The pros and cons of using Instagram stories for your business
Should you invest in Instagram’s newest feature? Is it worth the effort for your business?
A few days ago, Instagram announced to the world their newest feature – stories – a direct copy of Snapchat. When I saw this feature live, I was simultaneously filled with dread and excitement. I’ve been using Snapchat for personal fun (follow me @thejennchen!), but had yet to recommend it to any of my business clients. I’m of the camp that if you do not have the time or personnel resources to dedicate to Snapchat (or insert any other social media network here), then you shouldn’t do it.
Instagram has been a powerhouse for social media marketing. The company boasted 500 million users in June 2016, of which 300 million are using Instagram on a daily basis. Ever since Facebook’s purchase of the company, the roadmap has been laid out on their features: advertising, check; algorithmic timeline, check; exploration of suggested users, check. And since copying an idea is easier than coming up with a new one, why not take Snapchat’s stories and stick them into Instagram?
Here are the basics:
- “Stories” are live for 24 hours
- You can see who viewed your story
- You can filter out the people who you don’t want to watch the story
- Photos and videos can be used in combination to create a story
- Everything must be in real-time
This takes Instagram back to when it really was instant.
I’ll lay out the pros & cons here, from a business perspective. You decide if it’s worth it.
- If you’ve ever wanted to test out Snapchat, but felt scared to, or overwhelmed, then this is great!
- An excellent way to showcase behind-the-scenes actions at your company that isn’t “pretty” enough to go onto your feed
- It’s a great opportunity to directly connect with your audience
- Your audience is already into what you’re doing.
- Any reply sent to your story becomes a DM. Think about that for a minute. If you have a very engaged audience, do you have the resources to manage all of the replies? Are you okay with NOT replying to every message? On a public post, your audience can at least read previous comments so they don’t ask duplicate questions. But DMs are a different story.
- You still have to think about your brand’s voice and imagery, despite it being in real-time
- In addition to your current feed, you now have to click through Stories! You may feel a pressure to reply to stories that include your cafe, coffee being drunk – it’s yet another area of social media maintenance you have to deal with
- Will you keep track of the view counts? You’ll have to check them before the 24 hours are up
Here are some ways to test out Instagram Stories for your business:
- Try a rapid-fire interview for a staff feature. Your staff is the backbone of your business. A candid interview on the fly can be a great way for your customers to get to know the people making their coffee.
- Take them behind-the-scenes in the roastery or the cafe – show them a video or image that they wouldn’t be able to see without a guided tour
- Invite your customers to be a beta tester for a new drink combo or product offering. It’s a nice way to test the waters on something you’ve been thinking about. For example, you’ve been exploring the idea of a signature drink, but aren’t too sure of putting it on the menu yet. Share the trial of drink creation with your audience and gather feedback!
In any case, the Stories look like they’re sticking around. It’s really up to you if you want to embrace them fully or stand by and watch what others do. It could be an interesting addition to your Instagram marketing strategy, but it will come with consequences in resources.
Psst: don’t forget to convert your account into a business profile!