8 Tips for Publishers, Inspired by Influencers: Instagram Stories


Publishers and brands alike can use social media as an awareness driver, but also a traffic driver, as a way to point users to their site in hopes of converting them to an email subscriber or even generate revenue with a purchase or subscription. Publishers can learn a lot from social media influencers in this space.

In this series, TFD seeks inspiration from social media influencers and their successful audience engagement efforts. This week, we are looking at ways publishers (and brands) can take from the savvy tactics of the social media influencer on Instagram Stories.

Use More Than One Story

Instagram stories last for 15 seconds, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to just 15 seconds. Influencers often utilize more than one story at a time when sharing a message to their audience, building upon the first story to add additional information.

Publishers can learn from @thekitchn’s use of multiple stories to round up popular stories of the day, utilizing the “swipe up” feature to drive traffic to their site.

There are also a few handy tools like, Story Slicer and Cut Stories that influencers are using to upload videos longer than 15 seconds to Instagram stories. These apps splice a video into 15 second chronological segments. By using these tools, publishers and brands can let their social media teams cut video, rather than relying on production teams to export video into 15 second clips.

Use a Story to Alert Followers of a New Post

As we all know, the Instagram algorithm switched from a chronological feed in 2016--and the internet freaked out. One way influencers have gotten around this is by prompting users to turn on post notifications, which is reliant on the user to actually change their settings. Publishers may employ this tactic when leading up to a big announcement, encouraging their users to turn on post notifications so the audience can enable themselves to be alerted the second the announcement or sale starts.

Another way influencers alert their users is posting their new feed image on their story, driving users to their post, hoping for post engagement and/or driving the user to a long form caption they couldn’t fit inside of a story. Publishers can use this tactic for contests and giveaway announcements, product launches, and sales, where the caption provides the user with more information.

Check out this example from @dallasites101, a Dallas-themed Instagram account that has expanded into hosting events, sponsored posts, and partnerships with local businesses. They’ve called out a (what I assume is a) sponsored post on their feed from over the weekend, and created a 60 second story out of it.

Make Your Stories Interactive

Soliciting audience engagement tells the user you care about them and are listening to their opinions. Engaging with your audience is the first step towards driving them deeper into the sales funnel. 20% of stories posted by businesses result in direct interaction with a user (brandwatch). If your audience knows you’re listening and actively engages with you they’re more likely to pay attention the next time you offer something for them to purchase. You can use these interactive tools to ask your audience direct questions like, “Do you like A or B?” or even, “What do you like about X?”

Questions stickers give us the ability to ask users open ended questions, and allow us to post answers back. It may seem like a daunting task to answer every answer you get back, but Instagram rolled out Quick Replies to bulk answer similar messages. Before you ask your audience a question, consider what you want to get an answer for. Formulate a specific question to help narrow down the kind of answers you receive from your audience. Publishers can ask their audience questions about their interests, job industry, and passions with a 24-hour turn over time.

Let’s take a look at this example from @zerowastechef, a Silicon Valley based zero waste blogger. She posts recipes that minimize waste, hosts digital webinars on fermentation, and shares tips and tricks to remain plastic-free. She asked her users what topics they’d like her to cover the next time she goes live. She was able to effectively tease an upcoming Instagram live event, and create anticipation for users that interacted on her stories. She then reposts some of the answers, extending her event tease for more screen time.

Polls stickers allow us to ask our audience a question and give the user a choice between two answers, with real time answers. Publishers can ask followers to vote on photo contest submissions, or even to test cover images or new product ideas to see what resonates with their audience.

We used this tactic to get to know our audience a little better on our new Instagram account @twentyfirstdig (shameless plug). Over halloween we asked our followers what scared them the most thing A or thing B. We also used Instagram’s gifs to make our stories a little more exciting. Check out our stories below.

Drive Traffic with Swipe Up

Instagram users with over 10,000 followers have the privilege of driving users to their site directly from an Instagram story.

When going through my own story feed to find examples for this post, @dallasites101 had not one, but three examples of tactics outlined. So here they are again. This time they’re providing relevant content to locals with their first story, and driving traffic to their newest blog post with the second. Additionally, they have lead flows populated on the page so users can subscribe to their newsletter.

This is especially helpful with evergreen content. You can save Instagram stories to your highlights for long form, permanent content your users can stumble upon at any time. Saving stories that have a swipe up link provides a direct link to your website without having to go through the Instagram bio link. You can also utilize highlights to keep features, contests. and giveaways or sale messages pinned to the top page, deleting when they’re over or archiving for future use.

Access Your Story Archives

Did you know that your stories are automatically archived? If you wished you would have saved that three-part Instagram story about the flash sale to use in the future, you’re in luck. You can access all of your stories on Instagram going back to 2017 by going to your profile and clicking on the clock with a counter-clockwise arrow in the upper left-hand corner.

Host Instagram Story Takeovers

Oftentimes brands allow influencers to takeover their Instagram story for a 24-hour period. Influencers will tell their followers they’re going to takeover an Instagram story for the day, increasing both the influencer’s reach and the brand’s reach in one fail swoop.

Promote an upcoming issue by allowing the person on the cover to takeover the story during the photoshoot or give the reins to a reporter while they’re researching a story. Takeovers can give the audience a insider’s look on what it takes to create an issue or get readers excited about an upcoming feature. Here’s a helpful article about how to efficiently run an Instagram takeover.

Create Beautiful Stories Without Photoshop

Influencers often curate their own content across multiple platforms without a design team network. A one or even two-person influencer team rely on tools that make their job easier. Adobe Spark has free mobile and web applications that are easy to use and allow audience development and social media teams to create branded graphics in a jiffy. The tool not only provides templatized graphics for any social channel, including Instagram stories, it also allows you to brand them. You can upload your brands colors, logo, and fonts to create a seamless look and feel from your social channel to your website. Social media teams don’t have to use fancy tools or even have experience in Photoshop to create sleek, branded stories.

Repost Follower Content

Instagram Influencers often repost their follower’s stories to their own account, saving influencers time by allowing their following to create the content for them. I don’t know about you, but any time I’m recognized by a brand on social media my allegiance to them grows a ridiculous amount. Publishers can also repost advertising content on their story, giving advertisers more reach.

There you have it, 8 ways publishers can be inspired by the way influencers post and engage with their audience on Instagram. Are you ready to revamp your social brand?

Let us know if this was helpful, or if you’d like to see more tips and tricks to engage with your audience in other social media channels. Email me at natalie@twentyfirstdigital.com.