Writing for Business Advice, social media strategist Sam Burgess, founder of Social Mouth, outlines how small companies can begin marketing with Instagram Stories to connect with customers and generate sales.
Instagram is well-established as the social platform for smaller brands to thrive on. But for busy small business owners, it can drain your time and creative resources. Enter Instagram Stories, a real-time way to engage with – and convert – your audience.
Introduced in 2016, these 15-second video clips have made for addictive viewing; in fact, we’re watching so much Stories content, we’re neglecting to scroll our feeds. And, with less than half of the 800m Instagram users creating daily content, it’s a chance for small business to stand – out – especially given that one-third of the most viewed Stories on Instagram are from businesses.
Get up close and personal
So, why do Instagram Stories have such a positive effect on business? People buy from people. Your passion, enthusiasm and knowledge come across on film, and that in itself is compelling. Stories help to build know, like, trust – the three things you need for someone to buy from a business.
By being on camera and encouraging interaction, you become much more approachable and prospective customers can contact you directly; in fact, one in five Instagram Stories leads to a direct message.
This can take away a barrier to purchase by getting any niggles resolved, sizing or shipping, for instance. A direct message is often the only time we ever converse with a customer one-to-one, so it’s your opportunity to give brilliant customer service and close the sale.
Create more customer value
Stories allows businesses to share insights and behind the scenes content, as well as snippets of your life as a business owner. Live video blog events or demonstrate how to use your product. Involving your community is a fab way to bring them closer and build trust; optimising the poll feature can invite invaluable customer feedback, helping to shape new products or services.
Why not celebrate moments with your community too? Your 1,000th order, or a new wholesaler perhaps? You can also offer a limited time promotion just for your Stories viewers enhancing the customer experience.
Marketing with Instagram Stories: Face the fear and do it anyway
The number one barrier preventing business owners from showing up on Stories is fear. Granted, we’re not all natural presenters, and as with everything, practice is essential. There’s some simple ways to fighting the fear:
1) Set yourself a challenge to post something on stories every day for thirty days. Create a content plan that maps out what you’ll talk about each day in advance so you don’t give up.
2) Remember your intention is to connect, educate and engage so ensure you’re bringing value to your community as well as selling. A value/community/sell/brand formula can be effective.
3) When filming, imagine you’re FaceTiming a friend who is slightly hard of hearing. Be yourself but project your voice. Be clear on your customer avatar as that will help shape the content and approach.
4) Always play your clips back, no matter how cringey – it will help you to improve quicker.
5) Don’t be at mercy to the 15-second countdown. Apps such as Continual/CutStory (iOS), Story Split/Story Cutter (Android) can cut a longer video up for you
6) Stories only last 24-hours, and are supposed to be a bit more “rough and ready” but you want to stay on-brand. Have a considered set-up and avoid filming when you’re in a rush. Ensure you are well lit by sitting facing a window, keep the distance you would if you were talking to someone face-to-face, and ensure the camera is steady – you may want to invest in a tabletop tripod.
7) Avoid “over-share”. Our short attention spans mean six to eight clips per 24 hour period is ample; always leave your audience wanting more.
8) Instagram Stories is a more immediate way to reach out to your followers, build loyalty and remove the barriers between consumer and brand.
9) Create content your community wants to consume rather than content you want to create; if you don’t know how they’ll respond, then it’s possibly not the right thing to be sharing. And again, as with all marketing, the best place to start, is to start.
Sam Burgess is founder of Social Mouth, a social marketing consultancy
Take a look our guides to using social media as a small business owner:
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