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6 Ways Brands Can Leverage Instagram Stories


Did you hear the news? Instagram launched a new feature. Some people say that it bears a striking resemblance to Snapchat’s feature with the same name.

If you didn’t hear about it, listen to this This Old Marketing episode to hear in detail what Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose have to say about Instagram Stories. To summarize, they say: “If you can’t beat ’em, clone ’em.”

But what if we go further and look at how to use Instagram Stories in your content marketing strategy?

Smart content marketers care about how to leverage their game to build a community, connect with it, and make the brand part of their audience’s life.

With 500 million monthly active users and more than 90 million daily uploaded photos and videos, Instagram is a mobile community where a brand should be present.

With the Instagram Stories feature, you have everything you want from a mobile social network. You can edit and upload photos, upload videos, apply filters, send direct messages, advertise, and create content that disappears in 24 hours.

Use these six Instagram Stories tips as a how-to guide for your visual content marketing strategy.

1. Behind the scenes

Too few content marketers create real or transparent content. That is what Instagram Stories really is about.

With the new Stories feature users can see how and where their favorite or most inspiring pictures were made or what the creator is doing in a regular day while exploring new places to shoot.


A story from Happy Socks, a Swedish manufacturer and retailer of socks and underwear, is a 10-second video on what is going on in the office — people working at their desks, a birthday celebration, etc.

Give your audience a peek at how your brand does what it does — from people to product. It gives your audience the opportunity to have a deeper connection with your brand.

Give your audience at peek at how your brand does what it does to develop a deeper connection says @katairobi. Click To Tweet

If you don’t know what to post on Instagram Stories you can just ask your followers what they want to see from you.

2. Vote on next post

Making your audience part of your visual strategy is one of the best practices I’ve seen of brands using Instagram Stories. When brands only create random, self-selected stories, it’s a shame because they don’t take advantage of talking with their community.


Red Bull asked its followers to vote with a “like” emoji for the next photo. Audience members sent the emoji in direct messages through Instagram Chat for the one that they wanted published. (Too bad I didn’t have the inspiration to screenshot the resulting stories.)

If your company posts to Instagram every day or multiple times a day, ask your audience to be part of the decision-making process — and be creative in your asks.

3. Take over

If you are familiar with digital agency owner Gary Vaynerchuk you may have read about his takeover strategy in his blog. To do a takeover, you and another account work together and appear in each other’s stories. As Gary explains, you send a picture or 10-second video that your partner can upload, and your partner does the same.

I love this one because it gets me out of my comfort zone and encourages me to think not only about myself but also about my partner community. It also makes me try harder because I want to give my best for my Instagram partner to use in the takeover.

Maybe you think this strategy is better for personal accounts than brand accounts. Well my friends, I believe businesses should partner. What if a sports gym made a takeover for a nearby restaurant? The gym could create content about how to have a healthy life with fitness. The restaurant could create content that emphasizes healthy foods. Think about that.

4. Instachat: Short Q&A

People love to hear what the specialists have to say about a topic or a situation. And with Instagram Stories you can post a short Q&A.

You can do the same on Instagram as brands such as Content Marketing Institute do on Twitter chats. Let me explain:

  • Post a photo or video to let your community know about your short Q&A (or call it Instachat). Include when it happens and what it’s about.

For example, Jeffrey Gerson, an Instagram community manager, answered his audience’s questions in 10-second videos.


5. Tips and tricks

I love seeing tips and tricks from different brands on Instagram. It’s a great way to tell the audience that your brand is a specialist in this field and can help without asking for anything in return.

For example, you can post step-by-step instructions to show your audience how to do something that they want or need to do. An avocado producer could show in a 10-second video how to make a great guacamole or a camera company could show images taken from different cameras to illustrate the differences.

6. Limited sales

Showcase your product and offer a discount on Instagram Stories. Let people know that they have 24 hours (as long as the Instagram Story is live) to buy with that discount.

J.Crew Instagram Story from Instagram for Business on Vimeo.

J Crew used Instagram Stories to solicit advance sales of Jane in Pink sunglasses. The stories centered on the frame color — pink — and featured staff in funny, natural, and personal moods. The brand featured the story in its feed to ensure that more if its followers would see the limited sale.


These six ideas on how to leverage Instagram Stories are just the start. I bet that you can find another few practices that you can use on Instagram Stories for your content marketing strategy.

Let me know in the comments what you think about Instagram Stories and how you will approach this new feature.

Need more ideas on how to create killer social media content? Download our latest collection of amazing brand examples: Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples

Cover image by Viktor Hanacek, picjumbo, via