A Complete Guide to Instagram Stories in 2021

8 Sep, 2021 | Podcast, Season 6

If you struggle with converting your Instagram audience into real-life customers, then we’ve got you covered. Welcome to this week’s episode of The Whin Big Podcast, where Katie opens up the Instagram Stories treasure chest and shows you exactly what’s inside.

It’s a packed episode – with lots of insider secrets on leveraging Instagram Stories for your business. Among many other ideas and tips, by the end of this episode, you’ll know exactly how to create your Stories strategy to help you regularly get more customers.

Today's episode is sponsored by the Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist and free training are freshly updated, so get stuck in to find out if your profile is fit for purpose or needs some attention! Click on the big yellow button below to get started right away.

Instagram Stories – upgraded for 2021

The last time we focused on Instagram Stories in the podcast was way back in January 2020. As you can imagine, a lot has changed since then (in more ways than one!). As consumers, we’ve become much more loyal to our phones and favourite social media platforms.

There’s so much more you can do with Instagram Stories now – so buckle up and get ready for an exciting ride through one of Katie’s favourite Instagram tools. We’ve broken the podcast up into three parts:

  1. What you can DO with Instagram Stories
  2. How to make your Instagram Stories engaging – and useful
  3. Using Stories to sell your products and services

“Instagram Stories are there to help you strengthen the connection you have with your current audience. It’s not a great tool for gaining new followers, but Stories is where you’ll do most of your selling.”

Part 1: Using Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is one of the most flexible and effective tools on Instagram for connecting with your existing audience. Yes, even more than your feed posts or any other tool you use.

Katie’s counted at least 15 different things you can do in Stories. There’s more detail in the episode for each one, so don’t forget to listen to this week’s Instagram Stories podcast. Here’s a quick rundown of all you can do inside:

You can:

  • Post pictures
  • Post videos
  • Create and post text-only slides
  • Use automated captions
  • Share posts, reels and IGTVs from your account
  • Share posts, reels and IGTVs from other people
  • Share Spotify tracks (including podcast episodes)
  • Share Tweets
  • Add interactive polls and quizzes
  • Run Q&A sessions
  • Share conversations as screenshots
  • Use “green screen” to talk to a “slide,” screenshot or screen recording
  • Save any or all your stories to Highlights on your profile
  • Create a Close Friends group and share stories just with these people
  • Add swipe-up links or link stickers 

Why use Instagram Stories at all?

Katie has four great reasons for why you should add Instagram Stories into your business marketing strategy:

  • It’s so easy. Checking people’s Stories posts couldn’t be easier. They’re the first thing you see at the top of the app when you open it. It’s so easy to watch a few Stories before doing anything else on Instagram.
  • The better you get at posting through Stories, or the more people take an interest in what you’re saying, your followers will begin to look for and enjoy your Stories actively.
  • Stories give you more opportunities to get creative and share the content you enjoy making that your audience looks forward to accessing.
  • They feel more personal than feed posts (especially with Close Friend stories). They’re designed to maximise your relationship with your audience, and that’s exactly what happens. Stories feel like a face to face connection, making it easier for your followers to get to know you, like you and trust you better.

Part 2: Your Instagram Stories marketing strategy

In this week’s episode, Katie shares her best tips for creating effective habits for Stories, so listen to the full podcast for more details:

  • First, think about what you want to share in advance.
  • Work out which days of the week you have time to post Stories
  • Assign one main topic to each day – when you get better at this, you can tie the Stories topic into the content you plan to share across other platforms. you’re sharing elsewhere
  • Keep it simple to start with – 3 slides as a minimum, 5-10 slides is a great length
  • Mix it up – keep your audience interested by changing up the content
  • Don’t forget to add selfies to get your face and personality into your Stories
  • Remember to keep your fonts, stickers and colours on brand (and be consistent!)
  • Give it some time to see if you’ve had replies and responses – and remember to share those out too.
  • Create an outro slide (just like you did first thing in the morning) to wrap up your Stories day
  • Let people know when you’ll be back on Stories.

How much time should you spend on Instagram Stories?

This is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string’ situations, and it depends on you, your business, and how you use Instagram.

If you want to see results from using Stories, you should spend as much time on that tool as creating feed posts or Reels. Don’t forget that using Stories is the way to sell your products and services, so it makes sense that you focus your time and attention on them.

“Stories has always been intended to be a more informal, more casual and personal style of connection, so don’t obsess over it too much. People are more amenable to more mess, personality and scruffiness.”

Part 3: How to sell on Instagram Stories

Katie recommends that sales and selling should be a small element of the content you put up on stories, and there are two different approaches depending on how you run your business.

If your business runs in launch seasons

For business owners who have specific sales windows or offers at particular times, you want to spend lots of time creating value and entertaining – and offering free content to give lots of great value in-between times.

During the launch window, you’re going to want to share content that ties into the product or service you’re selling. Content should be about the same subjects covered in your course or focus on the new products and shop updates so people can buy in one window.

If your business doesn’t run in launch seasons

If people can buy from you any time, you’ll want to make lots of small mentions of what you offer sprinkled throughout your stories.

You might share some helpful information and then signpost people to a workshop or a product you offer that ties in. Or you might answer questions and share advice with your audience and let them know if they want some one-to-one time with you, they can book a discovery call with you about your coaching programme.

“It’s okay to feel like you’re constantly banging on about this thing you sell, but what you’ll discover is that people who are excited to buy from you will welcome the information. You just have to find the balance – do more than you feel comfortable and measure the results.”

Monetising your Stories

Another way to make money through Stories is by using the Close Friends Stories feature.

This feature allows you to create a specific group of people so you can share Stories only to that list. People can see you have exclusive content because your Stories bubble is green and cant be accessed by everyone. People have to ask to be invited – or you can invite them in especially.

It’s a great place to offer additional content – perhaps for a membership or a group programme. If it makes sense – you can choose to monetise this other content. You can see a great example of this on one of Katie’s favourite accounts: Monica, who runs House of Esperanza.

Her standard stories are about DIY and interiors, but her Close Friend Stories is about the business of being an influencer. She monetises the DIY content through brand deals, but she also has an online membership for influencers to join directly, with a monthly fee, which grew out of the Close Friends group. She’ll mention her Close Friends Stories and her membership for people to join from time to time.

“You choose who you allow into your Close Friend Stories Group, so you can check out their profiles and work out if you’re comfortable with the idea of selling – or giving extra value for free – to them beforehand.”

Want to know more about fitting Instagram Stories into your marketing?

As you can see, there’s at least 101 things you can do to promote your business and sell your stuff using Instagram Stories. If you love the idea of learning even more about fitting Stories into your Instagram strategy, then head over to Katie’s Instagram stories. She’s hosting lots of Stories themed conversations – answering your questions, sharing your tips, and shouting out Instagrammers who are doing great things on Stories too.

You’ll find her here: @thewhinco

Share the podcast joy!

If you enjoyed today’s episode, we’d LOVE it if you took a screenshot of your podcast app and share it to your Stories. Make sure you tag Katie in the picture, too, so she can say thanks!

Sharing the podcast with your friends is essential – for a small podcast like The Whin Big Podcast, it’s the main way we grow and reach new people.

Thank you!

Resources in The Whin Big Podcast, episode 86

Podcast 19: How to make the most of Instagram Stories 

House of Esperanza on Instagram

Katie & The Whin on Instagram

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