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The Expansion of Instagram Stories, and What It Means for You

Taking another step towards increasing adoption of Instagram Stories among average users and brands alike, Instagram has expanded the abilities of this feature in recent days. Here’s what these expanded options mean for marketers.

Linking Out

This is a biggie. Talk about ROI: Instagram users can finally click on embedded links within your Instagram content (as long as you’re a verified user), visit your site, and complete the goal you want them to, whether that is reading an article or purchasing a product. This is all without you having to pay for an ad.

The catch: links can only be added to Instagram Stories. This is one of the most persuasive carrots that Instagram is waving in front of brands to get them to use Instagram Stories regularly. And it should be working for you.

Instagram Stories

Nota bene: This is also a major competitive feature against Snapchat, where you cannot link out of the app at all. Snapchat is a totally closed system.

How to Optimize Your Instagram Stories

Link to your presence on other social channels important to you…then measure your engagement and follower growth on those channels.

Link to specific products *duh*. Soul Cycle recently released an entire Instagram Story of new products, just in time for the holiday season, and instructed followers how to click through and shop on their site.

This feature finally allows you to measure how Instagram Stories directly impact the bottom line for your business.

You can use Simply Measured’s Social Attribution solution to see exactly how each Instagram Story is affecting your revenue.


Link to specific, Instagram-external content *double duh*. As social/digital swiftly become the new TV, your brand should be focused on taking up as much of people’s available screen time as possible. This holds true whether your brand is a media company or a company that sells soap. The more people driven to your site and content, the more likely they are to purchase your product.

IMG_0408Instagram Stories with links foster growth in this area.


Now Instagram allows creators use @ to “tag” any other Instagram user in their story.

Source: TechCrunch

Nota bene: This feature is available to all Instagram users, not just verified Instagram accounts.

How to Optimize Your Instagram Stories

Partner with influencers on Instagram Stories AND “regular” Instagram. Use your “regular” Instagram feed to announce your partnership, but direct users towards your Instagram Story for the bulk of content.

The more time people spend in front of your brand’s content, the more likely they are to become customers, continue to be customers, or become advocates. Instagram Stories are an effective way to cultivate increased time spent with your brand.

Highlight Instagram followers who participated in your campaign. Socially savvy workout community Tone It Up employs that tactic here, filling its Instagram Story with UGC Instagram photos posted by participants in its #TIUholidayhustle program.

Tone It Up

But Tone It Up misses here by not tagging (thus notifying) their community members who have participated. Tagging followers in Instagram Stories is different from tagging them in “regular” Instagram posts, since Instagram Stories don’t live on–they have a limited lifespan.

Tagging in Instagram Stories vs. “regular” Instagram doesn’t enable greater discovery for your brand. Tagging Instagram users in Instagram Stories is more like saying, “Psst, look at this!” directly to that person than saying, “Look at this!” and hoping their friends overhear, get interested, and engage with you. It’s about encouraging and activating the community you already have, rather than proactively drawing in new followers/customers.

Instagram Stories Marketing
Instagram Stories can fit many marketing needs, including building active, positive association, reinforcing relationships with your community via repetition, targeting influencers and customers, and driving demand through strong, creative messaging.

Boomerang Integration

You ex-Vine users can stop crying now. Instagram has added Boomerang, its stand-alone app that creates one-second video loops, to Instagram Stories.

ShopBop wins here with a mention on a Boomerang in an Instagram Story–not to mention those emojis. Doesn’t get more cutting edge than this, folks.

You can now create an Instagram story in “normal” mode (photos or videos) or Boomerang mode (one-second video loops).

You can only add Boomerangs to Stories, and not “old-fashioned Instagram.” If you want to add a Boomerang to your Instagram feed, you’ll still need to use their separate app.

How to Optimize Your Instagram Stories

Intersperse Boomerangs with still shots that deliver important information. Look what American Express recently did to generate awareness and participation in its #ShopSmall day among card members. First they add a Boomerang with two influencers putting chic sunglasses on and taking them off.


American Express immediately follows this with a still image including details and disclaimers about #ShopSmall.


The movement of the Boomerang draws even more attention towards the still image that follows it–which is just what American Express wants here. The Boomerang/still image/Boomerang/still image pattern is repeated several times in this particular Instagram Story.

Experiment with playfulness…ESPECIALLY if you don’t usually do so. Surprise and delight the people who are interested in your brand enough to follow it on Instagram. Using Boomerang in your Instagram Story is a great way to welcome this sensibility into your social strategy without overwhelming folks who just want to see the expected pictures or videos from your brand on their Instagram feeds, especially since Instagram Stories are opt-in.

Give your followers Boomerang access to the excitement of your event. In a recent Instagram Story, P. Diddy used Boomerang to take followers on a trip through a Deleon Tequila party.

The Boomerangs hover back and forth endlessly over platters of shots, drinks-in-the-making, and ladies twirling peacock feathers, among other moments. This kind of sequence is perfect for event-based marketing, whether you’re a rap superstar or a major brand.

How will you use Instagram Stories and optimize your content there? What fresh ideas do you have? How do you see Instagram Stories as distinct from “regular” Instagram? Let us know on Twitter. 

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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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