Last year, Instagram launched a new feature called “Instagram Stories.” This new feature allows you to post multiple photos and videos on your profile, and do some basic photo/video editing to add life to your content. There’s one catch: 24 hours after you post your content with Instagram Stories, it will instantly be deleted. Instagram Stories has changed the game as it has created multiple paths through which users can engage their followers and produce high-quality content. As a matter of fact, serious Instagram users should be putting more of their time and energy into creating video content that adds value to their followers.
Online marketers are starting to realize the value of selling through video, rather than using ‘traditional’ sales letters that take up 30 entire pages:
Video sales letters do a few great things better than “normal” sales letters… like:
- * Get your message across better than text or audio
- * Educate your target audience more visually
- * Build trust and a connection with potential customers
- * Convert better than “normal” sales letters
If nothing else, the #1 reason you should start using Instagram Stories is because it helps you leverage human connectivity and engagement. People don’t want to see a robot on their phone, or some perfect human being:
People want to see a REAL & AUTHENTIC person with flaws…just like them!
It’s true that we spend a lot more time connected to the Internet, but at the end of the day we are still human beings with emotions, desires and insecurities. Using Instagram Stories will allow you to tap into the deepest emotions of your followers and your customers:
The emotion that a brand evokes in someone — or more importantly, in a specific group of people — has a big impact on a company’s success or failure. Emotions play a huge role in how consumers act and react. Emotions drive decisions, prompt actions, and change mind-sets, leading to strong loyalty and a deep personal connection with a given brand that can extend beyond its rational attributes. (source)
On top of that, you do NOT need a professional studio in order to post high-quality video content to your audience. Posting a video of yourself in a ‘selfie’ fashion can actually lead to better engagement with your followers. It shows people that you’re just an ordinary person, and not some holier-than-thou immortal who’s above it all.
But FIRST…you need to learn how to use Instagram Stories, and you can use this quick and easy tutorial to get caught up to speed. Once you’ve done that, now comes the fun part! You know how to use Instagram Stories and you understand how it can become a powerful weapon in your Instagram marketing arsenal….but how do you use Instagram Stories in a way that adds MASSIVE value to your audience? Below, I’ve listed 5 game-changing ways through which you can use Instagram Stories to boost your following count, convert your traffic into leads, and eventually turn those leads into sales.
WAY #1: TEASE YOUR UPCOMING PRODUCTS
If you have an upcoming product that you want to let your followers know about, what better way to tease them than to show a real-live video of your product in action? Using Instagram Stories ended up being the most effective marketing campaign for world-famous musician John Mayer to promote his material:
John used the Live platform for a variety of purposes, including performing songs from his new records for his fans, answering questions, and telling stories about the writing process of his new music. Using Instagram Live to market your business makes it much more accessible to your followers – it’s a feature that allows you to interact directly with them to help build your brand.
I even ended up doing it in my own Facebook group to promote my new book “Instagram Secrets.” Not only do I show people how to promote physical products using photos and videos in “Instagram Secrets”, but I also show them how to do it with completely digital products in just a few short seconds! (You can jump on the pre-order list for “Instagram Secrets” here.) Think of it like sending out a personalized email message. People will salivate when they see a HOT product right in front of their face. The old way of promoting your product on Instagram is to paste some text and throw in a hyperlink to your product’s webpage. It works sometimes, but it’s boring and your followers expect more from you.
BUT…if your followers are able to see something with their very own eyes – and maybe see a sneak peek of what they can expect when the hit the “BUY” button – they’ll feel like they got incredible value just from seeing your video content! It takes no extra effort on your end to set things up:
- * Simply get your product in your hands
- * Start recording your Instagram Story
- * Provide a few key benefits that your followers get when they buy your product
- * Reveal an exclusive sneak peek into a small sample of your product
- * End the video with a call-to-action to click on a link in order to learn more
- * Put the link in a place where it will be easy for people to find it.
- And you’re set!
Sunny Lenarduzzi shows you how to create an Instagram video for your business WITHOUT needing a budget:
Back in the old days, you would need a professional video studio and a YouTube account in order to post high-quality videos that would entice your followers to buy. Not anymore! Anybody with a smartphone, Instagram and an Internet connection can create high-converting video ads that are customized towards their unique audience.
WAY #2: SHARE A CAPTIVATING TESTIMONIAL
The use of testimonials to promote a product or a service is one of the oldest marketing tactics under the sun. “If I can do it and succeed, so can you!” is the mindset that goes behind this tactic. It worked back then and it will still work today, but you need to go one step further. Anybody can slap together a slab of text and make it sound inspirational, but today’s audience is smarter than ever before. They’ll be skeptical of anything that is written on the Internet, no matter what it is.
BUT…when you have a real authentic person provide a glowing testimonial of their own free will on how your product/service makes a difference in their life, you’ve got something that will INSPIRE people to give you their money.
