Instagram Stories lifts its functionality straight from Snapchat’s own Stories feature. Stories differ from your main Instagram feed in that they lack permanence. They’re photos and videos that last for only 24 hours, and like Snapchat, they can be enhanced with drawings or special filters.

But don’t treat Instagram stories just like Snapchat’s, which is a platform that’s meant to be more gritty and raw. For most businesses, that style won’t play well with the more polished look of the Instagram platform. Unless you are your business’s brand, avoid being too personal in your stories.

To fully harness the power of this feature, make sure your stories enhance your brand. It’s best to post them at an optimal time, since they last only 24 hours. Further, the more stories you post, the more likely you’ll appear at the top of someone’s Instagram feed while they’re on the platform.

Here are some ways to leverage this wonderful social feature for your business.

Deliver Special Offers

Special offers seem extra-special when combined with the unique traits of Instagram stories. The point to remember is that the scarcity of Instagram stories gives them power. So if you use stories to distribute your business’s special offers, your offers and branding efforts will deliver a better result.

One way to deliver offers via stories is to refer viewers to the link in your bio. Post a “coupon” as an Instagram story and announce that the offer expires at the end of the 24-hour story period. The coupon can direct users to the link in your Instagram bio, which will take them to a landing page where they can learn how to redeem your special offer.

The time-critical nature of the Instagram story engenders a sense of urgency for your customers and potential sales leads. They’re far more likely to pay attention and heed your message as a result.

Show Off Your Creative Process

Maybe it’s an early design sketch, a video of you visiting the manufacturer behind your product, or simply a high-quality product shot of the final item. These kinds of targeted looks at your creative process can build a new level of trust with your audience.

Also, consider doing a special feature that gives viewers a peek at an unannounced product or a service for a client. Sharing your work with your audience can be compelling and lets you show the power of your brand and what services you’re capable of providing. Naturally, make sure you first have the client’s permission to include them in your Instagram marketing.

Share a Raw, Informal Glimpse Into Your Business

Instagram stories may be temporary, but their effect on your overall brand isn’t. Polished stories that show a real, but still tactfully created look at your business are key to humanizing your brand to existing customers and potential sales leads.

Consider showing brief behind-the-scenes looks at your business. Here, popular activewear label Lorna Jane highlights one of their team members at work.

Wrap Up

Instagram is now a behemoth in the social media world, boasting approximately 500 million monthly active users. This compares to only 100 million active Snapchat users. Furthermore, 68% of users engage with brands regularly on Instagram.

Despite Instagram’s power as an amazing platform for business and a top channel for growth, only 36% of marketers are on Instagram. This is a huge mistake on their part. Instagram is incredible for growth. Truthfully, if you’re already on Facebook, you need to be using Instagram and its Instagram Stories feature.

If you’re not sure what content to share on your Instagram stories, why not ask your audience what they’re interested in seeing from you? Use this valuable feedback to inform the content direction of your future stories to improve engagement.

If you consistently apply best practices and make a sincere attempt to harness the power of Instagram stories, the positive results for your business should be abundantly clear in short order.

Original Article: Social Media Examiner