You may already know a lot about Instagram stories, but are you still struggling with how to use Instagram stories as a promotional tool? That’s what we’re gonna be talking about today. Let’s bring some strategy in our Instagram stories, starting with these five tips. We’ll also be talking about some of the most common mistakes that businesses are making on Instagram!

#1. Countdown Sticker

Our first tip is to use the Countdown Feature on Instagram Stories which you’ll find on the top right hand side of the screen, under the Stickers tab. The Countdown feature can be used in two different ways. You can either use it to count down to a special launch whether that’s a promotion of a new product, or maybe a special offer that you may have. Or you can use it while the launch is actually live and count down the number of hours that are remaining. This is really powerful, because it allows your audience the choice to tap on the countdown itself, and subscribe to know when the countdown has finished. Not only is this brilliant, because it notifies them, but it also creates a sense of urgency which us marketers know is a super powerful marketing tactic.

#2. Highlights Section

You are probably already using your highlight section, but do you switch it up during your promotion? Your highlight section on your page is prime real estate. And especially over a promotion, you’re gonna be getting a ton of new views on your profile. Consider using the highlight section to educate your customer about your promotion, share customer feedback, and drive sales. And yes, you should definitely have separate highlights. No putting everything into one highlight! It should feel really easy for your visitors to find and click on something, get a quick rehearsal of exactly what they thought they were gonna look at, and then move on to the next.

Highlight topics recommendations

Keep in mind that these do vary, depending on which industry you’re in and what business you have. The first example of a highlight that every business should have is an About Us section. This should tell you everything about who you are, what you do, who you serve and how you serve. 

The second one we highly recommend are reviews and testimonials. They are a great way to have social proof and anyone visiting your profile will get an immediate impression of the type of work that you do.

The third one we recommend having is a location highlight if you have a physical location. This is so helpful, because people want to know how to find you and where you are.

If you have an online business, then consider having something that shows how they can work with you, how do they contact you. Make it clear and straightforward forward as to how they can get what they’re looking for. 

Another great example is to have a catalog section. So whatever it is that you sell, having it there so people can visually see what it is that they’re gonna get is always helpful in sales. 

Another thing that you can do with your highlights, is have a section specifically devoted to your IGTV channel. In case you didn’t know, there is a way, regardless of how many followers you have, to swipe up on your stories and let people go and watch your IGTV video. Essentially what you’re gonna do is, you’re gonna take those stories where you’re prompting people to swipe up to your IGTV channel, and you’re gonna put them all into one highlight, so that people can very quickly and easily just browse through your stories to see which IGTV video they’d like to go and see, and they can swipe up to be taken directly to that video.

Last but not least, having a highlight that talks all about your promotion, and very clearly explains what the promotion is, what they get, is there a discount, how long does it last.

#3. Create Social Proof

The third tip is all about creating social proof using Instagram Stories. What I want you to do, is host a giveaway. Encourage your customers to post a testimonial to their Instagram Stories where they tag you and in return they stand a chance for some free gifts!

What this is gonna result in, is tons of your customers actually creating stories where they are talking about why they love your product, and in return you’re then able to repost those stories to your story, which generates more excitement and more momentum during your promotion.

#4. Create Scarcity

Our fourth tip is for those who are selling a limited number of your product or service. What you can do is to go on Instagram stories and essentially, post a grid from one to 20 (if you’re selling 20). And Let your audience know that you’ll be updating this every few hours, letting them know how many have sold. Let’s say that you sold 15 in the first hour, you’re gonna mark out all 15 to signify to them that 15 are now sold. This not only creates a sense of urgency and scarcity, but also a sense of social proof!

#5. Go Live for a Q&A

My fifth tip is to go live during your promotion. Use the Stickers feature on Instagram stories, which you will find on the top right hand side of the screen. Tap on Questions. And what you should do is prompt your audience to ask you a question about your product, brand or promotion. From there you’re going to leave it for up to 24 hours before you go live.

When you go live, you will see a little Questions box on the bottom right hand side of the screen. If you tap on the Question box, all the questions your audience posted through the question sticker are going to populate the bottom of your screen. You can then select the question that you want to reply, and it will pop-up on all of your viewers Instagram live interface. If you wait more than 24 hours from your original post, and then go live to try and answer those questions, they will not be available for you.

Common mistakes on Instagram Stories

The next thing we wanna touch about are the common business mistakes on Instagram stories. 

#1. Lack of context

I hate looking at a business’ Instagram story and they’re sharing something that clearly mean something to them, but they give zero context. And it’s like, “What am I looking at? I have no idea.” So try to remember that your audience many times, they’re not watching everything that you do. They don’t always know who you are, they may have followed you on a whim one day. You wanna make sure that you’re bringing them along telling a story and keeping everything in context.

#2. Too impersonal

The second common mistake that I see businesses making is that they are not personal enough. They’re keeping everything so formal. We definitely do wanna let people in to who we are, what we do as a team, as a business and you know those corky little personal details are often what makes people want to keep following along with the story, so do not shy away from those more personal shares. 

#3. Overly promotional

This article is about using your Instagram stories as a promotional tool, but a common mistake businesses make is that they are too self promotional. You wanna have content in there that’s valuable, that people are actually walking away feeling like, “Wow, I learned something,” or “This made me laugh.” Do not always be promoting all of the great things you are selling or testimonials. Switch it up, a good ratio is 80 to 20 – 80% high value content and 20% promotional,.

#4. Not understanding their audience

The fourth mistake businesses make on Instagram Stories is that they are not putting themselves in the shoes of their audience, they are not thinking about how their viewers are consuming their content. Are your viewers listening on silent? If they are, then you should consider captioning. Lots of people are just tapping through, they’re not really looking at what’s happening. So how do you create something that’s visually appealing, that’s gonna get people to stop and actually want to consume the content? Is it possible for you to maybe even mix up the content that you’re creating, whether it’s images and videos and chives and just trying to make it as varied as possible. To increase the likelihood that your audience is actually going to engage with your content.

#5. Not listening to their audience

And the last mistake we see businesses making is that they are not listening to what their audience wants. You need to learn how to navigate your insights and get feedback from your customers, so you know exactly what they are looking for.

What other actionable tips and creative ways do you have for using Instagram stories as a promotional tool? Learn more about how you can fully utilise Instagram for your business by checking out our other posts here. What other topics would you like to see us write next? Leave a comment and let us know!