Instagram is one of the fastest growing and powerful ways to market your business on social media. But there’s more to this particular platform than just the usual posting of images and videos each week. Instagram Stories are an important feature that when used consistently and effectively, can be a great way to drive engagement with your brand – and ultimately create new customers.

So here are 5 creative ways in which your brand can utilize Instagram Stories:

Gain audience feedback & interaction

Instagram Stories can be a great way to get customer feedback, insights, and gauge sentiment around your products/services and new ideas that you’d like to test out. Simple yet effective ways to do this include using the polls features and the ‘ask a question’ feature. These enable you to gain a better understanding into what your audience does (and doesn’t) like, and you can plan future social media content around what answers you may get!

Design branded Stories templates

Remember that Instagram is the most visually-important social media platform – both on the feed and in Stories. So keep your branding consistent within your Stories by using customized templates. Graphic design programmes like Canva are an easy way to create these – and you can still add the usual Story features (GIFs, polls, hashtags) onto them in post-production, of course! But utilizing a branded template keeps your Stories looking professional, on-brand and distinct from the rest of the pack.

Mix up the content types

Mix up the types of content you put in your Stories. They could range from behind-the-scenes “inside looks” into your business, giveaways and contests, influencer or employee takeovers, you could feature fan content/user generated content, and post “how to” tips in the form of text, edited videos or live videos. A range of content types keeps your Stories fresh and your audience interested in what you have in store for them next. Stories also tend to be more “exclusive” content, so they aid in strengthening the relationships with your fans.

Increase the reach of your account

Instagram Stories are also a great way to enable more people to discover your content and become followers. So do some hashtag research and utilise relevant hashtags within your Stories. If you are concerned about aesthetics, you could “hide” the hashtags behind a block of text, image, or even make the hashtag group the same colour as your background! Also use the location tag feature – especially if you are a local business/brick and mortar business. This means that when a person is searching for a hashtag or location tag which you have used, your Story should show up in the search results.

Utilize Call-to-Actions

Don’t forget – while some of the primary aims of social media marketing is to increase brand awareness and engagement in order to build relationships with potential customers, there still needs to be a healthy balance of strong “call to actions” (CTA) as well. Utilising them with Instagram Stories can be effective as regular viewers of your Stories are already feeling “warm” towards your brand, therefore are more prime for acting on a call to action. For example – within your Stories, you can ask viewers to visit your website or a product page. Accounts with more than 10,000 followers can use the ‘swipe up’ feature in Stories, but if you have less than that, send them to the “link in bio”, or ask them to send you a direct message where you can give them a link or more information there.