10 Easy Ways to Build Your Brand via Instagram Stories

January 2, 2018

Tips & Tricks



How To


300 million daily users.

That’s the number of people who use Instagram Stories every day.

Plus, over half of millennials use Instagram.

If you’re thinking–Who cares about millennials?–think of this: right now, 40% of the workforce is made up of millennials, and within 10 years, it’s predicted that this number will grow to 70%.

So it’s critical for your business to reach this market.

Instagram Stories is one of the best ways to market to potential customers and reach your ideal audience; it’s shown to be an especially engaging tool–within just one month of launching, 15 to 25% of people who saw a link in an Instagram Story swiped on it.

It’s addictive. It’s entertaining. And it’s not going anywhere.

So here are 10 easy ways you can use Instagram Stories to authentically build your brand message with your audience, captivate an ideal demographic, and achieve big results.

1. Deliver Special Offers and Broadcast Giveaways

Instagram Stories get deleted after 24-hours; while this time-limit might seem debilitating in some circumstances, it’s ideal for quick 24-hour special offers. Plus, the time limit restricts your audience from thinking, “I can come back to this later”–adding urgency has the effect of pressuring a hesitant buyer into clicking “buy now” because they feel the pressure of the short-time offer, and don’t want to miss out.

There are two ways you can promote these special offers: you can post a link in your Instagram bio, and write “link in bio” on your Instagram Story; or you can ask your audience to Direct Message (DM) you on Instagram for the code necessary to obtain the discount (adding a level of customer engagement).

We use Instagram Stories at Yelling Mule to broadcast our giveaways: for instance, we’ll share a picture of an iPad, and then we’ll tell our audience that if they DM us, they have a chance to win. Not only does this engage our existing audience, but it provides opportunities for us to reach a larger audience as our followers tag their friends in the comments section.

2. Give a Behind-the-Scenes Peek at Your Product or Company Culture

Stories can provide exclusive behind-the-scenes footage that you can’t find elsewhere–since Instagram Stories are temporary, they are usually more authentic, which gives your followers a great sense of your company’s personality, sense of humor, culture, or experiences.

General Electric used their Instagram Story to show footage from their exploration of Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua, using a drone to collect the videos. This is a great example of quality “behind-the-scenes” content being delivered via Instagram Stories, appealing to a new demographic while showing a deeper side of General Electric not advertised elsewhere.

You can also give job seekers and recruiters a better sense of your work culture using Instagram Stories, drawing in a wider net of potential future hires: broadcast company events, team building exercises, and sales competitions to show why you’re unique. For example, Mention created an Instagram story that consisted of their employees leaving personalized holiday messages from all over the world.



3. Entertain Your Audience

Remember that you’ll appeal to followers if you entertain them. Some travel companies use Instagram Stories to show videos of their customers having adventures all over the world (GoPro, for example, has Instagram Stories that feature customers deep-sea diving in the Caribbean or zip-lining in Bali); BarkBox, a subscription service that delivers monthly boxes full of dog treats and toys, created an Instagram Story of different clips of an “interview” between an employee and a pug.

The point is: You’re not trying to sell any product on Instagram so much as you’re trying to sell your brand. Show potential customers a different side of you–get creative and playful with it!



4. Engage With, and Get to Know, Your Customers

One of the coolest aspects of Instagram Stories is its poll feature; it gives you an avenue to ask your viewers what they like (Short hair or long? Iced coffee or hot?) without demanding too much from them. Here’s another idea: create a whole campaign via Instagram Stories, urging your viewers to engage with your brand in a new way. Loft is a great example of this–on their Instagram Story, they invited two best friends to find something in the Loft store the other didn’t think she could wear. Like an addictive reality show, followers were hooked, following along throughout the story to see what would happen; plus, Loft asked viewers to tag their best friends in the comments section, spreading their brand in an engaging and organic way.



5. Share Your Content

We do this here at Yelling Mule–when we publish a new blog post, we put it in our Instagram Story with a “link in bio” caption. Cosmopolitan, and other big content-driven companies like E! News, use Instagram Stories to hook their readers into checking out content on their sites: they’ll create compelling and intriguing pictures with a “swipe up to read” tool, inspiring curiosity (and a couple wasted hours if you’re not careful). It’s a great idea–if I’m looking at Instagram Stories, it typically means I have some free time, so if something interesting catches my eye, I’m more likely to swipe up to read it than I would be if I found it in my inbox.



6. Have a Partnership “Takeover”

Grow your audience by either taking over another business’s Instagram Story for the day, and/or having an influencer takeover your story. Not only will the influencer provide your audience with quality insights, entertainment, and unique information, but you’ll grab ahold of their audience, and expand your following, by creating compelling content on their Instagram Story. It’s mutually beneficial! You can create a takeover with interviews, tutorials, product reviews, or even backstage tours (like Jaime King, who took over Harper’s Bazaar Instagram Story to share her day attending the Dior Cruise show).



7. Target a Specific Geographic Region

By using geofilters on your Instagram Story, you can target your Stories for a specific location and attract a local audience. For instance, IBM creates filters for their industry events, so event attendees and local followers can stay updated throughout the day. Consider doing the same thing: in general, you can use geofilters when sharing footage of your office space, but you can also use geofilters when you’re setting up a company event, giving people quick and easy access to the right information and hopefully attracting more foot traffic to your event.



8. Create a Live Story, or Give Previews of Live Events

Instagram Stories offer the option to create a Live Story, which can be compelling if you’re interviewing someone and want to share the footage in real-time, even inspiring a Q&A with followers. Of course, this can be tricky, because it requires careful planning to ensure that followers know about the event ahead of time (although you can share the live video afterwards for 24-hours, just like all other story content); but it creates an atmosphere of spontaneity and authenticity, which is always exciting.

You can also create previews of a live event happening now. For instance, Sean McCabe uses his Instagram Stories to share “sneak peeks” of his live training, inspiring people to click a short link and sign up for one of his online courses about building a business. This is a good way to give reassurance of your product’s worthiness before requiring anyone to click purchase; Sean’s videos give his audience a good sense of what they can expect from his courses, making them more likely to purchase down the line.


9. Show How Your Product or Service Has Helped Other Customers

This is a great way to authentically showcase your product or service in action; if you’re a furniture-design company, for example, perhaps you can feature different re-decorated rooms from real customers. Instagram Stories is a great place to promote your product because it feels natural and unforced–like a friend sending you homemade footage of a product he’s using. Kayla Itsines shows in-shape women doing her workout routines on her Instagram Stories, with a “sign up” option on the video–not only is it an advertisement, but it’s also valuable content you can use right now (without signing up for anything).

Vitamix uses Instagram Stories to show how you can use their blender to create desserts, like this pumpkin-inspired blended dish; they’re showing off their product while giving you quality content (a free recipe!) with an easy-to-follow design.

10. Associate with Relevant News Events

If you’ve got the inside scoop at a news event, or if you’re related in some way to a trending news story (IBM, for example, posted about the US Open on their Instagram when #USOpen was a trending topic, because US Open Tennis Championships collects data using IBM technology), then this can be an ingenious way to grow your followers, because it enables you to appeal to a larger demographic. For instance, Vogue Magazine created an Instagram story with a few unique images of the inauguration, with a link to see the full gallery of images on their website; along with capturing the attention of Vogue-fans, they captured the attention of anyone interested in seeing unique content of such an historic moment. Win, win.

Have other Instagram Story brand building ideas? Comment below! 

Check out our other posts about Instagram.