How to Use Instagram Stories for Higher Brand Awareness

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We’ve all done it. No one is blaming you. But you skip through Instagram Stories at lightning speeds. So why do you think your customers are stopping to listen to you?

Well they might not be stopping–at all. In fact, unofficial data from your teenager’s opinions just discovered they skip all your Instagram Stories ads without a second thought. Wow, that hurts.

Don’t raise that well-marketed white flag that took two quarters of brainstorming just yet. With the right visual content strategy, you can “stop the skip” and get users engaged with your Instagram Stories. It may take some sneaky design tricks to get users to stop and listen, but it’s possible to get users watching.

Here are five reasons why your Instagram Stories are failing, and how to fix them:

1. Your Instagram Images or Videos Stink

OK–we might’ve just lost a few friends with that headline, but we promise we’ll say nice things after you read this! Not to get too bratty, but a lot of Instagram Stories are bad. And by bad, we mean they don’t prompt viewers to do anything.

Instagram provides brands a massive opportunity to visually highlight products, services and their overall brand. We shouldn’t blame poor visuals on boring industries because there’s plenty of organizations destroying it on Instagram Stories.

Pantone, a manufacturer of colored prints, plastics and fabrics, relies heavily on it’s core company objective–providing exact colors for businesses. And on Instagram Stories, they know how to keep users engaged.

Recently, Roger Federer, a professional tennis player, was asked by a random fan whether tennis balls were green or yellow. As you can guess, the internet ran with this debate immediately–remember the blue or gold dress?

The point is there’s always an angle to take with making beautiful, attention grabbing Instagram Stories. For a network based on highly visual content, it’s hard to stand out with without design-forward content.

How to Fix It

Say it with me–invest in talented designers. If you don’t have the creative folks to direct you on your Instagram content, get them now. In today’s age, most enterprise brands see social media content go through the gambit before publishing.

And one of the biggest problems social media marketing teams see within these enterprise companies is lack of transparency across teams. Ensure your team is on the right and the appropriate people see and approve content before it goes live.

message approval

We seriously recommend having social media collaboration tools that help make approval processes easier. Sprout Social is perfect for preventing bottlenecks in agencies and enterprises where designers are just one part of the process.

Easily tag groups within your software to share inspirational content or ideas from your customers. Posting beautiful content on a regular basis takes talent, so make sure your team is unified and set up for success with appropriate social media management software.

2. There’s No Text to Drive a Message

Have you ever seen an ad and wondered what the actual offer is? You’re not alone. In fact, data around native ads (paid content made to match the style of the platform it appears) shows most users see native ads as real content, rather than disruptive advertisements.

We trust text to tell us what we see. And that means content without text could hurt your engagement on Instagram Stories. More likely than not, you’ve heard the statistic that 85% of Facebook videos are watch with no sound.

neutrogena instagram story example

What do you think that percentage grows to with Instagram Stories?

Since only organic Instagram Stories are viewable on desktop, that means most users are still using mobile to watch. And guess what? They don’t have their sound on.

So what text do you have captioning someone speaking or explaining where to go next? Without a direct message of your ad and having a purpose, it’s hard to get users to move from point A to point B in your Instagram marketing funnel.

How to Fix It

Call us the Chip and Joanna Gaines of your Instagram Stories because we’re here to fix your problem. Just like a standout white subway tile backsplash, you need something to get your users’ attention immediately.

starbucks instagram story example

Starbucks does an amazing job at using Instagram’s own Stories features to playfully highlight and attract those watching. Additionally, there’s a clear user story here. Starbucks wants users to see its newest flavors and for you to learn the details or try it out by swiping for more information.

Its Instagram funnel is simple, but effective. We’re not saying to slap on a million stickers like a child does to their coloring book. We think well designed and thought out Stories need some spice, but shouldn’t go overboard.

Always A/B test your content because you’ll be surprised how one ad set will perform against another. More often than not, a spike in engagement or views results from one ad being easier to read or more informative with its text.

Simply Measured is capable of analyzing the performance of your Instagram stories

Our very own Simply Measured Instagram Stories analytics tools help brands do just that. Better visualize your Stories to see where spikes and dips occur in your content. Set up your posts to test one against another all within our platform.

