Back in August 2016, Instagram was a very strong platform for businesses, but there was one trend that its owners noticed: given that the platform is so dependent on visuals, the pressure on users to only post perfect content was very high. This need for the absolutely perfect composition, lighting, etc… make some users less likely to post often, as it was both daunting and time-consuming.

At the same time, SnapChat was the new social media platform du jour, and it’s main differentiator was the ability for users to post content that would disappear after 24 hours. Given that the content wasn’t going to be stuck on one’s feed forever gave people the opportunity to post more spontaneously, and not worry about achieving the perfect photo. SnapChat users felt less constrained within this structure, and hence posted more often. Eventually Instagram took notice.

Enter the “Instagram story”. Instagram stories are a great way to pique your audience’s interest via text, photo or video, without having to commit to that content staying on your feed and forever defining your brand. It’s also a great way to experiment with live video. It sits at the very top of one’s news feed and so new stories are always highlighted for users when they are using the platform.

As a business, you can either rely on Instagram’s funny and particular algorithm to select your regular post to be visible in your audience’s feed, or you can post a story and have your brand highlighted at the top of their screen immediately. You can do this every time you post “regular” content, to bring more eyeballs to that post.

Stories, in many ways, work just like regular posts in that you can tag people, locations, or use hashtags. People wanting to know what happened in St. Thomas in the past 24 hours for example, may choose to watch the stories based on “#stthomasontario”. What a great way to get your company noticed! Like SnapChat, there are also plenty of fun filters and stickers to keep things interesting and fun.

People got so into using stories that, eventually, there was demand to save the stories beyond the 24 hour window. So now you can create “highlights” that can be a succession of archived stories. These get featured right on your main profile page and so again, they are a great way to entice new visitors to your profile with rich content.

With even further tweaking, you can have your stories link directly to products that people can purchase from your e-commerce. In just a few clicks you can increase your audience reach by leaps and bounds.

For older users still getting used to this whole “social media” thing, posting videos and frequent content can be an intimidating task. You can easily eliminate some of the stress while still keeping your content very fresh and relevant using Instagram stories. Your community will love and appreciate the sneak peeks they get into your world, thereby keeping up the hype around your brand, and making your audience part of your tribe for life!

Happy “storying”!