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Instagram Stories 101: What Social Marketers Need to Know

Our Instagram Stories 101 webinar broke down the basics of Instagram’s high-growth feature. Lynae Cook and Jen Joyce were our gracious hosts, explaining why brands should invest in Instagram Stories, how to best leverage the feature, and how to measure and optimize as you go along.


Missed it? Here’s what you need to know. Scroll down for the full deck and the webinar recording.

1. What Are Instagram Stories, and Why Should You Use Them?

Instagram StoriesAs we know, Instagram has become an important part of brand social media strategy. Jen cited Instagram Stories as a “really fun and effective way to improve engagement and visibility, and diversify your content.” One huge perk of the feature? Showing another side of your brand:

Laid-back, humorous, and/or light hearted content can really humanize your company. Make sure to test different kinds of content and use the data, but it’s okay to keep it not-so-polished. -Jen Joyce

In fact, Jen noted, this less-polished material typically performs best for complete story views. People will continue to watch your stories if they’re relatable. Not convinced? Check out these stats. 


2. Leverage Polls

PollsInstagram launched their Polls feature in early October. It’s located in the Stickers section. Lynae is a big fan.

Polls are a great way to ask your audience’s opinion on products that you are launching or the kind of content they want to see in your next blog post. -Lynae Cook

She also has a few pro tips: 

  • Make sure you leave enough room for the poll in your image. The poll isn’t an add-on. If you choose to use it, it’s the central component of your Story’s visual aesthetic.
  • Set a timer for 24 hours. This way you’ll see what the full poll results are during that time. It’s rudimentary, but it’s the best way we have so far.
  • Planning an event? Have your audience weigh in on the featured cocktail or what musicians should be added to the playlist.
  • Use Stories to connect with more localized audiences. Uber publishes Instagram Stories on Sundays, highlighting the different cities playing Sunday Night Football. This helps people in those cities feel connected to Uber by voting for their city’s team, what food they are most known for, etc.

Polls are an easy and fun way to let your followers weigh in and feel heard, which encourages them to engage more often, and even seek out your Stories content. 

3. Amplify Reach with Tags and Mentions

AmplifyTagging helps you amplify your brand reach with Instagram Stories.

Simply Measured Instagram Insights - Impressions and Reach
Simply Measured Offers Reach Data for Instagram Stories!

Add your location for a greater chance to be featured in that location’s Story. This will get more eyes on your Stories, and show your content to new viewers who might not follow you yet. Tagging other users with a mention is effective for engaging followers and encouraging user-generated content (UGC), which, in turn, encourages brand advocacy.

4. Instagram Stories as a Storytelling Mechanism

StorytellingSuperfans aside, users are generally jumping into your Stories with little to no context about your most recent posts. Set the stage for them. Even if you’re doing a giveaway, setting up the occasion or building some anticipation will lay a better foundation than jumping straight to the point.

Many brands leverage Instagram stories specifically for events. Here are some tips for that use case:

  • Share your arrival at the event or location you’re covering. Start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.
  • Set the scene with your visuals. Even something as simple as a color-blocked frame indicating you’re at CES or Agenda will help people understand the context.
  • Think of Stories like sentences. You would say, “We’re heading to PAX West.” You would not say, “Stop by Booth 321” without the context of where you are, what the benefit is, and why you’re excited to be there/share this information with your audience.

Keep in mind that people tap through Stories a lot, too, so break your narrative into several frames. That way, even if a user is tapping through, they get a cohesive understanding of what’s going on and aren’t able to forego your entire message with a simple tap.

5. Defining Success on Instagram Stories

Have you heard? Simply Measured has Instagram Stories data. 

StoriesYou don’t have to dive into the unknown without your metrics. We got you.

6. Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Check Out the Full Deck Here

And the Webinar Recording Here

Still want more? Download our guide to coming up with more creative campaigns below.

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25 Ways to Come Up with More Creative Campaigns


Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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