QUESTION . . . I know you watch other people’s Instagram Stories, but do you use them to connect with + grow your own audience too?
I was never a Snapchat user, so when Instagram Stories showed up I (like a lot of people, I’m learning) was kind of clueless as to what I should be posting. Do I just talk to the camera? Post stuff that’s not cute enough for my grid? Is it for personal stuff or promotions??
And because I like to keep my marketing strategy simple and powerful, I wasn’t too excited to add yet another piece of content to my daily plan.
However, after lots of experimenting and paying attention to what I liked in other people’s Instagram Stories, I realized it’s actually a really fun and effective tool for connecting with my audience and drawing in new followers.
Here’s why . . .
Content creation is quick
I plan most of my stories when I create my content plan for the month, but unlike blog posts and emails, I don’t usually create the content for my stories until the moment I’m ready to post.
Stories is perfect for quick, casual updates so I can create a video or snap a photo of my workspace and have a brand new piece of content created + published in just a minute or two. Or I can create a week of content ahead of time and have everything saved and ready to go without spending hours making graphics or editing video.
I know that social media and especially Instagram can sometimes feel over planned and time-consuming, but with Instagram Stories you can toss all of that out the window and post in the moment as much or as little as you like.
It’s a tiny step into video
If shooting video, creating a YouTube channel, or hosting webinars or live events has been on your radar but you’ve been putting it off because (let’s be real) being on camera is generally some form of, “Hi, I’m sweating a lot and don’t know how to make words”, InstaStories is a great way to get comfortable talking to a camera.
You don’t need lights or editing, you don’t even need to put on makeup (for real!), all you need to do is talk. Instagram Stories is casual enough to chat with your audience from bed (sans makeup, with that lopsided frizzy topknot) or as you walk down the street between meetings (with cars honking and dogs barking).
Getting to see a less polished (aka real life) version of you will actually help to boost that know, like, trust factor! I’m speaking from experience on this. I’ve been totally nervous about being on camera without makeup and then had a few people comment that they were motivated to be a little more vulnerable online after seeing me do it.
Plus, who wants to waste time and makeup on one quick video anyway?? I splurge on expensive mascara and I’m not about to use a speck of that precious product unless it’s gonna stay on my face all day.
I can easily receive feedback
If you’re wondering whether your audience cares about one topic or another, whether they’ve had a certain experience, or what tasks they’re putting time into this week, Instagram Stories will get you immediate answers.
You can skip creating a full-blown survey or clogging your inbox with answers and use InstaStories for a quick poll or to get direct, personal feedback. Hearing answers from your audience, in their words will be INVALUABLE in getting clarity on the content you should be creating, the words you should be using in your branding, and the people you should be targeting.
If a 30 second video can get you specific insight into what your audience needs help with, there’s no reason to not take advantage of that opportunity.
And show my audience that I respond
Lastly, asking your audience to send you a message and ::gasp:: actually responding goes a LONG WAY in building a strong connection. While we share tons about ourselves online, there is still a bit of an internet wall that often makes people nervous to reach out.
Think…how many people haven’t contacted you with a question or an idea because they felt like they might be bugging you or clogging your inbox?
Instagram Stories is a great spot to remind your audience to send you a DM and then show them that you’re happy to respond. This is especially valuable if you offer services where clients will work with you one-on-one. A single, friendly and helpful response could mean YOU are the person they’re excited to contact with when they or someone they know is ready to hire a photographer, a yoga instructor, or a graphic designer.