Instagram Stories are one of the best tools for brands looking to boost engagement and connect with their audience. Since its launch in 2016, Instagram Stories’ capabilities continue to evolve with added features like shoppable tags, music, comment stickers, and AR integration. Roughly 50% of the platform’s billion users now post on Instagram Stories daily, and a third of Instagram’s total users claim they become interested in a product they saw on Stories.
Currently, a third of the most-viewed Instagram Stories come from business accounts, with 90% of Instagram users following businesses. Suffice to say, brands have a massive opportunity to get in front of an audience eager to engage with the businesses they’re loyal to.
Partnering with influencers to create sponsored Instagram Stories offers brands a way to reach users who are disengaged to heavily-produced, commercialized content. Influencer-created Stories are more off-the-cuff and less self-promotional than Stories designed by businesses themselves.
Top Instagram influencers are able to authentically convey the brand’s message while still elevating the brand’s social relevance. Over 73% of marketers believe Instagram Stories to be one of the most important content formats for influencer marketing. Now more than ever, brands are leveraging the expertise of social media personalities to host Instagram Story takeovers, lead Q&As, narrate behind the scenes clips, or showcase product unboxings.
Before launching a sponsored Instagram Stories collaboration, brands should ensure the influencers they work with post solid Stories on a consistent basis. Brands should only select influencers whom they’ve tracked and followed to confirm they have high-quality Stories regularly. An influencer who posts Stories throughout the day will also be more likely to provide you with trend-based viewership estimates than an influencer who posts Stories sporadically or infrequently.
This vetting process acts as a safeguard against inexperienced influencers who hardly use Stories and therefore don’t have a following via that channel. Likewise, your brand shouldn’t partner with an influencer who produces subpar content that wouldn’t resonate with your target audience.
What Should Brands Pay Attention To When Finding An Influencer Who Produces Top-Notch Instagram Stories?
If interested in a set of influencers, be sure to watch their Stories to gauge:
“Pro Tip: In addition to the above qualifications, brands should try to work with influencers who have already created sponsored Instagram Stories. Those who haven’t run the risk of underperforming and not sitting well with their audience.”
Once you’ve found a set of influencers who have demonstrated high-quality and frequent Instagram Stories, the next step is to lay out formatting expectations for the sponsored content.
An Instagram Story consists of segments, meaning it contains multiple pieces of content that appear within a “carousel” slideshow format. This is usually a combination of both photo and video components. To get the most out of a sponsored Instagram Story, we recommend at least three segments. Anything less might not be impactful enough to drive awareness or user action – it’s too easy for users to swipe past a single segment.
“Pro Tip: Instagram Stories last 24 hours, so a sequence of sponsored Story segments from one influencer should not be uploaded with large intervals in between. As suggested by its name, Stories should be seamless, not disjointed. Ask influencers to be reasonably timely with their posting schedule.”
In addition to clarifying how many segments the Instagram Story should include, your brand needs to discuss how your product or service will be presented. Influencers should have sufficient time getting to know your product or service. Likewise, you should be proactive in providing information on product/service details, highlights, or any other important information regarding your brand.
Be sure you’re available to answer their questions so that you ensure the most accurate information is being presented. For instance, should the influencer mention any new product features, particular benefits of your product, special promotional deals, or causes attached to any purchases?
“Pro Tip: Brands should never have total control over what influencers say about their product or service. Within reason, your brand can provide helpful insights or certain promotional elements for them to weave into their Stories, but influencers should have full creative freedom over how they design their Story to maintain authenticity and effectiveness.”
62% of US consumers who have used AR when shopping noted that the technology encouraged them to make a purchase.
LA-based Cosmetics company Glamnetic created a virtual product try-on filter on Stories to encourage consumer-product-interaction with their new product range. To supplement their AR effect, they also sponsored a number of Instagram Stories, showing popular beauty influencers try on the new products in real life.
The combination of the virtual try-on filter and the informally-produced influencer product reviews generated a 24-point lift in ad recall and 16-point lift in brand awareness. Augmented reality elements can help shape the consumer experience, grow brand loyalty and above all entertain.
Brands and influencers alike can utilize Instagram’s engagement driving features to deepen audience connection and test follower insights. Stories users can lead a Q&A with the comment sticker and poll feature, or create photo quizzes through “Create Mode.”
Instagram is constantly adding functions and features to improve audience interaction within Stories, it is important to partner with influencers who are up to date on the latest built-in app tools.
While influencers will have control over the creative process, it’s not out of the question for brands to provide assistance. There are several Instagram Stories tools that allow businesses and influencers to create templates with a consistent style and aesthetic. Even if your brand doesn’t plan to use these tools, it doesn’t hurt to share them with influencers who will be designing unique Stories.
Free Tools To Design & Create Instagram Stories
“Pro Tip: While branding is important for your brand, influencers have their own branding style. Templatized Stories are more useful for Business Stories, but certain elements can be transferred to influencer sponsored Instagram Stories.”
Instagram Stories are meant to immerse the target audience in order to build brand lift and awareness, so it’s imperative sponsored Instagram Stories include a clear call-to-action (CTA).
While communicating with the influencers about your campaign goals, be sure to inform them what CTA to include in order to drive appropriate user action. A sponsored Instagram Story that ends abruptly without next steps for the user will likely vanish within the saturated Instagram environment.
Available to verified accounts and business accounts with more than 10,000 followers, links within Stories enable influencers to point users in the right direction. Typically, the final frame of the sponsored Story includes a CTA to “Swipe Up” for more information on whatever product or service information the influencer just previewed. Examples of “Swipe Up” CTAs include:
In all these examples, the CTA link drives traffic directly to an optimal landing page without the users leaving the app.
“Pro Tip: The “Swipe Up” feature, also known as the “See More” call-to-action at the bottom of an Instagram Story, is a seamless way to direct the influencers’ followers to your website without forcing them to abandon their Instagram experience.”
In order to measure the success of your influencer sponsored Instagram Stories, incorporate trackable links, like Bitly links. By using these shortened links, your brand can have influencer partners utilize these links within their “Swipe Up” or “See More” CTAs for easy performance tracking. Bitly links allow your brand to measure click stats so you can determine how effective particular influencers are in driving engagement and traffic. This is particularly useful when your brand’s objective is to drive click-through rate (CTR).
“Pro Tip: If you want to add a campaign tracking code, like a Google Analytics UTM code, to your Bitly link, be sure to append them to the long, original version of your URL before shortening to a Bitly link.”
While Bitly links show how many people click on the influencers’ links, it’s also important to know how many users opened or viewed the Instagram Stories at all. Your brand can reach out to the influencers individually to request screenshots showing the reach and impressions per Story and/or segment. This will allow you to understand just how many of the influencers’ total followers opened the Stories, and how many remained engaged by viewing each segment.
“Pro Tip: Ask for these insights before the influencers launch their Stories so they’re aware what type of data you want. Keep in mind that full reporting won’t be available until 24 hours after initial Stories upload.”