Instagram blog part 4: how to get the most out of your Instagram stories

Managing social media accounts requires a well thought out strategy and a good knowledge of your marketing goals. One of the most important social media channels is Instagram, a medium perfectly fit for artists and record labels. Learning all there is to know about Instagram is not as easy as it seems; constantly changing rules by Facebook / Instagram and continuous developments on the technical side make this a challenge, to say the least.

That is why we have made this weekly recurring blog: to help artists and labels improve their Instagram marketing activities.

Last week we spoke about how to write the perfect bio. This week we will provide everything you need to know how to get the most out of your Instagram stories.

How to increase interaction

In the past couple of years, Instagram introduced more engagement-enhancing features. These are a great way to start a conversation with your followers, humanizing your brand and for asking feedback. Some of these features include the Poll-, Emoji Slider-, Quiz- and Question stickers in Instagram stories. Increasing interaction with followers is not only important to build a relationship with your audience, but also gives you an advantage in the Instagram algorithm!

Poll sticker

If you want more engagement on your Instagram profile or feedback from your audience, making a Poll in your Instagram stories can be a good way to draw the attention of your audience and communicate with them.

Ideas for using the Poll sticker
Get feedback

Use the Poll sticker to find out if you’re doing something your audiences loves. For example, ask them if they like your new release or not. Are you planning to launch some new merch? Ask if they prefer hoodies or shirts!

Emoji Slider sticker

Another quick way to engage your community is to use the Emoji Slider sticker. With this slider you could do a quick survey where people can easily slide the emoji along the slider to react. This helps to measure the emotion of your audience and gives them a playful, easy way to communicate with you.

Ideas for using the Emoji Slider sticker

Ask your audience how much they like something
Share a new release or a photo of upcoming merch and ask your audience what they think of it by adding the emoji slider. Most importantly, you’ll gain insight into how much your followers love something, not just whether they like it or not.

Ask a quick research question

Use the emoji slider to do some market research. The question doesn’t necessarily have to be about how much your audience likes something. For example, you could share 2 examples of a shirt and ask which one they like the most.

Place the slider on an image with a scale

It can sometimes be difficult to get a clear meaning from a score if there is no scale. Let your audience judge something on a scale of 1 – 5. You could even make it a multiple choice question by making a scale with 4 -5 answers.

Tip: you can also place the slider vertically to provoke a different kind of answer.

Quiz sticker

With the Quiz sticker you can share Trivia-style multiple choice questions with your audience and follow the results. When someone ‘votes’ on an answer, they can instantly see if they answered right; which causes most people to respond because they are curious about the right answer. In addition, you can see for yourself how many votes each option received and how each person voted.

Ideas for using the Quiz sticker

Get to know how much your audience knows about you
Use the Quiz sticker to find out how much your audience knows about you by asking with which artist you have to most collabs or how many singles you’ve released so far.

Drive traffic to a website

Ask some questions with answers that can be found on your website. Encourage followers to answer the questions correctly by running a contest. For example, announce in your first story that fans can win a prize if they have all the answers right and then post a number of stories with different questions. This way you not only generate more traffic to your website, but your audience also finds out what you have to offer!

Question sticker

The question sticker is a good way to talk and interact with your audience. Find out what they find important, ask for advice and give them a chance to discuss their thoughts. This is a good way to show that you are approachable and that there is a real person behind your account.

Ideas for using the Question sticker
Do a Q&A

A Q&A (Question & Answer) is perhaps one of the most obvious ways to use the Question sticker. There are several ways to do this. First, decide the topic you want to do the Q&A about. For example, you can keep it very broad by asking an ‘AMA’ (Ask Me Anything) question. You can also choose to do it on a specific topic such as performances, productions or family.

Host a takeover

Usually, during a takeover, the Instagram account is ‘taken over’ by someone else in order to give the audience a peek from a different perspective. Using the Question sticker you can, for example, have your audience ask questions to your management team.

Ask for feedback

What is a better way to get feedback on, for example, a song you are working on than going directly to the source? Post a part of the song in your story and ask your fans what they think of it. Then share a few reactions and give them a personalized answer. This way you also let your audience know that you are really listening to them.

Start a conversation with your audience

Ask your audience what their all-time favourite set of yours is or ask them which upcoming performances are on their agenda. It is now more important than ever to build a relationship with fans and this is the perfect way to do so. The more you interact with fans, the more likely they are to feel a personal connection.

Show your expertise

Let your audience ask questions about, for example, certain techniques you use while producing. They will appreciate the free advice and you have a chance to show what you have to offer. It is also a good way to build reciprocity with your audience. Usually the more generous you are, the more likely they are to get involved and follow you.

Run a contest

Contests are a great way to create excitement among your audience. Make sure the rules for the contest are clear, then place the question sticker and wait for the answers to come in. When the contest is over, you can share the correct answers and tag the winners in your story.

