With the number of mobile users growing substantially over the past few years, it’s no surprise that ephemeral content –– aka, temporary content that disappears after 24 hours –– has become a staple marketing tool for brands of all shapes and sizes.

But what is it exactly? And why do small businesses need to capitalize on it to get to the next level in their marketing strategy?

Let’s dive in…

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories first launched in 2016 and have grown in popularity on the platform ever since. Today, half a billion people use Instagram Stories daily, with  58%  saying they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories.

Like Snapchat’s “self-destruct” style of content, Instagram Stories are a series of 15-second photos and/or videos that are chronologically joined together to form a slideshow gallery that lasts for 24 hours. A colorful ring will appear around your profile picture on your page, allowing people to tap it to view your “Story.”

As a marketing strategy, ephemeral content offers a sense of exclusivity. Here are a few reasons why it’s wise to invest time and resources into temporary Instagram Story content:

  1. Humanize your brand and promote authenticity

Stories allow you to pull back the curtain and give your audience an inside look into your business. Create content that highlights the employees behind your brand. Infuse it with personality. Make it humorous. Tell an interesting story.

  1. Foster interaction with your audience to reach more people

Stories allow you to interact directly with your audience to understand their motives and needs better. Try running polls and Q&As where you can ask viewers for their opinions or encourage them to submit questions that you can then respond to in real-time.

  1. Elicit an immediate response

The short-lived nature of fleeting content is designed to encourage a timely response from the viewer –– a quick purchasing decision, signing up for a webinar, downloading an app, etc. Stories are a valuable source for user engagement and conversion.

Creating On-Brand Instagram Stories

Given their short lifespan, Instagram Stories don’t have to be as polished as evergreen content. However, just like your regular in-feed content, your Story content needs to be a clear and consistent representation of your brand. In doing so, you will increase brand awareness and make your content stand out in a saturated market.

Here are some helpful tips and resources to ensure that your Instagram Stories stay on-brand:

  • Create a branding kit (even if you have zero graphic design knowledge!). Check out this comprehensive guide from our friends at Later.
  • Use Canva to create a compelling single or multi-piece story that is synonymous with your brand.
  • Add partner approvals for branded content. This post from Social Media Examiner provides an easy-to-follow walkthrough.
  • Create an editorial calendar with monthly themes and goals to plan your Instagram Story content in advance.

How to Set up an IG Story 

Now that you’ve created or gathered your IG Story content or you’re ready to take a photo or record a video in real-time, it’s time to post!

To create your first Story on Instagram, follow these simple steps:

Step 1 → Open Instagram, tap the “+” icon at the top right-hand corner of the screen, then select “Story” at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.

Step 2 → Swipe up to select premade content from your camera library OR click the accordion arrow on the left side of the screen to choose the desired style (e.g., Create, Boomerang, Superzoom, Layout, etc.)

Step 3 → Click the “Aa” or speaker icons in the top right-hand corner of the screen to add relevant text and music.

Step 4 → Make sure to include stickers, such as questions, polls, hashtags, geotags, quizzes, and donations. These help to encourage meaningful conversations and expand your reach. Tap the sticker icon at the top of your screen — it’s the square that’s smiling and has a folded corner.

*Pro Tip: Using too many stickers in one Story may make it look cluttered. Be thoughtful when selecting, and don’t overdo it.

Step 5 → Once you’re happy with the way you’ve styled your Story, click “Your Story” at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, and VOILA!

*When you’re ready to view the result of your Story, click the little hamburger-style icon in the top right corner of your profile page, then tap “Insights.”

Still overwhelmed by Instagram Stories? We can help you create captivating visuals, grow your following, and drive engagement. Contact us at 855-OPS-0023 or send us an email to book your strategy session.