9 (more) creative ways to use Instagram Stories

Wondering how your organization can take advantage of the photo app’s new feature? The Olympics, Shopify and other organizations provide excellent inspiration.

There are many organizations and individuals that are using Instagram Stories in innovative, inspiring ways. I recently shared nine in this article; here are nine more to get your creative juices flowing:

1. Shopify

If you can’t visit your customers, consider Shopify’s tactic of letting merchants who use Shopify take over the business’s Instagram account.

Apart from merchant takeovers, Shopify also promotes their blog posts through Instagram.

Takeaways:

Here’s how to promote blog posts through Instagram Stories:

1. Find three to five key points within the blog post that will grab your followers’ attention.

2. Turn those points into fun Instagram Stories by using photos, captions and drawings.

3. Create a bit.ly link for the final photo.

4. Post.

Tip: Download each photo to your phone as you create it so you can post all the photos at once. This will ensure that your followers see all the photos together.

2. Remote Year

Remote Year is a yearlong program in which 75 digital nomads travel the world to work and explore 12 cities together.

Through Remote Year’s Stories, the travelers share their adventures, enabling their followers to be part of the fun.

Takeaways:

Even if your fans can’t attend your events, that doesn’t mean they have to miss out on the fun. Try these ideas:

  • Interview key personnel briefly about the event’s topic.
  • Invite attendees to share their experiences.
  • Record fun, interesting moments from the event.
  • Appoint a host or two for your Stories while the event is taking place. The host can talk about what’s happening and interview attendees. Remote Year does this often (pictured in the first image.)

3. Black Sheep Cycling

Black Sheep Cycling makes innovative and unique cycling apparel. The brand recently launched an ambassador kit, which it announced in an Instagram post. The company also used Instagram Stories to showcase the kit from various angles.

Takeaways:

When you prepare the marketing materials for your upcoming launch or announcement, create vertical designs for Instagram Stories. Use more than one image, because Stories enable you to share more photos and videos without cluttering up your Instagram profile. Here are some variations to consider sharing:

  • Different products angles
  • Specific product features
  • People using your product

4. Olympics

When the Rio 2016 Olympics was taking place, the social media team behind the event’s Instagram account shared additional information about the Olympians. Harrison Barnes of the Dallas Mavericks took over the account for a day to share his thoughts.

Takeaways:

You might not have the opportunity to participate in a large-scale event like the Olympics, but there are high-profile events in many industries. Attend them, and provide timely updates for your followers. Consider these ideas:

  • Create simple images to share cool announcements and important news.
  • Share your thoughts about what’s happening.
  • Interview speakers and prominent figures in the industry.
  • Feature partners and customers who are attending.

5. Brian Fanzo

Brian Fanzo (popularly known as @isocialfanz) is a millennial speaker in the digital marketing world.

He has been using Instagram Stories to preview his upcoming talks. He also took over Buffer’s Instagram Stories while our social media manager took over his.

Takeaways:

Swap Instagram accounts with other brands and influencers for a day. As Gary Vaynerchuk said, “It’s an easy way to reach new audiences and increase brand awareness.” Plus, both parties benefit from the increased exposure.

A cool feature of Instagram Stories is that it enables you to upload any photos and videos added to your camera roll within the last 24 hours. To let other people post to your Stories without sharing your password:

1. Have the person create Instagram Stories and save them to his phone without posting them.

2. Have the person send their draft Stories via email, Dropbox or Google Drive.

3. Download the draft Stories to your phone, and post them within 24 hours.

6. Minaal

Minaal makes durable, professional travel gear. In its Stories, the company shares photos from customers who travel the world with Minaal’s products.

Takeaways:

How often have you wanted to share a customer’s photo, only to realize that the quality isn’t very good, or that the photo doesn’t match the theme of the images you typically post?

Instagram Stories provides a great way to feature your users (and your product) without compromising your Instagram branding or cluttering your gallery.

Invite customers to share photos of themselves using your product, and let them know you’ll feature them on your Stories. Alternatively:

1. Watch for user photos of your product. (Monitor hashtags that your community uses.)

2. Ask users if you can feature them and their photos on your Instagram Stories.

3. Once you have the users’ permission, post their photos with their Instagram handle. Perhaps add some drawings to the photos to make them more interesting.

7. 9gag

Most of us are probably familiar with 9gag‘s hilarious content. With Instagram Stories, the website augments its funny storytelling.

Takeaways:

Most organizations don’t have as much user-generated content as 9gag, but the website is a good example of telling the same stories in different formats (website, Instagram posts, Instagram Stories and more).

Instagram Stories enable users to click through a series of photos and videos, like flipping through a photo book. One idea to try:

1. When you have a story or message to share with your audience, create a storyboard of the photos and videos you’ll need.

2. Download the materials to your phone, and add captions and drawings to make them more engaging.

3. When the time is right, publish them all at once.

Bonus: Briefly talk about the story in an Instagram post, and direct your audience to check out your Instagram Stories for more information.

8. Sean McCabe

Sean McCabe is a hand-lettering artist who charged five-figure rates until he launched a course teaching people how to do what he did. He made six figures in the first three days. Since then, McCabe has been teaching courses about building and growing a sustainable business.

He uses Instagram Stories to share sneak peeks of his live training and reasons why followers should sign up for his courses.

Takeaways:

Instagram Stories could be an interesting way to create a trial experience for your product or service. Share just enough information to entice your followers into signing up for your product, service or exclusive content.

Tip: Sharing a short, memorable link makes it easier for your followers to act immediately.

9. TrackMaven

This marketing analytics tool helps marketers make smart decisions through data. In line with its area of expertise, the company shares top marketing news every week in its Stories.

Takeaways:

When reading through industry news, bookmark the top three to five pieces. Every morning (or every Friday, for example), share the news. Adding your thoughts could help establish you as an industry leader.

What other organizations are doing cool things with Instagram Stories? Please share in the comments.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Buffer blog.

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