Business Bootcamp: Instagram Stories and how you should use it

How are you feeling about Instagram these days? Are you frustrated with less engagement due to the changing algorithm? Are you annoyed that you’re missing out on staying up to date with some of your favorite accounts and friends?

We feel you.

The Instagram algorithm is constantly changing and we’re seeing many of the same accounts over and over again, often not in chronological order. It’s frustrating because we want to stay up to date with all our favorite sweaty friends and see what they are doing at the moment IRL – I mean that’s why we’re here, isn’t it? To connect every day over a love of sweat and healthy living? Isn’t that what Instagram is really all about?

Well, we’re very happy you all use the #sweatpink tag so we can scroll through all our SPAs workouts, epic smoothies, and daily life. So thank YOU for that.  But we’re also constantly trying to find ways to stay engaged with our audience and our friends (all of you!) as well as show everyone what we’ve got going on in our Sweat Pink universe.

Instagram Stories: Leverage and build your engagement.

We’re definitely not upset about all of the changes Instagram is implementing, especially with the addition of Instagram Stories, almost a channel in itself on your Instagram account that is a similar concept to SnapChat – post a photo or video and it lasts for 24-hours on your account.

There’s so much you can do on Instagram stories – be silly, post pictures that you want your audience to see but doesn’t quite fit into your curated grid, link to your new blog post (if you have a business account), promote a brand, and connect, connect, connect. Since our EMPOWER Vancouver retreat and especially the Instagram Stories roundtable session led by Kusum of Sveeteskapes, we’ve been feeling even more empowered to leverage Instagram Stories to do more of what we love to do: Connect with all of you.

Here are our tips and tricks so you can start leveraging Instagram Stories to build your following and engagement on Instagram, boost blog post engagement, and as a result, continue to build your brand.

Engage with other accounts.

To connect with your audience and brands, spend some time each week creating content that tags new or old friends on Instagram. Make your followers feel all the love. And same goes for brands. Whether you’re working with a brand or just love using their products, show them how you feel on Instagram Stories. This will go a long way, and here’s how:

  • Cross promote. Take a screenshot of someone’s grid or Instagram post, and post it in your stories, tagging the person and sharing something you love about their account. That person or account will most likely reciprocate, and perhaps even follow you back on Instagram. Remember, this is a community, and cross-promoting each other will only help you get your brand out there and find some amazing friends along the way.

  • Share the brand love. Post a photo of the brand’s product and tag away. They will likely engage with you, and it may even start the conversation for potential partnerships. If you are already in partnership with the brand, Stories is a great way to show them even more love.
  • Take time to share the love. Make sure you watch other accounts’ stories and engage. Most people do reciprocate on stories, so connect, connect, connect whenever you can.

Use a CTA (Call to Action)

What better way to get engagement than asking a question or making an offer to your audience? There are a few ways to use a CTA to build more engagement:

  • Ask all the questions. If you have a foodie account, it can be as simple as, “what’s your favorite smoothie ingredient?” or do a poll of chocolate ice cream vs vanilla ice cream. (Who else is loving that new poll feature?!) Or if you’re a yogi, ask your audience what their favorite yoga pose is right now, or where to take yoga classes on your trip to (city) next week. Whatever you ask, make sure it is on brand, fun, and relevant.

  • Build curiosity. Post a photo of your grid and cover up your newest photo with a sticker/emoji and announce “new post – check it out now!” This will draw the audience to your page because, well, we’ve got to know what you posted!
  • Promote a giveaway. If you’re hosting a giveaway on your Instagram account or blog, use stories to build more hype and curiosity. Your audience will likely head over to your grid and follow the instructions to the giveaway, which most likely will result in more engagement and followers. Boom.

Instagram stories features

Instagram Stories offers filters, geotags, stickers, and lots of fun accessories to play up your post and make it more fun for others to look at and potentially easier for others to find your account. Here are our tips for tapping into some of the features of Instagram Stories.

  • Use geotags. Similar to regular Instagram posts, you can set your location on Stories. We suggest you try to keep your location specific. If you choose a broader city, say, Los Angeles, millions of other users are using that same tag. So if someone is searching through the Los Angeles geotag in Instagram Stories, your post will likely get lost in the sea of stories. Instead, you could choose Culver City or Studio City, for example, and you may be more likely to be featured in that geotag on Stories.
  • Use hashtags. This is another means to get your story more views. Use a specific hashtag that is not too general and it becomes more likely your story will be viewed. Again, your story might be featured on that hashtag’s story if you keep it more specific.

  • Diversify your posts with different photos, stickers, emojis, and tags. Make it fun and, what’s our favorite word right now? Oh yes, engaging.
  • Post Videos. You can record small video clips or post clips of pre-recorded content straight to your stories. Videos typically draw in a higher engagement as compared to photos. They can function in multiple ways, for example, to share a new workout, to answer questions your audience sends you, or even do a recipe tutorial.
  • Go LIVE. One of the newer features of Instagram Stories is the LIVE function that lets you do a live story, with no time-limit on your account. Your audience can comment on the session, ask questions, and engage with you and other followers. And you can even save the live session to your stories for 24-hours. In the past, we’ve gone live at events such as Sip N Sweat events at our Portland studio, Flex & Flow, and the engagement soared. We’ve also gone live to talk about our signature HIIT & Flow workout and show everyone how to get their sweat on. Have you gone live on Instagram yet?

The takeaway is that the more you engage, the more engagement you will see on your own posts, whether it’s stories, on your grid, and even on your blog. As of September 2017, there are 800 million active users on Instagram. I know, that sounds daunting, but look at it as an opportunity to engage with tons of people, expand your reach, and grow your account and your online community. And most importantly, remember to do you and have fun with it!

Free Food Photography Course

Looking for ways to up the ante on your Instagram grid? Sign up for our upcoming FREE Food Photography Course. High-quality foodie photos are easier to curate than you think and will keep you audience drooling and wanting more
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  1. Christa Levesque

    I’m always so worried that my IG stories will turn followers away so I just don’t use them much at all. These are some really great tips that I will have to try! Thank you for this post!

    1. Nicci Randall
      Nicci Randall Post author

      I definitely steered clear of IG stories at first as well, but now that I’m using them, I’m engaging with so many more accounts and seeing more engagement in return. I’d say just test it out, play around with different features, and only continue to do it if you like it 🙂

  2. Jamie King
    Jamie King

    Thanks for all the great tips, I am loving stories for increasing engagement!

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