You can also promote the contest in advance via your Instagram feed by sharing a date or time when your contest goes live to your story. You could even take this a step further by requiring participants to tag a friend under your post. This will give you more attention to your story and maybe even more followers!

How to increase reach

There are a couple of ways to increase reach with your Instagram stories. Some of them include the Location-, Mention-, and Hashtag stickers:

Location sticker

The Location sticker automatically shows your current location, but you can also enter a location yourself. Followers can tap on this sticker and then see other posts and stories that have tagged the same location. The advantage is that other users can also end up on your story which means an increase in reach.

Mention sticker

Using the Mention sticker you can tag other users in your story. Followers can tap on it and will be taken to that user’s profile. The users you tagged will be notified and can share it to their own story as well.

Hashtag sticker

The Hashtag sticker is similar to the Location sticker. The additional advantage of the Hashtag sticker is that users can follow a hashtag. The stories with the followed hashtags appear at the top of the feed of the follower, which can mean extra reach.

How to hide these stickers

Do you have the perfect photo or video, but don’t want these stickers to be visible? There are 2 ways to hide them. First, just add the stickers like you’re used to and squeeze them to make them small. Now put a GIF or sticker over it and done! Another way is by just typing the hashtag or @handle from the person you’d like to tag. Squeeze it to make the text smaller and use the pipette to select the colour of your background.

How to drive more sales

Have some big news coming up? Post something on your story the day before to make sure everyone will know about this on time. Reinforce this by using the engagement-enhancing stickers like mentioned above. When your followers respond to this story, Instagram will see again that you’re important to them, and your big announcement will be at the front of their story series tomorrow! Another great way to remind followers about your big announcement is to use the Countdown sticker, more about that below.

Use the Shoppable sticker to boost sales of, for example, new merchandise or an album directly from your story. More about the Shoppable sticker below.

Countdown sticker

You can use the Countdown sticker to count down to an event. Followers can set a reminder to notify them when the countdown is over. Some ideas for using this sticker to countdown to:

  • Your new merchandise line
  • A live video
  • A new release
  • A contest
  • A gig/event

Shoppable sticker

In 2016 Instagram introduced its first commercial product: the ‘shoppable tags’. These tags can be added to an Instagram post and allow users to click on them to see product information and make a purchase. This feature was soon added to Instagram stories and today as many as 130 million people click on the shoppable tags every month.

The advantage of the Shoppable sticker is that, as opposed to the ‘swipe up’ function, you don’t need a verified account or 10,000 followers to sell products directly from your posts and/or stories.

Learn how to set up Instagram Shopping here.

Ideas for using the Shoppable sticker

Use the Shoppable sticker to sell your merch or (physical) albums.
Tip: use the Countdown sticker to announce when the merch or album will be available and ask your followers to set a reminder on forehand. Then post a new story containing the Shoppable sticker to drive them directly to the selling page!

How to make your story more vivid

There are 2 Instagram stickers that are a great way to add a new dimension to your story and make it more vivid: the GIF sticker and Music sticker:

GIF sticker

Nowadays it’s almost impossible to imagine a life without GIFs, so why not add them to your story? By clicking on the ‘GIF’ sticker you will see the most popular GIFs of that moment. By clicking on the search bar at the top you can search for a GIF. It is also possible to create your own GIF, more about that below.

How to make your personal GIF

To create your own GIF you first need to register on giphy.com. When creating your own GIF, make sure you fill in descriptive tags to make it findable. The recommended size is 1200 x 1200 px with a 1:1 ratio. Use a frame rate of 60fps (frames per second) to make sure the animation is smooth.

Music sticker

Although you’ve probably got plenty of good music to share in your stories, you’ll sometimes want to create a quick, simple story. Or sometimes there’s this great other song that fits perfectly with the photo you’d like to share, but you can’t use it because you don’t have the rights for it. In these cases it’s a good thing that the Music sticker exists; it’s a great way to add an extra layer to your story!

By pressing the Music sticker, songs will appear that you can add to your story. In the overview, the songs are categorized by genre, popularity and mood. With the search function, you can also search for a song yourself.

Get creative with your keyboard to make your Story visually attractive

How to pick a custom colour

When editing the text in your story, you’ll see little dots with different colours above your keyboard. On the left you’ll see a pipette. By pressing this, you can drag the dropper over your photo or video to select the desired colour. Another way to select your own colour is by holding down one of the dots for a long time. A screen will appear where you can select your desired colour.

How to create a shadow

There is no default function in Instagram to add shadow to your text, but there is an easy trick for this. You simply type the same thing twice but use different colours for both texts. Then you place the two texts on top of each other, but make sure they are just not quite on top of each other and you’re done.

How to add shapes

Take a look at all the hyphenation and bullets on your keyboard. For example, if you grab the wave (~) and magnify it, you have a unique and creative way to make your story visually extra attractive.