How to Use Instagram Stories for Your Brand + Biz

A little less than a week ago, Instagram revealed a new feature called Instagram Stories. The entire world consequently flipped out because, well, Instagram Stories is basically identical to Snapchat. You can now post photos, videos, and gifs to your Story, which will disappear after 24 hours. Sounds familiar, right? Two main differences between Snapchat and Instagram Stories are 1. on Stories, you can post any photo you took in the last 24 hours (as opposed to Snapchat, where you can only take new photos) and 2. anyone can look at your Story if your Instagram profile is set to public.

So, first the entire world freaked out. And then everyone seemed to jump on board pretty quickly, myself included. Since Instagram has become so curated, for better or for worse, it was a lot of fun to see some behind the scenes or added bonus content from my favorite accounts. I felt like I've gotten to know some of my favorite bloggers and Instagrammers better over the past few days.

When I thought about it, and I realized that Instagram Stories is going to be a great thing for building and humanizing your brand. I never got the point of using Snapchat in for business, because it's so hard to find people, so not user friendly, and I wasn't going to specifically direct clients and readers to a whole separate platform just to see terrible videos of my cat. But with Instagram Stories, I can still share that kind of personal content with my followers on a platform they already frequent, and in a slightly more cohesive way.

How to Use Instagram Stories

Before we jump into how we can use Stories for our brand, we need to cover how to actually, well, use it at all.

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  • Instagram Stories live up at the top of your home feed. You can see your own Story, and Stories from the people you follow. Tap to view Stories, swipe right or left to see the next Story or skip someone's Story.
  • To add something to your Story, tap the new + icon to the left of the Instagram logo on your home screen, or just swipe left. You can either take a photo by tapping the round shutter button, or take a video by pressing and holding the same button. To add a photo taken in the last 24 hours, just swipe down on the camera screen. Add drawings or text by tapping the pen or letter icon, respectively. Tap the check mark button to add to your Story.
  • You can see who has viewed your Story, block people from seeing Stories if necessary, and add a Story post as a real Instagram post by viewing your own Story up at the top of the screen.

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And that's the quick and dirty how-to on Instagram Stories. Now for the fun part - how to build your brand with it!

Humanize Your Brand

Instagram Stories is a GREAT way to humanize your brand, especially on a platform that has become so curated as Instagram. While I only post one highly edited and staged photo a day on Instagram to keep up my aesthetic, I've already posted several photos and videos of random stuff that I've been doing, my cat, behind the scenes blogging stuff, and whatnot. And I've way enjoyed getting to know my favorite bloggers and Instagrammers better through their Stories - it's like when super famous Youtubers create a new channel just for daily vlogging, and you don't know why you're watching a 30 minute video of someone walking their dog or making breakfast but you CAN'T LOOK AWAY (*cough* Zoella *cough*).

Stories gives your followers a better idea of who you are and how you do things - better than just your super curated feed can, at least. It lets people see the person behind the brand, which is a huge part of personal branding - you have to be accessible to people, while still maintaining your brand guidelines. It's tough, y'all.

Go Multimedia

I never post videos on Instagram because a. I am not a videographer and b. it messes with my feed's aesthetic. But videos are fun, and since I started using Stories, I've posted videos introducing myself, showing how I made a delish coffee drink, and showcasing my cat. It's fun to post multimedia stuff and it's more interesting to viewers and followers as well.

Maintain Your Aesthetic

Do you ever take a picture of something that you really like, and you want to post it to your Instagram, but it just doesn't fit with your feed's aesthetic? Girl, same. My Instagram is very bright and white, and that works for me and I love it, but sometimes I'm in a really cool place that doesn't happen to have white walls or I want to take a photo of something at night, god forbid. I don't want to screw up my carefully curated feed, but it's a cool picture. Now with Stories, that problem is SOLVED. I can still share it without ruining my vibe.

Keep Your Snapchat Personal

Like I said before, I know a lot of people used Snapchat for their brand or blogs, but I could never get into it. All I ever post on Snapchat is my cat and my face with their fun filters over the top of it. I use Snapchat for screwing around with my friends and stuff - and I didn't want to have to second guess everything I did with it according to my brand guidelines.

Now with Instagram Stories, I can use that for my brand content, and keep my Snapchat for my friends and my own personal enjoyment. Besides, it's so hard to find people on Snapchat, whereas Instagram is already built in and you already have a following on that platform. It just makes sense to me.

What to Post

Wondering what the heck to post to your Story? Here are some ideas:

  • Behind the Scenes. Post BTS photos and videos of a new blog post, a craft project, an outfit of the day, or whatever else you normally post. I love BTS posts on any platform, and I think a lot of people do too.
  • Q&As. I think it would be a great platform for a Q&A session. Ask your followers for questions on your latest post, and then answer them in the Story. It's a great way to engage with your followers more, and humanize your brand like we talked about above.
  • Vlogs. Post videos and photos about your day to day activities, especially if you're going somewhere or doing something really cool. Just don't go too overboard, or people might skip over your Story.

How are you using Instagram Stories?