Why does it work so well? Apart from our human inclination to be drawn to images and visual content, the fact that screenshots of testimonials contain an image of a person is hugely important. We are hard-wired from birth to relate to and connect with other humans. The fact that a baby lights up when they see a face (any face) is not something that we lose – we relate to human faces, human images, humans. (source)
This is a long-term strategy that might not generate immediate results. However, it makes people more excited to buy whatever is coming up in the near future. You can think of it like greasing a wheel from time to time so that it always spins smoothly. On top of that, you can save these testimonials and use them on your sales page when you are ready to sell your product to your customers, whether on your email list or on your Instagram page.
Now, there are multiple ways to use Instagram Stories as a way to provide visual testimonials:
(1) You can post an authentic picture of the person giving the testimonial and a quote from them that can be easily seen within the picture:
Even though you aren’t using videos, this is still a great way to provide a visual testimonial. I would personally have the person’s face take up 2/3 of the picture, but other than that this picture is a solid example of how to go about it.
In your caption, you can write a brief description about the person giving the testimonial (ex. “Danielle is a 7-figure online marketer who did x and y…”), add an additional 1-2 lines of copy selling your product, have a call-to-action (CTA) towards the link that leads to your product, and then paste the link that takes followers to your product.
(2) Have the person right beside you when they are giving your video testimonial.
If you have local customers who are willing to go on video with you to promote your product, you’ll be WAY ahead of everyone else in your niche. In your video, you want to use the following structure:
- * Introduce yourself
- * Introduce your customer
- * Ask them to share their honest, unbiased thoughts on your product (DO NOT interrupt them)
- * Ask them a few questions to inquire more about their experience with using your product
- * Close off the video with a CTA to click on a posted link so that customers can get your product
(3) Show a pre-recorded video of a customer’s testimonial on your Instagram Story.
You are going to follow the exact format used in (2), except that you are going to use your computer or some other device to play your customer’s testimonial.
The structure will go like this:
- * Introduce yourself
- * Introduce your customer
- * Play their testimonial – whether it’s on your computer, tablet, or another device
- * Close off the video with a CTA to click on a posted link so that customers can get your product
See how simple all of this is? You have three EASY ways to provide awe-spiring testimonials to your followers. The only question is whether or not you will actually follow through.
WAY #3: PROVIDE EXCLUSIVE INFORMATION NOT SEEN ANYWHERE ELSE
Remember when I told you that Instagram Stories only hosts your photo/video content for 24 hours before it gets deleted? Well, now is the PERFECT opportunity for you to create urgency and scarcity within your readers. The 24-hour period creates an automatic deadline that your customers HAVE to meet, otherwise they will miss out on your content!
And any marketer who’s worth their salt knows that deadlines are the best way to create scarcity that compels people to buy what you are selling: Scarcity is the primary concept that fuels the success of Groupon. Every deal found on the website lasts for a limited time and has a limited quantity. Even sites like Amazon use urgency and scarcity to sell you on hot products, whether you realize it or not:
There are a lot of things that you can offer that take advantage of the urgency principle:
- * A hot tip or useful piece of advice on how they can achieve the result their are looking for (ex. If you’re a fitness guru, share a weight loss tip that you do not feature anywhere else).
- * Do a 24-hour sale for 50% off where the link towards the purchase is ONLY available in your Instagram Story’s caption – once it’s gone, it’s gone for good!
- * Host a give-away contest where everyone must leave a comment (ex. type “I want in” on this video) within 24 hours if they want to enter in.
Here’s a great way to do a DOUBLE WHAMMY with this insidious Instagram marketing tactic if you already have an email list that you’ve built up using your Instagram following, send them an email at the same time you post your Instagram story. The ONLY way they can see your exclusive content is if they are following you on your Instagram, so remember to include that in your call-to-action!
You’ll be driving traffic from people who are already on Instagram, and those who are not on Instagram right now yet checking their email. Once your Instagram Story is gone…it’s gone! People might try to convince you that you should re-upload the offer, but you won’t be able to. You might think that this repels customers, but it actually attracts them! See, now that they know you are serious about your offers being available for only 24 hours, they are more likely to take you seriously the next time an offer comes up again. And since they learned from their previous mistake, this time they’ll definitely jump on Instagram and get your content before it disappears.
Just like testimonials, urgency is one of the most ancient yet effective marketing tactics to boost your following, collect leads and make sales. Instagram is no exception to the power of urgency! My InstaProfit Accelerator teaches you how to use urgency and MANY MORE proven promotion strategies on Instagram to generate more revenue. You can get your hands on the course here.
WAY #4: ENGAGE IN A LIVE BROADCAST WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
If you have spent any time on the Internet, you’ve heard about live-streaming:
- * Twitch, the site for streaming video games, attracts 100 million unique viewers per month
- * Periscope has over 10 million users to date, and is primarily used by journalists and citizens to broadcast events in real-time (protests, parades, etc.)
- * YouTube Live & Facebook Live now allows content creators to create live broadcasts that will be immediately posted as stand-alone videos for later viewing after the recording is finished
- * Instagram Stories now allows you to broadcast live in front of all your followers.
Given that live-streaming has exploded in popularity over the past few years, it would be wise to capitalize on this and turn it into a valuable marketing opportunity. I would know…I’ve been using live-streams with great success on my Instagram marketing Facebook page.
