Do you have 15 seconds? Awesome! You have just enough time to authentically engage with your audience.

Instagram stories are Instagram’s version of disappearing content, meant for real-time sharing. More importantly? They are burning up engagement stats all over the place. Just like on Snapchat, users can share pictures and videos that will disappear after 24 hours. Unlike the friendly ghost, however, Instastories are growing like crazy.

Instagram released the story feature in August 2016, and in less than six months had 150 million daily story users. It took Snapchat six years to reach that number! While that might not be quite a fair comparison, the reality is Instagram Stories were taking over from the start: the number of active Snapchat users decreased 40 percent after Instagram released the story feature. 

Instagram Stories is where it’s at, and if you’re business isn’t already involved, you’re behind the times. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to master the medium, we’ve got your back. Ready to get in on that engagement? Here are five ways to make the most of your 15 seconds of fame.

1. Be Consistent

Because your stories will disappear after 24 hours, it is crucial to keep engaging: you’ve got to post every day. Trust us; it’s going to be worth your time. Instagram users are highly engaged in stories, and over one-third of the most viewed stories come from businesses! That could be you! This works because Instagram stories don’t feel like ads. Consumers love watching the behind-the-scenes process, so give the people what they want and share away. Not sure what to post? The top-performing stories include how-to’s, behind-the-scenes, listicles, announcements, and takeovers.

2. Make Connections

Another Instagram advantage over Snapchat is that it allows you to tag other users in your content. If you decide to show your morning coffee, try linking to @starbucks. The company will be alerted that you tagged them, and it could open the door for future collaborations.

This also means that your own consumers could tag you, so always include a call-to-action about sharing your product, and reach out to everyone who features you in their stories. This could take just moments of your day, but it will leave a lasting impression on your users that will be worth more than any ad campaign.

3. Embrace Imperfection

The appeal of Instagram stories is that they are unpolished. Readers and consumers want to know the real you behind the business, so don’t be afraid to experiment and show a little bit of everything. About 70 percent of Instagram stories are watched with the sound on, so take people on a journey throughout your day and explain what you’re doing.

You could even ask your audience for feedback on what you’re creating. One in five Instagram stories receives a direct message, so be transparent with what you’re working on or struggling with, and ask for feedback!

4. Stay in Your Lane

Getting excited about these engagement numbers? Me, too — but let’s take a beat and make sure we’re sharing the right content. A study conducted by Facebook found that the highest rated Instagram stories always shared relevant content to their brand and audience. You’re telling your brand’s story through pictures and videos, so make sure it makes sense in this slideshow format.

For example, a health coach might share pictures of their salad at lunch, or their morning workout. That fits with their brand, and will be interesting for their audience. If they only show pics of their family and cats, on the other hand, that won’t sustain the engagement they’re after.  Lead with value, and your engagement will naturally climb.

5. Try Some Ads

If you have an Instagram business account, running story ads could be a helpful experiment for your business. Instagram has over 300 million daily users, and one-third of those users reported that the ads they see in Instagram stories positively impacted how they viewed a brand. Let that sink in. Every single day there are 100 million people who would actually enjoy seeing an ad from you! Keep your 15-second ads fast-paced, fun, and casual. You can always tweak as you go — so start engaging today.

Have Fun!

Like with any social media channel, Instagram Stories are just another way for you to experiment, and to have some fun connecting with your customers. If you’re having fun, that usually means you’re being authentic — and authenticity trumps just about anything when it comes to connecting to your uses. So don’t take yourself too seriously; jump in and get started. Your followers are waiting for you!


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