instagram stories for a brand

Instagram Stories & the New Rules of Engagement

By Harriet Simonis

Instagram has been around for quite a while, and for a new digital marketer (or someone who wants to know what this social media marketing thing is all about), it can be quite confusing.

There used to be a time when what’s important is the number of followers you have. Because the more people you follow, the more people you reach. Right?

But that is no longer the case. The rules of engagement are changing, and what a lot of Instagram gurus argue is that it’s not about the number of followers you have, but the quality of the engagement you receive. It’s not just a numbers game anymore. Quality trumps quantity.

The key to mastering Instagram is to understand a crucial feature that changed the game for this ever-changing platform.

And that’s Instagram Stories.

The strength of this feature is that it provides you with a direct line to your target market to showcase who you are. The main benefit of using IG Stories, most IG experts agree, is that it increases your “Know, Like, and Trust” Factor.

So what is that, and can’t you do that without using IG Stories? Isn’t that what posting in the feed is about?

Well, that’s where the difference lies – the stories and the feed are two different things with different purposes. However, they work together to build up your brand and showcase who you are to the market (and also, to the world).

instagram stories

Instagram Stories vs the Standard Instagram Feed

Before IG Stories, all engagement was done through the feed. That’s the main point of Instagram anyway – you post pictures, people can like your post and comment on it, and you can respond to the comments. That’s basic engagement.

The whole Instagram game is done through the feed – people start posting better and better pictures, and they get more comments and likes, and then eventually, more followers.

People started doing business on Instagram, and they took a page from more traditional marketing efforts from bigger businesses. They created accounts that specifically market their product, and started posting studio shots of their wares. They are well-curated posts, with good lighting, crystal-clear focus. It looks nice, and it works – Instagram shopping became a thing, and now, you can order directly from the app.

When the Instagram Stories feature came out, it changed the game completely.

Stories can be accessed via the little circles on top of the app when you first open it, and they show snippets of content from people that you follow, which eventually disappear after 24 hours.

Despite being a very fleeting and temporary medium, the IG Story has developed into a powerful tool that people use in order to market themselves and their brand. Some still post the same content from their feed into their stories (i.e. the same product shots, etc.). However, the really successful ones have learned the secret to what makes a story effective. It’s a chance to post a deeply personal narrative, to show your followers the human side of your brand.

The main draw is that it allows you to post little slice-of-life content, which adds a certain level of human depth into your brand. Your followers see the face behind the business, and a deeper connection is formed.

Stories can be a place to showcase your everyday story – how you are as a person, what you believe in and what motivates you, and why you do what you do. It’s a behind the scenes look into your business, which shows that behind the product are real people, with real lives and real motivations.

instagram stories 1

The “Know, Like, and Trust” Factor

This “human touch” leads into increasing what marketers call the “Know, Like, and Trust” Factor. Simply put, when people know you (because of the personal content you post), people eventually like you. Those who like you end up eventually trusting you. And hopefully, those who know, like, and trust you, eventually buy from you.

This all starts by being open to posting “the real you” in your Stories. You may need a little bit of practice, and a little bit of trial and error when it comes to the content that you post (because, after all, it still has to be quality content). But what’s important to remember is to keep the well-curated post to your feeds – the stories is a place to showcase what’s real.

And this is how you can “build your tribe”– i.e. creating a community of people who know you, like you, and trust you.

Your stories can be a chance to engage in real conversations with your followers, making it so that they know who they are transacting with. The end goal is to make and retain engaged followers who react to your stories, follow what you do, and of course, buy your stuff… Because they know you well enough to believe in you.

This mindset is completely different from the traditional idea of success “by the numbers”.

Having thousands of followers – or even hundreds of thousands of followers – means nothing if these followers do not convert into sales.

This reinforces the fact that in this day and age, it’s not about the quantity, but the quality of your followers. You can be successful with just 1,000 followers who are invested in your brand, because if those 1,000 constantly buy from you, then you’re all set.

The rules of engagement have changed for Instagram marketing. So try it out, and see how you can make Instagram Stories work for you and for your brand.

Everyone has a story to tell, and you’d be surprised at how much people are willing to listen. So what’s your story?

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