If your business sells a visual product such as a restaurant, art gallery or retail space, Instagram offers a host of promotional opportunities for you. While posting photos and videos to Instagram (as well as other social outlets) can be rewarding, this post will examine specific ways to use Instagram Stories to boost your visibility and draw traffic to your venue.

First, the key difference between posting to Instagram and posting to Instagram (IG) Stories is that with Stories, you can post multiple photos and videos together in a slide format so that viewers can swipe through the photos and videos. A photo is usually shown for about five seconds, while a video is typically displayed for about 15 seconds. Stories are only live for 24 hours and then disappear (much like Snapchat’s popular feature). Plus, Stories won’t show up in your feed or grid, but rather in a special, top section of your Instagram account. An example of those Stories circles or “bubbles” are shown here.

Instagram Stories Circles

  1. Here are four tips for using IG Stories to promote your business, not all of which are tied to the disappearing nature. Let’s explore.You can use the time-limited publication of IG Stories to share time-sensitive information with your audience. For instance, if you want to offer a discount or special offer during a slower day at your restaurant or store, Stories allow you to post your promotion just during that time. If Mondays are typically slow at your restaurant, consider posting one illustration that quickly explains your promotion, one photo of your tasty dish with a fun caption and one short video showcasing a sizzling dish or a happy customer. Post this in advance of the 24 hours when you actually want folks to visit you. So, if you’re open from 8 am-10 pm Mondays, you might consider posting around 8 pm the night before. This way, your Story disappears before your promotion ends, giving viewers time to see and respond.
  2. Another benefit of using Instagram Stories for business is that you don’t have to worry about oversaturating your feed. Instagram’s algorithm looks at which feeds get the most likes, views and comments and gives more visibility to those accounts. For small businesses, that algorithm is tough since a small business may be followed by a user who also follows a big brand. Instagram is in essence assessing the small business’ feed compared to other posts in its own feed as well as those of big brand. However, Instagram Stories allows small business to share content with in small (24 hours) amounts of time with less scrutiny. Another way to get more visibility is to increase your Instagram engagement during your feed’s most active hours. It’s like a popularity contest and your business needs to show up at the party where the most kids are.
  3. Instagram StickersHave fun with Instagram by adding stickers, captions and hand drawings.
  4. Consider allocating advertising dollars toward your Instagram Stories, tied to reaching your marketing goals. Before you start, consider what you’re aiming to accomplish with Instagram Stories. Are you trying to reach more people, gain more video views, increases brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, boost conversions for contacts to leads or even get more app installs? All of these metrics can be measured on Instagram. Once your goal is clearly defined for Instagram Stories and your photos or videos are selected, choose a call to action that’s aligned with your goals. Here are a few to consider: Apply Now, Buy Now, Purchase Tickets, Contact Us, Download, Learn More and many more. Then, measure your progress, refine your campaign and try again. Experiment with Instagram Stories to see which types of content resonate best with your audience until you find the sweet spot. Then, repeat.

In general, business leaders should identify their key prospects and the social media channels that those prospective clients are using. If your ideal customer is a Millennial or younger, Instagram is a good fit to reach your audience. IG Stories offer a great way to interact with followers and engage in another way so that you build a rapport with them and draw them into your business.

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