I’ll get my phone ready and I’ll start recording live. Sometimes I’ll have a topic of discussion where I will rant about something important to Instagram. Other times, I’ll be informal and I’ll do a Q&A where people can ask me anything they want about Instagram. I’ll even do shout-outs on occasion to Instagram pages that are golden examples of how people should be setting things up. The point is that the options are ENDLESS with live-streaming on Instagram Stories, and it’s up to you want you want to do. It’s one thing to post short little videos, but interacting directly with your customers in real-time is the pinnacle of mobile engagement. It’s about CONNECTING with one another. “But isn’t it true that people have short attention spans and can’t handle long videos?”
Yes and no. A lot of data out there shows that engagement is maximized with shorter videos, and a normal Instagram video can only be up to 15 seconds long. However…that data does NOT include live events – it only accounts for recorded videos. Tech geek Mike Delgado provides a beautiful breakdown of the hard data behind live-streaming and how you can use it to increase audience attention & engagement activity.
Mike provides multiple tips on how you can use live-streaming to boost audience engagement regardless of the platform you use, but here are the ones that will help you succeed on Instagram:
- * Increase engagement by asking questions to your viewers and having them respond.
- * Likewise, have your viewers ask questions and provide your own insights
- * Live-stream during the time of the week where the majority of your users are ON Instagram
- * Provide special content exclusive to that live-stream (a PDF download, a subscription, a discount, etc.)
Expect your first few livestreams to be a bit awkward, but over time your viewers will get used to your unique personality and your speaking voice. Live-streaming takes more effort, but your return on investment will pay off when you see the massive boost in engagement and follower count that results from it!
WARNING: Unlike Instagram Stories, which have a 24-hour time limit before the video is deleted, any live broadcast disappears from your feed as soon as the video ends.
WAY #5: HOST INFLUENCER TAKEOVERS
You know how you can buy shoutouts for a set period of time from Instagram influencers? Well, now you can buy “Instagram Story” takeovers – Gary Vaynerchuk explains it best:
If you don’t know what a takeover is, it’s basically a collaboration where you and another user appear on each other’s stories. Unlike a collaboration on Snapchat (where you needed to actually log in to the other person’s account), all you have to do is send the host account a photo or 10-second video for them to upload themselves. These takeovers are not only fun, but are also a great example of a 50/50 value exchange—a partnership that’s mutually and equally beneficial. It’s one thing to have a shout-out via a high-quality ad that provides value, but what happens when you use an engaging video instead? That’s going to get people hitting that “follow” button on your Instagram page like there’s no tomorrow!
This was a strategy that worked beautifully for inbound marketing agency Kuno Creative when they had employees do “Instagram Story” takeovers:
For this weeks #LifeAtKuno spotlight we're featuring Daniel Ulichney, Creative Director (@danielulichney) A lover of pickled foods, banjo music, rearranging, art and design. What is something you cannot live without? My 2 children, my #coonhound Ripple and the great outdoors. #LifeAtKuno #Cleveland #AgencyLife #officelife #officedog #dogsofinstagram #instagramdogs #love #instagood #rescuedog #puppy #pets #eyes #doglover #animallovers #culture #ilovemydog #hound #lifeatkuno #kunocreative
- * Followers earned since launch: +450
- * Weekly Growth Rate: +26
- * Weekly Engagement Rate: +17.14%
Pretty darn impressive if you ask me! Now, I know what you are thinking…
- * How do I find the right influencer in my niche to do a takeover with?
- * How do I know that their engagement is good enough so that I can get a return on investment for my money?
- * How do I approach an influencer and get them to collaborate with me?
- * How do I set things up on my own page so that I can get as much value as possible out of the takeover?
Those questions – and many more – are running through your mind and you need answers NOW! In my flagship course InstaPro Academy, I go over the exact step-by-sequence that you need to go through when choosing to work with an Instagram influencer. Whether you are getting a 1-hour shoutout or an “Instagram Story” takeover, the same rules apply. If you fail to follow even one of these rules, you will NOT increase your engagement or your follower count. You can learn more about these rules – and many other Instagram marketing strategies – here.
WRAPPING IT ALL UP
Instagram Stories has EXPLODED over the past year – influencers, brands and companies are jumping on the train and using it to create some killer marketing campaigns. Take a look at Pacific Northwest Wonderland, which gives its followers an incentive for taking action. Of course, they could have put the link for their call-to-action within the promotion, but aside from that this is a solid example on how you can use Instagram Stories to your advantage.
(Putting the link the bio means that users have to go through more steps to get to the landing, leading to FEWER sales). When you put a call-to-action in your Instagram Story, make the instructions DEAD EASY for your followers to follow. Use additional text and make your call-to-action stand out so that they know exactly where to go and what to do. The LEAST amount of steps = the BEST call-to-action. Remember that when you use Instagram Stories to get people to click a link or take some kind of action. Whether you are at…
- 1000, 100,000 or even 1,000,000 followers
- A widely known niche or something a little more narrow
…you can use Instagram Stories as a valuable tool to add massive value to your audience. Instead of viewing this new feature as something painful to learn how to use, see it as a brand new way to engage your audience. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.