Instagram isn’t just a magnet for puppies, kittens, eggs gone viral, Beyoncé dance challenges, and your if-I-win-the-lottery wishlist. It’s also an ideal platform to be in an ongoing conversation with your customers. As a brand or business owner, once you’ve set up an Instagram account, the next natural leap is stepping up your Instagram Stories.
With over 5 million active daily users making the most out of Instagram Stories, you need to stay constantly inspired—and be willing to experiment—to make an emotional connection with your customers.
Here’s how 10 global brands are challenging how we can connect to our audience on Instagram Stories.
01. Create a themed story
During Fashion Revolution Week—a movement advocating for more transparency and fairness in the pursuit of quality and production—Australian fashion brand Obus created a series of Instagram Stories. Each image put a face to someone who played an important role in the clothes being made for their customers.
What can we learn from this Story? According to a recent report, 60% of millennials say they want to shop more ‘sustainably’. Here lies an opportunity for brands to visually tell the story of who is responsible for the product. Candid photography, a deliberate color scheme, and communicating an ethos of fun and collaboration helps the customer feel more involved—and connected—with the brand.
02. Craft headlines that count
Daily Harvest is a delivery service that specializes in frozen unprocessed food and drink. This speedy Instagram Story aims to show customers how it easy it is to opt-in to the service—balancing both sleek food photography, and concise product descriptions.
What can we learn from this Story? Headlines aren’t just for blog posts or news stories. They can help you make an Instagram Story more memorable. For best results, make sure your headline (which doubles as your Unique Selling Point) is specific, timely, and useful.
Create informative and visually appealing Instagram Stories with the Simple Photo Grid Your Story template and the Yellow Blue Quote Basketball Playoffs Instagram Story template.
03. Keep your audience guessing
The British fashion house relies on visual narratives in their Story adverts, with a noticeable absence of any text. Known for their “fairy-tale gothicism”, the viewer is treated to slides revealing alternate universes where mystery, suspense and intrigue are the main narrative hooks.
What can we learn from this Story? Information gaps can be good thing—and shouldn’t only remain in the realm of luxury products. Make the most of Instagram’s ‘vanishing’ Stories. Instead of prompting your customers to bookmark something to look at later, encourage them to follow their curiosity in the moment.
04. Reward your customers with valuable deals and discounts
Flight and hotel booking service Hopper regularly promotes deals and discounts with their Instagram Stories, using copy that’s timely and to-the-point. As a brand that focuses on offering budget solutions, they don’t compromise on visual appeal.
What can we learn from this Story? You can keep things simple as long as you deliver on your promise. Think of your Instagram Story as a visual contract between the customer and brand—it says, ‘if you give us your time and attention, we’ll make sure you’re rewarded with savings and enjoyable experience’.
Create timely and bold promotion-based Instagram Stories with the Pink Bold Promo Instagram Story template and the Green and Yellow Tropical Leaves Summer Sale Story template.
05. Adapt royalty-free content (or internal communications) for Stories
In 2018, the New York Public Library decided to adapt popular works for lovers of literature who preferred to read on Instagram Stories. Well-known designers made the original text come to life with lush illustrations—and there was also an interactive ‘page flip’ element. This made the reading experience mirror the physicality of reading on paper. Story Highlights offered the opportunity to collect each Story after its public release and sort them into a digital bookshelf.
What can we learn from this Story? A good idea can exist beyond the original medium it was created for. Perhaps a live event your brand hosted can be adapted into some quote-worthy slides. Or maybe a PDF resource can be previewed through an Instagram Story. Experiment with different formats to find the best fit.
Adapt useful, interesting content into eye-catching and memorable Instagram Stories with the Pink and White Minimal Quote Story template and the Orange Black Sporty Quote Basketball Playoffs Instagram Story template.
06. Repurpose your newsletter for Stories
Skincare brand Aesop’s The Ledger is the monthly culture roundup distributed via EDM and also available to read on the website. It covers new things to discover, places to visit, people of historical note, and things worth listening to and reading. To increase its reach, and communicate its value, a summary of each edition is posted to its Instagram Stories.
What can we learn from this Story? Newsletter content (or any content for that matter) can be adapted for Instagram Stories. By helping readers find their way to the full newsletter, they can decide for themselves whether they’d like to subscribe for regular personalized updates.
07. Poll your audience to learn what they prefer
Burger King created 9 Instagram Stories—one for each of their infamous Whopper’s ingredients. People could custom-make their burger via polls. Each set of completed polls generated a unique coupon (sent via DM) for people to redeem their custom Whopper at the Burger King of their choice, for free.
What can we learn from this Story? Polls are powerful! They can be harnessed to unlock insights about what new features or products your customers need in their lives.
Create clear, bright and bold poll-based Instagram Stories with the Blue and Pink Ice Cream Poll Personal Instagram Story template and the Red and White Modern Personal Poll Instagram Story template.
08. Offer a behind-the-scenes look at your products
Fashion spreads dripping in designer wear aren’t always relatable (even if the fantasy is fun). Nordstrom Rack took this insight and gave their customers an approachable, candid look at the season’s latest trends.
What can we learn from this Story? Instagram Stories have a ‘backstage pass’ effect. Helping customers to feel like they’re the first to be told what the newest trends or products are is far more useful than copying legacy brands with bigger budgets and resources.
09. Get your audience involved with quizzes
Hello Fresh’s occasional Instagram Story quizzes encourage customers to engage with the brand in-between product launches. They’re fun, low-pressure, and backed up by delicious visuals celebrating their produce and ingredients.
What can we learn from this Story? Give your customers a break from promotional content sometimes. Brand loyalty is key and can set you apart from your competitors. Polls keep things interactive—but focus on testing knowledge, and sharing useful trivia—rather than a ‘hard sell’.
10. Build hype around major calendar events
The Sydney Opera House used Instagram Stories to build excitement around the headlining acts for VIVID 2019. Using a combination of quick animations and high-quality video content, viewers and fans were ultimately directed toward a ballot website to book tickets to the event.
What can we learn from this Story? Instagram Stories are great for building anticipation to a main event, or action that you want your customers to take. Remember how the marketing funnel works. Ultimately, ‘clue dropping’ and encouraging viewers to progress through a story is a way to reward your customer by making it easier for them to purchase something or gain more information to make that all-important purchase decision.
Experiment with, encourage, and influence your customers
Whether you choose to grow your audience organically or through targeted advertising, it’s important to give your customers a genuine reason to connect with the message you’re communicating. Take the time to get to know them, understand the language they speak, and understand the everyday problems they’re looking to solve. Ultimately, careful content creation, considered execution, and patiently growing your organic following—in the long run—pays off big-time.