Singapore and its SMEs are fully aware of the significance of marketing to stay ahead of others. And it’s not just marketing, let’s call it ‘prudent marketing’ given that current marketing plans are fast losing sheen and gets outshined by newer means. While you read this article, the supremacy of Facebook, the ultimate king of business marketing, has been further eroded by Instagram. The photo-sharing app, which appears way too humble than its parent company Facebook, has gained unprecedented popularity among users owing to the platform’s ultra-easy user-interface and simplicity. The feed on this app pictures alone with videos playing second fiddle. The majority of the posts by users, which include business accounts, are pictures, and the limited options available to viewers, which include liking or commenting, rids the platform of any complexity.
Having understood that Instagram is here to stay with users who are near-addicted to the platform, SMEs must devise the prefect Instagram marketing strategy to earn the acceptance of the users, and thereby increase their revenues. Instagram isn’t about pictures alone, it is way more than this, and to fully realize the potential, SMEs are to target what we know as Instagram stories. Stories, as the name suggests, hold a lot within them. And Instagram has developed this tool so sophistically and comprehensively that a well-thought-out story can probably become a game-changer for your business. For this to happen, however, SMEs ought to fully grasp what makes Instagram stories so special and unique. There are so many underlying layers to it that unless you know them all, you may end up with a half-baked product. In this piece of writing, let’s explore the possibilities.
What are Instagram Stories, and How to Create them?
The home screen of Instagram’s mobile app has a camera icon at the very top, and tapping it can take you to create a new story. But it’s not that simple when it comes to creating an eye-catching story that can indeed invoke the interest of the viewer. Start with taking a new picture or video to be used as story for your business or can also select media stored in your device. Before clicking an image or recording a video, you can change the format of your post to live, focus, rewind boomerang, superzoom or other similar options available. Stories can have any number of pictures and videos, and this allows you to do display far more content to your viewers than what you can while using Instagram’s regular feed option. Stories created by you are available for viewing for a maximum of 24 hours, after which they will automatically disappear. They will show at the top of the feed of your followers alongside other stories from the accounts they follow. Tap on one of the stories will start a display of all subsequent stories unless manually stopped.
You can start creating a story by clicking on the camera button in the top left corner of the screen.
To know more on how to create an Instagram story, you may see a video tutorial.
What’s in the layers?
Stories, as we said earlier, aren’t that simple. But the complexity they contain will only help you make the best out of them for furthering your business interests. Let’s talk about these layers one by one.
1. Adding hashtags (#)
Hashtags define your post, and they are easy to add. Pick the hashtag sticker from the top of the screen and write the hashtag that you feel goes best with your post. For example, if you are posting a picture of last month’s exhibition of your product, the hashtag can be #thisdaylastmonth. Of course, the possibilities are endless here, and your creativity always put to the test.
A photographer Frederik Trovatten in his blog – How to find & use Instagram hashtags, effectively! has shared his views on how Instagram hashtags can generate more leads. Below, pictures are taken from his blog.
Also Read: Top Hashtags for 2020
2. Adding location
Location can get added to your post by picking the location sticker available, and yes, in both hashtags and location, you can alter the color scheme and size and exact location of the sticker/s.
3. Adding GIFs and Emojis
Then there are a variety of other stickers, including GIFs and emojis, and you always have the upper hand in deciding where to pin it on your post, besides altering its size and appearance.
4. Polls and Questions
There’s nothing more powerful that can bring revenue to your business than interaction with the user you have targeted with your Instagram story. Interactive stories are easy to make. You want the viewer to display her/ his interest? What about adding a poll, or for that matter encouraging your viewers to ask questions about your product and service? “Polls” can be a straightforward way to invoke interest. Businesses can always display a product through the story and ask if the viewer likes it or not in poll. Or ‘does this product need any further improvement,’ ‘what about the color, should we change it,’ yes or no? Polls can be added in the same manner as hashtags and location are added using the sticker option in Instagram stories. In questions, while the default sentence is ‘Ask me a question,’ it can always be changed suiting your needs.
5. Adding URL
Businesses can move the Instagram user away from stories and land them to a page where real revenue can accrue. Companies have the unique opportunity to add links to Instagram stories since personal users seldom have more than 10,000 followers, a pre-condition making the account eligible to add URL. Your business account with striking content can surely bag 10,000 users, and this is when you can tap the link icon available on the stories page. The link you add to your story can take the user to that page, and it can be your e-commerce website or blog. An arrow appears at the bottom of the page of the user and indicates to her/ him about an added link. Businesses can always leave a hint with a text on post about what the link intends to do, and users thus feel re-assured of not doing anything undesirous.
6. Adding Shopping Features
For business accounts that have uploaded their product catalog and have created a virtual shop, it can be easy to redirect viewers of the story to actually ordering a product. After Instagram approves the product catalog, the sticker ‘product’ will enable you to add products to your story, similar to how one can add hashtag, location, and other stickers. To every story, a maximum of one product can be added, and this can be the best way to turn a viewer into a customer.
7. Tagging others
You can always tag other Instagram accounts to your story by using the prefix “@“. Tagging is another way to engage users. For example, you can run a contest initially through your Instagram business account, and the participants in the contest can be awarded by tagging them into your next stories. Or, it can be as simple as saying ‘Hey @xyz, you looked genuinely remarkable in our winter collection dress. Tagging can make sense only when it is required. As a business, using this option only rarely can enhance its importance and catch the eye of your viewers.
8. How to Create Impressive Stories without a Huge Marketing Budget
Instagram stories are best created when they are creative and, at the same time, relevant. It is essential for businesses to know that the stories have an aspect ratio of 9:16, and the maximum length of the video can be 15 seconds. There are many tools, for example, Canva, available to create great posts when you do not have that whopping marketing budget in the initial phases of your business.
Do not forget that although you have the option to add any number of pictures and videos to your single-story, quantity can rarely win over quality. Moreover, users who do not find lengthy stories engaging can end up not only skipping the remaining part of the story but also unfollowing the account.
All that said, nothing can beat a genuinely original content, and all the added features in the Instagram story can only compliment your original post. Singaporean users are smart enough to differentiate between the good and the bad, and as a business that wants to thrive in the market, you ought to use Instagram stories intelligently and imaginatively.