Brands have been flocking to Instagram Story, an extremely popular feature on the photo-sharing app that broadcasts a series of snapshots or video clips for 24 hours before disappearing.  

There’s good reason, too.

For content distribution, it’s a no-brainer. Instagram has a worldwide userbase of over 1 billion people, with half of them viewing Instagram Stories every single day. If your goal is to raise brand awareness or build a community through visual content, your chances of can engagement skyrockets with those kinds of numbers. If you want to sell, you’re in luck, too—Instagram influences nearly 75 percent of user purchase decisions.  

Clearly, there’s a demand for this kind of bite-sized, quick-hit content. Instagram Stories take no time commitment to watch—or to make—plus there’s a surge of urgency since the stories vanish after a day (unless you choose to archive them). And visual content can be more impactful than the written word for some industries and brands.

If you’re one of the 25 million active business profiles on Instagram in need of some Instagram Story ideas, look no further:

1. Connect with Your Audience

People want to know more about the people that make up the brand. They want a peek behind the curtain to see how products get made or some insight into the development process of a service. It’s only natural to want to get to know somebody—the same is true for brands.

In fact, research shows consumers who perceive brands as more human are 2.1 times more likely to “love the brand” and 1.9 times more likely to be satisfied by it. Brands can leverage Instagram Stories to reveal a little bit about the people behind the logos and slogans. Give a tour of your factory floor, interview a CEO, or document the creation of an upcoming product. Put the camera on one of your subject matter experts and have them explain products or techniques to connect with your followers.

Clothing company Everlane excels at creating authentic Instagram Stories that reveal their values to their customers and share detailed product development information. This builds authenticity and trust, which customers (and clients) value. Connect, and set your brand apart.  

2. Answer Common Customer Questions

Instagram Stories establish a direct connection between you and your audience. If your business receives a bunch of common questions about what exactly you do, or how a certain service operates, you can talk to customers directly with quick answers by creating a series of videos or colorful snapshots (complete with explainer text). Collect the most commonly asked questions you’ve received through email or social media and answer them all on Instagram Stories.

Another option: host a real-time Q&A session. Since 42 percent of consumers think brands should respond to their questions within an hour on any given day, why not indulge them? Host an AMA (Ask Me Anything) and find out what customers have on their minds. Afterwards, archive them so future customers can view them.

You can also ask questions yourself. Instagram Stories has a feature called Question Sticker, which allows brands to paste a picture with a specific question that users can reply to. Basically, they’re a great way for brands to run polls, gather feedback, and figure out what areas you should be focusing on. Ask followers what kinds of content they would like to see next, or how you can improve your services. Instagram Stories get your followers involved in all sorts of fun ways.

3. Hype an Upcoming Event, Product, or Service

We’ve established that a ton of people view Instagram Stories every day. Show them something worth waiting for in a quick, convenient, and engaging way. If you have an upcoming product announcement, tease it out with short clips (to keep some mystery) before the day of the reveal.

Give viewers a reason to tune in the next day, too—maybe you’ll show off another mysterious early peek or broadcast a soundbite from one of your developers. The idea is to keep viewers coming back with a trail of breadcrumbs that give them an idea of what to expect, just long enough to keep engagement going. And once the reveal arrives, you’ll have a captive audience ready. Keep the mini-previews on Instagram Stories to give your followers the feeling of exclusivity.   

4. Promote Your Other Content

Instagram Stories can do other things besides promote products or gather feedback. You can treat it as another part of your content distribution network by pointing Instagram users to your other content, either on your website blog, long-form video on your YouTube channel, or elsewhere.

If you have business account with over 10,000 followers, brands on Instagram can add links to directly to their Instagram Stories. Just include the URL and when users swipe up, they’ll be taken to wherever you want. Add a call-to-action— “To Learn More” or “For This Exclusive Offer, Swipe Up”—within the Instagram Story post itself and you’re good to go. This way, your website, LinkedIn profile, or Medium blog may gain a whole new audience through Instagram traffic.   

And just like your other content, keep Instagram Story updates consistent. A steady schedule ensures visitors will regularly return to see what you’ve concocted next—and that your engagement and lead generation remains high.

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