Social Media, Instagram

10 Ways to Engage Followers Through Interactive Instagram Stories

If you’re a brand that’s trying to build a strong online presence, you must make the most of this powerful tool

Instagram is a free photo and video sharing app that has 1+ billion users creating and posting content. With that high traffic volume, it’s no surprise that 25+ million brands use the social app on a regular basis to promote their brand, products, and services. If you’re a brand that’s trying to build a strong online presence, you must make the most of this powerful tool. Achieve this not just by consistently posting on your brand’s Instagram Feed, but also by engaging your followers through Instagram Stories.

Tip: Remember to set your brand’s profile to public so that anyone can see your content and your profile appears in the Explore section of the app.

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories are uploaded photos or videos that appear on your profile for 24 hours. A colourful ring shows up around your brand’s profile picture to notify others that you have a new Story. Additionally, your profile picture will also appear at the top row of your followers’ Instagram Feeds the moment you update it.

Why should you use Instagram Stories?

Since launching the feature in August 2016, Instagram Stories now has over 500 million daily users with one-third of the most viewed Stories coming from businesses.

Posting Stories is a quick and easy way to create brand awareness, introduce novel products or services, promote contests and discounts, encourage followers to directly interact with your brand, create call-to-action to your website, and humanise your brand through unfiltered content. Plus, the feature allows you to literally be top of mind for your audience by appearing on the upper part of their Feed—increasing the odds of them seeing your brand on the app.

How can you use Instagram Stories to engage your followers?

There are many ways to capture your audience’s attention using Instagram Stories. It’s all about giving them something they can experience and react to instead of just passively view.

Add an interactive aspect to your Stories by trying the stickers (it’s the square icon with a smiley face) found within the app. You can:

  1. Make a poll

    Pick the Poll sticker to ask a question with two possible results. Followers who vote can see the real-time poll results, while you can take note of the votes per answer and the voters by swiping up to view the Story.

    Wouldn’t it be fun to find out what your followers think about a particular topic with this sticker? Why not post two of your brand’s out-of-stock products and find out which one you should restock again? Or why not run an informal survey to see what trend they’re loving at the moment?

  2. Set a countdown

    Create buzz about your brand’s upcoming event, product launch, Live chat (more on that below!), or any noteworthy occasion with the Countdown sticker.

    Customise the name, date, time, and colour of the countdown sticker, then post it as a Story so followers can be reminded of your event and/or share the countdown in their Story. Whoever turns on the reminder will get a notification when the countdown ends.

    By using the countdown sticker, Create & Cultivate notifies followers when to tune into their next Instagram Live event. 

  3. Urge people to ask questions

    Select the Questions sticker and encourage followers to get to know your brand. You can invite them to ask questions about your founders, your products in the pipeline, or even your employees.

    Include a video of the theme or a photo of the person/product in mind to spark the conversation. When the 24-hour period is done, post the most interesting questions with the corresponding answers to keep the ball rolling!

    A Tribe of Women flips the Questions function by getting their followers’ thoughts on misogynists, then sharing their honest replies.

  4. Use the emoji slider

    Sometimes, words aren’t enough to express someone’s emotions. Followers can also show their reaction in relation to your Story via the Emoji Slider sticker. Type in a question, edit the emoji, and instantly gauge how voters feel by the level they choose (rightmost being the maximum option).

    Anthropologie asks followers to rate their pastry skills with this chef emoji slider while sharing their products.

  5. Create a quiz

    With the Quiz sticker, your brand can present a multiple choice quiz for your followers to answer. Similar to the Poll sticker, you can modify the question, colours, and choices, but the choices can range from two to four at most. Voters will be able to see the leading choice as well as the correct answer. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to see the results—how many people answered and how they responded—by swiping up the particular Story.

    Make followers guess your brand’s history in time for your anniversary, or tease them with the possible names of your next big product.

    For Black History Month, The Wing created a trivia quiz that tested its followers’ knowledge.

  6. Apply mention, location, and/or hashtag stickers

    Use the @Mention sticker to tag people who’ve commented on, supported, or posted your product on their own Instagram Feed or Story. Make your brand’s physical stores easy to find by setting up and using the Location sticker when applicable. Introduce an upcoming campaign by creating and using the #Hashtag sticker, or increase your brand’s discoverability by making use of popular ones.

    LittlePartyDress hits two birds with one stone by sharing a Story with a tagged fan and a hashtag to a well-known event.

  7. Include product stickers Eligible brands with at least 10,000 followers and from selected countries are given the chance to use Product stickers to tag and promote items from their store.

    Followers can tap on a customisable sticker to get more product details: name, price, and description. However, only one Product sticker can be added per Story.

    Madewell allows followers to find out more about a product by letting them click on the sticker.

  8. Host a Live video

    Connect with your audience in real time through a video event that can run up to one hour. With the Live feature, you can host a tutorial using your products, conduct an interview with a personality associated with your brand, inform people about an upcoming secret sale, or interact with followers as they send in questions (you can even pin your favourite comment!).

    Create & Cultivate hosts an Instagram Live Series that gives followers a chance to learn from industry experts.

  9. Create shareable templates

    Make entertaining Story layouts that your followers will enjoy answering and sharing in their own Stories. Depending on the products or services you offer, you can explore various Story templates such as BINGO, This or That, and Checklists. Stick to fonts, colours, and design flourishes you regularly use so that followers will instantly associate the Story templates with your brand.

    Remind your followers to tag you and their friends when they answer the templates. This way, you can get insights from their answers and help increase the visibility of your templates. You can also create a Highlight reel for your templates, so they don’t disappear after 24 hours.

    Canva shares Story Templates you can answer on their Highlights reel. Plus, you can make your own templates by using their web or mobile app!

  10. Share screenshot-worthy content

    Your connection with your followers doesn’t have to end as soon as they go offline. Using your brand’s existing content, you can post stunning photos, inspiring quotes, or unique graphics that people can save as their mobile wallpapers. A captivating faraway destination or a kiss mark pattern featuring your newest makeup shades might just urge your followers to press pause and save the image.

    Gorman Clothing gave a sneak peek of the patterns designed by Australian indigenous artists for their Mangkaja collection.

Plan an effective social campaign on ReachKit

With ReachKit, you can launch flexible marketing campaigns on Instagram and other social media platforms in one effective place. From ready-to-post templates to easy-to-view performance insights, ReachKit makes it easy for your entire team to approve, schedule, and analyse posts.

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