3. Your Instagram Stories Are Too Flashy

“But wait–you just told us brands need to stand out?”

You’re totally right. But who said there’s not a delicate balance? Instagram Stories are fun, quick and sometimes the perfect amount of content. Standing out too much sends an immediate red flag to users that this is an ad.

If you want to prevent the “skip,” having loud sounds (audio) or too many visuals (like stickers and GIFs) is not the way to go. Let’s face it–you’re not your customer’s BFF. As a brand, being visually annoying can cause someone to unfollow you in heartbeat.

sprout social q2 2017 index graphic on consumer reactions

In fact, Sprout Social’s 2017 Q2 Index found 51% of consumers will unfollow if you’re annoying. What’s worse is only 26% will ignore your annoying content. That means 74% are taking an action to get you out of their feed, whether it’s mocking, boycotting or marking you as spam.

How to Fix It

If you care about your Instagram Stories and Ads, this tip is crucial. It will take practice, but find that perfect balance between fitting in and not standing out like a sore thumb.

air canada instagram stories

Air Canada provides Instagram Stories that master the balance between friendly and not too quiet. The company stands out enough, but without distancing its viewers from the content. Think beauty over flashy any day.

It’s always better to “wow” someone than make them scoff. We know that’s not always easy. But if you continue with these tips, you’ll be in much better shape. Let’s move on to the next tip!

4. You’re Too ‘Corporate’ With Instagram Stories

Here’s where we insert the meme of Steve Buscemi pretending to be a teenager. And maybe this is how your brand feels sometimes. It’s not easy coming off “cool” when you’re not selling something necessarily popular with younger demographics.

instagram demographics

It definitely doesn’t make it easier that Instagram demographics show 59% of 18 to 29 year olds use Instagram compared to 18% of those between 50 and 64. When we say “you’re too corporate,” we mean your content could come off sort of dry or over produced.

western union instagram stories

Western Union is not really a brand anyone really would associate with a younger demographic or as hip or cool. But Western Union’s Instagram Stories are awesome and keep you locked in with great, informative content that most generations will enjoy. Teaching is always a great way to keep people interested.

How to Fix It

Loosen the metaphorical tie and put on that fresh pair of New Balances. It’s time to take a step back to examine your Instagram Stories. Are you selling too hard? Is the message clear for consumers? Does the content relate to previous Stories?

These are all questions you should ask your entire team to make sure you’re not producing stale content. Remember, Instagram is place for highly-visual content, the last thing you want to do is be boring.

More often than not, boring content comes from stuffy brands trying to highlight their brand sentiment and values through visuals. Again, we’re not saying “go nuts and post random fun images.”

Instead, we believe it’s best to create content that aligns with your brand on the highest visual level. Doing this will prevent the “skip” and keep consumers interested. Always be testing to see what works best for your brand.

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5. You’re Not Telling a Compelling Story

Do you have that one friend who goes on a bit too long about their “crazy” trip to the DMV? You probably fell asleep halfway through that sentence.

Instagram is all about telling good stories. The better your story is, the more people engage, listen and come back for more. They’re called Instagram Stories for a reason, so if you’re boring here, people won’t be coming back to peep your feed.

wild turkey instagram story video

For brands looking to increase organic engagement, you have to be better at telling stories that drive users to connect to the next image. Stories can have multiple images or videos–one after the other.

It can be content overload to some, but for many, it’s a thought of “OK–what do you have next for me?” Stories have to be fluid, have purpose and be beneficial to your audience.

That’s the whole point of telling a good story, right?

How to Fix It

A major problem brands discover when they analyze Instagram Stories, is the images and videos at the end of their Stories receive less attention. Just like this blog, only a small percentage of you made it this far to read how to fix the last tip.

So if you’re struggling to get people to view your entire Story, try storyboarding your Instagram Stories out first with your team. Storyboarding helps brands provide end-to-end coverage of their theme, purpose and goal.

Your brand is awesome–and you have awesome things to share with your customers (see, we told you we’d say something nice). Be very deliberate with your overall Instagram Stories strategy by planning content out and getting the right creatives involved.

Do you have any recommendations for making better Instagram Stories? Hit us up on Twitter and let’s chat!





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