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Why SME’s & Start-Ups Should Use Instagram Stories

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Alex Read, Content Manager at Dynamize Marketing, writes about why SME’s and start-up firms should take advantage of Instagram Stories for the benefit of their business.

The social media revolution. Everybody is on it. Even my Nan had Facebook at one point. The world has gone absolutely crazy for the likes of Instagram and Tiktok and will surely continue onto the next platform as and when it’s released. Yet there’s much more to it than videos of fluffy dogs and calamitous stunts gone wrong. Businesses can do very well from it, especially SME’s.

“Why do I need to use Instagram stories, isn’t it for celebrities and major brands?”, I hear you ask. Simply put, no. There’s a whole host of benefits we can extract for SME’s and start-up firms simply by posting quality, engaging content on Instagram Stories – and it doesn’t need to be slick, big budget stuff. Let me explain.

What are Instagram Stories?

First of all, Instagram has more than 1 billion users every month and approximately half of them use Instagram Stories every day. That’s a phenomenal amount of people and a huge potential audience. Okay, perhaps not an entirely relevant fact if you’re a business looking to retain local customers but stick with me.

Since its release in 2016, this element of the Instagram platform has gone from strength to strength. Originally deemed by many as a copy of Snapchat, Instagram Stories has seen incredible growth of 300% in three years, according to 99Firms.

The purpose is to share content quickly and easily in either photo or video format. It’s live on your profile for up to 24 hours before it disappears. However, if you’ve become particularly attached to one of your stories, you can save it as a highlight to remain permanently on your page for followers to view as and when they wish. 

So why should my business use Instagram Stories?

There’s a whole host of reasons why SME’s and small businesses should use Instagram Stories. It’s a great opportunity to show a different side to the personality of your company, taking a step back from your curated, on-brand feed to showcase a fun, personable and human element. Many customers appreciate the fact that they can see they are dealing with people behind the brand rather than a faceless corporation. So how can you use it?

Highlight your product/service

Stories are a great way to provide an innovative, engaging way of highlighting your product or service. They take up the whole of the users screen giving your brand their exclusive attention for the duration that it appears in front of them. According to 99Firms, between 15%-25% of people swipe up on a link in branded stories, transporting them to a product page on the companies website. This is a fantastic opportunity to drive traffic to your website and towards the sales funnel.

Personify your business

Instagram Stories are a great way to show a different side to the business and the people behind the brand. There’s so many ways you can do this. Behind the scenes content is a great insight into daily life within the company. It shows the hard work that goes on behind the scenes and enables clients to get to know you better. Members of staff could talk about what they’re doing and why they enjoy their job. You could even discuss how your product or service benefits the wider community. The world is your oyster.

Furthermore, there are other benefits other than generating interest and potential sales. If the behind the scenes content exhibits an awesome company culture, how do you think that would look to potential hires? There’s no doubt it’ll strengthen your position in the fight for the best industry talent ahead of your competitors.

Drive Brand Awareness

Did you know that 36% of businesses use Instagram Stories for product promotion? In theory, that means that could be you reaching the local audience via this channel, whilst your two main competitors are nowhere to be seen!

The great thing about Instagram Stories is that they’re clearly positioned at the top of the home feed. You don’t have to worry about complex algorithms here. Simply add new content to your story and you’ll be at the front of the line. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should spam your followers with pointless, uninteresting rubbish just for the sake of it. It does mean, however, that there’s a better chance that your content WILL be seen. This will keep your business at the forefront of peoples minds.

Exclusive Content

Everyone loves exclusive content and Instagram users are no different. Instagram Stories are an awesome way to tease a new product, service or announcement, generating interest around your business before the official campaign is ready to get underway. 

Behind the scenes shoots, product demonstrations and follower Q&A’s are a great way to drive user engagement.

Quickly convey a message

Do you need to get a message out to your audience as quickly as possible, but haven’t got time to design a slick, branded post? Use Instagram Stories to get your message out to your followers immediately, whether you’re providing clarity on a product lead-time or reacting to a Press Release.

Real-time event coverage

Are you at an industry event and want to let your followers know? After all, they may be there too and it could offer a great opportunity to meet and discuss business. Many events also have their own instagram stories and, with the right hashtag, could feature your story in their own. This exposes your brand to their entire following too, offering further potential opportunities to drive brand awareness.

Many brands have had great success performing impromptu short interviews on the spot with other members of the industry, acting as a thought-forum when discussing challenges and other issues. Again, this is unique, relevant content going directly out to your followers.

How often should I post a story?

The beauty of Instagram Stories is that they disappear after 24 hours. The average posting of stories per user is 2.3 per week. At Dynamize Marketing, we tend to advise the following rule. Post high-quality, engaging tiles to your profile feed two times a week and on your stories every other day. However, we’re always keen to emphasise that it is more about quality than quantity.

So there you go. Instagram Stories do not have to be slick, branded content carefully curated in the same way as your feed. They can be impromptu, fun and personable. Ultimately though, they can demonstrate the human element behind your brand, differentiating yourselves from competitors who remain anonymous. People buy from people, so it’s a great way to draw future customers and business.

Read More: Why you should consider repositioning as a marketing-oriented business during Covid-19