An illustrated guide to brand strategy on Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are gaining in popularity; they now have 300 million daily users, which is more than Snapchat.

We recently went over how brands can create better Instagram Stories and analyze them in a webinar and we wanted to break some of those examples down further here.

Got questions or something we missed? Find us on Twitter @UnionMetrics.

Why Instagram Stories?

Instagram’s advantage over Snapchat is an existing audience: It’s much easier for fans and followers to find their favorite brands on Instagram and start watching their Stories as part of their regular activity on the platform.

While a lot of Instagram users- especially influencers and brands- meticulously curate their Instagram profile, Stories has more room for creativity, behind-the-scenes sharing and a seamless flow between what might be considered “b-roll content” and highly produced content.

Stories are the perfect place for brands to experiment with their content and see what their fans and followers like. Stories encourage engagement with features like polls and an inviting ability to respond to each individual portion of a story with a message box that turns into a DM. The Instagram algorithm weights accounts that DM each other more heavily in one another’s feeds, so this is a great way for brands to work with the algorithm.

Let’s dive into all the different ways brands and some influencers are using Instagram Stories.

Brand storytelling and partnerships

Stories are a great way for brands to give fans and followers more information about their story: Who started the brand, the values they put into it. How they made it work.

Perfect Bar told their story recently in a beautifully produced Instagram Story:

Starbucks Perfect Bar 2

It went into detail about how their father mixed up the recipe for the “perfect” health food bar and the oldest sibling decided to turn it into a business to help support the family when dad was diagnosed with skin cancer.

When the family was doing all the work by hand they were helped along by daily Starbucks trips to keep them going in the kitchen.  Which makes their partnership with Starbucks a natural fit.

Starbucks Perfect Bar 1

It’s a great match between the brands in terms of target audiences- Starbucks taps into the more health conscious who might want to know about healthier offerings from the chain and Perfect Bar might help draw brand devotees into the coffee chain for a trip they might not otherwise have taken- and there’s a giveaway to incentivize fans and followers of both brands to visit a store and pickup the products. Photograph them together and upload to Instagram using the hashtag #PerfectStarbucks and you can receive a $5 gift card (after uploading a screenshot to a giveaway website).

They’ve got several influencers- like Robin Plotnik of What Robin Eats- promoting the giveaway as well:

whatrobineats Starbucks Perfect Bar

A great way to get the word out to those who might like and occasionally buy both brands, but not follow either on social to see details about the giveaway.

Strengthen community by sharing UGC

Some brands are intimidated by Instagram Stories because of the amount of content required to keep it going; anything in your Story disappears after 24 hours unless you add it to your Stories Highlights, after all!

But a great way to get around this while also strengthening the community around your brand is to tap into user-generated content, or UGC.

Chameleon Cold Brew does this with their Maker Mondays posts, sharing photos from fans and followers of their cold brew and all the different ways its consumed- and the bottles even upcycled- by customers.

CCB Maker Monday 3

They also add instructions for how to be featured in a future Maker Monday roundup for any new followers:

CCB Maker Monday 8

Founder’s Brewing does something similar, sharing photos from those drinking their beer in all different locations using the hashtag #brewedforus:

Founders 1

Sharing UGC lets customers know they’ve been seen and heard, which helps cement their loyalty to your brand. It also lets them know that the brand they enjoy takes pride in the fact that they’re sharing their experience with their own network of friends, family and other followers.

That can encourage their network to share the next time they’re enjoying something from your brand and maybe even end in more new, loyal customers.

Plus it takes a little pressure off of the constant need for quality content.

Event marketing and flash sales

Stories are the best way to share events on Instagram; multiple posts here are expected and not overwhelming the way they can be on the regular feed, and anyone who’s not interested in this particular content can simply skip ahead.

Brands can promote an event before it happens, share some highlights of the event during, and share recaps afterward.

Lifeway Kefir recently used their Stories to promote their founder’s new cookbook:

Kefir Cookbook 1

Stories are also a great way for brands to do flash sales. This is especially smart for small brands who don’t have the bandwith to launch a really big sale.

Sarah Marie Design Studio flash sale 4

Brands can also use Stories to announce product restocks, extensions on sales, Instagram-only discount codes and so much more. The limit is really your creativity!

Just make sure you’re also following any rules and regulations from the FTC, especially when it comes to influencer partnerships.

What else?

Have you seen brands doing something cool with Instagram Stories that we’ve missed here? There are endless options, including:

  • Using Live to do a regular show and even have guests join the Live broadcast
  • Go Live behind-the-scenes of an event or webinar
  • Share employee stories
  • Have employees or influencers take over Stories for a day or longer
  • Quick product demos
  • Contest announcements
  • Contest or giveaway rule explanations (use Type posts & link out to full technical/legal explanations)

And so much more.

If your brand has 10k followers or more, you also unlock new features like the ability to have fans and followers swipe up to follow a link instead of having to go the link in your bio.

If not, no worries. Just keep experimenting with your Stories in a way that makes sense for your brand and doing more of what sticks.

We can help you measure that last part, if you need.