Instagram has become the most popular visually-based platform out there and offers a great way to promote and develop your business, as well as show off your creativity. Since their release, Instagram stories have become an essential part of marketing on Instagram, reaching around 300 million users a day. They are a fantastic way for your followers to get to know you better and increase engagement: it is estimated that 1 in 5 stories gets a message from a follower. If you are a freelancer working in the creative industry, you don’t want to miss out on this fun and effective marketing method. Let’s take a look at how to use Instagram stories to boost your business profile.
What are Instagram Stories?
Instagram stories are short clips consisting of videos, pictures, illustrations or texts that appear above your main feed and disappear after 24 hours. They are a fun way to share a series of moments that you don’t want to live forever on your profile. They can be used to show off your personality in a way that isn’t reflected in your more cultivated main instagram posts.
Why Should I use Instagram Stories?
Your main instagram feed is a good opportunity to show off your portfolio but stories offer another way to show off a less cultivated side of your business and your personality. When posting to your main feed you want to go for a polished final-product type look, which will live forever on your profile. Stories only live for 24 hours and are a chance to give your followers a look at the real you or get a sneak peak of what goes on behind the scenes in your business. You can use stories to do things like:
- Give a quick tour through your work
- Reflect on a particular project or event
- Show your behind the scenes process
- Feature products for sale
- Play a game
- Host a contest
- Take a poll
- Do a giveaway
- Give tips
- Share user generated content that you have permission to share, like customer posts and testimonials
How do I make an Instagram Story?
- To start a new story: tap on your profile picture in the upper left corner of stories row of the home screen or on your profile page, which will activate the camera
- To add to your story: tap the camera icon in the upper left corner at anytime (the camera for regular posts is at the bottom of the screen)
- Shoot a new photo or video, and/or choose one to add from your existing camera
- You can can create text to share with your photo and video content by using Type Mode
- Choose story format:
- normal (regular photo or video)
- boomarang (looping GIF style)
- rewind (normal video that plays in reverse)
- handsfree (another way to take 15 second video without having to hold down button)
- live (broadcasts live, followers will be notified and viewers can send reactions and comments in real time)
- superzoom (zooms in on one object with a dramatic sound)
- stop motion (makes video from series of pics)
Once you’ve finished choosing your content and format, you can edit and apply filters, text, stickers, doodles to show off your personality. Stickers are a great way to add info and style: hashtag stickers add clickable brand hashtag, location stickers are clickable and will show other tagged posts from your store, poll stickers show real time results and allow you engage with your audience, emoji poll stickers offer engagement and instant feedback. You can even create a selfie sticker with your own facial expressions to pin to photos to show how you feel about them! Stickers can be pinned to elements in video so they remain on those elements even when camera or the people move.
To make your stories more exciting use videos, people like motion and are more likely to watch longer to see what happens next. Or go live so that users can interact with you in real time. A bonus of using this format is that your followers will get a notification when you go live which will lead them right to you. Keep the length of your stories in mind and try to say more with less as people tend to swipe away from longer stories. When you start using Instagram stories mix up your format and content to see what followers engage with most until you find what works best for your business. Try to stay on brand while showing off you personality and giving out a little insider info in order to entice your followers to want to know more and build brand loyalty. Build your following by engaging with the followers you already have, reply to comments, do a Q&A, answer requests and post content that your followers are interested in often. If you use an instagram business account you can track metrics and engagement and your stories insights to see what people are responding to, use that information to make more and better content and reach more viewers.
How Can I use Highlights?
Worried about spending time on something that only lasts 24 hours? Don’t worry, you can use highlights to give permanency to content and even save your stories if you want to. Once your story’s 24 hours are over, you can add them to your highlights collection which is available on your profile above your feed, under your description. When users click on the highlight each story it contains will play. You can create multiple highlights for a profile which allows you to organize content into different categories so potential clients can find exactly what they are looking for.
To create highlights:
- click the + button with new underneath it on your business profile
- select the content from recent stories that you’d like the highlight to contain
- name your highlight and choose a cover image
- once you’ve created a highlight you can add to it at anytime
A couple of ways to use highlights are: to create an “our story” which can be a mini elevator-pitch or a behind the scenes profile of your business, make an “events” section to show highlights from previous events and build interest in future ones, add a highlight for “feedback” to show what clients think about your work and show user generated content.
When using Instagram stories or any other social media to promote your business, remember that one of the most important things you can do to attract new clients is to appear credible. Be sure that your profile picture is professional and fitting of your business and that your bio page shows off your skills and offers some proof of what you do - preferably with a link to your website. Don’t forget that while you're using Instagram to increase your online presence so that clients can find you, you can also use the sites to scope out potential clients by searching relevant hashtags. For example, trying searching a hashtag with your location and niche to check local websites and see if any businesses need your services, if you think they do: pitch them! There are so many opportunities to boost your freelance business’s online presence on social media sites, it is just a matter of finding the site and format that works best for you. Clients are always out there looking to hire a freelancer that can provide them with great work, make sure that you are visible by using tools like Instagram stories and keeping your profile up to date on the freelancer’s friend, Sagegroupy.