram ads can be a lot less annoying for users when presented in the Stories format, especially since they pop into the seamless flow of story-to-story viewing, taking up the whole screen and providing an engaging experience for users. What’s more, Stories is also a fantastic lead generation tool because of its geographical segmentation.
Thanks to Pixel by Facebook, you can measure activity and traffic to your website, from either paid or organic ads on Instagram Stories. And in case you didn’t know, you can also set different objectives for your paid ads: by reach, video views, conversions, app downloads, lead generation and traffic.
However, it’s important to set a limit on the time that should pass before the user sees your Story again: we recommend 5 days minimum.
If you’re looking to perfect your strategy, here are some tips on which Instagram Stories to highlight on your profile…
Although, as we mentioned before, Instagram Stories is great for sharing spontaneous and ephemeral content, the option of highlighting Stories allows us to plan ahead and be more strategic.
Make it easier for your users to find relevant content by segmenting or choosing stories to highlight. Here are some ideas on how to organize them.
- By product categories, seasonal collections, “the latest” or promotions.
- By your follower demographic or their interests.
- By types of tutorials or tricks you share, if you’re looking to educate your audience.
- Highlight your top clients: if you have a loyal follower who constantly tags your products or brand then you can reuse their story. It’s a great way to give user generated content visibility and to show a more authentic side of the brand. This Chrome extension will allow you to save Stories so you can add them onto your profile. Just make sure you have their permission beforehand, and give due credit by tagging them.
- By influencer.
- By promotions or campaigns: by highlighting these types of stories you’re ensuring a wider reach.
- By events.
- By comments: you can share screenshots of comments made by clients about specific products and share them on your Stories and adding the swipe up feature to link directly to that product.
And to give your Stories even more visibility you can add them to your website via the Snappd widget.
Zoom in on Product Details
Posting a picture of a new product onto your feed isn’t enough anymore; consumers feel the need to know more before making a purchasing decision and Instagram Stories is the perfect place to show potential clients every detail, as it takes over the full phone screen.
Every time Converse posts something on its profile, whether a new pair of sneakers or an ad, they also launch a story that compliments that post, taking the user to their feed or directly to their website.
This strategy can be extremely useful when announcing new products especially since the posts that show up on our feed are no longer organized chronologically. By using Stories to your advantage, you ensure that your followers are always in the know of your latest offerings.
According to Business of Fashion “Dior, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana and Christian Louboutinare are the fashion brands with the highest engagement rate on Instagram’s Stories feature” according to the data Instagram released on the 1st anniversary of the feature. “The ranking was based on the cumulative number of story views over the past year amongst top accounts with 10 million or more followers.”
Eva Chen, the Director of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram, believes that Stories’ success is due to the “more informal engagement between a brand and their audience…the industry wants everything to be picture perfect at all times. If it doesn’t look like a Mario [Testino] or a Patrick [Demarchelier] shoot, oftentimes they don’t want to post it,” she tells Business of Fashion. “What Stories has really meant is that fashion is now able to be a little bit more authentic, a little bit more down to earth, funnier, scrappier.”
An Instagram Stories campaign used correctly can be a great marketing tool to tell stories creatively, all while meeting sales targets.
Fashion brands have quickly become masters at engaging consumers and even have teams dedicated to this social channel as they recognize the ever-growing importance of creating incredible Instagram Stories.